In the pink for a cause

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

Rais­ing breast can­cer aware­ness for both women and men was the key mes­sage de­liv­ered by McGrath Foun­da­tion breast care nurse Michelle Par­ish at Irvin House’s Pink Rib­bon High Tea on Mon­day.

As a breast care nurse for nine years based at Goul­burn Val­ley Health in Shep­par­ton, Ms Par­ish sees be­tween 80 and 100 new pa­tients each year in Moira and Strath­bo­gie shires and the City of Greater Shep­par­ton.

‘‘The idea of my role is to look af­ter men and women with breast can­cer from A to Z, so from be­ing di­ag­nosed right through un­til they en­ter re­mis­sion and I usu­ally re­main in con­tact with them af­ter that as well,’’ Ms Par­ish ex­plained.

‘‘I joke to some of my pa­tients that I’m al­most like their per­sonal GPS; I’m there to nav­i­gate them through all the hur­dles that come with breast can­cer.

‘‘The work I tend to do is re­ally in­di­vid­ual and spe­cific to the pa­tient’s di­rect needs and I act as a point of con­tact be­tween them and other health pro­fes­sion­als. We also re­fer pa­tients to a lot of other sup­port groups.’’

Ms Par­ish says while pub­lic speak­ing is not her forte, she en­joys get­ting out to com­mu­nity events such as the Pink Rib­bon High Tea at Irvin House to help ed­u­cate peo­ple on breast can­cer aware­ness.

‘‘These fundrais­ers are fan­tas­tic be­cause they sup­port my role but they also help dis­pel cer­tain myths around breast can­cer,’’ she said.

‘‘I sup­pose by putting on these events, it shows peo­ple who are in the room that have been af­fected by breast can­cer in some way that they are not alone and that there is sup­port for them.’’

While it is a com­mon per­cep­tion that women (es­pe­cially in older age) were sus­cep­ti­ble to breast can­cer, the fact a very small num­ber of men were di­ag­nosed each year shocked many peo­ple, Ms Par­ish said.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple are re­ally sur­prised when they learn men can get breast can­cer.

‘‘I’ve treated six in my nine years and they are treated ex­actly the same way as women.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the McGrath Foun­da­tion web­site, 148 men on av­er­age will be di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer ev­ery year.

In that small mi­nor­ity was Co­bram man Len Fos­ter, who was di­ag­nosed six years ago just be­fore Christ­mas.

Mr Fos­ter said his di­ag­no­sis was picked up thanks to a freak ac­ci­dent in which he tripped over and broke his ribs.

Scans on his ribs re­vealed the can­cer and within a week he was un­der the knife hav­ing the breast re­moved and un­der­went ra­di­a­tion in Wodonga.

‘‘I haven’t had any prob­lems since thank­fully, I was very lucky in the end it was picked up,’’ he said.

Mr Fos­ter said he owed a lot to Ms Par­ish.

‘‘Michelle came up here to see me from Shep­par­ton and she put me on the right track, she’s kept in touch with me since. She’s been great,’’ he said.

In to­tal, $605 was raised for breast can­cer re­search from raf­fles prizes on Mon­day, which a num­ber of lo­cal busi­nesses kindly do­nated to.

Do­na­tions are open un­til Novem­ber 6. If you would like to do­nate, you can see Janette in the main of­fice of Irvin House or phone 5871 0852.

Colour­ful fundraiser: Bruce Nay­lor, Kay Kelly, La-Donna Har­vey and Michelle Par­ish cut the pink cake at the Pink Rib­bon High Tea at Irvin House.

In the pink: Irvin House was a sea of pink on Mon­day, with close to 100 peo­ple turn­ing out to show their sup­port for a great cause.

Keen sup­port­ers: Nurses and staff at Irvin House at the Pink Tea.

Vi­tal ser­vice: Breast can­cer sur­vivor Len Fos­ter and breast care nurse Michelle Par­ish catch up.

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