Here’s the story behind the Pink Ribbon that symbolises breast cancer awareness movement across the world

Oct 22, 2021

By: Karuna Sharma

​Internationally, October is earmarked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The 1st effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer occurred as a weeklong event in the US in October 1985, founded by the American Cancer Society.

Credit: American-Cancer-Society

The campaign slowly extended across the world.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, people wear pink ribbons to pay homage to those who lost their battles to the disease and support the progress the world is making to defeat it. But why pink?

Credit: Business Insider India

According to the United Breast Cancer Foundation, the use of ribbons for a cause began in the 19th century.

During those days, women were often seen wearing or tying yellow ribbons to trees to remember their loved ones in the military. Soon, the ribbon became a medium to communicate.

Credit: iStock

It was a peach ribbon before it became pink.

Inspired by yellow ribbons and after losing her grandma and daughter to the disease, Charlotte Haley, a 68-year-old woman, created a peach-colored ribbon to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Credit: iStock

Haley also handed out cards with the ribbon at the supermarket.

It read, “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is 1.8 billion US dollars, and only 5 percent goes to cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

Credit: iStock

Haley was approached by Alexandra Penney, editor in chief of Self magazine.

Penney wanted Hayley to relinquish the concept of the ribbon. However, Hayley refused stating that the magazine was too commercial.

Credit: Self-Magazine

Alexandra really wanted to run a ribbon-awareness campaign with her breast awareness month edition.

So, she turned to her lawyers, who advised her to change the colour. And they chose pink. Their studies also showed that pink has a calming effect and is known to be health-giving.

Credit: Self-Magazine

Self Magazine and Estée Lauder handed out 1.5 million ribbons with breast self-exam cards in 1992

They collected over 200,000 pink ribbon petitions urging the White House to increase funds for research. Within a year, Haley’s loop of peach ribbon made history.

Credit: Canva

The pink ribbon lapel pin eventually became a powerful symbol to increase awareness about breast cancer

It was first born in 1991.

Credit: Canva

Today, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.

Breast cancer accounts for 14 percent of cancers in Indian women, said Cytecare Cancer Hospital’s report. It’s reported that every 4 minutes, an Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

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with the increasing number of cancer patients in India, every major Indian organisation is now seen endorsing the ribbon during the month of October in its mass media campaigns.

Credit: Unsplash

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