It is October 1st, and if we did not mention that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Despite the term "national," the month is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities to "increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention and cure."
Some might call the originator of Breast Cancer Awareness Month "different." Rather than a charity or research organization, it was drug company AstraZeneca, which manufactures the breast cancer drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen, who founded the Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the year 1985.
Pink ribbons the official symbol of breast cancer awareness since 1993
Pink ribbons have been the symbol of the fight against breast cancer since 1993. That is when is was declared the official symbol, as that was not the first time they were used in such a way. However, In 1993 Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, making the Pink Ribbon its symbol. In October of 2008, the White House was decorated pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The month of October will be filled with activities and events. Many will participate in these events. A few of more notable ones include:
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is arguably the world's largest fundraising event for breast cancer. In fact, it's not just one event, it's a series of 5K events worldwide. The races are open to all, on USA Track and Field certified courses. The first race was run in Dallas, Texas in 1983, with 800 participants. Today, the event has grown to nearly 120 races worldwide.
The Ride to Empower was begun in 2008. It raises money for Breast Cancer Network of Strength's programs. It is a destination bike ride, with the location changing annually. The route length range from 100 miles to 32 miles, and are fully-supported.
The Susan G. Komen 3-Day For the Cure is a 60 mile fundraising walk, spread across 3 days. This walk, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure occurs in several cities in the United States.
Global Illumination events are arranged by Estee Lauder: more than a dozen global landmarks are illuminated in pink light to draw attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some of these landmarks are:
- The Harbour Bridge Sydney Australia
- The Hangzhou Department Store Hangzhou China
- Niagara Falls Ontario Canada
- The Eden Project Cornwall England
- The Majestic Hotel Cannes France
- The French Affiliate Building Paris France
- The Angel of Peace Munich Germany
- City Hall Reykjavik Iceland
- Azrieli Towers Tel Aviv Israel
- Constantine's Arch Rome Italy
- The Arena Verona Italy
- Tokyo Tower Tokyo Japan
- City Hall Square Seoul Korea
- The Dam Square Amsterdam The Netherlands
- The Skytower Auckland New Zealand
A list of some, not all of the global walks taking place as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month include:
- Bulgaria Breast Cancer Walk
- France 5 km Breast Cancer Race/Walk
- Germany Women's 5k/10k Walk Run
- Hungary Walk for Life
- Ireland Breast Cancer Walk
- Poland Breast Cancer Walk
- Portugal Educational walk-a-thon
- Romania Breast Cancer Walk
- Spain Breast Cancer Walk
- Turkey "Trip to Health with Avon" walk
- Ukraine Breast Cancer awareness walk
Pink days are something done on a workplace by workplace or local level, at different times during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each October, people raise money by organizing activities or a "pink day," when employees wear pink clothing or accessories at work.
Some useful statistics to know as Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins:
- About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women (skin cancer is first). More than 1 in 4 cancers in women (about 28%) are breast cancer.
- In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
- Men, as well as women, can suffer breast cancer, although less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.
- About 39,840 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1991. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
- For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
- A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
- About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father.
There has been criticism over the corporate origins of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As we noted, it was first created by a pharmaceutical company. Some have criticized the marketing of pink tie-in products. Also, the breast cancer advocacy organization, Breast Cancer Action has stated many times in newsletters and other places that "October has become a public relations campaign that avoids discussion of the causes and prevention of breast cancer and instead focuses on “awareness” as a way to encourage women to get their mammograms."
Despite this criticism, many view the fundraising as necessary, and the publicity raised by Breast Cancer Awareness Month as worth having such a "corporate tie-in."
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