Pinktober is more than just a hashtag. The slogan is a symbol for people across the nation planning and participating in various initiatives to bring awareness to Breast Cancer in the month of October. Talisa Gonzalez, a junior studying psychology and minoring in Spanish, decided to use Pinktober as a title for a supportive movement for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the campus of Andrews University. She mentions that in this designated month, breast cancer organizations bring awareness through discussing what the disease is and the struggle to find a cure for the disease. As president of the Psychology Club, Gonzalez seeks to highlight the mental and emotional effects breast cancer wreaks on those affected.
According to research from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, inc., breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, with one in eight women being diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. On a smaller scale, men are affected as well with an estimation of 2,470 men being diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 dying each year. Breast cancer is influenced by genetic factors including age, gender, health history, late menopause and environmental factors such as poor diet, radiation and obesity. The treatments are severe, ranging from surgery to radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The physical stress is accompanied by emotional stress and Gonzalez wants the students, faculty and staff of Andrews University to be a support system for those affected by breast cancer.
Gonzalez perceives that the support for breast cancer awareness caters to the entire well-being of breast cancer patients.
“In addition to the physical trauma that they go through from chemotherapy and radiology, they also have emotional and psychological struggles that surround it because of how traumatic it can be to learn that you have something as serious as breast cancer. Pinktober is raising awareness not only about the disease itself, but also about the emotional and psychological effects of the disease for the victims and their families.”
She lists events for the awareness efforts—marches, 5k runs and other activities from non-profit organizations. The awareness can be in small deeds as well.
“In NFL games, some teams will wear pink gloves or shoes,” she states, seeing this as a simple method that people on campus can be involved in as well. Promoted by the Psych Club, Gonzalez encourages everyone to wear pink every Wednesday of October. Many students have voiced their relation to people who have been diagnosed and how emotionally painful it is. Gonzalez finds that wearing pink gives a visual identifier of people who care. She feels the effects as well due to having a close friend whose aunt died from breast cancer.
“It’s a good way to show our support without having to do runs or other things which can be hard to organize.”
For Gonzalez, this plan is a new step for the Psychology Club.
“Psych Club tends to focus more on very obvious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but when we were looking into breast cancer awareness, we realized that there were a lot of psychological effects of being diagnosed with cancer that we can bring to light in addition to raising actual awareness of the disease itself.”
The plan was derived from a reference in the classic movie Mean Girls, when Karen Smith, one of the popular girls, states on behalf of the posse, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.”
Gonzalez is pioneering an initiative that has not been heavily and widely promoted on campus in previous years. She invites everyone to follow the Psychology Club on Instagram at @andrews.psych_official and to include #pinktoberau on posts showing students’ support of breast cancer awareness. Free giveaways are included! Wearing pink can be cool and trendy but is also a powerful tool to show support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.