For years, individuals and organizations across the globe have dedicated themselves to the fight against breast cancer, a disease that will claim about 40,000 lives in 2013. There are walks and runs to raise money for research, apps to help people learn more about the disease, and a sea of pink ribbons symbolizing a commitment to finding a cure. Every October, which has been designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are a slew of new campaigns and opportunities to join the fight.
This year many of those efforts are harnessing the power of social media to spread awareness and raise money. Some campaigns unite supporters under a common hashtag; others create online communities of people who have been personally affected by the disease. We’re here to share some of the most innovative initiatives, and to let you know how you can participate — without ever taking your eyes from the computer screen. Note: This list certainly doesn't highlight every social media campaign fighting breast cancer. We chose campaigns based on how easy it is to join, how many people are currently participating via social media, and how much they appeal to young, or socially engaged users.
Looking for more ways to contribute? Check out last year’s list of 8 Social Good Campaigns Fighting Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns
1. We’re Stronger Together
A staple in the makeup section of department stores, Estee Lauder is also an ardent supporter in the fight against breast cancer. This year the company’s taking the step from awareness to concrete action, symbolized by the slogan, “Let’s defeat breast cancer. We’re stronger together.” The goal is to raise another $5 million on top of the $48 million they’ve already raised to fund breast cancer research, education, and medical services. Estee Lauder also recently added a social media component to their fight against breast cancer with the #BCAStrength campaign. “Circles of Strength” are essentially social networks in which participants all over the world connect around specific health goals related to preventing breast cancer (think “eat antioxidant-rich food” or “schedule a mammogram”).
2. Keep a Breast
Most of us haven’t heard someone proclaim, “i love boobies!” since middle school, but this breast cancer awareness campaign is pretty serious. The initiative is geared toward young men and women, whether or not they’ve been personally affected by breast cancer, by encouraging them to wear T-shirts, bracelets, and other merchandise emblazoned with the slogan above. KAB hopes to reduce some of the shame surrounding breast health and encourage us to be proactive about preventing and detecting the disease. This year the organization is dedicated to honoring people’s individual stories about their experiences with breast cancer, which is why they’ve created #thisismypinkribbon. To participate, all you have to do is create a post on social media that completes the sentence “I wear my pink ribbon because…” and label it with the above hashtag.
3. Breast Cancer Campaign
For more than 20 years, scientists and activists involved in this organization have worked to raise money for breast cancer research in the U.K. and Ireland. This year they’re putting an artistic spin on the campaign by creating a “jigsaw,” essentially an image of a puzzle in which each piece represents an individual donor’s commitment to fighting breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Campaign is partially supported by wear it pink, which organizes an annual event (October 25 this year) focused on getting Brits to don pink and donate money to the campaign. This year, wear it pink users can voice their support for the campaign by adding “twibbons,” or images of pink ribbons, to their profile photos on Facebook and Twitter.
(Also Check Out: Healthy Breasts: What Everyone Should Know)
A hub for grassroots philanthropic campaigns, Causes lets users submit petitions and recruit people (friends or strangers) to sign on and donate money. Right now the site features a bunch of initiatives to raise money for and awareness of the disease, including one man who dyed his beard pink to fundraise for the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Since 2011, #BCSM (which stands for “Breast Cancer Social Media”) has been the go-to spot for women struggling with breast cancer to learn more about treatments for the disease and share their experiences with others in similar positions. Every Monday night at 9 p.m. ET the organization hosts a Twitter chat focused on a specific topic related to breast cancer (most recently the team discussed male breast cancer), often bringing in physicians, researchers, and other experts. Anyone who wants to learn more about the disease or talk about their story can join.
6. Personal Ink
This collection of Pinterest boards is geared mostly toward breast cancer survivors. Specifically, it’s a place where individuals recovering from breast cancer can share ideas for “tattoos,” or creative ways of covering scars from surgery. Some of the boards feature inspirational stories and quotations from those personally affected by breast cancer.
The idea behind this organization is to help those struggling with breast cancer feel less alone. The site functions as an information resource, with answers to common questions about the disease, as well as a database of medical professionals who specialize in treating breast cancer. Perhaps most importantly, myBCteam creates a social network where women with breast cancer can share their experiences and learn from each other.
8. Beyond the Shock
For many women (and men), the fear of developing breast cancer is overwhelming and confusing. Beyond the Shock, created by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, is dedicated to alleviating some of that burden by providing practical information resources and the opportunity to connect to others who have faced breast cancer. Visitors to the site can post questions and get answers from other community members and share their personal stories in brief videos. Beyond the Shock’s services are also available through free mobile apps.
Are you participating in any social media campaigns for Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.