Since last month was Breast Cancer Awareness month, it is timely to focus on the amazing achievements in detecting and treating breast cancer. We have made remarkable breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatment options, and research initiatives for what was once considered an incurable disease.
Until the 20th century, breast cancer remained a hidden disease among women in the US. Mastectomies were the common treatment, and it wasn’t until the early 1930s that radical mastectomy surgery was adapted so that it was no longer disfiguring. Shortly afterwards, more women began advocating for breast cancer support groups, treatment, and research initiatives.
As awareness transitioned into activism, more and more women began to speak out about their experiences with breast cancer. Some familiar names included Shirley Temple, the childhood movie star, Babette Rosmond, an editor of Seventeen Magazine, and political wives Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller.
Each of these women were diagnosed with breast cancer and used their fame to share the importance of open conversations about the disease. Their disclosures were instrumental in advocating for breast self-examination and breast cancer screening.
The years that followed saw more breast cancer policy making, a burgeoning number of female surgeons, and new awareness regarding toxic environmental factors that may cause cancer. The pink ribbon, a symbol for breast cancer awareness, debuted in 1982.
As we review this history, we thank the brave women, fearless doctors, notable politicians, and trailblazing scientists who have shaped our path in the fight against breast cancer. We have come a long way in our fight against breast cancer, and there is much left to do. Fighting for this cure is the epitome of hope and resilience.