October isn’t only for scary costumes and too much Halloween candy — it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Throughout the month there are specific days to honor the different aspects of the fight against breast cancer, such as Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) day and No Bra day. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was started 35 years ago in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical branch of what is now AstraZeneca. The first lady at the time, Betty Ford, and her daughter began the week. Betty was a critical figure in bringing more awareness to the disease as she was diagnosed with breast cancer while her husband was the President. The goal of the week was to inform women about breast cancer and encourage women to take measures for early detection, in particular the mammogram. According to the American Cancer Society, women should consider beginning mammogram screens between the ages of 40 and 44, they should definitely get a mammogram yearly between the ages of 45 and 54, and 55 year olds and older should get annual or biennial mammograms. Remember, early detection can save lives.
Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985, the iconic pink ribbon wasn’t introduced as a symbol for awareness until 1992. Estée Lauder handed out over 1 million ribbons during this year! The pink ribbon has now become an essential insignia for breast cancer awareness; the NFL is a huge supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and coaches and players often wear pink or the ribbon to show their support. Today, buildings often display pink lights in cities across the world and many fundraisers are held to raise money for a cure.