Today there are ribbons to signify support for all types of illnesses. It can be a bit overwhelming to see so many colors and not know what at least some of them stand for.
The idea to show recognition using ribbons has roots in early times when Napoleon was quoted as saying, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”1
Many of you may remember the 1973 hit song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,”about a man returning from prison after three long years, not knowing if his wife still loved him. He instructed her to tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree if she still wanted him to come home. She covered the tree in yellow ribbons.
In 1981, Penelope Laingen, wife of the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Tehran, tied a yellow ribbon to a tree in front of her home in Maryland while waiting to welcome her husband Bruce Laingen home from Iran.
A red ribbon became known in the 1990s for AIDS awareness. Since that time, ribbons have been used to show support for many illnesses. Some of the same colors are used to signify different types of cancer.
Some of the more common types of cancer are listed below. Many offer descriptions from links to Verywell.com, Cancer.gov and the American Cancer Association.
All types of cancer — Light Purple or Lavender ribbon
Bladder Cancer — Yellow
Bone Cancer — Yellow
Bone Marrow Transplant — Yellow
Brain Cancer — Gray
Breast Cancer (Women) — Pink
Breast Cancer (Hereditary ) — Teal and Pink
Breast and Gynecologic Cancers together — Teal and Pink