October, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is an international health campaign designed to bring awareness to a disease that affects 1 out of every 8 women. In rare, yet still documented cases, it also affects one out of every one thousand men.
The numbers and statistics are so high that it called for a global campaign, which brings us to BCAM (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). During this month, charities hold events and local campaigns to increase awareness among the public and to raise funds for research institutes that are on the hunt for finding a cure. Apart from the cure, funds may also go to researching diagnosis and prevention techniques, and treatment options. In addition to that, the campaign also aims to provide help for those who have been already diagnosed by offering them information and support.
The first national race for the cure was held on October 1983 in Dallas, Texas. The race had 800 participants and garnered a lot of attention that other countries followed suit; such as New Zealand, Germany, UK, and Puerto Rico among others. Organizers of the U.S race stated that over the following 20 years, the participants reached 1.3 million and was increasing over the years and with over 100 countries holding the same race.
The official month long campaign was first established in the United States of America in 1985. The American Cancer Society established a partnership with a pharmaceutical company to first promote mammography as a defense to fight breast cancer, at a time when there was little known about breast cancer detection. This national campaign caught the attention of a number of the population and that’s when the Breast Cancer Awareness Month officially started, making it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, health campaign in the world.
Let’s not forget the now famous pink ribbon that is now the global symbol of breast cancer. It was first introduced by the Susan G. Komen Foundation as they handed out pink ribbons to participants at the New York Breast Cancer Walkathon. After that, Estee Lauder adopted the pink ribbon as the official symbol to represent breast cancer.
During the month of October people wear the pink ribbon everywhere. To show their support people wear anything pink, be it ribbons, scarves, clothes, you name it.
Facts about Breast Cancer:
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women.
- It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women between ages 20 and 59 (the first being lung cancer).
- Although it can be rare, it accounts for 1% of male cancer patients.
- Young women are also at risk, accounting for 5% of breast cancer patients.
- Risk factors for breast cancer include age, ethnicity, family history, diet, hormonal factors, clinical factors, alcohol use and radiation.
- People can be carrying the disease for years without them knowing.
- You can minimize your risk through early detection.
How you can help.
Unfortunately, with all the technological advancements in medicine, the world has yet to find a cure or a preventative to all forms of cancer, let alone breast cancer. However, early detection will increase survival rates. That is why regular mammograms are important. And this is the sole purpose of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
So during this month, show your support by donating to charities, taking part in campaigns and events, self educating yourself and educating others.
Most of all know this: Early detection is the best method of prevention and protection!
To learn more about breast cancer visit the National Cancer Institute
To learn about Breast Cancer Awareness Month visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation
– Hadaya Al-Othman
Images: Race for the Cure