We talk with McGrath Foundation director and ambassador Tracy Bevan about the reasons behind the Pink Up Your Town campaign.
When the Foundation was established in 2005, what did support for someone diagnosed with breast cancer look like?
Before the McGrath Foundation was established there simply wasn't enough support for people with breast cancer. People often had to navigate the health system on their own, waiting until their medical appointments to have questions and concerns answered and making major decisions about treatment and surgery options on their own.
Can you talk about the difference a breast care nurse made to Jane's journey, compared to her first diagnosis?
During Jane's second diagnosis and treatment she referred to the life changing role of a breast care nurse. An "angel" who helped navigate and manage her breast cancer experience. She wanted to ensure everyone going through breast cancer had access to this vital service and this is how the McGrath Foundation started.
Having the support of a nurse relieved a lot of the personal and family stress and fear around breast cancer for Jane and allowed her to get her sense of self back. Rather than being Jane 'the cancer patient', she was able to be herself a friend and mum to her children.
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How has the role of the McGrath Breast Care Nurses changed in 14 years?
We proudly now have 135 McGrath Breast Care Nurses supporting 75,000 families across Australia but there is growing demand. Improvements in cancer treatment and earlier detection can mean it is easier to treat but on the flip side this means people are now living longer after their diagnosis which is why we have a continuing and important mission to keep funding new and existing nurses.
What challenges, aside from funding, have there been in establishing this support for people with breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women (while also affecting a small amount of men) and alarmingly the number of diagnoses increases each year. This fact, as well as increasing patient survival rates, means our mission is ongoing and so is the work of our nurses. We need to ensure vital breast cancer care is available to anyone that needs it.
We need 120 more nurses in locations across Australia to reach every family and we can't do this without the support of people such as those taking part in Pink Up Your Town fundraising initiatives.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to everyone who is taking part in Pink Up Your Town. From the committees who organise such incredible events to the people who pass by. We can't do what we do without the support of people like you.