async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: 5 Things Runners Can Do in 2020 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sunday, September 27, 2020

5 Things Runners Can Do in 2020 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is the month of pumpkin everything, falling leaves, and cozy sweaters. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about this, but with all the focus on COVID-19 this year, people aren't talking much about anything else. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer. Early detection is the key to survival. Breast cancer can also happen in men.

Breast cancer has affected many of my friends and relatives. I've lost several people I've loved to the disease. Spreading awareness is especially important to me. Without the big events that usually happen in October, I wanted to share some things that runners and walkers--heck, anyone can do to spread the word about breast cancer.

1. In October we wear pink

Pink is the color we all associate with breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons started the movement but now pink is everywhere in October. The most memorable example was when the NFL started Pink October and the players wore pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness. A few years ago, the NFL shifted to a broader cancer awareness program, Crucial Catch, but you can still see players wearing pink gear during October. For October, I'll be wearing pink on all my runs, just like the Pink Power Ranger. I have lots of pink tops, but I recently scored this InknBurn top on eBay. You'll probably be seeing a lot of it. 


2. Run for a charity

Unfortunately for 2020, there are no live events to raise money for breast cancer. Because of this, I made the decision to donate $1 for every mile I run in the month of October to the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation. Lynn Sage was 39 years old when she died in 1985 after battling breast cancer for 5 years. Following her death, a group of friends founded the charity, whose mission is to support breast cancer research. Fully 94% of charity dollars raised go to research and education. While this is a Chicago charity, its programs are far reaching. The charity also funds a project to address disparity of care in medically underserved women in Chicago. I thought long and hard about where I want my money to go and I did a little homework before settling on this charity. Keep in mind that some charities aren't as generous about sharing donations to the actual cause. 

3. Get a mammogram

Don't forget to schedule your annual mammogram. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. Annual mammograms are the best option for early detection. There's no excuse not to have a mammogram. Contrary to what you've heard, mammograms are not painful. I've had mammograms since my mid-30s and not one of them has hurt. Yes, the compression can be uncomfortable. I have dense breasts, which makes me a higher risk for a missed diagnosis of cancer, so I just suck it up and let the technician turn it up to 11! Current guidelines recommend that women with dense breasts also receive ultrasounds. 


4. Learn your risk

Do you know your risk of developing breast cancer? Being a woman is a risk factor, as is being over 50. There are also some genetic risk factors. You can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol. This quick interactive tool from the National Cancer Institute can help you calculate your risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Keep in mind that knowing your risk is just another tool in your prevention toolbox and does not replace annual mammograms and annual checkups with your primary care provider. 

Average lifetime risk

5. Spread the word

Share your breast cancer awareness activities on social media. Encourage others to join you in donating time and money to charities that support breast cancer research and activities. Post pictures of yourself wearing pink. Use the hashtags #breastcancerawareness #breastcancer #pinkribbon #breastcancerawarenessmonth to promote your posts. 





October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I've got 5 things you can do to spread awareness everywhere! @oldrunningmom #running #runchat #breastcancerawareness #breastcancer #pinkribbon
What will you do to spread breast cancer awareness this month? Will you wear pink on your runs? Will you join me in donating your miles to a breast cancer awareness charity? Have you ever had a mammogram? Do you get them regularly?

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahJenLaura, and Lisa.  

37 comments :

  1. I just donated for the Run for Ruth charity.

    I’ll wear pink as often as I can when running.

    Thanks for the reminder as I have many friends who have had breast cancer.

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    1. I'm so grateful to have such thoughtful, generous friends! Cancer will not win.

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  2. That sounds like an awesome charity. As you know, I have tried to raise funds this month for the Dempsey Cancer Center, and 100% of the funds go to it (guess it helps when your founder is a famous actor).

    My family history includes many different kinds of cancer, including breast, and my mom is a survivor of 20+ years.

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    1. It's amazing how so many charities don't really benefit the causes they represent. Glad your mom is still doing so well!

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  3. Thanks for this post! I just want to echo what you said, which is that mammograms don't hurt, they're fast, and I've never heard of an insurance plan that doesn't cover them 100%.

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  4. Breast cancer affects all of us in some aspect. My maternal grandmother was diagnosed in her mid-80's, so this disease really hits home. She beat the cancer, and was with us for many years beyond that before succumbing to old age. Good luck with all your pink miles!

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  5. Thanks for including the link to the interactive tool, Wendy! I just answered the questions, very helpful. As you say, the tool doesn't replace a mammogram. Which reminds me that I should have one done.
    Love your pink ribbon shirt!
    All the best with your October charity miles, you are supporting a great cause.

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  6. So this one is personal for me, as you know. I'm deeply uncomfortable with the notion of pink everything in October, and here's why. Pink isn't a cure. Nor are ribbons. We need research, a lot more research for breast cancer and all other kinds of cancer. It's shocking to me how much pink merchandise comes out in October, but please for the love of your breast, check to see how much--if any--of that money makes it back to a legitimate breast cancer research initiative.

