THE pink ribbon – it has become the global symbol of breast cancer awareness.
From some modest beginnings in the early 1990s, Pink Ribbon Day is now marked around the world with a series of co-ordinated fund-raising campaigns.
Today is Pink Ribbon Day in Australia, and the Cancer Council aims to raise millions for a range of treatment, research and prevention initiatives.
The council says that every day, about 50 women in Australia will be diagnosed with either breast cancer or a gynaecological cancer.
Women like Bronwyn James, who went from being told the breast soreness she had was probably nothing to the fact she had cancer and may need surgery – all in 15 minutes.
Her journey included the removal of a breast, six months of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation, and daily medication for the past 2 years.
That same journey took her to the Choir of Hard Knockers, the country’s first singing group for women touched by breast cancer and a heartwarming example of the positive cultures being spread in modern-day support groups.
Breast cancer remains the third most common cancer in NSW, and the most common in women, accounting for nearly one-third of all new cancer diagnoses across the state in 2009.
More than 2500 Australian woman die from breast cancer annually, although the number of deaths attributable to breast cancer has dropped about 30per cent in the last 20 years.
In Australia, survival rates for breast cancer have improved noticeably in recent years, to the point where almost 90per cent of women diagnosed with the condition will be alive five years later.
And the Hunter continues to do its bit in a bid to conquer breast cancer.
Like the decision-making aid being developed by Hunter researchers to help them understand and determine what sort of treatment strategy to adopt, including a therapy where chemotherapy is used before surgery, rather than after.
Or the research by Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Rodney Scott into examining the genes of women who are at increased risk, due to their family history, to determine that actual risk.
Hunter women may be disadvantaged by a relative lack of resources for treatment in our region, but they should be optimistic about the brilliant work being done in our laboratories.
But the research, and those diagnosed with breast cancer, are still reliant on a generous public.
And today is one of those days for everyone to dip into their pockets or purses and to contribute as much as they can towards what is, literally, a life-saving effort.
Today is the day to be proud to be pink.