Across the world, an estimated 100 million people had cancer according to 2017 data. Arguably the only reason why those numbers aren’t higher is the mortality rate – 1 in 6 deaths worldwide is due to cancer. With over 17 million new cases diagnosed in 2018, fighting cancer has become perhaps the medical battle of the modern world.

If you have known someone who was diagnosed with cancer, witnessing even a brief portion of their struggle can be a profoundly affecting experience. Just by sharing their stories, cancer patients and survivors alike can stir up in each of us a powerful motivation to do good and help others, even if it’s in a small way.

Helping others, being a part of something greater, witnessing your efforts make a real difference – those are all helpful in developing meaning and purpose in our lives, which is something we can all struggle with at times. Here are three ways in which anyone can help in the fight against cancer.

Volunteering

One of the easiest yet most personal ways to get started is to give of your time and effort. Thanks to the spread of cancer awareness, there are many organizations across the country, offering opportunities to volunteers. A benefit of the internet and social media is how quickly you can find and connect with a local support group for volunteers.

Working with a local organization lets you serve your community and often gives you the chance to make a difference in patients’ lives directly. Remember that you don’t need an organization to help out, though – if a relative or friend knows someone with cancer, you can spearhead the initiative to help.

Informing

Cancer patient and doctor looking at a monitorMost of us know what cancer is. We know it can be debilitating and deadly. Still, there are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, with three major types – lung, breast, and colorectal – contributing over 30% of new diagnoses. How many laymen can identify more than a handful – never mind describe their various risks and symptoms? Each cancer is unique in its severity, specificity, approach, and treatment.

Awareness isn’t about simply rehashing common information. Sharing specific and accurate knowledge is more important. Take time to learn about a specific type of cancer, or conditions that elevate the risk of developing cancer such as diabetes or neurofibromatosis, and other risk factors.

On your own, you can apply any relevant skills you possess to spread awareness, such as being able to design and disseminate posters and other materials. You can write about it on your blog or other social media, or bring your knowledge into discussions with your community.

Leading

President Reagan once said: “the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things; he is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” You may not be a doctor or scientific researcher, but if you have a gift for organizing and planning events, and perhaps a bit of extra charisma, you can make a real difference by effectively mobilizing many others to help.

Organizing a creative neurofibromatosis fundraising campaign can be an accessible way to start being a leader. Online crowdfunding sites can reach out to millions. Traditional methods such as fitness walks and charity sales or auctions, allow you to involve your community more. You can also reach out to businesses and local representatives for donations.

In whatever way you can, be a part of something greater – help fight against cancer, and gain the sense of purpose that comes with knowing that what you do is making a valuable contribution to other people’s lives.