A look back in history at National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By: Matt LaMond

It is the wonderful month of October and that can mean only one thing. It is the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). This month is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every year. The goal is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for the research into its cause, prevention and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. NBCAM is also a prime opportunity to remind women to be breast aware for earlier detection. But how did this all start? Who decided that October should be the NBCAM?

It all started with AstraZeneca, which manufactures breast cancer drugs such as Arimidex and Tamoxifen. AstraZeneca founded the NBCAM in 1985. The original purpose or aim of the NBCAM from the start has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. Now let us skip a few years forward to 1993. Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estee Lauder Companies founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the Pink Ribbon as its symbol. However, it was not the first time the ribbon was used to symbolize breast cancer. Looking back to the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation had handed out Pink Ribbons to participants in the New York City race for breast cancer survivors.

But what about all the activities such as races, walks, events, charities, etc. How did these start? Well looking back to October 1983, before any foundations or months were dedicated, the “Race for the Cure” was held for the first time in Dallas, Texas. Approximately 800 people participated in this first ever “charity” event. According to the organizers, by 2002 the number of participants reached 1.3 million and the event was held in over 100 US cities. The event was also being organized in several other parts of the world. Now there are a lot of events that people can participate in to show support. “The National Race for the Cure” is a 5K run and fitness walk. There are various two-day-long walks to raise money for research institutes as well. You also have the “Susan G. Komen 3 Day For the Cure” which is a 60-mile walk! For people who like to cycle instead of walk/run there is the “Ride to Empower”. This started in 2008 and features route lengths from 100 miles to less than 32 miles.

One of the more notorious events of October is called global illumination. With the help of Estee Lauder Companies, numerous world-famous landmarks have been illuminated in pink light to draw attention to the importance of mammography screening for early diagnosis of breast cancer. Some of these landmarks are very important and show what great significance this month holds. These landmarks include the Tokyo Tower, the White House, Niagara Falls, The Harbour Bridge, The Angel of Peace, etc. These examples show just how much people want to support this cause. Like in 2008 when First Lady Laura Bush flipped the switch for the first time to light the White House in Pink. This was the first time the building had not been white since John and Abigail Adams took up residence in 1800 at the White House. These lights shine as beacons around the world to signal the commitment to saving lives from breast cancer.

During NBCAM people also raise money by organizing activities such as theme parties or a “pink day” at work. But remember, it is not all about the money or the donations. This month has much more meaning to it than that. If you want to help or support, the best thing you can do is be aware and share that awareness. That might mean going out on a 60 mile bike ride to promote the event. It may also mean just having a small pink party at your house. Just remember, early detection is the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer, and that is what this month really stands for. This month is in recognition of the mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who have struggled with this disease. So go out and show your support. Get a pink t-shirt, wrist band, headset, whatever it may be, but also remember to talk about the subject at hand.

Also wanted to let everyone know about a special offer TranscriptionGear.Com will be running for the entire month of October. The Glimmer Stereo Transcription headset will be on sale for only $28.95 until the end October 2010. This headset offers in-line volume control, stereo and mono playback, ultra-lightweight design, and it’s pink! And remember, if you order before 3 PM EST it will get shipped same day for you. One last thing to remind you about, a portion of all proceeds from the Glimmer headset will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If you would like, please feel free to share your stories or experiences with Breast Cancer. We would love to hear from everyone and would love to share our stories as well.