Breast Cancer Awareness and the Women Who Fostered It

Unless you live under a rock you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it hasn’t always been that way.  Historically breast cancer was a taboo topic. Women with breast cancer didn’t discuss the topic publicly.

It was former First Lady Betty Ford who played a major role in bringing breast cancer out of the shadows when she allowed the press into her hospital room to discuss her diagnosis. Her openness increased the number of women willing to talk about it and, even more important, their open discussions led more women to have breast exams for early detection.

Ford’s actions were a catalyst for the 1985 partnership between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries, producer of anti-breast cancer drugs, to designate October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).

Two other women also shared a major role in increasing public awareness.

  1. When Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president of the Estée Lauder Companies, received a breast cancer diagnosis, she made breast cancer awareness an Estee Lauder brand staple. Her companies continue to do so today through her Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
  2. In 2013, Angelina Jolie publicly shared her decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene. That catapulted BRCA gene mutation into the spotlight and encouraged research funding for genetic cancer.

These three women were forerunners in changing the prevailing attitude. These days we are keenly aware of breast cancer, but are the millions of marketing and advertising dollars spent to raise funds for awareness missing the mark?

Yes according to Paige More, a woman personally affected by breast cancer and co-founder of The Breasties.

She suggests money spent on awareness marketing efforts and advertising materials might be more beneficial if directed to a nonprofit, a hospital, or breast cancer research.

Statistics from The American Cancer Society estimate there will be 271,270 new cases of breast cancer in 2019, 99% of which will be diagnosed in women.

We still don’t have a cure . More research might fix that. Maybe Paige More is right, more funds should be divert to research and not so much to awareness.

What do you think?

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