Pink October has become almost a national holiday, with pink promotions just about everywhere. However, the money companies donate often doesn’t go where it’s needed most: to people with metastatic cancer.

Many people have good intentions when Pink October rolls around. They truly want to do something to help cure breast cancer — a disease that experts estimate may cause 42,250 deaths in the United States in 2024.

Breast cancer is also the most common cancer worldwide, accounting for approximately 670,000 deaths in 2022.

The truth is, thanks to efforts made in the last 40 years, pretty much everyone in the United States who’s more than 6 years old may already be aware of breast cancer. However, early detection and awareness aren’t the cure-alls that people may have thought of when inventing the pink ribbon.

Some people receive an early stage breast cancer diagnosis, get treatment, and then still go on to have a metastatic relapse. During this stage, treatments may be less likely to work.

This is why it’s important to focus your efforts on helping people with advanced breast cancer. This goes beyond buying pink T-shirts or ribbons or reminding people to get checked.

This article provides 12 actionable things you can do during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support people living with breast cancer and those working on a cure.

When picking a charity, make sure its focus is on support rather than awareness. Support comes in many forms, from providing makeup classes, gas cards, and wigs to exercise classes and even full treatment payment.

All these things can help a person with breast cancer through a trying time, emotionally and physically.

Charities that focus on support include:

You can also reach out to resources in your area, as many local organizations directly support those in need but don’t have a national presence. A social worker or care navigator at a hospital or nearby clinic can help you identify local resources.

Research is critical. Globally, metastatic breast cancer receives much less funding than early stage breast cancer, even though it has a much lower survival rate than breast cancer that’s less advanced.

Most of the charitable money goes to basic research with little clinical application. So, when you’re looking for charities to donate to, it’s important to find ones trying to get an actual cure to people living with breast cancer and not just giving lip service to the idea of “awareness.”

StandUp2Cancer and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation are excellent charities doing just that.

You can also use the Charity Navigator website to search for breast cancer charities and donate to them. This website rates charities based on their use of funds, efficiency, and impact.

“Let me know if I can do anything for you.” Many people with cancer hear that phrase often … and then never see that person again.

The longer someone goes through treatment, the more they might need help. They may need someone to walk their dogs, drive their kids somewhere, and help clean their bathrooms.

So, if you know someone with cancer, avoid asking how you can help. Tell them how you plan to. Try not to put the burden of asking for help on the person who needs it.

Many people with breast cancer also use websites like Caring Bridge or Lotsa Helping Hands to organize support for meals, drives to chemo, laundry, pet walking, and more.

Did you know you can make a difference in someone’s life without meeting them face-to-face? In many towns, community oncologists may accept donations of blankets, hats, or scarves.

Talk with the staff at the front desk of your local hospital’s breast cancer ward or chemotherapy center and ask whether they’d like to accept items.

Many people getting chemo may have nobody to drive them. You can leave flyers offering to do so or post on community bulletin boards that you’re willing to help.

You could also call a social worker to determine where the need is greatest.

Writing cards and leaving them at chemo centers or hospital wards during the holidays can be meaningful for somebody going through the most frightening time of their life. Let them know you care and are thinking about them.

Over the past decade, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has cut funding for cancer research. Changes in healthcare laws have created confusion, and it’s becoming harder for people with cancer to get medications, whether it be chemo or supportive medications.

Doctors may now withhold necessary pain medications (even from people with diagnoses that may lead to death) because they fear “overprescribing.” Some anti-nausea meds are too expensive, and some insurance companies might not allow them.

For many people, this can mean experiencing pain near the end of their lives. That needs to change.

Remember that when you speak with someone living with cancer, they may not necessarily feel like warriors or survivors. They might not always want (or need) to have a positive attitude. And nothing they did, from eating sugar to consuming processed foods, caused their cancer.

When somebody trusts you enough to tell you they have cancer, avoid responding by telling them they’re a warrior or insinuating that they did something wrong. Try not to tell them that they’ll beat this or get through it. Just tell them you’re sorry this happened to them and that you’re here to listen.

Let them know you’re available now or at any time in the future to talk or help provide distraction when they want to take their mind off of things.

Treating them as the friends, colleagues, or loved ones they’ve always been is important. Cancer can be isolating, but you can be that reassuring figure who reminds them that they don’t have to pretend to be brave.

A mammogram is a type of X-ray that can help detect breast cancer. These images may find breast cancer up to 3 years before you can feel it in breast tissue, underscoring the importance of getting regular mammograms.

If you or a loved one needs a mammogram but are uninsured, free or discounted mammogram programs in your area may be available in October. Clinics or private practitioners may offer these. It’s important to inform others about these programs once people announce them.

Another option is the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).

Run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NBCCEDP offers free or lower cost screenings for people without insurance or with a lower income. This includes breast cancer screenings for people between the ages of 40 and 64.

Throughout October, you may find designated runs or walks where you can symbolically show your support for breast cancer awareness while raising money for charity.

One example is the Race for the Cure from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which has multiple races nationwide. When you participate in Race for the Cure, you can also form your own team to raise donations.

Can’t make it to a local race? You can still donate money to participating teams of your choosing to help support the cause.

People living with advanced cancer may be your friends, family, and community members, and they might need your support.

Consider launching your own donation drive. You can raise money through traditional ideas, such as bake sales or car washes, or even consider sticking with the recognizable pink theme and launching a pink pumpkin contest at your place of work.

No matter what you choose, the benefit of launching your donation drive is ensuring that 100% of the proceeds go toward your community or to a reputable organization supporting people with metastatic cancer, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation or Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

After every October, it can feel like people spend little attention on breast cancer research and education. The truth is that new research findings, possible treatments, and clinical trial enrollments occur year-round.

Check in with your favorite charity or organization for the latest information related to breast cancer — you can even set a reminder for yourself weekly, monthly, or as often as you’d like.

For updated news and information, consider bookmarking pages such as and the National Cancer Institute. You can then share articles through email or your favorite social media.