October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Pink October. Each year since 1991, celebrities, professional athletes and everyday people from all walks of life get involved, reflect, remember and commit to a continued fight to eradicate this disease. You have a unique opportunity in the workplace, at home and at school to make a difference not only in October, but all year long.
Background and History
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign representing the combined efforts of breast cancer organizations to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Another goal is to provide information, support and resources to those affected by breast cancer, whether a patient or the friends or loved ones of a patient.
The symbolic pink ribbon originated more than 20 years ago (in 1991), when the Susan G. Komen® organization distributed pink ribbons to all breast cancer survivors and participants of the original Race for the Cure® held in New York City. Then, in 1992, Alexandra Penney, the editor-in-chief of “Self” at the time, needed something special for the magazine’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. Penney collaborated with Evelyn Lauder, then Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estee Lauder Companies, to develop the pink ribbon. Today, that ribbon is identified with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation founded by Evelyn Lauder.
Since that time, a pink ribbon has become known as the symbol of hope, support and camaraderie that represents breast cancer awareness. The Susan G. Komen® organization created the “running ribbon”, which is the one that’s now reserved for those participating in the Race for the Cure®.
A Worldwide Effort
Around the world, events are organized during the month of October, bringing hope, support and inspiration to those whose lives have been touched by the disease. This includes organized events, such as the runs and walks, lighting ceremonies, wearing pink clothing and accessories, incorporating pink on athletic fields and more. Companies, schools, local charities and other affiliated groups work together for the cause.
Collaborate and Decorate
Think Pink! Decorate your cube, pod or communal space at work with pink streamers, a pink chair mat or a pink tablecloth for your desk or a shared workspace table. Turn your desktop and mobile phone background pink, or find a background with the pink ribbon logo. Make ribbons from pink construction paper and tape them to the walls.
Organize a volunteer team to plan activities for the month. Ideas include:
Bake Sale. Coordinate a bake sale where the cakes, cupcakes and other items are decorated in pink, or have pink ribbons attached. Donate the proceeds to a breast cancer awareness charity of choice.
Candle Lighting. Ask employees to bring in pink candles to light in support of or in memory of someone diagnosed with the disease.
Wear Pink. For the month of October, wear T-shirts, pants, ties, hair ribbons and anything else you can think of.
Donate. If your company offers a matching gift program, encourage donations from the staff to breast cancer awareness charities of choice.
Raise Funds. Sponsor a team in support of one of the many events held in October. Not only will you generate funds, but you will also exercise and bond with co-workers.
Volunteer. Contact the local chapter of an organization such as the American Cancer Society or Breast Cancer Research Foundation to see if they need local volunteers or can provide free brochures and other material on cancer risks and prevention.
Hold a Raffle. Select an item your company sells or even a gift card and raffle it off for charity. Donate the money to a local breast cancer organization.
Make a Difference In your Community and Beyond
Find ways to get involved in the community, at school and local houses of worship. While shopping, look for products that give a portion of their proceeds to fund breast cancer research and similar causes.
Education for Prevention
Get involved. Provide information, which is available from a host of organizations, on the benefits of mammography and self-examination. And, remember, breast cancer can also affect men. Consider printing out free flyers or breast cancer calendars as reminders of the need to pay attention. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.
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