Pinktober Fest (Breast Cancer Awareness)

Pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October

Most of us are culturally conditioned to view the colour pink as a feminine one. For now, let’s leave aside the feminist concern of the harm this kind of thinking causes. Let’s delve into another calling card of the colour – its association with breast cancer.

Significance of the Colour Pink

History buffs will be interested in this little nugget: The colour pink became internationally associated with breast cancer in the early 1990s thanks to a joint marketing ploy by American magazine ‘Self’ and the cosmetics brand Estee Lauder. Initial forays had also been made into the colour’s association with breast cancer awareness by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, but it was Self magazine editor’s brainwave to market pink ribbons for her breast cancer awareness issue, and Estee Lauder’s backing it full-force that made pink what it is today.

Today, pink ribbons universally symbolise breast cancer awareness. But the ribbon is not the only pink strip of cloth that promotes awareness for breast cancer. We also have Pink Hijab Day, which combines breast cancer awareness with that of awareness of Islam.  This was begun by a clever teenager in Missouri, USA who wanted to break the stereotypes surrounding Muslim women. She and her friends decided to wear pink head scarves (hijabs) one day to encourage others to ask about the colour of their scarves and the scarves themselves, thus opening up free dialogue about both breast cancer and Islam.

The Colour of October is Pink!

With more and more Muslim women joining this movement, it was only natural that the next step be to make the pink hijab movement official. The Susan G. Komen Foundation was contacted, and in 2004, Pink Hijab Day was born, and is now observed every last Wednesday of October.

Since the foray of Self magazine and Estee Lauder into promoting breast cancer awareness, October has been designated the month for events and fundraisers dedicated to its research and awareness. October is internationally recognized as the month for breast cancer awareness.

Today, there are several avenues through which breast cancer awareness is supported. the month of October sees restaurants, bars, clubs, clothing stores, TV shows, celebrities – everyone coming together to raise awareness and funds in various ways.

Hard Rock Café, Andheri (Mumbai), for instance, has a huge ‘Pinktober’ signboard on its building’s exterior. The NGO United Sisters Foundation organizes Pinkathon, a marathon for women, to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and for underprivileged women afflicted with breast cancer. This is done via the Women’s Cancer Initiative – Tata Memorial Hospital. Ketto has had several Pinkathoners start fundraising pages on our website to further this cause.

The American talk show ‘Ellen’, hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, has several gimmicky ways in which funds are raised for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now renamed Susan G. Komen for the Cure). The list of people who support breast cancer awareness could very well go on for pages and pages, actually!

Myth ‘Bust’ing

So, as part of this collective effort to raise awareness, Team Ketto is now going to ‘bust’ a few myths on breast cancer here (pardon the pun!). Let’s jump right to it:

–          Use of antiperspirants and deodorants do not cause breast cancer. So please feel free to have aromatic underarms. In India’s tropical weather, it’s a necessity!

–          Mammograms do not cause cancer to spread. Having an annual mammogram if you are 40 or above is totally cool.

–          Having gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 in your DNA does not mean breast cancer is a given. It may increase the likelihood of breast cancer but that’s about it.

–          Finding a lump on your breast does not necessary mean it is cancerous. There are more chances of it being a benign/harmless growth. Go to a doctor to ensure your peace of mind.

–          If a family member has had breast cancer, it does not automatically mean you will get it too. There are a LOT of other factors that need to be taken into consideration. So rest easy.

–          And in case it needs to be confirmed, breast cancer is most certainly NOT contagious!

Alright then. Here’s to a Happy Pinktober Fest, ladies (and gents)!

 Support breast cancer! Start a campaign now!

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Jessica Thomas

She has a case of puppy-love and kitten-love and cub-love get the picture! She hopes to own an animal farm someday. (This is not a smartypants reference to the George Orwell-authored seminal book.)

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