The Other October: Bringing Brain Cancer out of Breast Cancer’s Shadow

In October’s sea of pink feather boas, pink t-shirts, and pink face paint, a grey ribbon could easily be mistaken as simply a faded version of its bright pink counterpart; however, in Canada, breast cancer shares October with brain cancer as its awareness month, with grey ribbons representing the dual battle this disease has had to face: the battle to find a cure, and the battle to be seen.

According to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada (BTFC), which, unlike the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), receives no government funding, an estimated 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour each day. In 2010, one such Canadian was Trevor Harrison, who, now a survivor, sits on the advocacy committee for the BTFC. As Trevor explains, “a lot of airtime and money goes into a number of other cancer causes, leaving comparatively paltry amounts of both for brain tumours.” Given the over 120 different types of brain cancers, the fact that men, women, and children can develop the disease, and the sheer complexity of the brain itself, increased funding and awareness are desperately needed to help combat a devastating form of cancer that can dramatically affect an individual’s emotions, cognitive abilities, and daily life.

So what can be done to give brain cancer research a louder voice and more visibility? The simplest and most engaging way to do this is simply to get involved. As is common with many charitable organizations these days, the BTFC also hosts a series of run and walk events as their primary source of fundraising. Each spring, several “Spring Sprints” occur across the country; however, this event does not have nearly as much exposure as the CIBC Run for the Cure that benefits the CBCF. So this spring, consider getting your daily exercise by taking part in the movement to end brain tumours. If you want to support more specific foundations, such as those directly associated with childhood brain cancer, Meagan’s Walk hosts a walk and a “giant hug” around Sick Kids Hospital each May, and b.r.a.i.n.child does excellent work to provide support for the families of children battling brain cancer.

Written by Stephanie McLoughlin


Special thanks to Trevor Harrison for sharing his story and knowledge with me!

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