Silhouettes representing people who have had breast cancer.
Silhouettes representing people who have had breast cancer.

Look up, not down

By BELINDA SCOTT

HOW would you feel if you were a bloke with breast cancer? Seeing the solitary blue silhouette among the sea of pink figures at yesterday's Mini Field of Women was a sobering reminder that, although male numbers are smaller, breast cancer affects both sexes. And the men standing beside their partners and mothers was another reminder that this disease rips its way right through the heart of families. Today is Australia's Breast Cancer Day and yesterday, today and tomorrow a trio of special events is being held in Coffs Harbour to support and recognise the people affected and those who support them. Yesterday about 70 breast cancer survivors and their supporters walked from BP South to the Coffs Harbour Health Campus and planted a mini-field of coloured silhouettes on the hospital lawn in the shape of a knot of ribbon. The same event was held simultaneously at Dorrigo and Nambucca Heads hospitals and is being repeated right around Australia. Pink shapes represented women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, blue shapes men who have been diagnosed and white shapes those who have died. Survivors at Coffs Harbour celebrated their feisty fight in a minute of profound silence; in the voices of the Cassandra Lagettie Trio and in the words of two survivors who related their personal journeys. Ruth Cooper, who facilitates a support group, spoke of the importance of support to survival. Although the mini-field was 'weeded' late yesterday, with the silhouettes going into hibernation for today, they will be replanted tomorrow in time to welcome Changing Gears, a group of 25 breast cancer survivors who are travelling across the USA, Australia and the UK on Harley Davidson motorbikes. The group will arrive at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus for afternoon tea at 2.30pm tomorrow. This morning, members of the Titivators Dragons Abreast rowing team will be attending breakfast at Park Beach Plaza hosted by Radio 2CS FM. The breakfast begins at 6am and continues until 9am. Breast cancer survivor Dymphna Keough, whose only aunt died from breast cancer, said yesterday's event was a really moving experience and she had taken part because she believed it was important to support Coffs Harbour breast care nurse Lee Millard and everyone else involved in beating the disease. Lee Millard said while the numbers taking part in yesterday's event had been small, the spirit had been 'enormous'. "If you have to have breast cancer, Coffs Harbour is the place to have it," said Ruth Cooper. "The support in this town is just fantastic." More information on Changing Gears is available on www.changinggears.org/home.htm or contact Rita Marigliani at the Breast Cancer Network Australia on 1800-500258.

Breast cancer survivors and their supporters planted a mini-field of coloured silhouettes on the lawn at Coffs Harbour Health Campus. Pink shapes represented women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, blue shapes men who have been diagnosed and white shapes those who have died. Photo: TREVOR VEALE 05102401A



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