Why the Crab Symbol?

Many people have asked why our organization is called CRAAB! – Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer. Aside from the fact that the name includes our locations and emphasizes our call for action, its acronym has both historical and symbolic significance. Historically, the term cancer means “crab” in Latin, and the word karkinoma means “crab” in ancient Greek.

Hippocrates (460-377 BC), a Greek physician and author of the the oath that includes the phrase, “First Do No Harm,” first compared the swollen blood vessels radiating from some breast tumors to the limbs of a crab, and referred to the disease as karkinoma. The word cancer was later used by Pliny (AD23-79) in his scientific treatise, National History, to mean a malignant tumor. In addition, Cancer has long been used for the Zodiac constellation of the Crab, located between Gemini and Leo.

In its natural habitat, a crab is a fast, resilient decapod crustacean that springs to action, moves in multiple directions, and is sensitive to its surroundings. Like a crab, our CRAAB! members and volunteers move quickly and in several directions to respond to the many issues that relate to breast cancer. We look to the past to understand what shaped current policies and procedures, and we look to the future to find possible solutions. We are active at the local, state and national levels in developing a wide range of programs and services. We are a diverse group who share the common interest in education and the need to stay informed. The concerns of one of us become the common cause of many.

In addition, we feel that the facts about breast cancer give us good reason to be dissatisfied (or even “crabby”). No one can be happy that cancer has become epidemic in our society, that many types of cancer are increasing annually, that few cures are in sight. Clearly something has to be done. The voices of cancer survivors and other concerned citizens must be heard. CRAAB! is dedicated to working to ensure that positive changes are made quickly – for us and for future generations.