Oxford Pink Week: legacy and awareness

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Guardian journalist Dina Rabinovitch, in whose legacy Pink Week was founded, recorded her experiences fighting breast cancer in her weekly column. In early 2007, these columns were published as a book entitled Take Off Your Party Dress. Throughout the production of the book, Rabinovitch continued to write a blog called Take Off Your Running Shoes. The blog marks the final stages of her experience with breast cancer, as she passed away in October of the same year.

In her first blog post, Rabinovitch explained the reasoning behind the title: “The point now is to raise some money for cancer research […] I think I can raise more. Without, hopefully, having to run a marathon.” Raising money for charity through marathons is certainly an impressive feat, but not necessarily for everyone. The philosophy of Pink Week is continued in Rabinovitch’s legacy, and not everyone needs their running shoes to help.

The Oxford Pink Week team have adopted a series of events that include everyone to help raise money and awareness for three target breast cancer charities. Half of the week’s proceeds will go to Breast Cancer Care, the official Pink Week Charity, with the remaining funds split equally between Coppafeel and Hello Beautiful. The latter two are charities specifically selected by the Oxford Pink Week team for their unique approaches to both fund-raising and support for those who suffer from breast cancer.

Jason Carroll, Principle Investigator at the Carroll Lab Cambridge Research Institute, says, “A number of new, exciting treatments are coming through clinical trials now and these new treatments are having a big impact on survival rates […] our work needs to be done alongside fundraising events, such as Pink Week, to create effective clinical practice.”

The Oxford Pink Week events will range from Monday’s Pink Night at Freud’s to a limited-edition G&D’s ice cream flavour launch, and everything in between. In addition, there will be speakers from the charities being supported, as well as talks from oncologists in the field.

Individual colleges will be participating, with bars offering proceeds from special Pink Week cocktails towards charity, and some college formals will also make donations towards the cause.

Yet the commercial aspects of the week are not without its concerns. Though the official breast cancer campaign colour may have, in an outdated age, originally been associated with those born biologically female, the Oxford Pink Week team have made it clear that pink is not a gendered colour, but rather representative of a vital charitable cause.

The week, and the events which substantiate it, are to raise awareness for people of all genders suffering from breast cancer and to help make an invaluable difference to their lives and the lives of those who support them.

Rabinovitch’s blog left a particularly important legacy to the Oxford Pink Week in emphasising literature, something with which we are all familiar, and more importantly, creative writing. The third charity the Pink Week team have chosen to support, Hello Beautiful, helps guide those fighting breast cancer with the help of creative projects.

The foundation recently ran its first Hello Love Festival: a four-day art and design festival comprising gallery viewings, the launch of Stella McCartney’s double mastectomy bra and an auction of woobs (wooden boobs.)

It is through channels such as these that the charities being supported will help other patients discover the creative release involved in Rabinovitch’s projects (her column, subsequent book, and blog), as well as contributing to new research in the area.

One of Rabinovitch’s final blog posts is entitled ‘Is it possible to make any money out of writing?’ She wouldn’t have been the first writer to ask the question, yet she did manage to locate the answer: “Yes…you are the proof.” Pink Week, both in Oxford and across the UK, will seek to keep proving her right, by encouraging people to take off their running shoes and find new ways to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities, thus furthering her legacy

Oxford Pink Week runs from 24th to 40th January 2016

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