May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and rally support for the more than 700,000 people living with benign brain tumors or brain cancer in the United States.

Brain tumors are atypical groups of cells located in your brain or upper part of your spine. The growths don’t always contain cancer cells, but they can still jeopardize your health and functioning if they get large enough.

Brain Tumor Awareness Month aims to raise funds for research, to educate people about brain tumors of all types, and to support people whose lives are affected by brain tumors.

Brain Tumor Awareness Month takes place during May. Also called “Gray May,” the month-long campaign aims to shed light on the “gray area” between hope and darkness that people often experience when dealing with brain tumors.

In addition to Brain Tumor Awareness Month, researchers and advocates work to raise awareness and support during these other events:

  • May 10: Ependymoma Awareness Day. This day focuses on education and research related to a rare tumor called an ependymoma. This type of tumor forms in the spaces of your brain or spinal cord containing cerebrospinal fluid.
  • June 8: World Brain Tumor Day. Initiated by the German Brain Tumor Association, this day recognizes people who are diagnosed with brain tumors and their families.
  • July 21: Glioblastoma (GBM) Awareness Day. Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain cancer with a 5-year survival rate of around 6.8 percent. In 2021, GBM Awareness Day included research updates, fundraising, educational programming, and shared stories from people with glioblastomas.

Throughout the month of May, you can find lots of ways to get involved locally, nationally, and online. Here are a few to consider.

Participate in a fundraising run or walk

In 2021, the first virtual National Brain Tumor Walk & Race for Hope took place in Washington, D.C. The event raised $1,450,917.56 and brought together supporters from. across the country.

To find an event near you, visit the National Brain Tumor Association’s Upcoming Events list. If you don’t see something planned in your area, you might consider planning one of your own.

Hop on your bike

For 26 years, Brain Tumor Awareness Month has included a bicycle ride in communities around the nation. You can join a ride in person or with a team of friends or colleagues — or even pedal your stationary bike at home or in the gym. The ride has raised a total of more than $18 million since it began to support public policy initiatives and research.

Reach out with social media

The National Brain Tumor Association encourages people of all ages to create their own live endurance challenges and other awareness and fundraising campaigns on Instagram, Facebook, and other sites. You can also:

  • share infographics to raise awareness among your friends and colleagues
  • choose a Facebook frame that highlights the cause
  • tell your story using #TheGrayScale
  • post a photo of a family member or friend on the Virtual Wall of Hope

Donate to fund research or direct support

If you want to contribute to brain tumor organizations to enable more research and advocacy, or if you’d like to give a gift to honor or memorialize someone with a brain tumor, you can donate online to the following groups:

You can also donate to hospitals that treat people with brain tumors, such as:

Join advocacy efforts

In 2021, Gray May featured a Head to the Hill campaign in which advocates met virtually with members of Congress. There, they shared their stories and petitioned lawmakers to invest in research, close health disparity gaps, and improve healthcare options for people with brain tumors.

To become a public policy advocate, you can sign up here.

  • Not all brain tumors are cancer. In fact, 70 percent of brain tumors are benign or noncancerous.
  • Around 84,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year.
  • Brain tumors are the number one cause of cancer-related death in children younger than 19 years old.
  • The chances of developing brain cancer are less than 1 percent.

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. In the United States and around the world, researchers and advocates join together to raise awareness and support for people living with malignant and benign brain tumors.

If you’d like to be part of Gray May, you can participate in local or virtual foot races, bike rides, or another kind of endurance challenge. You can fundraise and share information on social media. Or you can donate to one of the many outstanding charities that better the lives of people living with brain tumors.

However, you choose to support Brain Tumor Awareness Month, know that your efforts make a difference to people in the brain tumor community.