The month dedicated to bringing awareness to one disease that affects millions nationwide has come to an end.
Pink has been an international symbol for breast cancer awareness and prevention since time immemorial. Some people in the breast cancer community love it. Others hate it. Some people in the breast cancer community love October. Others hate it.
The pink ribbon campaign is probably one of the most prominent and popular awareness campaigns in the world. To most people, that’s certainly a good thing, but, if you want to truly support the fight to cure breast cancer, I don’t believe that buying pink and wearing pink is enough. To really stand up along survivors and all the other women and men who have been affected by this disease, action is just as important.
Zimbabwe has maintained the tradition, and has for many years now commemorated cancer month, but beyond October, the hive of activities seems to slow down as the promises to help in the fight against cancer are forgotten and the cancer patients continue the fight for survival alone.
Cancer awareness and support for programmes should go all year round. The #PinkOctober hashtag should not just be about solidarity speeches, it should be backed by action.
Cancer Units at Mpilo and Parirenyatwa hospitals have not been working for ages, yet corporates in the country have been painting the streets pink, going all out in marketing with the pink ribbon. How about showing patriotism and supporting men and women who are affected by using those funds to fix the life saving machines as opposed to road shows to sell your pink themed products, while here and there making mention of the hashtag #PinkOctober? Change comes when things get done. Mere talk will not yield results.
Breast cancer is one of the leading killer diseases in the country and continues to deplete the population due to its expensive treatment.
Some people feel that awareness programmes have been commercialised, with some retailers riding on the popularity of the month and maximising on October to sell pink themed products hiding behind the hashtag #PinkOctober and claiming to support charities and hospices.
Instead of spending $20 on a pink scarf when only $1 will be donated, take that $20 and donate it directly to an organisation making a direct impact.
You can make a direct impact by helping an individual person with breast cancer through financial support, meals, transport and other such support.
Going through treatment can be physically, mentally and financially draining.
Cancer treatment and recovery supplies are very expensive and many items are not covered by medical aid in Zimbabwe.
If pink is your colour, then wear it and not just during October but don’t forget what it stands for and the important role you play in supporting efforts to find a cure. The actions you take for your own health and supporting cancer research and awareness should speak louder than the most vibrant pink ribbon.
There are so many ways you can make an impact without spending a dime. Using your time and your voice to advocate for change in care, research, policy and support make a world of difference for the breast cancer community.
You can start locally by educating people and even healthcare professionals about the needs of breast cancer such as fertility, mental health and wellness.
I love the fact that many brands go out of their way to show support through turning their window displays pink, coming out with pink products and running campaigns that support the cause. Each year these corporations sell thousands of products by associating a pink ribbon with giving back.
However, I can’t help but wonder how much money these corporations spend on these marketing efforts. What if, instead of putting all of that money towards marketing and advertising materials, that money is sent directly to to hospital or breast cancer research organisation?
Keep in mind that just because a product has a pink ribbon on it does not mean it is actually giving back to a charity.
It is crucial to check the products you buy especially when supporting breast cancer awareness.
Exposure to harmful chemicals and ingredients like parabens and phthalates, commonly found in cosmetics and personal care products, can increase breast cancer risk. These ingredients are toxic to the body and increase breast cancer risk by imitating estrogen and throwing off the body’s hormonal balance.
The more awareness there is about a disease or ailment, the more empowered people are and the more they are able to handle the disease.
No one is immune to cancer. While special diets, exercise and general healthier habits can help reduce chances of developing cancerous tumours by up to 40 percent, it is important for everyone to get screened once in a while.
As the month of October has come to an end, the onus is now on society to go beyond just one month, but to remain visible throughout the year for as long as cancer remains a leading killer disease.
While cancer prevalence is higher in women, men are not immune to it either and joint efforts in creating awareness and joining in the fight would lead to better results for all.
Breast cancer should not just be a woman’s issue. Men should also rally behind the pink ribbon and the pink ribbon should be a 365-day matter, not just an October issue. It is time to take awareness talk way beyond the 31 days in October through action as change will only come if people walk the talk. [email protected]