Helping Hands Breast Cancer Month

Dear friends

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign dedicated to increasing awareness about breast cancer. Its primary objectives are to educate the public about the symptoms and prevention of this disease, as well as to raise funds for research into its causes, treatment, and cure.

Breast cancer stands as the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women worldwide, with cases reported in 184 countries. However, it’s important to note that breast cancer isn’t exclusive to women; –  men are also diagnosed with this disease.

Encouragingly, research indicates that between 23% and 37% of breast cancer cases can be prevented through various means. The majority of cases affect women over the age of 50, and its development is influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental exposures, and lifestyle choices.


The History of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month dates back to 1985 when it was first established by Imperial Chemical Industries and the American Cancer Society. The late First Lady, Betty Ford, played a pivotal role in organizing a week-long event focused on breast cancer awareness, having herself been diagnosed and undergone a mastectomy. Betty’s initial goal was to educate women about breast cancer and emphasize the importance of early detection, primarily through the promotion of mammograms, which are low-energy X-ray tests capable of identifying small cancers that may be imperceptible by touch.

Today, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed globally, involving thousands of women, charitable organizations, and various groups. The key objective remains consistent: encouraging people to share their stories, raise awareness, and gather funds for research related to the disease. The Pink Ribbon has evolved into an internationally recognized symbol of support for this initiative, with its roots traceable to Evelyn H. Lauder, who introduced it in October 1992 while launching the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign. She distributed 1.5 million pink ribbons to support the cause and, the following year, established the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), a prominent research organization.

How can I get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2023? 

You can often spot people wearing pink during October as a sign of their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’re interested in getting involved in the 2023 campaign, here are some ways to do so:

  • Donate:Show your support by contributing to a local cancer charity or charity shop. You can donate in various ways, including clothes and monetary donations.
  • Purchase: Support the cause by shopping at local cancer charity stores or online on breast cancer charity websites.
  • Raise Awareness: Breast cancer in men is sometimes overlooked, and there’s a need to raise awareness about this disease that affects a significant number of men. Learn about it and share your knowledge on social media to inform those who may not be aware.
  • Volunteer: Check for Breast Cancer Awareness Month events in your area or visit your local breast cancer charity shop to see if they require volunteer assistance.

    Celebrate the Survivors

    In addition to raising awareness, it’s crucial to celebrate the survivors and honor their stories. I asked a dear friend of mine, Jill Murtagh, to share her experience following a breast cancer diagnosis. This is Jill’s story:

    “My journey with breast cancer started with a pain in my right breast over Easter one year.

    I went to the doctor thinking I had an infection, but he immediately sent me for a mammogram.

    On my way for the mammogram, I realised I was at a crossroads. I intuitively knew I that potentially I had a problem.

    The staff at the breast centre were so caring from the time I walked in the door. When I left, I had already been told I had cancer but that I would have to wait for the results.

    The biggest frustration was that everything was happening too slowly. I just wanted it out and to get on with my life.

    The greatest blessing was the support from family and friends, Remember, not to be hurt by some people not being there for you. Some are on their own journey and cannot cope with another friend being sick.

    I also took a friend or family member to every appointment no matter how small as you do not remember everything that is going on. I had a full mastectomy of the right breast.

    Then on to a year of chemotherapy and other additional treatments for two years.

    I am now five years down the line, healthier than I was before. I found new strength and meaning in the smaller things in life.

    But one lesson was have your breasts checked every year as I had got complacent.”

    In closing, coping and living with breast cancer can be overwhelming. Find out what you can do, who can help and how to cope with the emotional, practical, and physical issues.

    Until next time.