As the leaves begin to change and a soft blush of pink adorns storefronts, social media profiles, and even iconic landmarks, it becomes evident that October is more than just a transition to autumn. It's a month dedicated to a global movement that transcends borders, cultures, and backgrounds – Pink October, the breast cancer awareness month.
What is it?
Every October marks the annual global observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This dedicated month serves as a poignant reminder of the critical importance of regular breast examinations and mammograms in the early detection of breast cancer when it is more treatable.
The primary mission behind this month-long campaign is multifaceted: to foster widespread awareness about breast cancer, advocate for early detection, extend support to individuals affected by the disease, and raise crucial funds for research, prevention, and treatment initiatives. Above all, it seeks to empower both women and men to take proactive steps in safeguarding their breast health while providing a platform for advocacy, fundraising, and unwavering support to breast cancer patients and survivors.
What is the story behind it?
The event, initially known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in 1985, was a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries' pharmaceutical division. Its aim was to promote mammograms as the most effective tool in battling breast cancer.
Former First Lady and breast cancer survivor, Betty Ford, played a pivotal role in launching the week-long breast cancer awareness initiative. Her own diagnosis while her husband, Gerald Ford, served as President brought significant attention to the cause.
Interestingly, the iconic pink colour associated with breast cancer awareness almost didn't exist. In 1992, Alexandra Penney, then Editor-in-Chief of Self magazine, sought to create breast cancer awareness ribbons to surpass the success of the previous year's initiative led by Evelyn Lauder, a breast cancer survivor and Estée Lauder's Senior Corporate Vice President. However, it was Charlotte Haley who initially crafted peach-coloured ribbons to honour her family members who had battled breast cancer. She distributed these ribbons with a message highlighting the limited funding for cancer prevention.
When Penney discovered Haley's efforts, she offered national support, but Haley declined, feeling it was becoming too commercial. As a result, the pink ribbon initiative led by Self Magazine and Estée Lauder gained prominence, and pink became synonymous with breast cancer awareness, garnering widespread support from various organizations and becoming the recognized symbol for the cause.
How to get involved?
- Self-Exams: Perform regular breast self-exams to become familiar with your breasts and promptly report any changes to your healthcare provider.
- Clinical Exams: Schedule regular clinical breast exams with your healthcare provider, especially if you are over the age of 40.
- Mammograms: If you are of screening age, schedule and undergo regular mammograms as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Donate: Contribute to breast cancer research, advocacy, and support organizations through donations.
- Participate in Fundraisers: Join or organize fundraisers, such as charity walks or runs, to support breast cancer-related causes.
- Wear Pink: Show your support by wearing pink ribbons, clothing, or accessories to raise awareness.
- Share Information: Use social media to share breast cancer awareness facts, stories, and resources using #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth.
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