Doesn’t it seem like the official color of October is pink? Everywhere you look, people are celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness month in their own way.
Athletes are wearing pink helmets, patches, even full uniforms. People have pink ribbon signs in their yard. We wear pink ribbon shirts, exercise apparel, hats. I even have a pair of socks with pink ribbons. Around the Historic Covington Square are Portraits of Hope, beautiful portraits of breast cancer survivors and their stories. Pink is everywhere…
It wasn’t until 1985 that the first National Breast Cancer Awareness month was designated and not until 1991 that the pink ribbon was established as its symbol. The American Cancer Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, and AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation intended for this national health observance to promote mammography as the most effective what to fight against breast cancer.
And thanks to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Estee Lauder Companies, the pink ribbon became the symbol for breast cancer awareness. In 1991, pink ribbons were handed out to participants in the Komen’s Race for a Cure. In 1993, Estee Lauder Companies established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, with the pink ribbon as its symbol.
For me, 1993 doesn’t seem like that long ago. (In fact, I can belt out the Whitney Houston songs from The Bodyguard at the drop of a hat.) Yet, after 20 years, it is so commonplace to see these symbols that we run the risk of them losing their power and meaning. Be honest, you have probably seen a pink ribbon today and not let the impact of its meaning take effect. We take them for granted.
However, if you or a loved one has been affected by breast cancer, you know that we cannot let that happen.
About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. The likelihood that you know someone is high and, if you do, now is a good time to reach out to them with a hug. Go ahead, this article will still be here when you get off the phone/off of Facebook/back from the living room.
The likelihood that you are that someone is also pretty high. Early detection can help find breast cancer early — when it is easier to treat. Practice regular self-breast examinations, get mammograms as recommended, and schedule regular visits with your physician.
If you are a woman, you have heard this before. But if you are like most women, you think it applies to someone else. Like the pink ribbon, we can sometimes take our (breast) health for granted.
Take time this month to walk around the Square and read the stories of the women featured. These women are part of the Survivor Support Group at Newton Medical Center and were empowered to take control of their health. These are real women, local women. Women that you work with, volunteer with, go to church with, bump into at the grocery store.
Next time you see that pink ribbon, stop and think about all that it represents. Then put on some pink ribbon apparel yourself and really mean it.
Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects and has led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.