Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an international health campaign lasting the month of October that is intended to increase global awareness of breast cancer. Throughout the month, science forums, educational programs, and informational pamphlets and posters are used as means to disseminate information to the public. A number of special events are held as well, including National Mammogram Day in the United States, which focuses on the importance of screening and early detection of breast cancer. In addition, fundraising activities, such as walks, runs, auctions, concerts, and other charity events, are held around the world. The money collected by these events typically goes toward, local, national, or international funding for breast cancer research.
The History of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The first organized effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer occurred as a weeklong event in the United States in October 1985, founded by the American Cancer Society and the Imperial Chemical Industries Pharmaceuticals. Since then, campaigns to increase awareness of the disease, to educate people about methods of prevention and early detection, and to raise money to support research have extended to countries around the world. The major international symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the color pink. In the 1990s the pink ribbon was introduced and is the primary emblem of support. In 2000 Estée Lauder launched Global Illumination, a project in which major global landmarks are illuminated by pink light for one or more days in October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Illuminated landmarks have included the Sydney Opera House, Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, and the Tower of London. The color pink and pink ribbon emblem have been used in a variety of ways, including on clothing, posters, social media, and websites, to demonstrate individual and collective awareness of breast cancer.
How to Get Involved
There are several ways you can get involved during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of easiest ways to show support for those who are fighting breast cancer is to wear a pink ribbon or pink clothing. Pick out your favorite pink outfit and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Pink nails, pink hair, pink makeup, pink bracelets – pink anything. Be creative in “thinking pink” this October.
Another way to get involved is to volunteer for a local or national organization that raises awareness for breast cancer. Many people volunteer for the American Cancer Society (ACS), a nationwide voluntary health organization committed to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the ACS has many volunteer programs and events, such as Relay for Life, Road to Recovery, and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
Educating yourself and others about cancer screenings is another way to help the cause. Many women never expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis until it happened to them. Knowing the risks of developing breast cancer can help in early detection, which makes it more treatable. Spread awareness of breast cancer by telling your friends and family to get mammograms and educate them on how to check their breasts for abnormalities.
Raising money to fund research initiatives goes a long way in the fight against breast cancer. Research initiatives are vital in the quest to find a cure. They can also help discover more effective prevention methods and treatment options. People throughout the country have raised money in their community from hosting raffles to art and sporting events.
One other way you can get involved is to participate in a run or a walk. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the largest and most successful breast cancer fundraising and education organization in the world. The organization runs the Komen Race for the Cure, a series of 5K runs and walks around the country. The organization also has the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure, a 60-mile, 3-day event. Proceeds from these events fund breast cancer research.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless ways you can show your support for breast cancer awareness. And it doesn’t just have to be during the month of October as thousands of women are fighting breast cancer year-round. You can make a positive impact, even if it’s something as simple as taking the time to listen to a patient’s story.