breast cancer: let’s raise awareness this mother’s day
As Mother’s Day draws near, I cannot help but spare a thought for the mothers and daughters whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. While I look forward to celebrating with my mother, many young women will instead be celebrating the memory of their mothers who have been taken by this disease, or who face an uncertain future regarding their own or their loved one’s prognosis. Given that breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, Mother’s Day is the ideal occasion for raising awareness about it in the community. I recently had the opportunity to speak with CEO of the Breast Cancer Network Australia(BCNA), Maxine Morand, to find out about the role her organisation plays in offering support to those affected by breast cancer.
The vision of the BCNA is that ‘all Australians diagnosed with breast cancer and their families receive the very best information, treatment, care and support possible’. They have brought this vision to life in their fifteen years of operation, and have helped countless women and their families on their journey with breast cancer.
This period has seen a decrease in mortality and an increase in the early detection of the disease. Morand explained that ‘through better treatment and earlier detection, women’s chances of survival have greatly increased over the past ten to fifteen years’. Women over fifty still make up the largest percentage of sufferers at over 75%, and the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Younger women are also affected, with women aged between 35 and 49 making up 22% of sufferers, while women under 35 make up 2%. There is also greater awareness that men can suffer from breast cancer, although such instances are rare in comparison. Public awareness campaigns and scientific advances have each contributed to this broader understanding of the illness and the improved treatment and prognosis of sufferers.
The BCNA is an active player in this field, and it works closely with other breast cancer organisations and charities to advance our understanding and treatment of the disease. Each organisation plays a different and equally important role in combating breast cancer. TheCancer Council raises money for research into the causes and treatment of breast cancer (through fundraisers like Pink Ribbon Day), whereas the McGrath Foundation puts its funds towards employing breast care nurses to treat patients, particularly in rural areas.
The BCNA, for its part, raises money that is used to educate those affected by breast cancer. This ranges from creating the free My Journey Kit, which provides comprehensive information to newly-diagnosed sufferers, to running workshops about the disease around the country.
‘Information is the most important thing you need when you get diagnosed’, Morand believes, given the fear and uncertainty that comes with any cancer diagnosis.
BCNA’s website alone attests to the high level of support they offer, as it is full of information that has been validated by scientific advisers, yet is written in a manner that is easy to understand.
One of the most powerful ways the BCNA helps those touched by breast cancer is by bringing people together. The organisation has established an online community where sufferers and their loved ones can reach out to others, share information and, in some cases, meet up in person. The importance of this network cannot be underestimated, as Morand informed me, ‘it can be very reassuring to connect with others’, adding that interaction with those who genuinely understand what they are going through can ‘reduce the loneliness’ sufferers may feel when they are diagnosed.
Of course, organisations like the BCNA cannot complete their work without the generosity of the public. Since 1999, they have held an annual Pink Bun campaign in partnership with Bakers Delight, which sees 100% of the proceeds from finger buns (appropriately decorated in pink icing) donated to the charity.This campaign has raised over $6.5 million since its inception. The Bakers Delight staff embrace the campaign, decorating their bakeries and, in some cases themselves, in pink for the occasion. The Pink Bun campaign will take place between 2 and 22 May this year, and Morand hopes that it will continue to be an even greater success than last year, which saw over $1 million raised.
While one can often feel helpless when it comes to disease like cancer, we can all contribute to efforts to better understand and treat it. Simply buying a pink finger bun from Bakers Delight this May will help the BCNA offer support and guidance to sufferers and their families. On a more personal level, you can use this Mother’s Day to encourage your mum and other women in your life to become breast aware and, if over fifty or have a family history of the disease, to book in for a mammogram. Why not take her to Bakers Delight and broach the subject over a delicious pink finger bun? What could be a better gift?
The BCNA and Bakers Delight Pink Bun campaign is running at Bakers Delight stores between 2-22 May this year. If you would like to support the BCNA, you can make a donation through their website – http://www.bcna.org.au/donate-now