It’s that time again when history repeats itself and when another Facebook awareness campaign goes viral. The first status I noticed said something like, “I’m six weeks and craving ice cream.” I watched as her friends congratulated her assumed pregnancy. And then more of my friends were two weeks and craving pickles and five weeks and craving pop tarts.
Last year female Facebook users from across the nation posted status messages about their bra colors in hopes to raise awareness about breast cancer. This year the object of the game is to make people think you are with child and craving a snack.
While I totally appreciate the good intentions of the game and the good people who are participating, I think the term “awareness” is used very loosely. Another friend of mine posted this:
Attention: Women around the world: I’m *number of birth month* weeks and I’m craving *food item based on day of birth* is not going to raise a single cent for breast cancer research. GO HERE http://www.breastcancer.org/ or GO HERE http://ww5.komen.org/ and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO GET INVOLVED, instead of being another window licking, mouth breathing, facebook zombie. SERIOUSLY.
What he posted was a call to action, and while his post may seem harsh, I support the message. While I believe in the usefulness of social media, it’s my guess that “liking” something on Facebook rarely causes social change. So here is my own call to action: Why not take awareness to the next level?
Share statistics with the important women in your life. Did you know that 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of her lifetime? About 70-80% of cases occur in women who don’t have a family history of the disease. One in eight and most likely someone you know.
Share information about screening, testing, and types of breast cancer. Pass along cancer research and foundation web sites that support women and men who are being treated for or who have survived breast cancer (yes, breast cancer also occurs in men). Learn about ways to lower your risk, like avoiding certain plastics (BPA), early detection, losing weight, and eating well; pass the information along.
Then challenge yourself to take it to the next level.
Participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which I am planning to do again soon. Go with a friend or family member to get a mammogram. Support student organizations who raise money for breast cancer research. Encourage your female students to schedule a yearly checkup and to learn how to perform a self-examination. Be a cheerleader for personal health. Lend an empathetic ear to individuals and families who have been affected by breast cancer.
Friends, I applaud your efforts, but I know we can do more. Let’s start raising awareness that will help change lives.