How to Organize a Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative in the Workplace

Even though October is the nation's official Breast Cancer Awareness Month, increasing public awareness and improving community networks need not wait until the Fall. With a variety of breast cancer awareness programs in place around the country, many corporations and companies are taking advantage of the potential of employee groups and initiatives to raise funds for the campaign. It's fairly easy to start a breast cancer initiative in the workplace, especially in an environment where community resources may be limited.

If your company is involved with other projects, charities, and events, a good place to start is by contacting the Human Resources department. This is the spot to raise the issues behind the cause, and provide information on why your workplace needs to support the program. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month foundation provides continuous support and resources to help companies create a successful work initiative that helps with education programs, access to health providers, and support from local cancer organizations. Here are simple ways to get started with your workplace initiative:

  1. Review workplace demographics. If the majority of the company is made of women 40 years or older, it's likely that many can benefit from a breast cancer awareness efforts. These may include screening, educational programs, introductions to local cancer organizations, and even personal instruction on breast self-examination. It's important that all of these women are aware of the resources readily available to them.
  2. Create a workplace committee. Becoming a program leader is an easy way to get involved, and you can volunteer just a couple of hours per week to make your efforts a success! Send out bulletins, e-mails, and other alerts to all employees to join you as you organize the group or committee. You can meet on a bimonthly basis to create plans, implement new ideas, and follow through on organizing events and other initiatives as a group.
  3. Meet with potential providers and experts in the local community. Brainstorming some workplace initiative ideas can help you create a collaborative plan and organize an effective program. You can evaluate a local mammography service, set up educational seminars with nurses and cancer centers, or simply work as the liaison between the cancer facilities and the workplace group.
  4. Increase employee awareness. Post bulletins, distribute newsletters, or schedule in-office screenings at regular intervals throughout the year. Making employees aware of their resources and opportunities at a local level will help to increase participation naturally.
  5. Organizes classes for breast self-exams. You can coordinate this at a local health care facility or on-site. You might also work with the local breast cancer organizations to distribute videos and educational materials. Some great resources to find materials include The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation , and CancerCare . The American Cancer Society also offer a variety of guides and booklets.

Increasing awareness and implementing an effective program in the workplace are parts of an ongoing process, but setting the foundation will take some time and planning. Any workplace organization with a high female population can benefit from a formal Breast Cancer Awareness Month program, and the organization itself is a valuable resource to develop and grow your efforts!

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