With Breast Cancer Awareness month around the corner, many outreach personnel in the healthcare and women’s wellness industry are looking at their existing campaigns to see what needs to be refreshed and updated and what timeless, evergreen content can be repurposed for this year. 

One of those timeless outreach campaigns is the simple, yet powerful symbol of the pink ribbon. But do you know the origins of the ribbon or how it came to be a universal symbol for breast cancer awareness?

Why Do People use Ribbons to Raise Awareness?

Ribbons have been used for decades to make a silent, but public awareness announcement for a cause from yellow ribbons for soldiers, red ribbons for HIV/AIDS Awareness, purple and turquoise for suicide prevention and of course, pink for breast cancer awareness. These ribbons can be found in pop culture, wrapped around neighborhood trees, as a lapel pins and more. The hope is that wearing the ribbon can not only increase awareness, but also create a sense of community for anyone passionate about the cause. 

What Does the Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon Mean?

The symbol of the pink ribbon hasn’t been around for as long as most people think. The origins of the pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness come from the 1980’s when Estée Lauder executive, Evelyn Lauder co-created the symbol with longtime friend, Alexandra Penney. According to The Guardian, “the campaign started small, with Lauder and her husband, Leonard, largely financing the little bows given to women at department store makeup counters to remind them about breast examinations”. From these humble beginnings, the symbol flourished into fundraising products, and thanks to the help of Estée Lauder and other public and private donors, helped lead to the founding and funding of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993 and the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Cancer Centre. Evelyn also spearheaded the initiative to declare the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Evelyn Lauder was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and succumbed to her battle in November 2011.

Why Does Breast Cancer Have Its Own Month?

While these days, it seems like there is a “National Day” for everything from donuts to selfies and more, breast cancer awareness is recognized for an entire month - there’s a reason for that. Awareness for breast cancer is focused on the importance of early detection and reminding women to consistently perform self-checks. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S. and according to the CDC, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While most women are not advised to get breast cancer screenings called mammograms until they are 40 years of age, nearly 1,000 women under the age of 40 die from breast cancer annually. 

What Are the Common Symptoms or Signs of Breast Cancer?

Everyone experiences signs or symptoms of breast cancer differently and some don’t have any symptoms at all. According to the CDC, some warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Because many of these symptoms can be related to other conditions, it is important to always consult a doctor to get advice and consult. At Health Merch, we are committed to supporting initiatives that lead to healthier communities. Learn more about our customizable breast cancer campaigns that aim to make a bold statement, direct impact and push people out of their comfort zones and into action.