How to Participate in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Provide critical support and promote the search for a cure

Breast cancer kills approximately 40,000 women in the United States each year. While that's a sobering statistic, there are numerous ways to support research into new drug development and to provide hands-on help to women going through treatment. Whatever your commitment, you can make a difference.

Diverse people registering for charity breast cancer awareness race
Steve Debenport/E+/Getty Images

Provide Hands-On Help

Hands-on volunteer work is incredibly impactful and often very rewarding, but it requires time. If your schedule is open enough to participate in some hands-on volunteering, the following programs are great options.

American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery

Reach to Recovery has been around since 1952 and has enlisted the help of breast cancer survivors to offer support, information, and resources to newly-diagnosed patients struggling to navigate the world of cancer treatment.

Reach To Recovery volunteers are trained to provide emotional support to patients and their families, and give information about treatments, coping, and recovery. Support can be given over the phone or during a home or hospital visit.

Breast cancer survivors, in particular, are very effective in this effort because they've had firsthand experience with the disease.

American Cancer Society Road to Recovery

If you can drive, you can work with Road To Recovery to help cancer patients who may not be able to get themselves to their treatment facility. Transporting a patient to and from treatment can ease a lot of anxiety and stress, especially if the patient is feeling weak or nauseous. A caring, friendly driver with a flexible schedule can provide a very necessary service, as well as companionship.

Transportation has a profound impact on cancer therapy, particularly in economically challenged communities. Studies have shown that people who have transportation difficulties experience greater treatment-related pain, fatigue, and mood problems than those who don't.

Look Good Feel Better

If you work in a salon, you might want to consider using your skills to help breast cancer patients. Look Good Feel Better relies on volunteer cosmetologists who can teach women how to deal with hair loss and care for their skin and nails during treatment.

Volunteers undergo training and certification. Patients at all stages of treatment who attend these programs learn how to improve their appearance and boost self-esteem. Cosmetics donations are provided for sessions and samples are given to each participant.

Participate in Fundraising Walks

So much of breast cancer support is rooted in fundraising—especially via marathon walks. Volunteers and survivors alike unite to raise funds for support and research. Here a few well-established ones to consider.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Making Strides is a non-competitive walk that raises funds for breast cancer research, support, education, awareness, and legislation. Participate as an individual or as a team, and raise money through grassroots efforts or with matching grants.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Are you up for a three-day event? Can you walk 60 miles over the course of three days and camp out overnight? Then you're ready to help raise funds for Susan G. Komen. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day hosts walks around the United States from August through November. Walkers must raise a minimum amount of fundraising dollars to participate. If you want to help, but can't walk 60 miles, you can serve as a walk volunteer instead.

Advocate and Educate

If you've been affected by breast cancer, whether as a patient, a family member, or a friend, you can offer valuable support to patients and their loved ones by becoming a breast cancer advocate. Pay it forward by helping breast cancer patients and those who are newly diagnosed.

The impact of breast cancer education and awareness cannot be understated. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of International Medical Research, the number of women who underwent breast cancer screening in one hospital nearly doubled in the month following Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Become a Breast Cancer Mentor

Offer support to patients and their loved ones with a diagnosis or treatment experience similar to your own. After Breast Cancer Diagnosis has a wonderful mentor program that lets you provide support in person, over the phone, or online after having gone through the organization's certification program.

Become a Breast Health Educator

If you enjoy speaking to groups and are good at explaining things, you might want to consider becoming a breast health educator through an organization like After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Breast cancer survivors are trained as guest speakers and workshop facilitators, spreading the word and teaching more people about the disease and treatments.

Organize a Breast Cancer Support Group

If you're a survivor who attended a support group during and after treatment, then you understand the value such a network provides. Use your own experience to return the favor by volunteering to facilitate a support group for breast cancer patients. Let your life encourage others in the fight.

Donate Skills, Goods, and Funds

There are lots of easy ways to provide services and assistance to those currently in treatment or recovery.

Put Your Skills to Good Use

Breast cancer organizations and support groups use volunteers in more ways than you might think. Assess your skill set. If you have basic office skills, like typing, making phone calls, and stuffing envelopes, can keep financial records, or have worked in event planning or marketing, your local breast cancer group can certainly use your help.

Many of these organizations rely solely on volunteer staff, and it's a good way to give back to an organization that may have helped you or someone you love through a difficult time.

Give to Top-Rated Pink Ribbon Charities

Monetary donations are always appreciated and are the perfect way to help if you're strapped for time. But it's important to know that some non-profit organizations put the majority of donations toward administrative and fundraising expenses, rather than patients and research.

Ensure your donation goes where you want it to go by giving to breast cancer organizations that spend more than half of every dollar donated on support, research, and education, such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

Recycle Your Gently Used Wigs

If you're done with your wig after going through treatment, donate it. Many local chapters of the American Cancer Society accept gently used wigs to give to those who can't afford one. Donate your wigs and accessories, like a wig stand, shampoo, and brushes, to your local breast cancer support group so they can be given to women who are in immediate need.

Wigs help improve self-esteem and social adjustment in women undergoing breast cancer therapy. Studies have shown that women with chemotherapy-induced hair loss experience significant improvements in mood and are better able to function on a daily basis after being provided a quality wig.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. O'Hanlon CE. What kills us and what moves us: A comparative discourse analysis of heart disease and breast cancer. Digit Health. 2019;5:2055207619844865. doi:10.1177/2055207619844865

  2. Zullig LL, Jackson GL, Provenzale D, Griffin JM, Phelan S, Van Ryn M. Transportation: a vehicle or roadblock to cancer care for VA patients with colorectal cancer?. Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2012;11(1):60-5. doi:10.1016/j.clcc.2011.05.001

  3. Karabay O, Hasbahceci M, Kadioglu H. Impact of breast cancer awareness month on detection of breast cancer in a private hospital. J Int Med Res. 2018;46(2):619-25. doi:10.1177/0300060517699988

  4.  Jang MH, Bae SK. Recognition change before and after wearing wigs of the female cancer patientsJ Korea Contents Assoc. 2010;10:198-205. doi:10.5392/JKCA.2010.10.4.198

By Pam Stephan
Pam Stephan is a breast cancer survivor.