Every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

It is the second-most common-cancer worldwide, and there are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone.


Photo by Rana Sajid Hussain/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

With numbers like that, it makes sense that when we are shopping for groceries, we would buy the box of cereal with a pink ribbon on it rather than the one without. Part of our purchase goes to finding a cure for breast cancer, right? Or to supporting survivors and their families? Or to educating about breast cancer prevention and recovery?

Not always. For many companies, stamping a package with a pink ribbon just means that they're “raising awareness" — and that pink ribbon is rarely accompanied by any facts or figures to actually educate the public.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

While organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Avon Foundation are painting the country pink this Halloween season, some people are pushing them to do better and are raising public awareness of a different problem. On Oct. 7, the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas issued a notice to consumers to “be on alert for 'pinkwashing' and breast cancer charity scams."

Pinkwashing is what happens when your grocery store aisles and football jerseys suddenly turn pink for a month in the name of “supporting breast cancer awareness."

Technically speaking, yes, people are more “aware" of breast cancer as a result.

Those pink ribbons are pretty conspicuous. They also aren't trademarked (although the Komen Foundation has trademarked their own version of the pink ribbon), so pretty much any company can put a ribbon on a package and call it a day without actually having to give any money or do anything about breast cancer.

It sometimes feels like awareness organizations care more about the body parts and less about the actual people living with cancer.

Those awareness campaigns rarely include any information other than the obvious: Breast cancer exists, and it's scary. And while some campaigns are just empty promises of awareness, others are also fairly short-sighted.

With campaigns like “Save the Tatas" and “I Love Boobies" implying that the breasts are more important than the people attached to them, it sometimes feels like awareness organizations care more about the body parts and less about the actual people living with cancer.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Finding a cure, building survivor support networks, and raising awareness about early detection are all admirable goals.

Donating directly to an organization helps ensure that more of your donation goes toward breast-cancer-related research and support programs. But not all organizations use their funds the same way. A portion of donations always go toward company overhead — and that's OK. Nonprofits need to pay their staff members and pay the rent on their buildings.

But figuring out where to direct your donations dollars and support to make sure they're actually being used wisely is sometimes a lot harder than it should be.

Here's a list of five organizations other than Komen or Avon that you might want to support this Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

1. Breast Cancer Research Foundation

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation believes that to achieve a world without breast cancer, we need to fund research to understand how cancer works, how to prevent it, and how to cure it. Of all money donated, 88% goes directly toward research, and only 3% goes toward awareness programming. They're still pinking out this October, but you can rest easier knowing that your dollars are funding scientists across the globe. And this month, a donor is matching all gifts to the BCRF — up to $50,000 total.

2. Sisters Network Inc.

Sisters Network Inc. is dedicated to educating about the impact that breast cancer has on black communities. Black women experience the highest breast cancer mortality rates, and breast cancer is the second-highest cause of death among black women — behind only lung cancer. Sisters Network Inc. provides financial assistance for medical-related lodging, prosthesis, copays, and office visits. They also lead educational initiatives targeted toward young women.

3. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides medical services for breast cancer patients, including treatment therapies, reconstructive surgeries, diagnostics, and customized treatment plans. Although their breast-cancer-related services are housed in their Center for Women's Cancers, they have a program dedicated to supporting and treating men with breast cancer.

4. Breast Cancer Fund

The Breast Cancer Fund is working to connect the dots between breast cancer and environmental factors that cause breast cancer. They educate about chemicals in food, packaging, and cosmetics that may be linked to breast cancer. You won't find a splash of pink on their website because BCF believes that we are all plenty aware of breast cancer and it's time to work on taking action.

5. Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Living Beyond Breast Cancer builds connections between people who have been affected by breast cancer. It's based in Pennsylvania, but they work nationwide. And Healthline listed their blog as one of the best breast cancer blogs of 2014. Their online resources include webinars, help chat lines, writing workshops, and live-stream panels, so anyone can access support services — regardless of where they live.

Breast cancer survivors deserve more than pretty pink ribbons — they deserve real hope, strong support systems, and accessible medical care.

So while we're painting our towns pink this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let's make sure that we're also supporting organizations that are spreading real knowledge and working directly with those affected.

If none of these organizations struck your fancy, visit Charity Navigator to find your own.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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