Avon Foundation for Women #CheckYourself for Breast Cancer (credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a national campaign to remind everyone to take the steps needed to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages and inspire others to do the same. While the overwhelming majority of breast cancer patients are women, men too can develop the disease, although it’s quite rare. Surprisingly, men carry a higher mortality rate than women do, likely because they are less informed about what to look for. Read on for ways to be involved and spread awareness about breast cancer in October and throughout the year.

21st Anniversary Peak Hike For Prevention
Santos Meadow
Mt. Tamalpais, CA 94941
(415) 321-2915
Date: Sept. 25, 2016 seven-mile departure window 8:30-9:30 a.m., 11.5- mile departure 8-9 a.m.

Registration with fundraising: adults/$100, 17 and younger/$50.

Enjoy a day of hiking the spectacular trails of Mt. Tamalpais and fundraise to support the work of the Breast Cancer Fund, striving to prevent breast cancer before it starts. This is not your average walk, or even fundraising hike, but a call to action to prevent the disease for yourself and for those you love. Every step you take goes toward prevention. In addition to a fundraising pledge of $250 minimum to support the Breast Cancer Funds efforts, each participant enjoys a Whole Foods lunch and healthy-living expo, where you learn ways to protect yourself and loved ones through means for prevention. Choose a seven–mile or 11.5-mile trail on stunning Mt. Tamalpais, and register with a team or hike on you own — either way, it will be an awesome and educational experience. Check the website for full details.

Making Strides Of San Francisco
Golden Gate Park
Hellman Hollow
750 John F. Kennedy Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 655-6854

Date: Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, 5K (3.1 miles) 7 a.m. check-in opens, 8 a.m. walk starts

Commitment to raising funds and generous donations.

The American Cancer Society celebrates survivorship in its annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks across the nation. This year, the San Francisco event again offers its shared determination to not just continue the fight against Breast Cancer, but to hopefully finish it. While that is big goal, Making Strides is an incredibly inspiring chance to celebrate the survivors, help the American Cancer Society raise funds for groundbreaking research on breast cancer and provide information education and lots of support. Making Strides is a non-competitive walk, and participants do not need to complete the entire walk if they cannot do so. This year’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk will bring fundraising, team-building and volunteering opportunities to the Bay Area while walkers bring a mix of passion, purpose and friendship in their collective determination. Visit the website for complete information and to register or donate.

AVON 39 San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
(323) 931-3003
Dates: July 8-9, 2017, 2 Days 39.3 Miles; The route begins at Fort Mason, crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, and continues into Marin County.

It is not too early to begin fundraising for the AVON 39, The Walk to End Breast Cancer. In fact, registration is already open and available at the website to form a team or join an existing one, register as an individual and access information on fundraising as well. Of course completing the AVON 39 is a challenge, and completely worth the efforts. But help to prepare your body and mind is available as well — AVON 39 offers a ton of helpful training tools, advice and even walker coaches, professional AVON 39 staff who can help if you decide to get the extra push and encouragement. What a deal! Consider gathering friends, coworkers and anyone else who may want to join this incredible effort, particularly once they learn more. Just about everyone knows of someone touched by breast cancer. Also, the San Francisco 39ers will come together for two days and 39.3 miles, step by step, with a goal to take breast cancer down. Visit the website for complete information.

Volunteer Opportunities
American Cancer Society
(800) 227-2345

There are countless volunteer opportunities across California at the American Cancer Society (ACS), which has branch offices around the state, including San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Volunteers are needed for a variety of events and services that offer countless ways to be involved. Examples include: Relay For Life or fairground events to raise funds to fight cancer, where they need volunteers to help with registration, participation support and logistics; or the Hope Lodge Network that provides free, home-like accommodations to cancer patients, which needs volunteers to cook meals, drive patients to treatment, plan activities and provide entertainment; the Look Good Feel Better program is a fun and feel-good chance to help patients learn beauty techniques and feel better about themselves during their cancer treatment. Find out more about these opportunities and many more here and by visiting the ACS website.

Cancer Care Boutique
Women’s Health Resource Center
California Pacific Medical Center
3698 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 600-0500

If you or someone you know is experiencing hair loss from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and alopecia, or needs assistance for a wig, prosthesis or bra fitting consultation, The Cancer Care Boutique is here to help make patients feel more comfortable and at their best. Help get the message out that this wonderful boutique resource offers a range of items for hair loss patients that include hats, scarves, hairpieces and turbans. Open six days a week, the boutique is closed Thursdays. Call or check the webpage for boutique hours, then help spread the word.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes on adult education, art and culture, business, and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a part of the Bay Area independent film community. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.