Alvaro Restrepo, MD
You just found out your loved one or friend has breast cancer. Your first thought: How can I help? Your second and third thoughts: I don’t know where to begin. What if I don’t have a lot of money or time?
In the fight against breast cancer, there’s a place for everyone. In fact, your supporting role can make a difference in the life of patients, and in yours. Helping a loved one with breast cancer on their journey can mean taking one of your own.
Care for a caregiver – Providing respite for a caregiver is one of the best ways to help a breast cancer patient. Offer to mow a lawn, watch kids, or take a turn sitting with a patient to give the caregiver a break – add movie tickets or restaurant gift cards. Other ways to help include volunteering to run errands or doing household chores.
Blaze your own trail – Create your own fundraiser or awareness event for a loved one in need. Consider collecting sponsors to pledge funds for every mile you walk, or every touchdown your local high school football team scores. Plan a profit-sharing night with a restaurant, organize a dance-a-thon, or start a lemonade stand. Collect lollipops for chemotherapy patients or snack packs for oncology nurses. Read on to hear about how local doctors and nurses with Texas Oncology–McAllen created their own breast cancer support event.
“Staying active can reduce your own cancer risk.”
The arts – So you’re not the outdoorsy type. Look for luncheons, galas, auctions, and concerts that combine a good time with a great cause. Can’t afford pricey benefit tickets? Check out volunteering opportunities.
Volunteer your time and talents – Many cancer treatment centers, including Texas Oncology, match volunteers with patient needs. Volunteers can help coordinate with support groups, knit “chemo caps,” make blankets to keep patients warm, or read aloud to patients. Ask your local treatment center how you can help.
Get active – For power walkers, runners, cyclists, and other fitness enthusiasts, there are numerous fundraisers that generate money for research and awareness. Here’s a bonus: staying active can reduce your own cancer risk. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is substantial evidence that physical activity is linked to a lowered risk of breast, colon, prostate, lung and endometrial cancers.
In 2007, I and my fellow Texas Oncology–McAllen staff saw an opportunity to offer a new event to our McAllen community to fight breast cancer. That year, we hosted our first Walk, Run, & Ride to raise funds for cancer patients. On October 15, 2016, we’ll join with our friends and neighbors for the 9th Annual McAllen Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, Run, & Ride hosted by Texas Oncology–McAllen. No matter your fitness level, it’s a great opportunity to join the fight against cancer with a 2.5 or 4.5 walk, a 5K run, or a 20/40/60 mile bike ride! Funds raised at the Walk, Run, & Ride event benefit cancer survivors who qualify for financial assistance. You can register to participate here: We have a variety of activities and plenty of volunteer options, so that everyone truly can join.Learn more at
You may feel helpless when a loved one receives a breast cancer diagnosis, but the truth is each of us has the ability make a difference in the fight against breast cancer by helping light the way along the difficult, occasionally dark journey that patients endure. How will you lend a hand?