Health Awareness Months - Building awareness throughout the year.
As we ring in a new year and recover from the holiday craze, we reflect
back on the year behind us and look forward to a fresh start. In the months
ahead, many people hope for health and happiness. As you get ready to
affix a new calendar to your desk (or download a new one to your phone),
take a moment to consider the preponderance of awareness months for 2014.
By designating the month of January to cervical cancer or the month of
February to heart health, the medical establishment isn’t introducing
the public to diseases nobody knew existed. Instead, the designation of
awareness months gives all of us an opportunity to focus on the threat
of these diseases and begin a dialogue about ways to prevent, fight, and
ultimately cure them.
For instance, during the month of March, famous actors, comedians, and
news personalities take to the airwaves to urge men to get screened for
colorectal cancer. By inundating people with messages of prevention and
early detection, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month has the potential to
save 30,000 lives per year. Not too bad for a month otherwise known for
Some months garner more attention than others. With large-scale walks
and ubiquitous pink ribbon lapel pins, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has
as much of a cultural presence in October as does Halloween.
A few are lesser known, such as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month
in April and Stroke Awareness Month in May. But without realizing it,
you are likely to see more news coverage and hear more conversations about
these diseases during those months than at any other time. Awareness months
serve as a powerful catalyst to launch fundraising campaigns and spread
news and information about a variety of diseases.
And the effect is significant.
Panera bread raised $250,000 in October of 2011 alone by selling bagels
colored pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. In this coming year,
researchers battling premature births and other newborn ailments will
have access to $23 million raised during the March of Dimes “March
for Babies” events held nationwide in the month of November.
Without having an awareness month behind it, some disorders might never
make headlines. Pelvic floor disease and epilepsy both get much-needed
publicity during November (although, because they have to share those
30 days with higher-profile ailments such as lung cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s,
and premature delivery, supporters might want to reconsider scooting over
to a less crowded month, like August).
Indeed, problems like celiac disease were once virtually unknown. Now
stores and restaurants offer discounts on gluten-free items throughout
the month of May – and, hopefully, inspire people to find out whether
they have the disease.
Admittedly, awareness months don’t always garner as much attention
as supporters might like. September is home to both Blood Cancer Awareness
Month and Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19). I’ll give you one guess
as to which reaps more television and social media attention.
But, on the whole, the calendar is an effective tool to help raise funds,
discussions and, yes, awareness of a host of health threats.
So, I wish you a safe and happy New Year – and an informed Cervical
Cancer Awareness Month!