How and Why to Raise Cancer Awareness

Photo Credit: Madedee / iStockPhoto.com

Taking the Next Step in the Fight Against Cancer

Whether you or someone you care about has struggled against some sort of cancer, you’re in a position to share your eye-opening experience and empower others with the wisdom you’ve gained. It may seem like one person can’t possibly make a difference, but the truth is your efforts can have a huge impact on individual lives and the community at large.

Why Spread the Word?

Raising awareness for cancer may not cure it, but it can help lots of people in a number of ways. As cancer awareness events, campaigns and messages gain steam, they will:

  • Help reduce the stigma about cancer
  • Connect people to the support and care they need
  • Encourage research and fund advancements in the field
  • Reduce exposure to cancer risks
  • Promote screening and prevention efforts

Although cancer is a public challenge, many people don’t realize or understand exactly how it affects the community, nation and world. By helping clarify and communicate, you help to keep the world focused and fighting against cancer all over the world.

Making Your Message Matter

There’s not much room for disagreement on the issue: cancer is bad, period. But while everybody will agree that cancer deserves attention and patients deserve support, it can be difficult to really touch the hearts and minds of your community.

Keep in mind a couple of key points when you’re ready to make your mark in any cancer awareness movement for a greater impact.

Educate Yourself First

It’s so easy to read a flashy article and jump on board, but be careful how you collect your information before you pass it on. Social media is handy and convenient, but it’s also largely unmanaged — anyone can push their opinions as facts, and they tend to spread like wildfire.

Spreading misinformation will work against your cause, so take the time to do the research before starting any sort of info campaign. Talk to your doctor, and other doctors, if you like.

Read up on official websites (look for hospital sites, national cancer sites, and those that end in .org), and ask questions when you don’t understand something. The better you understand, the better you can help others.

Fundraising Goes Farther

Memes and viral messages online can bring people together, helping you share in a sentiment and join forces for a good cause. However, these approaches can be a bit too passive to bring measurable change, and in the worst cases, they are uninformative.

Most seasoned advocates would agree that tweets and posts aren’t as effective as actively raising funds for the cause.

A fundraising focus brings definition to the problem, and clarity to the solution. There are many platforms to help raise money, whether via traditional pledge drive or an online crowdfunding site.

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When you do start to fundraise, try not to set your sights too high; stress how every penny is important, and outline where all of the money will go. Be sure to take any donation with grace and gratitude, and gather email addresses to follow up with a small note of thanks — you may be surprised at how many people become regular donors.

Best Avenues to Spread Better Understanding

There are so many places to speak, write, show and tell your message, so you won’t have trouble getting the word out. But how far will that Facebook post really go? Perhaps not as far as you had hoped.

Once you’ve decided on your message — and what you’re going to ask from your audience — find the right outlet to make the biggest change you can. Your energy and time are valuable, so spend them wisely by:

Going With the Group

It’s difficult to tell people what they should do — few people respond well to direct orders. However, showing what other people are already doing for a cause can be an effective tool to recruit new followers.

People like to feel part of something bigger, and there is power in numbers.

An easy first step is to join a local group that engages with the community, where you can meet like-minded people, and use your unique skill set to help further the cause. If there isn’t a local cancer advocacy group, consider forming your own by connecting to the national organization for literature and promotional materials, and starting an event with the support of some friends and family.

Advocacy is not a competition; every cancer is a terrible affliction, and there is no room for factions when it comes to support, research and treatment.

Using “Awareness” Days as a Jumping-Off Point

The American Journal of Public Health reports more than 200 officially-recognized health awareness days and months in the nation, and there seem to be more created every year. However, experts and researchers aren’t convinced that these days do much in the way of helping to recruit supporters, or advance the fight against the disease.

On the other hand, awareness days can be useful to get things started, because they draw a good deal of attention on your behalf. Organizing a charity walk, picnic, or other event where people can interact with each other in a positive environment can get people involved for the long-haul.

Even if they’re not willing to fork over money, the memories and face-to-face connections they’ll gain can encourage support, and eventually shift cultural norms.

Doing the Dirty Work

There are all sorts of things involved with cancer advocacy, including some less glamorous and less exciting chores. Speaking with community groups, councils or media about insurance access for patients, job discrimination, or problem with cancer care can feel confrontational, and it can take time to find people who will listen.

The small roles might not be as entertaining as helping out with a charity run or organizing a fun fair, but they’re important, and very much appreciated. If you’re serious about spreading the word, use all the avenues at your fingertips.

You might just find you’re a better negotiator or more adept at communicating than you think, and that can be as fulfilling as it is helpful.

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