Breast Cancer Awareness month runs from October 1st through to October 31st. It is an international campaign that is arranged by major cancer awareness organisations every year during October to bring awareness to breast cancer and running fundraising campaigns.
It was founded in 1985 in a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. They are now part of AstraZeneca, producer of several anti-breast cancer drugs.
The Pink Ribbon
Perhaps one way you recognise people raising awareness for breast cancer is the pink ribbon. The pink ribbon was first used as a symbol for breast cancer when a 68-year-old Californian woman named Charlotte Haley, whose sister, daughter, and granddaughter had breast cancer, handed around peach-colored ribbons. She wanted to call attention to, what she believed, the inadequate funding given for research into breast cancer.
In 1991, Susan G. Komen Foundation had handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. In 1993, Evelyn Launder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and used the pink ribbon as its symbol. Since then it has become the international symbol for breast cancer.
You can buy a pink ribbon, or a box to raise money here.
Every year in October, the various groups and charities organise fundraising events to raise awareness. Some of the more popular ones include:
Runs/marathons – The Irish Cancer Society, this year is doing the Pink Ribbon Walk. People are raising money which goes towards charity. This year the charity is Action Breast Cancer.
Raffle – Breast Cancer Ireland are doing an online raffle this year to raise money. It closes in December, so you still have time to buy your tickets. There are multiple cash prizes to be won. Find out more here.
Breast Cancer Ireland are also selling face masks to raise awareness and donations. Find them here.
There are many other ways you can raise money or make a donation. One example is to hold a (virtual in 2020) coffee morning. Charge an entrance fee and gather the proceeds through apps such as Revolut or PayPal. It is easier if one person controls the donations. Of course, people can still donate if they cannot attend also.
Male Breast Cancer
People are often surprised, or don’t expect for a man to develop breast cancer. Every body, man or woman, has breast tissue. It is the female hormones which cause it to expand and grow glands for milk. Male hormones do not do this.
The symptoms are relatively the same, just focused around the nipple area. Men should perform a check also.
Perform a check
Everyone should know how to check their bodies, and do so often, for any symptoms of breast cancer.
Some of the signs to look for include
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
- 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.
- Swollen glands under the arm.
It is easiest to do this with no underwear. A lot of people check when they are in, or just out of, the shower. Check out this article on how to check your breasts properly.
Perhaps the biggest thing they advocate for is mammograms. The aim is to encourage people to go and get a check even if they think they don’t need one.
If you experience any signs, you will be checked in for a mammogram. Mammograms are the procedure that doctors and GPs use to scan for any lumps in the breast. It is done using low energy x rays that detect large clusters of tissue or microcalcification in
Statistics for breast cancer in Ireland
- 1 in every 9 women will develop breast cancer in their life
- Male breast cancer incidences are 1 in 1000.
- There are around 3,100 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year.
- 30% of women are diagnosed between the ages of 20-50 years.
- 34% of women are diagnosed between the ages of 50-69 years.
- 36% of women are diagnosed over the age of 70 years.
- Only 5%-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary
So while October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I hope that this article will be useful beyond that and brings awareness to breast cancer, and the ways for you to get involved and help all year around.
Here are some resources that you can use.