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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Facts

Learn about the history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and how to participate

Every October, pink ribbons adorn everything from socks to soft drink bottles in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). But what are the origins of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its iconic pink ribbon? Read on to learn more about the month, its purpose, and how some pink ribbons are more marketing than meaningful.

person holding pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness month

The meaning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October is an annual international month-long campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer and raise money to support research for diagnostic methods, treatments, and a cure. It’s also focused on educating women and men about breast cancer prevention and early detection and celebrating breast cancer survivors.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985

The American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries established Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985. It started as a week-long event to bring attention to breast cancer, which prior to that time, had been little understood disease people didn’t talk about. Betty Ford, a breast cancer survivor, kicked off the event.  

Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities

Numerous breast cancer-related medical and scientific conferences and fundraising events take place during October. There’s also increased focus on breast health through educational materials, workshops, resources, and media attention.

How the pink ribbon became a breast cancer awareness symbol

Breast cancer survivor and activist Charlotte Haley began making and distributing peach-colored ribbons in the early 1990s in her community along with cards that urged the importance of breast cancer prevention funding. Executives from the fragrance and cosmetics company Estée Lauder and Self magazine found out about her ribbons and asked Haley for permission to use them. She refused, believing that the companies would commercialize them. So Self created a ribbon with a different color – pink. And thus, the ubiquitous pink ribbon for breast cancer was born.

Pink and profits – the pink ribbon controversy

Wearing pink is one way to show your support for those diagnosed with breast cancer. And once October rolls around, store shelves become filled with pink clothes and other items donning the pink ribbon. While the ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness, in some cases, brands use it as a marketing ploy without giving much or anything to a breast cancer-related charity or organization. 

If you are thinking about purchasing items specially marketed for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, consider how they are helping the cause. 

Ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

There are many ways you can support Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

  • Educate yourself on early detection and risk factors. If you haven’t already, learn how to do a proper self-exam or schedule your annual mammogram – and encourage your loved ones to do the same. 
  • Participate in fundraisers, such as walks or other charity events, for reputable breast cancer-related organizations. Your donations can help fund vital research, greater access to care, and support other breast cancer initiatives.
  • Volunteer with national or local breast cancer-related organizations. Help out at a fundraiser, knit blankets for a hospital, or host a jewelry and accessory drive. Or use your professional expertise to lift patients’ spirits by donating your makeup services or holding a special yoga class.
  • Help someone with breast cancer by offering to drive them to treatment or assisting with chores, meals, or babysitting. You can also simply send them something special to let them know they’re in your thoughts.  

At Chemocessories, supporting the inspiring women who have been touched by cancer is what we do every day, all year round. Join us this Breast Cancer Awareness Month as we continue our mission to “warm hearts, lift spirits, boost confidence and provide a smile one accessory at a time.”

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