Pink is high-pitched squeals of delight, decked out Barbie doll playhouses, and cute little sundresses. It is candy hearts on Valentine’s Day, Hello Kitty CD players, and innocent smiles. At least, that’s what you thought.
Indeed, pink may represent the childhoods of many little girls or simply be someone’s favorite color — regardless of gender. But when October comes around, steeped in bright oranges, vibrant yellows, and deep reds, pink refuses to take a backseat. For the entire month, pink is not just a color; it is a crucial part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, once October ends, pink seems to return to its usual place. Instead, we should remember pink, no matter the month, in honor of all individuals impacted by breast cancer.
When I was eight-years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, early detection and a double mastectomy allowed my mother to win her battle. My mom has told me stories about how she wanted to fight to stay alive for her family, and all the different surgeries she had to endure. The difficulty of my mother’s experience is unimaginable, but hearing her story has helped me to develop a compassion and appreciation for those who have battled breast cancer.
According to breastcancer.org, one in eight women in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and roughly one in four are predicted to die from it this year. This information is easier to digest when reading statistics on a page, but numbers can be hard to empathize with. These women are real and they are fighting for their lives through procedures including chemotherapy — a grueling and exhausting treatment that leads to hair loss and has a multitude of health risks.
There are millions of women who have been affected by breast cancer, and trying to commemorate their struggle in just 31 days is not enough. October is an important time for breast cancer awareness, but we need to raise this awareness year round. One way to do this is to donate to foundations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and the Susan Komen Foundation, both of which fund research to end breast cancer. There are also ways to raise awareness without donating. Instead of packing events and pink apparel into one month, spread it out throughout the year. Whatever you feel is the best way to raise awareness, whether with friends and family or with your entire community, anytime is a good time to address the issue of breast cancer.
If you find a personal connection to breast cancer by talking to people impacted by it, going to an event, or simply having an open mind, you will see breast cancer in a new light. Pink becomes much more than just stereotypically girly and dainty. It becomes a symbol of strength and survival.
So wear those pink bracelets in the dead of winter and sport those neon magenta tees in the spring. Don’t let pink be just a color of importance in October. Don’t let it fall into the background with the autumn leaves. Carry around that symbol of strength not only on the outside, but in your mind and in your heart. Remember who it stands for.