The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer. However, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2015 are:

  • About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,290 women will die from breast cancer

This data is alarming and warrants awareness. So, why is that the National Football League‘s Vice President of football operations, Troy Vincent, denied Pittsburg Steelers Running Back, DeAngelo William‘s request to wear pink wristbands throughout the 2015-2016 season to honor his mother, Sandra Hill aged 53, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2014? He also lost his four aunts to the disease.

The NFL issued this statement:

“There is a long-standing policy for all players regarding uniforms that is league-wide for all 32 teams. The league works with the clubs and players to raise awareness collectively for breast cancer during the month of October.

In the beginning of last season Williams commented on the NFL’s pink-washing gimmick,

What I try to get people to understand is it’s a 365 day a year thing. Once October is over, the breast cancer doesn’t go away. The sickness doesn’t go away. The chemo doesn’t go away. The hurt and pain that a family member feels, doesn’t go away.

Instead of appealing the NFL and causing a media frenzy, he developed a creative and practical way to pay it forward. For starters, Williams announced earlier this month that his nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, will fund 53 mammograms for those who are either low-income or insured in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh. Now, this is an example commitment to finding a cure and creating sustainable change.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 6.39.33 PMHe tapped into his artistic energy and dyed his hair pink to honor his mother and those who are battling the disease.

Raising awareness about breast cancer and other diseases are essential to finding a cure. However, the morality of raising awareness should not be exploited by companies to increase their brand awareness nor favor enhancing their publics perception.

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