Pink ladies shine through the gloom

Pink Ladies Day guest speakers Liz Douglas and Anne Porter. 204522 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Russell Bennett

Through the gloom of the dull and dreary weather on Saturday came a shining pink ray of hope that glowed right throughout the R.L. Cracker Jackson Stand at Pakenham’s Toomuc Reserve.

Though there was no cricket played on day one of the Premier clash between Pakenham and Clyde, it was in the rooms of the pavilion where the real story unfolded.

For the seventh straight year, the rooms were packed with ladies all dressed in pink and setting out to raise as much money as possible for the McGrath Foundation at the Pakenham Cricket Club’s ‘Pink Ladies Day’.

Key speaker Anne Porter told the story of her incredible fight against breast cancer and her positivity lit up the room.

She was 43 when she was first diagnosed with the disease in 2016.

She found out after going to her GP for a routine pap smear and raising a concern she had about her right breast changing shape.

Her doctor didn’t seem too concerned, but did deliver a timely reminder about mammograms.

“So, I went home, rang them, and said no urgency but I’m happy to wait,” Anne said.

“About six weeks later I had a mammogram and got a call back to go to Monash Moorabbin, where further testing was done. There they told me I had breast cancer.

“The doctors, and especially the breast care nurses, were so supportive, they went through everything from diagnosis, giving me the right tools and information on how to tell my children and family, what to expect through surgery, the types of treatments, and staying positive – they were just great listeners who have an understanding of when the chips are down.”

Anne said the lives of her and her family members were “turned upside down”.

“I had to stop work and concentrate on my health, after lots of testing,” she said.

“I was advised to have a double mastectomy, due to the chance of reoccurrence. I couldn’t have got through this without my wonderful husband, family, and friends.

“They were all amazing, and still are.

“After recovering from surgery and having an 80-millimetre tumour removed, I was told about my treatment plan. It consisted of 16 rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation, and a tablet called Tamoxifen for 10 years.

“I would do whatever I could to beat this terrible disease.”

About 12 months later, Anne had her ovaries removed due to her cancer being hormone-positive.

“They found cancer in one of my ovaries, so that was very scary,” she explained.

“Here I was thinking the worst, that my cancer was back, but fortunately once the ovary was removed all was clear.

“Now my oncologist keeps a close eye on me with scans and regular blood tests. “Breast cancer has taught me to love life; live day-to-day and don’t sweat on the small things. I now look forward to reconstruction, where I can get a tummy tuck and a boob job! The best part is – I’m a survivor.”

St John of God-based breast care nurse Liz Douglas also provided her own, professional perspective on the fight against breast cancer.

“McGrath Foundation research shows that early access to a breast care nurse significantly improves the experiences and outcomes of a person with breast cancer,” she explained.

“It is estimated that 53 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia every day.

“Over 19,000 women and 164 men are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

“One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85, which is a really frightening statistic. As a McGrath breast care nurse I provide physical, psychological, and emotional support; information and care from the time of diagnosis through treatment.

“Surgeons will generally give them (patients) the news, and then I’ll sit with the ladies and their partners and their families and go through what they need to help understand the information they’ve been given.

“Examine yourselves once a month, after your period, or for women who are post-menopausal, at the same time each month, and if there’s anything different, make sure you seek some advice.

“If you’re not happy with what your GP says, go and see someone else because often a woman knows her breast better than anyone else, and you might not feel a lump but you might see something that’s different. If it’s different for you, and it’s not usual, you should seek some advice.”

Lisa Entwistle cut Pakenham Premier player Mitch Tielen’s long locks at the function – again for charity, this time for the Cancer Council, which the cricket club also donated money to – on top of its work for the McGrath Foundation.

Lisa was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in March 2016 and underwent nine-and-a-half months of chemotherapy and 12 weeks of radiation.

On Thursday last week she went in for her 18th surgery. It was cancelled at the last minute so she goes in again for that surgery on Friday.

At last year’s Pink Ladies Day event at Toomuc Reserve, Andrea Berkhout was the guest speaker – speaking bravely and straight from the heart about her own breast cancer fight.

This year she returned for Pink Ladies Day – fulfilling a promise she made in 2019, and this time around there was a special addition to her table… her granddaughter, Evie.

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