Each year 200,000 Americans experience the life changing moment of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Many patients and their families undergoing this journey feel as though the world has shifted under their feet, as daily routines are altered and plans are put on hold.
For those struggling with breast cancer, as well as for people who are in the process of supporting or who have lost a loved one, staying positive while going about daily routines can be a challenge. Feelings of anxiety and depression are common and often overwhelming. Seeking solace in nature and spirituality, practicing gratitude, connecting with others, and pursuing goals can help combat feelings of sadness, loneliness and guilt during these times, according to some experts.
Campaigns such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Pink Ribbon Fundraisers are valuable tools, both for raising awareness, which improves early detection, and for helping form support networks among breast cancer patients, survivors and their families. Breast cancer awareness campaigns and fundraisers let participants feel of service and provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment as fundraising goals are met. These fundraisers connect patients and their families with others struggling with the same challenges and engender a feeling of empowerment.
However, despite the best intentions of Pink Ribbon fundraising campaigns, many have come under fire for using promotional materials that are insensitive to the fight against breast cancer. The “Think Before You Pink” movement has criticized many ideas for Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraisers for thoughtlessly using items that have been linked to incidences of breast cancer in the developed world. Dubbed “pinkwashing”, these items include alcohol, unhealthy foods sold by fast-food companies, and cosmetics that contain chemicals linked to breast cancer, among others.
Other campaigns have been criticized for simply trying to make money from breast cancer communities and breast cancer awareness.
However, pharmacists are in a unique position to provide a daily pick-me-up for patients and their families by offering items that are needed by this community every day. Pink pill bottles, for example, are an inexpensive item that can be handed out during breast cancer awareness campaigns or provided routinely with related dispensary items. Brightly colored pill bottles can be useful for distinguishing between medications at home, or simply as a cheerful reminder of solidarity during what for many is a low point of their daily routines.
No matter how you choose to support breast cancer awareness this October, taking a little extra time to ensure that your actions are supporting good health and bringing joy and solidarity to survivors and their families is well worth the effort.