Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbons

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The Pink Awareness Ribbon

Clip Art Of A Pink Ribbon
Dixie Allan

The pink awareness ribbon is recognized far and wide as a sign of support for breast cancer awareness. It is also a symbol for birth parents as well as for childhood cancer awareness.

The use of ribbons as courage and support can be traced to the 19th century. During this time, women wore yellow ribbons as a sign of devotion to their loved ones who were serving in the military. People would tie yellow ribbons around trees to show support for neighbors who had missing family members that served during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Red ribbons were worn from the late 1980s to early 1990s to support AIDS awareness.

In 1992, two ribbon colors were created to support Breast Cancer Awareness. Charlotte Haley, a breast cancer survivor and activist, created peach ribbons and took on a personal approach to deliver the message. Ms. Haley distributed the peach ribbons at local grocery stores and urged supporters to write to their legislators. Each ribbon was attached to a card that read: "The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up legislators and America by wearing this ribbon." This effort was a grass roots movement that asked for no money, only for awareness.

Also in 1992, Evelyn Lauder, also a breast cancer survivor, teamed up with Alexandra Penney to create the pink ribbon. The pair, then senior corporate vice president of Estée Lauder and editor-in-chief of Self Magazine respectively, took on a commercial approach and distributed 1.5 million pink ribbons at Estée Lauder makeup counters. The pair gathered more than 200,000 signed petitions for government to increase breast cancer research funding.

Today, the pink ribbon symbolizes health, youth, peace and calm, and is internationally synonymous with breast cancer awareness.

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The Pink and Blue Awareness Ribbon

Clip Art Of A Pink and Blue Ribbon
Dixie Allan

People use the pink and blue ribbon to remind us that men are also at risk for breast cancer. This color combination is also used to acknowledge the loss of a child, miscarriage, neonatal death, and sudden infant death syndrome. Although not seen nearly as often as the pink ribbon for breast cancer in women, the male breast cancer pink and blue ribbon is often seen in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The third week October is dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer in men.