OCTOBER is Australia’s Breast Cancer Month, a month marked by breast cancer survivors, those who care for them, and by people all over Australia who want to show their support for all those affected by the disease.
Featuring in Breast Cancer Network Australia’s October calendar are Mini-Fields of Women. These are displays of 100 pink lady silhouettes symbolising the 14,000 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer and the 2,600 women who die from breast cancer each year.
Foster has its own Mini-Field of Women.
On October 1, McGrath Breast Care Nurse at South Gippsland Hospital Community Health Centre, Catherine Enter, installed Pink Lady silhouettes at the entrances to the health centre and the hospital.
They are meaningful and eye-catching tributes to local women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and the families and carers who have accompanied them on their journeys through ill health.
Every day thirty-eight Australian women will be told they have breast cancer and seven will lose their lives to the disease.
As Catherine explains, “Each time a woman hears she has breast cancer, those around her in the community are also affected. Supporting women and families affected by breast cancer is an important issue in our local community.”
Pink ladies line the new air lock entrance to the Community Health Centre. They also, appropriately enough, adorn the garden bed along the entrance walkway to the hospital. As a small plaque indicates, this garden bed is dedicated to the memory of the late Joy Smallwood, a former hospital nursing staff member who had breast cancer, and to all SGH patients. It was lovingly planted in 2005 by Roslyn and the late Alan McPherson.
There are more pink ladies in the garden bed in front of the hospital administration wing. This garden bed was planted in memory of the late much loved Director of Nursing Anne Thorsen. She also had breast cancer. A plaque pays particular tribute to how she “so generously supported the hospital auxiliary”.
Breast Cancer Network Australia is the national voice of all Australians personally affected by breast cancer, representing more than 250 member groups and over 45,000 individuals. Represented by the Pink Lady silhouette, which reflects its key focus – women diagnosed with breast cancer – BCNA’s mission is to inform, empower, represent and link together Australians affected by breast cancer.
BCNA works to ensure that women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families receive the very best information, treatment, care and support possible – no matter who they are or where they live.
BCNA founder and chief executive officer Lyn Swinburne, herself a breast cancer survivor, says that more than 250 Mini-Field of Women events are being held in local communities around Australia.
“These events are a great way to link those people affected by breast cancer together with their local community. We hope people participating will find the event meaningful and enjoy the celebration of life.”
BCNA’s Mini-Field of Women events in local communities follow on from the highly successful Field of Women live event at the MCG (7 May 2010), where 14,000 formed the Pink Lady silhouette, bringing the national breast cancer statistics to life in a sparkling display of strength, support and camaraderie.
“I’m pleased to be involved in Breast Cancer Month with a Mini-Field of Women,” says Catherine.
“It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the presence of breast cancer in the community, to encourage people to become breast aware and seek medical help at the first signs of changes in their breasts, and to remind people of my role as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse.”
As a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Catherine provides physical, psychological and emotional support for women and men experiencing breast cancer and their families, from the time of their diagnosis and throughout their treatment.
People at any stage of a breast cancer experience, whether they have already received treatment or have only recently been diagnosed, are invited to make appointments with Catherine at the Community Health Centre on Mondays or Tuesdays. She also offers support to family members and carers of people with breast cancer. Although she encourages people to make appointments for this free service at the health centre, she can make home visits if required.
The public are invited to support Breast Cancer Network Australia’s work on behalf of people with breast cancer during Breast Cancer Month. All through October there will be a collection tin in the foyer of the Community Health Centre, where tax deductible donations can be made and receipts given. Alternatively, you can purchase a Pink Lady badge for $5 or a couple of pairs of socks for $15. All funds raised will go to Breast Cancer Network Australia. Tribute cards are also available for anyone wishing to pay tribute to local women and families who have been affected by breast cancer. These cards can be filled in and attached to a Pink Lady silhouette.
The Pink Lady silhouettes will be uprooted when October comes to an end, but the Mini-Field of Women will bloom again in Foster. During November the ladies will be re-established in the Ameys Track garden of Heather Ray to coincide with a garden walk and morning tea Heather holds each year for the Cancer Council’s pink ribbon day. Catherine Enter will be the guest speaker at the garden walk, which will be held on a Monday early in November (details to come). She will speak about her role as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse.