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More Than a Month: Breast Cancer Awareness

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

I’ve always liked following The Kit on Instagram. I’m a big fan of their fresh perspectives on the fashion industry and it’s nice having a Canadian publication to connect with. During the month of October, our feeds are always flooded with shades of pink as brands look to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While most posts are consistent with advice from medical professionals and pink ribbons, I was completely captivated by a post shared by The Kit. It was a glowing photo of Julia D’uva captured by photographer Farrah Aviva. Her smile lit up my entire screen and the accompanying caption read “When people say you need to fight this, you’re going to beat this, it feels jarring. I like to think of it as a healing journey.” 

While I was reading about Julia’s optimistic outlook on this major shift in her life, I came across another article on the Kit, highlighting Rhea’s experience with breast cancer as a woman of colour. Reading such vastly different pieces, both with such insightful perspectives, I realized how Breast Cancer Awareness Month means something different to every individual person.

For Julia, it was an opportunity to reframe her journey, not just for herself, but for readers and other women facing the same reality. For Rhea, it was a chance to acknowledge that ethnicity plays a role in how long it takes to be diagnosed and how there’s a clear disparity between Caucasian women and women of colour. For most of us at Her Campus, it was an opportunity to educate ourselves as we had the privilege of attending an educational discussion with Dr. Hayhlee Clarence. For others though, it might mean pain, grieving or remembering the strength of those closest to us. When I was younger, it meant participating in CIBC Run for the Cure and taking a weekend to uplift and celebrate the women in my community with friends and family. This year it meant something completely different. 

I found out one of the most important people in my life had breast cancer in August. While it has taken me months to even call it that, we are one of the lucky stories where, thanks to routine mammograms and hard-working doctors, it was caught early and never had the opportunity to spread. It also helps that she’s the strongest, most optimistic person I know. 

As the pink ribbons started to roll out this October, I realized how quickly our personal story as a family became a statistic. Becoming one of the thousands of families who have had someone diagnosed changed the meaning of the month much more than I had ever expected. It wasn’t so much an emotional change, just a recognition of how important awareness and education are. While it honestly brought up some unsettling emotions at times, I came out of the month with one overwhelming feeling: gratitude. 

I can’t speak for everyone. As a matter of fact, I can’t even speak for the people who have personally gone through the diagnosis and I can’t imagine the vast array of emotions people feel during this month. Speaking for myself and myself alone, I now realize how unpredictable life is. While October changed my life this year, next October could be completely different for myself and my family. This October, I felt lucky and amazed by the strength of the women in my life who have gone through this. I felt grateful for educators like Dr. Hayhlee Clarence who work tirelessly to spread knowledgeable information and awareness and I felt enlightened by the chance to hear the stories of women whose strength is truly astonishing. 

For those celebrating the women in their life, to those grieving, to those looking for education, to those who are in pain, to those who feel lost and to those who feel seen, this piece is recognition that October is so much more than a month. 

Ciara Heath

Toronto MU '23

Born in London, Ciara is a fourth-year Creative Industries student. This is her fourth year working with Her Campus TMU and she is thrilled to be leading the chapter this year! Ciara dreams of moving to New York or living back in the U.K. someday and wants to write stories that mean something to someone!