Friday, October 30, 2009

Pink ribbon

I made my first pink ribbon four years ago and wore it through October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month in many countries. Then I began to wear one through October every year.
The reactions I get from people are surprising.

“What is this for? Is it some kind of an AIDS thing?”
Me: “No. The red ribbon stands for AIDS. This is the symbol for breast cancer awareness.”

“Can men wear it?”
Me: Of course, if they want to support the cause, they can. And yes, men can also get breast cancer.

“Okay, but why are you wearing it?”
Me: It’s my personal campaign against breast cancer.
“Does it work, wearing the ribbon?”
But this time a colleague said, “Well, you asked her and she told you about the disease, didn’t she? Now you know.”

But some such reactions only remind me time and again, that much more awareness is needed.

It was in the early 90s that it was decided the pink ribbon would be the symbol of breast cancer. In 1991 the Komen Foundation distributed them at a race. The Estee Lauder company is also said to have had a say in deciding
on the colour of the ribbon.

Over time, the colour pink has come to symbolize breast cancer. Some organizations sell pink merchandise like T shirts to help raise money for research. As the writer of My breast cancer blog at says, anything pink that reminds you of breast cancer and makes you go in for a check up.

In the USA and the UK, people organize pink days at office. This means they wear something pink to work. Prizes are given to the person who wears most pink, for instance, and the money is given for research. What a simple and beautiful idea.

We Indians love to celebrate our ‘days’. From friendship day, to rose day, to jeans day. We’ve loved to participate in such days through our college years and even later, at work. So why not have a pink ribbon day? You could ask your colleagues and boss if everyone could wear a pink ribbon to office one day. You could ask your gym instructor to wear a pink ribbon. You could ask your group of friends to wear pink ribbons. Tell people about the pink ribbon and its cause. The more pink ribbons worn, the more the awareness created. It is only when people know the reason behind a ribbon will they start to think of it, and go for a check up themselves and tell a loved one about the need to go for a check up for breast cancer. You could also give a certain amount of money contributed by each person who wears the ribbon, to a breast cancer related cause.
And one doesn’t need to wait for October to wear a pink ribbon.

Wear a pink ribbon, and write to me about your experience.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pink October

It is October 1 today. In many countries, October is observed as the Month of Breast Cancer Awareness. Many events are held this month, to make people aware of the disease.

Some organizations hold events like pink ribbon breakfasts or dinners to raise money for research. Many monuments and buildings are light up in pink lights, after a campaign started by Estee Lauder. These include the Eiffel Tower, the White House, the Sydney Opera House and even the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers hotel in India. The pink ribbon is the internationally recognized symbol for breast cancer. It is also worn in memory of those who lost their lives due to complications from this disease.

Some years ago, the company that does Post-its, created pink ones for the cause. The money from the sale of those post-its went to research.

Some well known companies like Avon and Reebok hold special sales and races to raise money for research.

This year too, many events are being held across the world. But perhaps being in the newspaper business, what I think is most significant is what The Herald News is doing. The Herald News has been printed on pink newsprint on October 1. The newspaper and its owners GateHouse Media New England, together with the American Cancer Society and We Got Soccer, will “paint the town pink,” to help raise awareness for breast cancer. It will also focus on locals affected by the disease and feature new developments in research. They will donate 10 cents from each pink newspaper sold, to the American Cancer Society.

In India too, a few organizations hold events to create awareness about this disease. The incidence of breast cancer in India is expected to increase by over 200 % by the year 2020. On October 2, over 75 women are getting behind the wheel at the Women’s Car Rally 2009, in support of The Forum for Breast Cancer Protection, and NGO. Fleximoms is supporting the event. The rally will be from Delhi to Agra.

On October 4, there is a walk in Chennai, ‘One Walk One Hope,’ to express solidarity with patients but also to raise awareness.

Everything to make women aware and go for that mammogram and physical examination.