Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created in 1985 through a collaboration of different groups including the American Academy of Family Physicians, AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation, CancerCare Inc. and various other sponsors. Today it has grown to be a worldwide cause and many more organizations and associations are taking part. For example, Breast Cancer Awareness Month now has partnerships with the National Public Service Organization, several government agencies and professional medical associations. Together, these different groups raise awareness.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month promotes different educational events as well as programs to encourage women to take control of their own breast health and become more informed. It promotes many different events throughout various communities, which help recognize and celebrate the cause. Some include the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and that’s only in the United States. In Australia, the National Breast Cancer Foundation holds Pink Ribbon Breakfasts in different locations throughout the country. In Korea, a Global Breast Cancer Conference was just held at the beginning of this month.
Colleges all over are also showing their support through the organization, Colleges Against Cancer. There is even a branch of this organization right here at Elizabethtown College. They volunteer, advertise and support events for the American Cancer Society. One event that takes place at Etown is Relay for Life. All the proceeds made at this event goes to the American Cancer Society. This event will take place during the spring semester.
The pink ribbon for breast cancer was chosen because of the meaning of health and femininity. The pink ribbon has become the worldwide symbol of breast cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was first used in the 1900s, which was a time when wearing ribbons was a fashion statement and a growing trend. Using ribbons as a sign of awareness began during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. The Susan G. Komen Foundation first handed out pink ribbons during a New York City race for survivors in 1991. Evelyn Lauder established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993 and established the pink ribbon as its icon.
When students were asked about their thoughts on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sophomore Jeff Royer said, “I think Breast Cancer Awareness Month creates an opportunity for society to realize that breast cancer is becoming very common in females, and all of the pink worn throughout the month expresses support for women with breast cancer.” Freshman Stephanie Sauerbrunn said, “I love Breast Cancer Awareness month, mostly because my grandmother died from breast cancer and I’m hoping to get involved sometime throughout the month on campus if I can!” Sophomore Mallary Hinkle said, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good thing because it gives people an extra reminder to check themselves and to remember the ones who have survived the fight and the ones who didn’t. I also have a shirt to show my support.”
Eileen Wagener, the college health liaison, gave some information on some ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as who to contact in order to set up an appointment to be checked. If you are genetically prone to breast cancer, it is very crucial that you detect any warning signs very early. Unfortunately, there are not many other steps you can take to reduce the risk. Most women should start having annual mammograms and breast exams by a health care provider at the age of 40. Also, monthly self-breast examinations are recommended for women of all ages. If you are concerned about this issue, notify your doctor immediately. There has also been some research done to suggest that a healthier lifestyle may decrease the risk of breast cancer. This includes daily exercise, no smoking or drinking alcohol, maintaining a proper body weight and eating healthy.
Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month is greatly celebrated and recognized in October, the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization does business year-round. Anyone can visit the NBCAM website at any time for more information on breast cancer, resources and events related to breast cancer awareness.