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What's Up Magazine

A Brief History of Breast Cancer Awareness

Oct 27, 2011 05:35PM ● By Anonymous
The media is overflowing with stories and tie-ins. And we are not alone. After all, it’s tough to ignore the fact that even NFL players are wearing pink gloves and shoes. Nowadays, we are all well aware of the impact breast cancer has on our society. But that wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a fairly repressed time not so long ago, no one talked about cancer…especially breast cancer. If uttered at all, “breast cancer” was mentioned in whispers. That changed in the 1972 when a celebrity went public with the news that she had been diagnosed with the disease and had undergone a mastectomy. And the fates could not have chosen a more visible spokesperson that Shirley Temple Black; arguably the most famous person in the world when she was a child.

Shirley Temple Black, a mind-bogglingly talented kid, had grown up to be a courageous and compassionate adult. Her admission helped countless women find the courage to address the issues of self-examination and treatment.

Black got the ball rolling, but Betty Ford and “Happy” Rockefeller (wife of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller) picked it up and ran with it. In 1974, within weeks of each other, these two prominent women underwent mastectomies (Betty Ford first, then Mrs. Rockefeller). Both publicly acknowledged and discussed their conditions. We can only imagine the lives these three women saved. Including their own.

Looking back at the beginnings of breast cancer awareness can only buoy the spirits of anyone who has or is fighting the disease. Betty Ford lived until she was 93 years old. And Happy Rockefeller and Shirley Temple Black (85 and 83 year old, respectively) are still going strong. Thank you, ladies.