Ultimate warrior Cancer fight inspires mum’s stunning makeover
EVEN without the bodypaint, Robyn Sutcliffe is a warrior.
The Tasmanian woman has survived breast cancer and is advocating for other young women to be fearless.
The 33-year-old underwent a final round of postcancer surgery last week — a milestone that coincided with the launch of a national fundraising calendar she is in.
“I want to put a spotlight on the fact many young women get breast cancer, because this is just not talked about,” she said.
“I want to make sure young women are armed with the right information to advocate for any testing they may need.”
The Devonport mum is in full bodypaint and standing warrior-like in the 2019 calendar, which is a fundraising initiative of So Brave – Australia’s young women’s breast cancer charity.
Mrs Sutcliffe, below, said the bodypaint design was a symbolic depiction of how she faced the challenge of cancer. “For me it was about faith, family and science coming together to do their bit,” she said.
Her chest is adorned with a traditional medical symbol, but the snake is coiled around a crucifix instead of the usual sword. “That shows how I coped,” Mrs Sutcliffe said.
The paintwork took eight hours, during which time Mrs Sutcliffe could not sit down and was not allowed to look in a mirror.
She did not see the final image until the calendar launch last week.
“I cried when I saw it, I was so emotional. I had my final surgery on Monday too, so this is a beautiful way to end this chapter.”
Mrs Sutcliffe was only 30 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Shortly after my 30th birthday I noticed a lump in my breast while feeding my five-month-old daughter,” she said.
Mrs Sutcliffe’s mother, who works for BreastScreen Tasmania, encouraged her daughter to have the lump checked — just days short of Christmas in 2015.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 22 … my only rule on Christmas Day was that we weren’t allowed to talk about it.
“I just wanted one more day of normal.”
But after “lurching from appointment to appointment and test to test”, Mrs Sutcliffe had a mastectomy two days after Christmas.
This was followed by six weeks of “brutal” chemotherapy, several more surgeries and radiation.
Mrs Sutcliffe said her journey had made her more aware of young women’s risks of breast cancer.
“Since being diagnosed I have learnt that three in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer will be under 40, this age group also have worse outcomes generally because of late detection.”
Each year So Brave creates a fundraising calendar featuring 12 young women, all under 40, who are breast cancer survivors.
Mrs Sutcliffe was the first Tasmanian to be featured in a So Brave calendar, which have been running for three years. The 2020 calendar will feature another Tasmanian breast cancer survivor, Bec Hall, from the state’s North.
For more details, go to www.sobrave.com.au