In recent years, breast cancer rates have risen, especially among women in Australia. Breast cancer can occur at any age. It is most common in women but also affects a small number of men each year. According to Australian Government Cancer Australia, projected number of new cases in 2015 was 15,740, which included 145 males and 15,600 females.
Many of my friends from Indian, Asian backgrounds have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Indian women don’t often go for regular breast screening. Almost half of women who get breast cancer are diagnosed late, which makes treatment less likely to succeed and reduces their chances of survival. Breast cancer affects the whole family; it is the beginning of a journey full of emotional, psychological, physical and practical challenges.
I am a cancer survivor; my story is a story of breast cancer successful management. My breast cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2006 but it was not an aggressive type of cancer. My surgeon decided to take just the lump out. I received radiotherapy and HRT, and survived but some of my friends were not so fortunate. Some lost the battle, some had to go for mastectomy and receive chemotherapy. After my beautiful work colleague died of breast cancer, I thought of organizing an event to raise breast cancer awareness amongst Indian women. What started as a small initiative turned out to be a good project of raising awareness in the community with active support from many people including Joy Kumar, Sue Advani , Bharti Gidvani and Anju Kalra . This year 60 women and men, dressed in various shades of pink gathered on Sunday 13th December at Saravanaa Bhavan Parramatta for the Pink Ribbon Breakfast. Sue Advani welcomed the gathering and highlighted the objectives of the breakfast. Maina Gordon and myself shared our stories and requested community members to go for regular check ups/mammograms. Dipankar Chowdhary sang a couple of beautiful love songs entertaining the audience. John Kennedy, the President of United Indian Associations stated the importance of an early and regular checkups. Vish Viswanathan of the Indian Telegraph said that caring families of breast cancer victims is an important aspect to be considered by the community.
Second part of the program was Raffle and Tambola, which was very well organised by Anju Kalra and Bharti Gidvani. Community came together to support in whatever way they could. Many community members donated generously for the cause. There were a number of proud sponsors of many items including cupcakes and raffle prizes. Authentic South Indian breakfast delighted the attendees. Everyone turned pink for a day and had a great time. The vote of thanks was provided by Anju Kalra.
A total of $2569 was raised through this event to support Breast Cancer Foundation Research. Hope the Pink Ribbon Breakfast event will be bigger in 2016 due to increased awareness and community support.