Best of the Best: Beyond pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness

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Cathy Best

Cathy Best

By Cathy Best

Since 1985, October has been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). Wikipedia states the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries partnered to create the NBCAM “to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.”

What’s amazing to me is how the campaign to eradicate breast cancer has grown in the last 28 years. Beginning “in the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons, inspired by the red ribbon Aids campaign, to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.” Subsequently pink ribbons and the color pink have become synonymous with breast cancer awareness and research fundraising.

Beyond pink ribbons, I’m awestruck by the creative ways individuals and organizations find to shed light on this life threating cancer. As I watched college football this weekend I couldn’t help but notice the presence of pink on the field and in the stands. Fans across the nation, and across collegiate divisions donned pink in just about every way possible: pink hair, hats, gloves, T-shirts, scarves, socks, ties, and ribbons. Maybe the most notable was the Alabama fan.

As the television camera panned Saturday’s Crimson Tide fans, what looked to be, a 6 foot-4-inch, 260 lb. male stood out in a pink dress and blonde wig flaunting his support. Pretty-in-pink definitely raised my awareness. He’s not alone in his support of breast cancer awareness. The Oregon Ducks unveiled pink helmets, cleats and gloves for their rival game against Washington State. They devised an ingenious way to give back. In support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, five pink helmets were auctioned off each day for five days along with special helmets autographed by Oregon head coach, Mark Helfrich, and legendary alumni Phil Knight, Joey Harrington and Dan Fouts. “The Fund is the vision of the organization’s namesake Kay Yow, former NC State University head women’s basketball coach. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s charity of choice.” Bringing a young face to breast cancer Deanna Farve, wife of legendary quarterback Brett Farve, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 35. Her husband and many team members shaved their heads in support of her treatment.

The Green Bay Packer organization stepped up in support of her battle and partnered with American Family Insurance to sell 210,000 pink Packer baseball caps with a green “G” emblazoned on them. The project raised over a million dollars for breast cancer research. In 2005, the Farve family added breast cancer awareness and fundraising to Farve 4 Hope, the charitable foundation they established in 1995 for disadvantaged children. What really got my attention and inspired me to write this week were two very subtle shows of solidarity in the fight against breast cancer. While riding between concourses on the Hartsfield Plane Train a Delta pilot entered the train wearing a pink tie.

At the next stop another Delta pilot entered wearing a pink tie. I inquired if it was coincidence or intentional for breast cancer awareness. Intentional. Heartwarming. The second was a small hardscrabble home that has obviously fallen on hard times. Out front are pink painted pumpkins with ribbons and the word hope instead of faces. It speaks to me of women, and men, from all walks of life battling breast cancer, those that have lost their battle, and those that have survived due to advanced detection. The pumpkins stand as testimony to all, known and unknown, who give their time, talent, and treasure in support of finding a cure.

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