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FriMar 1

National Dress in Blue Day – March 1, 2024

National Dress in Blue Day is observed on the first Friday in March every year. The national holiday was started to raise awareness about the causes of colon cancer and how to prevent it. The color blue symbolizes colon cancer like a pink ribbon symbolizes breast cancer. There have been suggestions to turn the whole of March — and not just the first Friday of the month — blue by promoting colon cancer awareness all month long. This would be akin to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month that takes place every October.

History of National Dress in Blue Day

The idea for National Dress in Blue Day is Anita Mitchell’s, a stage IV colon cancer survivor who had lost her father and a close friend to the illness. Struck by the realization that both of these tragedies could have been prevented, Mitchell decided to raise greater awareness of colon cancer. In 2006, she worked with her children’s school to coordinate a recognition day when students were encouraged to wear a blue outfit of their choice and make a $1 donation to colon cancer awareness.

Mitchell brought the ‘Dress in Blue Day’ concept to the Colon Cancer Alliance who officially launched it in 2009 with a nationwide campaign. It was also a means to honor those suffering from the disease. The Colon Cancer Alliance encourages people to be active in recognizing and seeking help for colon cancer by getting screened regularly to detect any warning signs before the situation becomes much more serious. Diagnosis of colorectal cancer cases through screening tends to occur two to three years before the diagnosis of cases with symptoms. A screening has the potential to reduce colon cancer deaths by 60%. It has been found, in fact, that most colorectal cancers can be preventable with increased surveillance and lifestyle changes. Simple diet changes or increased physical activity can ward off the risks of developing colon cancer.

The possible earliest case of cancer in humans was in the Ptolemaic period of 305 to 30 B.C. as discovered by American researcher Michael Zimmerman who found evidence of rectal cancer in the tissues of an Egyptian mummy of that period. This makes colorectal cancer arguably the oldest cancer type known to man. Zimmerman and fellow Egyptian mummy researcher Rosalie David did not find evidence of other cancers until the 17th century. Hodgkin’s lymphoma may have first been reported in 1832, but it was referenced by Marcello Malpighi as early as 1666. However, the first scientific records describing elements similar to tumors are all as recent as the last three centuries. For example, in 1775, scrotal cancer was discovered to be a high risk for chimney sweepers; in 1761, snuff was connected to nasal cancer.

National Dress in Blue Day timeline

305 to 30 B.C.
The Oldest Type of Cancer

Colorectal cancer is found to be the oldest type of cancer when researcher Michael Zimmerman discovers traces of it in an Egyptian mummy.

Chimney Soot and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

English surgeon Percivall Pott identifies a relationship between exposure to chimney soot and cancer development.

The First X-Ray

German Engineer and Physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovers X-rays, earning him the very first Nobel Prize for Physics six years later.

Discovery of the X-Ray - Cancer Link

Clarence Madison Dally, who worked with Thomas Edison on X-ray research, is the first to die of cancer caused by X-ray exposure.

X-Ray Pioneer Dies of Colorectal Cancer

Wilhelm Röntgen dies of colorectal cancer.

The National Cancer Institute

Legislation signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the N.C.I.

Cigarette Smoking & Lung Cancer

Ernst Wynder, Evarts Graham, and Richard Doll identify that cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer.

National Dress in Blue Day FAQs

What are the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?

A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days. A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one. Rectal bleeding with bright red blood.

Can you survive colon cancer?

The overall five-year survival rate for colon cancer is 63%. Early detection in a localized stage increases the survival rate to 91%. Once it spreads to surrounding or regional parts, the survival rate reduces to a still positive 72%. However, as soon as the cancer metastasizes to parts of the body further away from the colon, at a 14% survival rate, it is often considered terminal.

Why is colorectal cancer blue?

The color comes from the universal Blue Star symbol which was introduced by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable on April 1, 2004, to represent the fight against colorectal cancer. The symbol also represents the hope for a cure and the memory of the people who’ve died of colorectal cancer. Since the introduction of the symbol, its dark shade of blue has been connected with the disease.

How to Observe National Dress in Blue Day

  1. Wear blue

    Wear all blue, and encourage your friends to do the same on National Dress in Blue Day. Make a request to your workplace for employees to wear only blue for a day.

  2. Raise awareness on social media

    Post pictures about the day and share them on social media to create awareness. Use the hashtag #NationalDressinBlueDay.

  3. Donate to the cause

    Celebrate National Dress in Blue Day by donating money to the organizations raising awareness for colon cancer. Donations need not be limited to money. Goods, supplies, skills, or even your time may be just as valuable.

5 Facts About Colon Cancer That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. It can be lethal

    Colon cancer takes second place among all cancer deaths.

  2. The symptoms are mostly non-existent

    Colon cancer cannot be diagnosed until the patient is in an advanced stage.

  3. Colon cancer is not gender-specific

    It can occur in both men and women of advanced age.

  4. It is preventable

    Regular screenings can reduce and prevent colon cancer from developing.

  5. It can be genetically inherited

    Colon cancer can be inherited from your parents or ancestors.

Why National Dress in Blue Day is Important

  1. Awareness about colon cancer is created

    National Dress in Blue Day raises awareness about the relatively less popular colon cancer. The holiday and the events surrounding it are a great source of health education.

  2. It’s a day to do good

    Apart from wearing blue, the day can also be celebrated by donating to research and organizations that work with colon cancer patients. You get to participate in a noble cause through the celebrations.

  3. It creates hope for a cancer-free future

    The mission surrounding the holiday reflects hope for a future where people are well-informed about colon cancer. The more people realize they can seek treatment in time to prevent suffering and death, the greater the chance of this hope being fulfilled.

National Dress in Blue Day dates

2022March 4Friday
2023March 3Friday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 7Friday
2026March 6Friday
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