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.
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:
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.”