October | Understanding National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Once again, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) has rolled around in October. This month is set aside each year to pay special attention to women who have survived or been lost to breast cancer, while also increasing general awareness of the disease. Around 12 percent of women in the United States develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. While occurrences of breast cancer decreased in the last couple of decades, it’s still one of the main types of cancer and one of the most common to affect women. Each October, various groups band together to show their support and raise money for organizations that help fight breast cancer and the complications that go along with it.


How did National Breast Cancer Awareness Month start?


The first NBCAM was celebrated in October 1985. It was initially a partnership between the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical company (now known as AstraZeneca) that specializes in drugs for treating breast cancer. Since its beginning, the focus of NBCAM has been to encourage women to get regular exams and be proactive about their breast health, while also supporting women who have or had breast cancer. Like any major medical procedure, the costs associated with treating breast cancer are high, so various organizations focus on getting these women the help they need.


The Estee Lauder Foundation was the first to introduce the iconic pink ribbon that’s an easily recognizable symbol for the fight against breast cancer. Now, there are dozens of organizations that work toward helping breast cancer survivors and those currently battling it as well as raising awareness.


Why October?


The main reason October is NBCAM is simply because the first Race for the Cure was help that month in Texas. Now, the Susan G. Komen Foundation sponsors races all over the country that help raise money for breast cancer awareness.


If you’re looking for a more detailed history about breast cancer awareness and activism, an extensive research study was done, tracing the disease back to when it was not really talked about and doctors had little idea of what cancer even was. Various women have been hugely influential in raising awareness about breast cancer, from organizing fundraisers, races, and rallies to writing memoirs about their own personal struggles with the disease.