In the pink for a cause
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.