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Meanings of Colors for Cancer Ribbons: Advocating for All Cancers

By HERWriter
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Meanings for Colors of Cancer Ribbons: Advocating for All Cancers padrinan_alba/fotolia

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

1) Awareness Ribbons - How It All Started. About.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.

2) Cancer Ribbon Colors and Meanings. VeryWell.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

 3)  “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” tops the U.S. pop charts and creates a cultural phenomenon. History.com. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

4) The forgotten cause of the Red Ribbon. ABC.net. Retrieved Nov. 12, 2016.  

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.