This month you most likely will have noticed an abundance of pink. This is because the pink ribbon is the international symbol of breast cancer awareness and support. Since 1985, October has been known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign organised by different breast cancer charities to increase awareness and fundraising for medical research into the disease.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. According to ‘Cancer Research UK’, around 55,200 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. That is a staggering 150 people every day. ‘Breast Cancer Now’, the UK’s largest breast cancer research charity, estimates that 11,500 women die each year from the disease. The terrifying reality of the disease is shocking, and all breast cancer charities maintain that the most important part of prevention is awareness and education; the main focus of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign.
According to ‘Worldwide Breast Cancer’, 39 per cent of women who are diagnosed discover symptoms on their own, so being able to check yourself properly is vital. Consequently, ‘Worldwide Breast Cancer’ created a global campaign called ‘Know Your Lemons’. The campaign used the fruit to illustrate the twelve key symptoms of breast cancer: thick mass, indentation, skin erosion, red or hot, new fluid, dimpling, bump, growing vein, sunken nipple, new shape or size, orange peel skin, or invisible lump. As well as self-examination, mammograms are used to check breasts before symptoms are seen or felt.
The ‘American Cancer Society’ suggests that annual mammograms should be arranged after the age of 40. In fact, according to ‘Cancer Research UK’, more than 90 per cent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer survive their disease for at least five years, compared to 15 per cent of women diagnosed at the most advanced stages. These figures highlight the importance of self-examination, knowledge of possible symptoms and early detection.
In 2013, Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative mastectomy after discovering she was very likely to develop breast cancer. In the following year, research by ‘Prevent Breast Cancer’ showed that the number of women in the UK receiving referrals for genetic counselling and testing for breast cancer risk has doubled. This response was called ‘The Angelina Effect’. In further positive news, within the next six months a genetic test that accurately calculates the risk of developing breast cancer will be introduced in some hospitals around the UK. This technology seeks to reduce the number of women getting unnecessary preventative mastectomies, and increase the number of women getting effective, risk-reducing surgeries.
This month, there are countless opportunities to get involved, be it raising awareness of the disease, increasing education, or fundraising for research-based charities.
In 2002, ‘Breast Cancer Now’ initiated ‘wear it pink’, a fundraising day encouraging people around the UK to wear pink to work, school or university to raise money. Since its initiation, the event has raised over £30 million for life saving breast cancer research.
This year, ‘wear it pink’ day is on Friday 20 October, so get organising a fun-filled event with your friends and family! ‘Breast Cancer Now’ is also currently running a campaign called ‘Good Enough?’, which is based on a policy report revealing that opportunities are being missed to save more lives from breast cancer. The charity claims that governments in the UK can and should attempt to take action against issues impacting the care of people with breast cancer. You can easily join the campaign by visiting their website (www.breastcancernow.org/get-involved), and sending a pre-written email to your local politicians and news sources asking them to take action.
If you’re looking to get involved or raise awareness in Edinburgh, ‘CoppaFeel Society’ is a breast cancer awareness charity on campus, aiming to educate people about the severity of the disease in a light-hearted way. All money raised goes towards making students and young people aware of how to check themselves properly and to learn how to spot early signs and symptoms. Their vision is to give everyone the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer and detecting it quickly, as well as having a little fun in the process. They throw hilarious events such as glitter parties, fun brunches, and games of boob-ball (dodgeball).
Like them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ubtedinburgh) or follow them on Instagram (@ubtedinburgh) to keep up to date with what’s going on around campus!
Here is the link to their fundraising page: https://ubt201718.everydayhero.com/uk/university-of-edinburgh-s-uni-boob-team
image: waldryano via pixabay