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This is how the Pink Ribbon came to symbolise breast cancer awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How did the Pink Ribbon come to symbolise breast cancer and the story behind the colour. In 1986 the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month was held in October and the Pink ribbon became an international symbol in 1991.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
October 6, 2017 12:50:59 pm
breast cancer awareness month, breast cancer, Jeremy Irons Red ribbon, why pink ribbon for breast cancer, breast cancer reason, Indian express, Indian express news Breast Cancer Awareness Month! (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Many of us are aware about the colour pink being an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Every October, people all around the world sport the colour to support the breast cancer awareness month. It could be in the form of pink  ribbons, pink lapel pins or by simply wearing the colour. But how did the colour pink become a symbol for breast cancer awareness? The common notion would be the association of the colour with femininity but there is more to the pink coloured ribbon.

According to United Breast Cancer Foundation, the use of ribbons for a cause began in the nineteenth century. During those days, women were often seen wearing or tying yellow ribbons to trees to remember their loved ones in the military. The concept gained popularity in America when, in 1979, Penny Laingen, wife of a man held prisoner during the Iranian hostage crises, tied yellow ribbons on trees outside her home to display silent support for her husband and other hostages. A decade later, an activist art group Visual AIDS launched the Red Ribbon at the 45th Annual Tony Awards in 1991. They used a bright red ribbon, looped it up and pinned it on the chest of actor Jeremy Irons.

A breast cancer survivor, Charlotte Hayley, introduced a peach coloured breast cancer awareness ribbon. A card attached to the ribbon read, “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is 1.8 billion US dollars, and only 5 percent goes to cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” She was approached by Alexandra Penney, editor in chief of Self magazine, who wanted to adapt Hayley’s concept by working with her, but Hayley refused stating that Self magazine was too commercial.

Inspired by the red ribbon, the Susan G. Komen Foundation also handed out pink ribbons to all breast cancer survivors and participants of the Komen New York City Race for the Cure. Later,  Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self magazine, and Evelyn Lauder, Vice-President of the Estee Lauder companies and a breast cancer survivor herself together founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as its symbol.

The first Breast Cancer Awareness Month was held in October 1986, and the pink ribbon became an international symbol in 1991. Soon, every major organisation was seen endorsing the ribbon and the year 1992 was declared as the ‘Year of the Ribbon’ by New York Times.

📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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