How Every RN Can Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Article Categories: Diseases and Conditions & Nurse On the Job

Think Pink! It’s October and that means Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everything from cookies to clothing to cosmetics…there are reminders and events everywhere. There are good reasons to make the entire month as “pink” as possible:

• 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during her life
• In 2015, almost 232,000 women will learn they have invasive breast cancer
• After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women
• 85% of patients have no family history of breast cancer
• Right now, there are over 2.8 million women who are being treated or have finished treatment for breast cancer

Nurses can have tremendous influence in the community. Every year since 2002, nurses have been at the top of the Gallup’s “Most Trusted Profession” poll. Nurses are seen as honest and ethical, rating higher than pharmacists and grade school teachers. With this kind of confidence, you have the ability to motivate women to learn more about prevention and screenings.

How can you use this “built-in” credibility to leverage awareness about breast cancer?

• Wear your pink ribbon…and use it as a way to talk about all the reasons women should schedule preventive screenings.

• Decorate your office, unit, or work space. No matter where you work, there is likely a bulletin board, hallway, or even a bathroom that can become a place to post awareness information for October.

• Be a role model. When an RN eats healthy, gets regular exercise, and schedules annual screenings, people take notice. Lead the way!

• Volunteer for Breast Cancer Awareness events. When you sign up to be a volunteer or participant at a fundraiser or walk, you represent the medical community.

• Organize a Pink Event where you work. Make it simple, such as posters in the exam rooms or brochures at the nurses’ station. Make it a competition with another unit. If your facility is willing, ask for a barbeque and donate the profits to a breast cancer research program.

• Dig out your pink scrubs, shirts, and sweaters. Can your office or unit allow staff members wear pink? If you can’t wear pink all the time, choose some “Pretty in Pink” days. Guys, remember that “real” men wear pink, too!

Nurses may even share a responsibility in providing awareness as well as being a resource. In an interesting article about facilitating support groups, from the Oncology Nursing Forum, author DD Coward from the Nursing School at the University of Texas states: “Nurses should maintain awareness of local resources for support and make that information available to women when they are newly diagnosed with breast cancer, during their treatment, and later.”

Small efforts can lead to big results. When you can take advantage of the natural trust that people have for nurses, you can use it to potentially save lives. And isn’t that why you wanted to be a nurse?