Florence’s ‘Pink October’: Events & Screenings

The gate at Piazza Beccaria

Pink October, the international month dedicated to the topic of breast cancer prevention will take place in Florence for the first time from October 21 to 26 with a series of initiatives organized by Firenze in Rosa, a non-profit association of breast cancer survivors. 

“The participation of the city is important to remind everyone that prevention is the first weapon to defeat the disease,” said Lucia De Ranieri, the president of the association.

The whole city will be tinged with pink: windows, balconies and buildings. Pink lights will illuminate the six historical city gates such as Porta San Frediano in addition to Abbey of San Miniato al Monte in order to call attention to the importance of periodic checks and breast cancer prevention.

In collaboration with the municipality of Florence, the association will offer free breast ultrasound exams for women (up to 45 and over 75 years of age), who are not part of the regional screening program; and for men with a family history of the disease, at The Student Hotel from October 21 to 25 (Viale Spartaco Lavagnini, 70; from 3 – 7 pm; reservations at 388.8049901).

During the same week, members of Florentine women’s sports teams are also offered a free ultrasound exam to send a strong message, especially to the young girls, “Be Active, Think Preventative Medicine!”

The event is not only focusing on the women, who are involved in Firenze in Rosa. Everyone knows someone, whether it’s a mother, sister, wife, or daughter who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  This event provides people an opportunity to support women and families who are affected by the disease every year by opening up the discussion about breast cancer prevention and encouraging women to get mammograms. 

Special hashtags and camera filters have been created to encourage people to contribute to the social media content of the event. Upload a photo on Instagram or Facebook and tag @FirenzeInRosa or use the hashtag #FirenzeInRosa. Combined photos will create a unique image of the city’s “pink side.”

Firenze in Rosa Onlus, established in 2006, is the second-largest dragon boat team in Italy of women who have undergone surgery or have been in remission for years. Women bond over their shared battles with breast cancer by uniting in a communal  rowing on the Arno river not only because it creates a strong support network but is also part of essential physical rehabilitation.

Twenty years ago, Canadian sports medicine physician Donald McKenzie discovered that dragon boat rowing served as an excellent source of post-operative rehabilitation. It provides a social support system, which encourages psychological health, and improves the physical motion because  paddling helps build upper body muscles. Further research has suggested that the sport can actually delay or altogether prevent the onset of lymphedema — a chronic condition characterized by symptoms of swelling and fluid retention — that 30% of breast cancer survivors develop.

Firenze in Rosa Onlus is taking its campaign against breast cancer into the city in the hopes that residents will not overlook the importance of the cause. (mary filatova)