In fifth grade, my best friend was forced to face a heartbreaking reality: her mom had breast cancer. She called me in a fit of tears to tell me the news. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what it meant. I mean, I knew what cancer was—but it wasn’t supposed to get near me or my family or my friends’ family. It belonged on the TV screen, where magic happened and the victims recovered in no-time. To say the least, I had a skewed idea of what the coming journey and outcome would be. I was wrong. I was very wrong.

The next few years proved… difficult. Over time, the hard-working, lively, loud woman we all knew grew quiet. And about seven years after her initial diagnosis, she passed. Living in her honor are five beautiful girls who walk with grace, dignity, and beauty. You’d never guess they lost their mother to a long, harrowing battle with cancer—but they also aren’t shy about it. They recognize the importance of sharing their experience, of raising awareness for the everlasting effects of this deadly disease: a campaign we should all get behind.

Every single year on February 4th, World Cancer Day unites the world in the fight against cancer. This movement’s mission is to save millions of lives by simply spreading awareness for the disease—something you can and need to be a part of. Show your support for this campaign by spreading the word and also learn how to help those who are in some way affected by cancer.

Get Involved: How Can I Raise Awareness?

According to WorldCancerDay.org, there are a few different ways you can get involved and spread awareness for cancer, such as the following:

1) Share your activity on the interactive “Map of Impact.”

      • Whether you’re planning a fundraising event, attending an advocacy activity, or simply getting together with friends to have an important conversation about cancer, share it on the

    Map of Activites

      . This map is a platform meant to put all of this great work on display and encourage others to join.

2) Spread the message on social media.
You can also show your support for this campaign and evoke change by participating in the “Signs for Change” activity. Simply decorate a sign with your own creative message about cancer awareness and then share it on social media.

3) Educate yourself, and then spread your knowledge.
There are campaign materials available to download on WorldCancerDay.org, including posters, toolkits, and factsheets. Use these materials to familiarize yourself with the campaign and the disease, and then pass your knowledge onto others.

Provide Support: How Can I Help When Cancer Strikes?

When my best friend called to tell me that her mother was diagnosed with cancer, I had no idea what to say or how to help. Fortunately, however, over time I recognized what she needed from me. Here’s how you can help a loved one who is affected by cancer in one way or another:

  • Simply be there. Cancer is not a problem you can solve. But what you can do is simply be there for your friend or family member: be present, be empathetic, and be supportive. This is what they need most. And they’ll be forever grateful for it.
  • Be proactive. If there’s something you can do that you know will help out, then do it. Or, if you feel more comfortable asking beforehand, then be specific in your suggestions. Instead of saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can to do help!” say, for example, “Can I grab groceries for you while I’m out?” They’ll feel more comfortable saying yes and allowing you to help.
  • Don’t act normal, be normal. Yes, cancer is a life-changing disease. But, that’s not to say that his or her life has to revolve around the diagnosis. Encourage your loved one to talk about cancer if they want to, but also welcome conversation about the more mundane: how work is going, who won the football game, what your plans are this weekend. The world hasn’t stopped spinning, so don’t act like it—your loved one will appreciate the normalcy.
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