The History of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

POSTED October 25, 2022

As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is known for celebrating those who have survived breast cancer and remembering those who didn’t. People also spend this month spreading information about breast cancer and raising money to continue the fight against breast cancer. But from where and when did this cancer awareness month originate? Why is a pink ribbon associated with awareness of this cancer? And why is this cancer awareness month one of the most notable ones?

Back in October of 1985, a campaign started called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). This campaign was a partnership between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries to promote mammograms as the best way to fight breast cancer, and the iconic pink ribbon originates even farther back.

In 1979, a woman whose husband had been taken hostage in Iran decided to make a symbol for her desire to see her husband come home to her. She tied yellow ribbons to the trees in her front yard, a tradition common through the centuries. Years later, AIDS activists heard of the yellow ribbons the woman put up and took inspiration by changing the yellow ribbon to a red one to represent their cause. Since then, modern-day ribbons have been used as symbols of charities.

Did you know that the first ribbon that was used to represent Breast Cancer was actually peach? That’s right. We almost didn’t have the iconic pink ribbon that we know today. In 1992, the magazine “Self” had its second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. In this issue, there was an idea that was suggested. There would be a ribbon that would be used to represent the fight against breast cancer. But, there was already someone who had created a ribbon. 

A woman named Charlotte Haley had created a peach-colored ribbon as a tribute to her mother and sister who both battled breast cancer. The editor of the “Self” magazine, Alexandra Penny, offered Haley a partnership between her and the magazine. Haley turned down the offer, expressing her feelings by saying that the partnership “would be too commercial.” After that turndown, “Self” officially made a pink ribbon become the national symbol for the fight against breast cancer.

If there are so many other months that are dedicated to fighting against different cancers, why is breast cancer awareness month so well-known and popular? It is most likely because breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for females in the United States. In males, it only affects one out of a thousand. But for females, it affects one out of eight! This is why many say breast cancer awareness month is extremely important. Spreading factually accurate information, and raising money to continue research and finding cures.


For more information about breast cancer, here are some trustworthy websites to check out:



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