    Regarding mammograms, I will pile on and extend this one. Yes, get your mammogram every year, and if you have dense breast (your techs will tell you, so will your doctor) then spring for the 3D mammogram. It's worth the cost and is what caught my breast cancer at an early stage. Think of it this way: an additional charge for the 3D mammogram vs treatment costs for cancer. Even my early stage cancer was very expensive to treat, like nearly $225K last year. Opt for the 3D mammogram.

    And if you do get diagnosed with breast cancer, I highly, highly recommend https://www.breastcancer.org/ for information, resources and the community forums.

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    1. Thank you so much for your perspective! I hear what you are saying about pink everything! It certainly increases awareness which is I think great. I agree with you about legit charities--I shared a link to a site where you can verify.

      On a personal note, I get my mammograms at a facility that does 3D mammos. I've still been called back multiple times for ultrasounds due to increased breast density. Now that it's a recommendation, I'll plan on scheduling it with my next mammo.

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  7. These are amazing tips on how we can all get involved in spreading the word about breast cancer awareness - thank you sharing! I love that the charity you are supporting dedicates almost all funds to research and education. I always research charities I give money to in order to make sure most of the money is going to the cause (there's no many sketchy ones out there)!

    Maybe you can help me convince my mom and sister to go get their mammograms since they won't listen to me (and yes, it's infuriating)!

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    1. Oh Kim, that's just insane! They have to go. Send them my way. I'll share some personal stories....

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  8. I lost my mom to breast cancer (ironically she died in October.) She had her first mammogram at 50 and cancer was already present. She was only 58 when she died. Like you, I've been having mammograms since my 30s. I did have one extremely painful exam, probably due to dense breasts, I was left with bruises!

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    1. I'm so sorry that you had such a bad experience--that should never happen! Ouch!

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  9. Yes it's so important to get regular mammograms and keep up with our checks yearly. It does seem like the usual races to support breast cancer are not a publicized this year. Thanks for the reminder! Thinking of you and your family xoxo

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  10. Thanks for sharing all of this. I have very few pink running items but I will be making a point to try to wear some of them in October! I'm almost 37 and have never had a mammogram. I'll probably start asking about it at the next time I go to the doctor. Thanks for sharing the info about the charities! I will need to look into some of those.

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    1. It's so important to research the charities. I was disheartened to see that there are charities that donate very little $$ to the cause they say they represent.

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  11. I actually work with a breast cancer nonprofit org so as you can imagine October is a big month for us. I'm glad to hear you researched your charity carefully - there are unfortunately a lot of companies of profit on the pink ribbon movement with few dollars going it where counts.

    And, yes mammograms are so important - I need to schedule mine!

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    1. Michelle, I had no idea you did that! I would have sent my charity dollars your way had I known.

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    2. I didn’t know that either!

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  12. Didn't know about Lynn Sage - she passed when was my age now. Wow... After reading this, I commit to having a mammogram. I've never had one before.

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    1. Fortunately, breast cancer in young women is still rare but it can happen! Talk to your medical provider about it.

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  13. I have never had a mammogram but now that I'm in my 30s, I need to talk to my doctor about them. Even one story of someone dying of breast cancer in her 30s is scary.

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    1. This really hits close to home for me. Thank goodness the awareness campaigns have funded so much research into treating breast cancer!

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  14. Great ideas! Wore pink today and will make a donation!

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  15. Good information, Wendy and so important to continue to share. I took the risk assessment as if it were 6 weeks ago, and I was at average risk of 1.7%. I re-did it with today's information and my risk is now 2.5%. How quickly things change.

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  16. Thanks Wendy for this post. I also plan to make a donation for every mile I run. I don't mind donating money to charing but sometimes am reluctant because I don't know how much of it goes towards the charity. I don't have a lot of pink stuff but will do with what I can. One of my older sister was diagnosed in her 20s and had a double mastectomy. She is now cancer free and enjoying her kids and grandkids. She is happy and we are happy too.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

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    1. I had no idea about your sister Zenaida! Glad to hear that she is doing well. I hope you're getting your mammograms every year. Thank you so much for participating in my challenge this month!

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  17. I registered for a virtual run and sent an additional donation to a breast cancer charity.

    In the Jacksonville area, we have the DONNA Breast Cancer Marathon in honor of a local news personality (who is currently running for office!) who beat breast cancer several times (Donna Deegan). I've been a part of the event for the past few years, on a relay team. This year, the race has gone virtual, and I might go in for a shorter distance, just because of my leg, but it's so incredible to see the community come together to help support this cause. Oh, and the money earned goes to research and to helping local patients with treatment and any other assistance they might need. It's really incredible.

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    1. I had heard about that Donna race but I never knew the story behind it! Sounds like another great cause.

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  18. Thank you for your reminder! My cousin who was only six months older than me died of breast cancer a few years ago.

    I like that the charity you chose has such a high rate of money that goes to the actual research! Many these days do not! 94% is an incredible amount!

    I have a mammogram scheduled on the 16th.

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