Raising Awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October. Which means fall is well underway and the leaves have already started changing colors. Also, Halloween. Oh, and for us college students, the flurrying panic to cram in extra studying for midterms. What else? Ah, it’s also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Oh, yeah … Breast Cancer Awareness Month … I see.

Really? So, what exactly is the point in designating the entire month of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month? What does this even mean?

First of all, let’s start with the foundational definition. NBCAM.org, the official website for breast cancer awareness month, says, “The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to services.”

Promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to services.

And so, Amherst’s very own Public Health Collaborative, with these three goals in mind, planned the week of Oct. 21-25 to raise campus awareness about breast cancer in commemoration of NBCAM.

This past week, Oct. 21-23, there were tables out in the Keefe Campus Center during lunch hours and at Val during dinner hours to spread facts about breast cancer and also accept donations. All proceeds from the donation will go directly to Cancer Connections Inc., an organization in Northampton that is dedicated to offering programs, support groups, workshops and complementary therapies free-of-charge to people in the Pioneer Valley who are living with cancer, along with their family members and caregivers.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, there was also promotion of a campus event based on a quote from Mean Girls: “On Wednesdays, we wear PINK.” As widely known, the common symbol that represents support for those with breast cancer and survivors of breast cancer is the pink ribbon. As an unifying act of support and respect by the Amherst student body, many students wore pink on Wednesday.

That Wednesday night, there was a screening of 1 a Minute, a docu-drama film written and directed by actress Namrata Singh Gujral which centers around her story and other women’s stories about battling breast cancer.

While watching this film, one gets the slightest sense of what it means to be diagnosed with cancer. It is impossible to say that we empathize completely, but the survivors’ stories offer a glimpse of the terrifying and hopeless road cancer takes them down. The statistics alone are shocking and mind-sobering: Every minute, a woman dies of breast cancer.
So, back to the question posed in the beginning: What does Breast Cancer Awareness Month mean?

It’s a time set apart specifically to honor those who struggle with this horrible disease, and it’s also a time to hear the survivors’ stories. It’s a time to wake up and understand that you are not immune to it. It’s a time to support those who are battling it and time to be aware of how to prevent it.

And this is why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is worth it.