Raising awareness

With over 100 different types of cancer, many people are not aware of them. By creating more ways to recognize and support other cancers, we can spread awareness. (photo by Areli Smith)

A whole month of pink socks, pink football games and pink pom-poms all for breast cancer.

Now imagine a month with a different color every week or even every day, showing support for a different set of fighters and survivors. Breast cancer awareness and pink October are great causes, but we show a lack of recognition for other cancers that are devastating to our community and even our student body: We need to do more to raise awareness for other types of cancers. 

The most widely acknowledged type of cancer is by far breast cancer. Schools everywhere will get “pink’d out” and hold events in honor of the fighters and survivors. Although this is good and a step in the right direction, there are over 100 forms of cancer, and many of them are just as devastating to our students and their families. Just doing these things for one cancer does not provide the recognition needed for every fighter. 

Cancer can range from brain cancer to stomach cancer. Many of these other forms might not be as known, but they are just as important. 

According to statistics for 2018 alone, there was an estimated 268,670 cases of breast cancer. However, there were 18.1 million new cases of cancer – which means breast cancer only took up about 1.5% of that number. Ignoring and not informing others of the 98.5% causes a lack of acknowledgement and support to fighters and survivors. These people go through the same fears and treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, and providing hope can be beneficial. 

According to the American Cancer Society, pediatric cancer is the second biggest cause of death in children 18 and under. Childhood cancer will kill 1,190, ages 1-15, in 2021 alone. 

Although pediatric cancer is not breast cancer or lung cancer, it is things like leukemia, brain tumors and lymphomas. This is why it is especially important to make students aware of this cancer and other cancers that have more of an impact on them.

Of the people unaware of the statistics for other cancers, many might not know that just like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are months dedicated to most cancers. However, these months are not widely acknowledged. 

Some of these months have multiple recognized cancers, some have one and some do not have any. Along with these, some months recognize groups of people, such as cancer caregivers or all survivors. 

Months like July, Bone Cancer Awareness Month, and June, National Cancer Survivor Month, tend not to receive the same recognition as others. According to bone cancer statistics, there will be about 3,610 bone cancer diagnoses and of that number 2,060 deaths.

No matter what form it comes in, cancer is cancer. It is a disease that can not only affect a person physically, but also mentally. The toll it takes on cancer patients daily can also impact their friends and family. People around cancer patients struggle to watch their loved ones suffer while they can not do anything to help them besides be there for them.

While it may be hard to spend every month holding events and doing different things, it is still possible to recognize and spread awareness. Helping people learn more and celebrate others fighting such a tough battle does not always have to be in the most extravagant ways like pink’d football games. Smaller attempts of recognition can be just as meaningful to people. 

One of these small yet powerful things people can do is to pick a month and hold a school announcement every day about a different cancer. This can help bring attention to multiple cancers and show support to those fighting against it. Along with that, it will not take much time or money.

Another effective way of spreading awareness that comes increasingly more accessible every day is through social media. Posting a simple thing saying it is an awareness month or showing people fighting cancer and asking people to support them can be easiest to inform people. This method is available any time and anywhere, and almost everyone checks their social media daily, allowing it to get around faster. 

Sporting events like football or basketball can even hold games where everyone can wear a ribbon or the color of a cancer they know has affected someone. This way awareness can be spread and recognition is brought to all cancer patients that need it.

Although it may seem hard, the number of ways to spread awareness and raise support for fighters and survivors increases by the day. All it takes is one post or one person speaking out to make something more known and increase awareness for other types of cancers.