By: Ina Joseph
The arrival of October means the return of pumpkin lattes, red autumn leaves, and bright pink ribbons. Breast Cancer Awareness month is rife with the same symbols (which we’ve talked a bit about) each year, and the same big-named “awareness” organizations hosting walks and other fundraisers. While their work has made an undeniable impact on the breast cancer community and its advancement, it’s about time we go beyond awareness. From investing in Stage IV research to de-stigmatizing our lemons, there’s so much more to breast cancer than the color pink and all of its accessories.
Here are some of our favorite breast cancer organizations, communities, and brands that you should get to know this month and beyond.
Know Your Lemons Foundation
You know ‘em, we love ‘em. Founded by Dr. Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont MFA, PhD, Know Your Lemons went from a viral campaign in 2017 to one of the most innovative breast cancer education foundations. What exactly makes KYL so unique? Its use of a “universal design to make it really easy to understand basic breast health messages so people can find breast cancer as early as possible,” in Dr. Ellsworth-Beaumont's own words. Besides giving a whole new meaning to “when life gives you lemons”, Know Your Lemons Foundation provides a number of ways to get engaged besides donating, from becoming a Lemonista to volunteering your time.
Titty Cat Tees
Founded by bad-ass breast cancer survivor / educator (and dear friend of Amour Caché’s) Paige Shafer, Titty Cat Tees raises money for breast cancer research organizations through, well, witty, titty, kitty tees. This purpose-driven apparel brand brings a humorous positivity into the world that everyone can appreciate, whether or not you’re a breast cancer survivor. Not only will Paige’s shirts, totes, and mugs make you smile, they’ll also contribute to an incredible cause.
Although “awareness” is often front-and-center throughout the month of October, research is still the most crucial component of the battle against breast cancer. At the helm of research surrounding the most dangerous form of breast cancer is METAvivor – the nation’s only organization “dedicated to awarding annual Stage 4 breast cancer research”. Given the misconceptions and lack of public awareness surrounding Stage IV breast cancer, METAvivor’s work breaks boundaries and stigmas in the breast cancer space. Beyond their ground-breaking research, this organization also reminds us that breast cancer is more than “just wearing, buying, or even walking for ‘pink’”.
For the Breast of Us
Despite breast cancer being the most common form of cancer among all women, women of color still have the highest breast mortality rates and are more likely to get diagnosed at a later stage than white women. Created in 2019 by #breastcancerbaddies Jasmine Souers and Marissa Thomas, For the Breast of Us is an online community highlighting this reality. By sharing the stories and struggles of breast cancer survivors of color, For the Breast of Us has transformed the meaning of representation within the breast cancer movement. From joining the conversation to becoming a #BaddieAmbassador (like our friend Dr. Alexea), there are a number of ways to get involved with this uniquely inclusive movement.
When women from different walks of life come together, powerful things can happen. Founded in 2018 by four women with four very different gynecological cancer experiences, The Breasties truly epitomizes what an all-inclusive non-profit should look like. By catering to survivors, caregivers, and everyone else in between, The Breasties has become not just a breast cancer organization, but a movement. And like any movement, The Breasties aims to change the conversation surrounding breast cancer awareness, most recently with their newest Pink Is Not the Problem campaign.
Recently launched by breast cancer survivor, mentor, and former ED nurse Laura Pike, Empowered Mastectomy is a new kind of breast cancer initiative. Through a gallery of vulnerable and powerful images, Empowered Mastectomy makes the exploration of life after breast cancer a beautiful art. “[Changing] the experience for breast cancer previvors, survivors, and thrivers” through empowerment, Laura shared with us, not only serves as the mission of Empowered Mastectomy, but it is a mantra that should persist beyond the month of October as we think about what true allyship to the breast cancer community really looks like.
Young Survival Coalition
In our conversations with breast cancer survivors, we’ve learned that the unvaried depictions of breast cancer experiences can create significant barriers in finding not only care, but also community. The Young Survival Coalition combats this by providing “knowledge and understanding” to young survivors, giving them agency over their own health. Through resources, tools, and community events, this organization ensures survivors will never feel alone, no matter what their battle with breast cancer looks like. You can help amplify YSC’s work by becoming an advocate, hosting an event, or even sharing your own story.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
When it comes to advancing our understanding of breast cancer, research is the answer. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has been at it since 1993 and continues to gain remarkable ground in understanding the disease. Although the complexity of breast cancer is a deterrent to many in investing in research, BCRF breaks down its approach accessibly while also humanizing its work by sharing the stories of researchers, survivors, and others impacted by the organization.