Is breast cancer awareness month a distraction?

October has seen both Rio’s Christ the Redeemer and the White House lit up in a pink light, bras being collected up and down the country and thousands of pounds being raised, all in aid of breast cancer awareness month.

Now, as the “pink” month draws to a close, Stephanie Bolton and Candi Hindocha ask whether the month is a distraction from other “less sexy” cancers.

Yes, says Stephanie Bolton

I wouldn’t call breast cancer “sexy”, but I wouldn’t say that any cancer is sexy — far from it.

However, I would say that breast cancer awareness month is a slight distraction from the other terrible cancers that people are suffering from. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that raising awareness and a large amount of money for such a cause is a bad thing. I just think that equal attention should be paid to other, lesser mentioned cancers. Cancers such as liver, heart, and lung all carry with them an underlying blame, as people associate lung cancer with smoking, cancer of the liver with drinking and heart cancer as a result of unhealthy living.

Whereas breast cancer, as far as we know, isn’t caused by anything other than unfortunate genes. Plus, breasts are a sign of femininity and nurturing which makes it seem even worse that such a disease could harm such a sensitive area. And breasts are attractive, unlike bowels, brain tumours and the pancreas. But is that reason enough to make everything pink, get what seems like every celebrity to endorse it and raise a lot of money, just because breasts are nurturing and feminine? I don’t think so.

Fewer people die from breast cancer than lung cancer, yet lung cancer receives very little coverage. It could be argued that fewer people die from breast cancer because, thanks to breast cancer awareness month, people know the signs, symptoms and how to check themselves which can only be a good thing.

People should know the signs and symptoms to other cancers. More money should be raised for those cancers that are left unspoken about, and more support and awareness should be out there for everybody. Regardless of how “sexy” their cancer.


Even Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is lit in pink in October. Photo: Aurélia - Jewels Author

No, says Candi Hindocha

For me the topic of breast cancer is a very personal issue. My Nana passed away when I was five, and it wasn’t long after that that my Auntie passed away from the same disease. I think that all the awareness and all the events that surround breast cancer are absolutely key to the progress that’s been made in finding better and effective treatments for the disease.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand when people say “what about all the other cancers?”, but it’s the fact that it’s an issue close to my heart that makes me biased. What I don’t necessarily understand is that there are other charities for other types of cancers, but they don’ t seem to take the same steps to promote and raise awareness.

I think that somebody should say to charities such as the The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation or The Prostate Cancer Charity, “what are you doing to promote and raise awareness about your charities?”.

I believe that at the end of the day, you’re only as good as the effort you put into promoting such a heartbreaking disease. It just so happens that breast cancer is a cancer that a lot of women can relate to, and I believe that’s because someone has put the effort and time into letting people know there’s a place to go when they need help.

I believe it’s impolite and discourteous for someone to take the idea of “a sexy cancer” when realistically cancer is cancer, and cancer kills.

3 Responses to Is breast cancer awareness month a distraction?

  1. Mu says:

    Both The Prostate Cancer Charity and The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation *do* have awareness months, as the breast organisations do. It’s the very fact that they are ‘unsexy’ cancers makes it harder for them to attract media, celebrity or corporate support for their awareness month activities.

  2. Emma Gunby says:

    I work for The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and was very interested to read the debate on The Linc.

    We would absolutely agree that it is vital that awareness is raised about ALL cancers.

    The query regarding our activity is very timely as Monday (November 1st) sees the launch of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

    There is more information about our activities on our website http://tinyurl.com/2at7xkd

    To request an awareness pack, including a selection of posters, leaflets, stickers and balloons, please email rita.burke@roycastle.org

  3. M says:

    “These are great commentaries and very important in my opinion as well.

    I am working to get people to make promises to get the women in their lives to get their yearly mammorgrams. Our site is http://www.mammogrampromise.org/ There anyone can make a promise, and for each one we get, $1 will be donated for research.

    Even though there are differing views on the effectiveness of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we believe that every woman should take the time to get a mammogram. Early detection is the only way to stop cancer in its tracks!”