10 Creative Ways to Support Cancer Patients and Research

They'll fit your passion, schedule, and bank balance.


If there's one good thing that's come out of cancer's prevalence, it's the influx of individuals and organizations that are tirelessly devoted to stopping it. Not only are they working toward an enormously important goal, they're providing the rest of us with opportunities to show our support, which is usually through donations or fundraising.

But what about people who can't afford to make a donation? Or the people who don't have time to collect pledges and run a 5k? How can they help the cause?

We've rounded up a range of unique ways to get involved in the fight against the Big C. Whether you're short on time, cash, or just looking for a more hands-on way to help out, you'll find at least one of these options will ignite your generous spirit.

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1 If You Love to Drive and Have a Car

For some patients, transportation poses the biggest roadblock for receiving treatment. That's why the American Cancer Society urgently needs volunteers for Road to Recovery, a program offering patients free rides to and from their treatments. If you have a car, valid driver's license, proof of car insurance, and a good driving record, you're a great candidate. You'll just need to sign up, complete a training course, and go through a background check. Drivers are needed Mondays through Saturdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but timing is flexible — they'll work with your schedule.

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2 If You're an Avid Traveler

We've all seen those heart-wrenching Make-A-Wish commercials where a terminally-ill child experiences the magic of Disney, complete with fireworks, roller coaster rides, and a big hug from Mickey Mouse himself. Help make a young cancer patient's dream vacation a reality by donating your airlines miles here.

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3 If You're a Bride-to-Be

Can't decide between Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Williams-Sonoma for your wedding registry? The Cancer Research Institute makes it easy by suggesting this charitable approach: Consider asking wedding guests to donate to a cancer organization that's close to your heart, either in addition to or in lieu of a traditional gift. Click here to find out more.

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4 If You Want to Help Women Feel Beautiful Again

A cancer diagnosis is unpleasant in its own right, but when it's coupled with a treatment's debilitating side effects and hair loss, it can take away any remaining feelings of self-worth and femininity. That's where Look Good, Feel Better comes in: Their teams of talented aestheticians, hairstylists, makeup artists, and nail technicians visit women in hospitals undergoing cancer treatment to arm them with makeup techniques and head coverage tips to boost their self confidence. (Each patient also receives a free makeup kit!)

For beauty professionals interested in volunteering, you need to commit to three to five hours per month, a four-hour certification class, and a bi-annual refresher course. Not a beauty professional but still want to help out? Don't worry — Feel Good, Look Better is looking for general volunteers, too. Click here to learn how you can help empower women one makeup brush at a time.

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5 If You Believe in the Healing Powers of Dance

Exercise is a very important part of getting healthy following a cancer diagnosis. We know it can reduce stress and symptoms of fatigue, but it may also improve a patient's chances of beating cancer. In fact, the 10-year survival rate is higher in breast cancer patients who exercise regularly than in those who don't.

It's this connection between activity and both physical and mental healing that's at the core of Moving For Life, a 15-year-old non-profit organization that helps breast cancer patients recover through either free or low-cost dance classes specifically designed to address and alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment.

The techniques used in each class promise to help increase range of motion in the arms and legs, reduce fatigue, build strength, and help fight mental fog. Classes are offered in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and California, and new classes will start soon in Vancouver, Ohio, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Tokyo. Find out what it takes to become a Moving For Life certified instructor here.

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6 If You Clean Homes for a Living

A person's life doesn't stop the moment she or he's diagnosed with cancer — many have children to care for and continued job demands, not to mention those ever-growing piles of medical bills. After a full day and another round of chemo, house cleaning understandably takes a back seat. That's where Cleaning For a Reason comes in.

This non-profit organization partners with over 1,200 maid services to donate housecleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatment in the United States and Canada. If you own or are a part of a cleaning service, click here to find out how you can get involved. For those who aren't but want to help by making a donation in someone's honor, click here.

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7 If You Like to Camp (and Are a Pro at All-Nighters)

The premise behind this now-worldwide phenomenon began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran around a track in Tacoma, Washington, for 24 hours, raising $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay For Life has raised nearly $5 billion for the fight against cancer.

Here's how you can participate in your community: Enter your zip code here to find an upcoming event near you, then assemble a team willing to join you in camping out around a local track for 24 hours. Team members take turns walking or running around the track, and because cancer never sleeps, at least one teammate must be on the track at all times.

While every event varies, they all have three main components: The Survivors Lap in which all cancer survivors take the first lap around the track to celebrate their personal victories against the disease, the after-dark Luminaria Ceremony that honors lives lost by placing lit candles inside personalized bags around the track, and the Fight Back Ceremony intended to motivate teammates to continue fighting cancer well after the 24 hours is up.

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8 If You're Short on Time but Love Social Media

In just a few short clicks, you can help raise awareness for lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S. All you have to do is use a turquoise filter on your Facebook or Twitter profile — it's that simple! And if you're looking to get more involved in the fight against this disease, you can register for Lung Force's fundraising walks or send a letter your Congressperson to ask for more federal funding.

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9 If You're a Stylish, Generous Shopper

Forgo buyer's remorse with this gift that gives back: a 1FaceWatch. Here's how it works: Each watch color corresponds with one of nine causes, from cancer to AIDS to hunger to animal rights. The watch you buy will help fund an important event, like the building of a well, or in the case of a pink breast cancer watch, a lifesaving mammogram for a woman in need. With each purchase, you know exactly where your money will go — we call that retail transparency at its finest.

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10 If You're a Serious Spin Enthusiast

Riding relay-style for 200 minutes sharing one stationary bike is a daunting task, but it's worth all the sweat and tears when you're doing it with like-minded friends and family who are all motivated by the same thing: raising money to help fund rare cancer research.

To join Memorial Sloan Kettering's Cycle For Survival, you'll need to organize a team of 4-8 riders and raise a minimum of $1,000 prior to the event. 100 percent of every donation goes directly to rare cancer research led by MSK within six months of the event. Want to know exactly where the money you raise goes and get the most inspiring workout of your life? Then this is the cause for you. Sign up here.

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