Awareness Ribbon History and Color Guide



The first awareness ribbon was peach-colored and was made by a woman named Charlotte Haley. Charlotte created this ribbon in 1990 attaching it to postcards trying to wake up the legislators and America to the fact that the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget was $1.8 billion but only 5-percent went to cancer prevention.

She refused to sell out when Self magazine and Estee Lauder wanted to use her peach-colored ribbon as a promotional tool during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She refused because she recognized that they had a different agenda; one that was about marketing cosmetics, not preventing breast cancer. Unable to get Charlotte’s permission, they found another color for the ribbon. Though Charlotte Haley’s peach ribbon has been replaced by the better-known pink ribbon, her grassroots activism and commitment to breast cancer prevention continue to inspire us.

After this, many other cancer awareness colors were introduced by non-profit organizations. There isn’t a ‘correct’ ribbon color for each cancer, necessarily. Some ribbon colors have been adopted for certain causes and nobody really knows how it started.  And some, as you know, are more recognizable than others.  Some started out as one color and morphed into another color. Some cancers are uncommon and have not had an awareness ribbon color assigned to them.  Lavender is the official ribbon color that has been used for these cancers. This color may be used to represent a variety of cancers. Some people like to use a multicolored ribbon.

Here at Time to Rally we have played with the colors a bit  (depending on what color materials are available) to be able to create each product by hand. If you don’t see the exact color you are looking for, please use something similar.  You could even use an unofficial color.  That would spark conversations and bring awareness even more into the light!

If you don’t see the type of cancer you are wanting to support, you can either email me or you can do a quick Google search to see which color would be closest.

As a member of many cancer communities, I feel confident that most fighters and survivors appreciate products that display a ribbon. It is a great way to spread awareness, and ultimately prevention, of a particular disease.  It can also be a symbol of hope as survivors show that they can continue to thrive during and after a cancer diagnosis!