An estimated 42,000 women die of breast cancer every year. This October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fredericksburg continues the tradition of honoring women who have passed from breast cancer, by placing pink ribbons around the fence of Mary Washington House. This tradition is known as Mary’s Ribbons.
To participate in Mary’s Ribbons, guests can come to Mary Washington House and receive a free ribbon, as well as signing the book out of remembrance of a loved one. Mary’s Ribbons began as a way to honor those in the community who have fought breast cancer, and continues to do so to this day. Residents from Fredericksburg, as well as participants across the country, are welcome to participate; out of towners are welcome to call Mary Washington House to have a ribbon placed for them.
There are currently 350 ribbons, and counting, hanging at Mary Washington House. Michelle Hamilton, Manager of Mary Washington House, hopes that they can reach 500 ribbons by the end of the month. Hamilton believes that in addition to honoring the memories of those who have passed, Mary’s Ribbons helps raise even more awareness of breast cancer.
“We think of it as a very modern disease,” Hamilton said, “but it is something that has affected women for centuries.”
Mary Ball Washington, the mother of President George Washington, lived at her house from 1772 to 1789, when she died at age 80 from breast cancer. A single mother of five at 35 years old, Mary was able to build a life for her children, one of which became the first president of the United States. Hamilton said that Mary Washington’s story was not about dying, but about living. She was able to build a fulfilling life, and pass away peacefully; even through her disease. Hamilton believes that Mary’s legacy can be an inspiration to anyone currently battling breast cancer.
Mary Washington House is located at 1200 Charles St. Follow them on Facebook.