To mark 25 years of the pink ribbon, The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland is working with us to support more people affected by breast cancer, through our vital Moving Forward courses. These provide emotional and practical support once treatment ends over a four-week programme.
We look back across 25 years at how care and attitudes towards breast cancer have evolved with the pink ribbon.
In 1992, Evelyn H. Lauder co-created the pink ribbon and launched The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign (formerly The Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign), recognising an urgent need to bring breast cancer to the forefront and put a spotlight on this world health issue. Pioneering this movement, a year later she founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), a non-profit organisation, to generate funding solely dedicated to breast cancer research.
Tackling breast cancer taboos
At the time, breast cancer was still a taboo topic. For people experiencing the difficulties of a breast cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment, this meant little discussion and understanding of what care may be needed.
That is why, in 1994, the Breast Care and Mastectomy Association was renamed Breast Cancer Care, and set up the first UK Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October with the pink ribbon at its heart.
The evolution of care
Today, the pink ribbon symbolises hope, strength and unity for many. The Estée Lauder Companies’ Campaign has raised more than $70 million to support global research, education and medical services and the BCRF is now the largest private donor to breast cancer research worldwide.
The nation has also supported Breast Cancer Care and helped us grow our services, from the Helpline and publications through to the BECCA app today.
So far we’ve managed to support around 6,000 people through a Moving Forward course, with 91% of women who attended in 2015 reporting they felt more confident afterwards. With The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland’s support, we’ll be able to provide a new series of courses across the UK with tailored information and emotional support, giving up to 100 people access to this vital service.
Penny was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She works as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant at a primary school, and lives at home in Kent with her husband, daughter and son.
‘Breast Cancer Care was there for me from day one’
I’ve been supported by Breast Cancer Care since the day I was diagnosed. That day I came home from the consultant and spent the whole night on the Forum. Since then they’ve helped me through treatment: a mastectomy, lymph node removal, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
Although I finished active treatment two years ago, this year’s been a lot harder to deal with. I hit my lowest point around Christmas. I was exhausted from fatigue, dealing with side effects of tamoxifen, and trying to cope with these while surrounded by the fear of breast cancer returning.
‘I didn’t realise I needed support’
I’m a ‘doer’, I’m normally so proactive, but I realised then that I wasn’t dealing with it. That’s why I decided to do a Moving Forward course. The practical tips were great, but the best part was being around other people who feel the same way, who’ve been through the same experience. It was emotional at times, as we each realised we weren’t alone.
Now I use BECCA, Breast Cancer Care’s new app that helps people move beyond breast cancer. I dip into it on my way to work, or at home on the weekend. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that it’s OK to be worried sometimes. It’s like a friend. It’s a safe place and I can relate to everything I read. It helps me motivate myself to do things, but if I can’t, it lets me know that’s OK too.
‘Fear is like a black cloud’
After breast cancer treatment ends, this black cloud appears above you - the fear of it returning. Some days it’s right above you, rain pouring down heavily. But little by little it moves further away. For me, today, it’s sitting over there in the distance.
With 62,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, we need to help more of them find their new ‘normal’ after breast cancer.
Around £4,000 can help fund a Moving Forward course for 15 people, so with your support, we can work together to reach more women like Penny.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, help us reach more people affected by breast cancer.