Within my own family, at this time, two of my relatives are being treated for breast cancer, so this is an issue which resonates deeply. The breast cancer diagnosis falls like a judges’ verdict upon families, with the same grimness and none of the reasons why. It feels unjust and makes people angry that this has been done to them. I have seen first hand how traumatic the diagnosis and how painful the treatment is, for the patient and their family. The toll that cancer takes upon people’s lives is immense as treatments often leave patients exhausted and in great pain, and so unable to lead normal lives. This can mean a loss of income even as they must pay more to cover their needs, and can put a strain on relationships and the lives of those around them. Given the current cost of living crisis, paying for healthcare and support are extra pressures that many people cannot afford and many people suffer as a result. For many people, cancer can also be an isolating experience and cause significant burden on their mental health, which is why awareness is so essential, so that people can receive the right kind of support and be better equipped to deal with various issues that might arise. 


Breast Cancer Awareness month is held in October every year, since its creation in 1985, to promote screenings and prevention of the disease which affects around 2.3m women worldwide. The phenomenon of Pink Week began in 2011, at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, when students and teachers were inspired by Dina Rabinovitch who was an American-born journalist. She wrote a series of articles about her experiences with breast cancer, until her death at the age of 45 in 2007. During this week, many events take place at schools and universities, in order to raise awareness and funds to provide support for breast cancer patients. 


Raising awareness about breast cancer is essential, as it affects around 367,000 a year, in the UK alone. Worldwide, around 685,000 die from breast cancer, but research suggests that around 23% of these cases are preventable. One of the most important ways to raise awareness is encouraging self-checking to search for lumps and changes which could be signs of cancer. 


At the Tiffin Girls’ School, we consider it our social responsibility to raise awareness about an issue that could affect so many of us and our friends and family. A number of fundraising activities are held across the week, such as pick n mix sales and bake sales, a photobooth, nail painting stands and t-shirt sales with specific designs about breast cancer. On the Friday of that  week, a mufti day is held, where students give a donation in order to come to school in pink outfits and at lunch time, teachers take part in a fashion show event. This raises money which is donated to breast cancer charities which use the funds in a range of ways such as: providing advice and information on how to reduce risk of breast cancer, providing support for patients and their families, and funding research into causes and treatments. Pink Week is a huge institution at the Tiffin Girls’ School and a proud tradition. 


Pink Week’s whole purpose is to raise awareness and it is imperative that more institutions begin holding this event. After all, in the words of Dina Rabinovitch herself, “ I don’t think we are aware enough yet.”