BRAVE HEART

ERICA PACKER is work­ing for a brighter day for breast-can­cer suf­fer­ers. By KEL­LIE HUSH

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

Erica Packer’s fight for breast-can­cer suf­fer­ers.

ERICA PACKER is on the phone from Los An­ge­les, where she’s spend­ing a “lazy” Sun­day at home with her three chil­dren, Indigo, Jack­son and Em­manuelle, play­ing Mo­nop­oly.“i al­ways say to my el­dest daugh­ter that she’s cheat­ing, but re­ally she’s just kick­ing my butt! I’m a bad loser,” she says with a laugh. We last caught up in De­cem­ber at an event Packer was host­ing at the Syd­ney restau­rant Guil­laume.the evening was to recog­nise the now 21 gen­er­ous women who make up the Na­tional Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion’s Cir­cle of 10, for which Packer is an am­bas­sador. Cir­cle of 10 is the brain­child of phi­lan­thropist Sanchia Brahimi and NBCF non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Deeta Colvin. Each Cir­cle mem­ber com­mits $20,000 over two years, and to date, the ini­tia­tive has raised $450,000 for two re­search pro­grams. The first Cir­cle has funded Dr Therese Becker’s re­search into un­der­stand­ing how dor­mant can­cer cells awaken and be­come metastatic, while the sec­ond backed Dr El­gene Lim’s re­search into iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of breast can­cer sub­type-spe­cific tu­mour pro­teins, us­ing lymph nodes of women with early breast can­cer.

“Ask­ing peo­ple for money is dif­fi­cult, but it’s worth it,” says Packer, 38.“The re­search they are sup­port­ing is re­ally amaz­ing. Ev­ery time it gets hard to ask, you think of our chil­dren and find­ing a cure and how it is for the greater good.”

The rea­son Packer refers to “our chil­dren” is be­cause we both have a strong fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer. I was di­ag­nosed in 2013, with my mum, Leonie, aunt and a pa­ter­nal cousin all breast-can­cer sur­vivors. Packer’s older sis­ter, Jo Hunter, is a breast-can­cer sur­vivor but, shat­ter­ingly, the in­sid­i­ous dis­ease took their cher­ished mother, Shee­lah Bax­ter, aunt and grand­mother.“our mum was given a cou­ple of months to live when she was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer at 52 and she was like,‘no! This isn’t go­ing to get me. I’m go­ing to beat this.’and she lived for an­other 13 years,” Packer says. “Jo was di­ag­nosed in the last 10 months of my mum’s life, so we were deal­ing with quite a few bad re­sults at that time. When we got the news on Jo, she was 39 — it was ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing. Mum was get­ting sicker and just wanted to know her daugh­ter was go­ing to be OK. It was a very tough time.”

Packer says she is very vig­i­lant about her health and urges other women to be, too.“they say our fam­ily may have a [breast can­cer] gene but not the genes they know about at the mo­ment, which is why re­search is so in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant.the NBCF’S goal — to have no deaths from breast can­cer by 2030 — is such a won­der­ful goal, so our daugh­ters and other peo­ple’s daugh­ters sur­vive and breast can­cer is no longer a death sen­tence.”

Packer could have packed up her bags in Syd­ney and headed to Hol­ly­wood to live a Real Housewives of Bev­erly Hills life­style, but that isn’t her. She has one foot firmly planted in Aus­tralia with her work for the NBCF and UNICEF’S ma­ter­nal health cam­paign, and one in LA with her young fam­ily. And a new love …

Packer is tight-lipped about her re­ported ro­mance with mu­si­cian Seal, though they have been pho­tographed all over the globe with their com­bined brood of seven (Seal has four chil­dren with his ex-wife, model Heidi Klum). “Life is very good right now and every­thing is mak­ing me happy, I have to say. I have met an amaz­ing man and my kids are happy and healthy, and life is re­ally good and I am very grate­ful,” she says.

We talk fash­ion — she loves Cé­line and Saint Laurent right now — and whether it is im­pos­si­ble to be un­healthy liv­ing in LA.“I’M not into the LA hip­ster thing, be­cause I’m dag­gier than that. It’s very hard not to be af­fected by the healthy life­style here, so I train a lot and I look af­ter my­self bet­ter than I used to,” she says. “A friend of mine is try­ing to get me into Soulcy­cle, who has be­come a Soulpsy­cho. I went once and I thought I was go­ing to have a heart at­tack, so it has taken me a long time to get back. Right now, be­ing a sin­gle mum with three kids keeps me busy enough.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on Cir­cle of 10, go to nbcf.org.au.

“Ask­ing for money is dif­fi­cult, but it’s worth it. The re­search they are sup­port­ing is re­ally amaz­ing.”

At a Cir­cle of 10 event: Kirsten Car­riol, Fern and Mar­cus Mo­u­far­rige and Guil­laume Brahimi. Left: Erica Packer. Sanchia Brahimi, Dr Alessan­dra Mun­toni and Kel­lie Hush. Sarah Ing­ham and El­lie Aitken.

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