Employers can join in cancer awareness efforts

Katie Goddeyne
Katie Goddeyne

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Communities come together and, suddenly, everything is pink — the seemingly universal color of breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons appear on the packaging of our favorite foods. Athletic teams sport pink socks, uniforms and headbands to show their support.

It’s no surprise communities come together the way they do given the toll this disease has on women and men. Most people have been touched by breast cancer in one way another — through a spouse, family member, friend or co-worker. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women no matter race or ethnicity — not counting some forms of skin cancer. Breast cancer is also the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.

According to the most recent data, 224,147 women and 2,125 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Of those, 41,150 women and 405 men died from the disease. On average, 104 Mesa County women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Risks of breast cancer decrease if a person maintains a healthy weight, exercises regularly, limits alcohol intake and makes an effort to reduce exposure to radiation and chemicals that can cause cancer. It’s also important to know your family history and talk to your health care provider about screening.

For more information about breast cancer, visit the Web site located at www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/.

So what can employers do to reduce the risk of breast cancer in their employees? Raise awareness. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has some ideas to get you started:

Go pink at the office. Organize a casual pink Friday. Encourage coworkers to wear pink in exchange for a donation and then donate to your favorite breast cancer research foundation.

Conduct a dress up your door contest. Make breast cancer awareness a team effort with a workplace pink door decorating contest.

Designate a pink parking spot. Designate the best spot in your parking lot as the pink parking spot and assign it to a different employee each week of the month. You can raffle off the spot, give it to an outstanding employee or put it to a vote of employees. Either way, the pink spot will raise awareness.

Promote breast cancer awareness through your October newsletter. Use the statistics and information in this column to inform your employees and encourage screenings.

Take advantage of social media. Share information and spread awareness through your social media pages. Your employees likely follow your pages and your customers will appreciate the information as well.

Organize a fund-raising event. Work together with your staff to coordinate a 5-kilometer walk or run event and donate the proceeds to your favorite breast cancer research foundation. Not only will this raise awareness, but it will bring your company to the forefront of the public eye.