October: Unifying for a Cause

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The onset of October brought with it many changes: cooler weather, color-changing foliage, the ubiquity of pumpkin spice flavors and scents. In addition, it also brought National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about various aspects of the illness and generate funds for medical research into its cure.      

NBCAM was founded in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of what is now AstraZeneca. From its inception, the goal of the partnership and month-long campaign has been to highlight mammography as the foremost weapon in fighting breast cancer. NBCAM is organized by major international breast cancer charities and organizations and can be recognized by certain symbols and activities, such as the wearing of the color pink and participation in such events as the Susan G. Komen 3 Day “For the Cure,” a sixty-mile fundraising walk held in countries around the world.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, a leading contributor to the campaign, was founded in 1991 by Janelle Hall, a breast-cancer survivor. Forced to make treatment decisions based on limited information about the disease and with few survival stories to serve as inspiration for her battle, Janelle vowed to help women internationally gain a full breast-cancer education in order to detect the cancer as early as possible, learn about various treatment options, and provide a large-scale and valuable support system. Today, the organization collects donations and enlists the help of thousands of volunteers who do their part both in October and year-round to push towards victory in the fight against breast cancer.

NBCAM is one of many examples of social movements that unite global citizens around a common goal. Arthur Ashe was actively involved in several political and health-related crusades to transform the status quo and provide thousands of people greater access to necessary and beneficial resources. He was the founder of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization whose goal is to address the significant health disparities found in urban, minority communities. One of their many successful health and wellness programs involves partnering with local salons and providing education and training to stylists so that they can be health ambassadors in their communities, advising their clients on symptoms, screening procedures and preventative measures to address breast cancer as well as heart disease, diabetes, ovarian cancer and other health conditions.

The month of October does not just signify NBCAM, but demonstrates how powerful the effect can be when the international community comes together to rally around a specific cause. It is up to each one of us to take the first step in deciding to pitch in and help make a difference.


You can learn more about best practices for breast cancer early detection and prevention by visiting: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/early-detection-of-breast-cancer


One of the most important parts of breast cancer prevention is mammography screenings. You can visit here to learn about low cost or free mammograms in your area: http://ww5.komen.org/LowCostorFreeMammograms.html

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