It’s not what you think.
Among October’s national observances is National No Bra Day on Oct. 13. It’s not a message to underdress, as if women need an escape from their bras, but a day to promote breast cancer awareness and bring attention to funding lifesaving research into the illness, which kills about 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. each year.
No Bra Day coincides nicely with October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a chance to be reminded that one in eight women – or about 13% of the female population in the U.S. – will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
An estimated 297,790 women and 2,800 men were expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, the foundation noted. It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer, but the leading cause of cancer death in Black and Hispanic women.
(Experts say that can be related to the type of access a woman has to screening and treatment, both of which can be influenced by her socioeconomic status; how far she must travel to get medical help; and even government policies, such as the availability of Medicaid in her state, according to the American Cancer Society.)
No Bra Day encourages wearers to leave their bras at home in support of women who have survived breast cancer and are unable to go without a bra because they need it to hold their prosthesis after surgery, according to the National Day Calendar. It’s a day to remind women that they should be regularly screened for breast cancer and should consult a doctor if they notice changes in breast tissue.
It’s also important to dispel myths about breast cancer, according to the foundation. They include the belief that a breast injury can cause breast cancer; that the cancer is more common in women with larger breasts; and, most importantly, that all breast cancers are the same.
So ladies – and gentlemen – here’s how to observe No Bra Day.
- Make an appointment for a mammogram and encourage others to do the same. The American Cancer Society recommends women have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year from age 40 to 44, with regular mammograms between 45 and 64. A mammogram every two years is a baseline for those 55 and older.
- It’s a good idea to get a breast exam during a gynecological checkup every one to three years from the age of 20, and every year starting at 40. Make a list of questions to ask a doctor, who should also provide a script for a mammogram.
- Share your experience with getting a mammogram to women who are hesitant.
- Organize a fundraiser, or get your employer to sponsor one. You can also make an individual donation to groups like Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the cancer society. A gift of $150 can pay for one mammogram.
- Put out the word on social media, with the hashtags #NoBraDay or #NationalNoBraDay. Those may take some explaining, but spreading awareness is the ultimate message.