Pink Ribbons for those close to cancer

Organiser of the Pink Ribbon Fundraiser, held at Cooloola Berries, Annette Bailey

Lee McCarthy

The Pink Ribbon Awareness Day was held again this year at Cooloola Berries and organiser Annette Bailey was thrilled with the numbers and the amount raised.

Annette announced this week $876 was raised to help the Cancer Council free the future from women’s cancers and fifty-two men and women enjoyed the event.

The event was an afternoon tea from 2pm to 4pm and the room was beautifully decorated in pink, as you would expect, with a note from Annette at each place setting wrapped in a pink serviette ribbon.

Every cancer story is different and diagnosis and treatment gets better each month thanks to the funds raised by people like Annette who have been touched by cancer and gone on to help.

Glenys Kidd, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, said: “I don’t think I believed the diagnosis at first but it did play on my mind. At the time all the marketing was targeted to women over 50 and I was only 47 and there were three of us in the room with cancer – all under 50. I’m glad the message has now changed”.

“I originally went because I had a swollen lump like mastitis so I got antibiotics. Another time, I had hard sore lumps and then finally leakage from the nipple. This was over several months so I first received my Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) diagnosis in 2001 by a specialist who visited Gympie. I then had biopsies and it was so small it was missed so by the time I got the diagnosis it was throughout the breast so I had to have a mastectomy. “

“I just thought one step at a time. I didn’t go into panic mode as I had a husband and three kids who were 11, 13 and 15 so it was busy. I had the operation, then I had another three and they happened in a short time.

“I didn’t get a reconstruction, I did go to a doctor but I only wanted the type where you could take your own tissue into the breast as I wasn’t interested in an implant.

“I have major scarring from my caesareans so he couldn’t use my tummy tissue. He could have taken it from my back and I thought no thank you. I chose not to and am pleased with that decision.

“I later got an infection in my wound and thought if I had decided to have a reconstruction it would have been worse.

“Different people react differently to a mastectomy. It depends on personality, body image and what has been thrown at you before. At the time I didn’t think about those things. I just thought about my husband and three kids.

“The specialist always thought it would go into the other breast so I always had mammograms and ultrasounds in Brisbane and then in Gympie when the machines became much better.

“Many years ago, everyone just had a mastectomy and I know women now who have had three different sorts of cancer in one breast so each cancer is treated differently.

“Because I had a full mastectomy and nodes taken I haven’t had to take any more treatment or drugs so for me it was a good decision.

“I was more terrified of lymphedema than anything. About three years later I got sick a lot and even went to a specialist as my arm was getting tight and I was terrified. I ended up going for a lymphedema massage, which was so new then, and I kept going and it didn’t blow up any more. Now they have special physiotherapy and treatment is much more preventative now for lymphedema.

“At the time a cancer diagnosis was unusual and I didn’t know anyone else who was going through it. When I was diagnosed, a friend of a friend had a mastectomy and she was so relaxed with it that she helped me. I just think now the McGrath Foundation and the breast care nurses are brilliant.

“Ross’s support was important. He went with me to every appointment and he has always supported me and I am so grateful. No-one should do it by themselves.

“At the time I was a teacher at Mary Valley College and the staff were so supportive. I was very self conscious of the prosthesis as you have to heal before you can get a proper prosthesis. These days the bra’s have a pocket in, but in those days they could just slip out so it was embarrassing.

“One of the biggest changes today besides awareness is there are a lot more female doctors and specialists. Everyone who is concerned now has options and there are top women oncologists if you are worried or self conscious.”

Glenys advice to women is: “It’s important to be vigilant and be preventative. If you have any sign or symptom don’t wait till some magic age. Go and see about it. Don’t be afraid. Be very aware of what is normal for you and have check ups. And if you don’t think it’s right – get a second opinion.”

BreastScreen Queensland Sunshine Coast medical director, Dr Alison Roper said “Our service is free and available to women 40 years and over who have no breast symptoms. I recommend women visit the BreastScreen website and use the location finder.”

BreastScreen have a permanent service in the Goldfields Plaza in Gympie and are able to provide a year round service with some early, late and Saturday appointments.

For more information or to make an appointment with BreastScreen Queensland visit

breastscreen.qld.gov.au or call 13 20 50