I’m pleased to announce that Cancer Council NSW has invited me to be an Ambassador for Girls’ Night In to raise awareness and promote women's cancer prevention, support and research. I'm delighted to do this.
Imagine one day there will be a cancer-free future. I'm sure it will happen and hopefully the key will be in prevention. We can help fight this as a community by raising awareness and fundraising and here's one fun way to do it......
Girls’ Night In asks women to get their friends together for a night in to support one another, fundraise, and encourage each other to check in on each other’s general health by keeping up-to-date with check-ups.
Here are some Women's Cancer facts:
Every day in Australia, around 50 women are diagnosed with breast or a gynaecological cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women, representing 28 per cent of all cancers in women.
Over 15,000 women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.
One in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85.
Gynaecological cancers include ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancer. Each year around 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 800 are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Scary isn't it?
Cancer touches most people, and I was quite shocked to discover that someone I have met on Instagram (as you do), is going through treatment now for breast cancer. Amanda Barrass and I have followed each other on Instagram for a while now, and as you know, you don't see every post come up in your feed, and to be honest I hadn't seen Amanda's for a while. Then one day, I saw a post and Amanda was obviously going through chemotherapy. I was shocked. I was sad, and I reached out to her to give her my best wishes. Then I thought about doing a post on Women's Cancer so I contacted Amanda to see if she would like to be interviewed, and she agreed. This was a week before my invitation to be an Ambassador to promote Girls Night In through October and November.....funny how things turn out.
I'm hoping that Amanda's story will inspire you to have a Girls' Night In to raise money to help women who are affected by cancer. Here is her story........
How did you discover you had breast cancer? I first discovered I had breast cancer after falling off a farm quad at a friend's property. After feeling sore and sorry for myself everywhere I took myself to the doctor the next day. We then discovered the lump. At that stage the doctor felt there was anything to worry about as it was moving.
What was your reaction? Shit! Is this really happening? .... I have a busy year.
How do you explain this to your children? That mummy was sick and that she needed to have an operation to cut the disease out. Mummy would need to have medication that will then make her sicker but it's making her better. It was the hardest thing to have ever done. It's been really hard on them but they are strong boys with big hearts that honestly keep me sane and help me so much. Above and beyond 7 and 8 year old duties.
I understand that your mum had both breast and ovarian cancer so was it on your mind that you would also get this disease?
Definitely, however we have all had the genetic testing with my mum's mum, my mum and my sister all coming back positive for brac2 gene. But just over a year ago, scarily to the day, I came back negative. I thought that I would be OK and certainly not have to deal with this so young.
What happened in surgery? Final results were that I had stage 3 aggressive breast cancer with it being spread to my lymph nodes. 6 tumours and 3 lymph nodes being cancer.
I had a double mastectomy with 17 lymph nodes being removed on my right side.
You lost your beautiful long blond locks….but you still rock your smile and good looks….how are you coping with this? Yes my hair was devastating and the start of really having to come to terms with having cancer; prior to this I just felt sick. It's difficult but each day you learn something new. You also come to a place where this is who you are at this point so you have to just roll with it. I do a full face of makeup when ever I go out. It makes me feel like me as I'm obsessed with makeup anyhow. Nothing a bright lippy can't fix.
What gets you through chemotherapy? Chemo is hard, but jokes and laughter can get you through most things. I have a crazy sense of humour and enjoy to make people smile, even if sometimes it is at my own expense.
What are your biggest fears? The cancer coming back! You never know your toughest, but I don't think I'd be tough enough to cope with this again. What hurts the most is watching how it affects my family.
You have a title “Mrs Planet” can you tell us the story behind it? I have always done fundraising. I grew up along side my grandfather who among many many awards was also a honourable receiver of an OAM. I won the local competition raising awareness for ovarian cancer and with this traveled to Bulgaria to compete in Mrs Planet World. It was an amazing experience meeting other successful woman from all over Europe. This was a huge achievement for me and being able to be a Aussie and also sing on the world stage was unbelievable. I was placed 3rd runner up which is something I'll cherish forever.
What gives you hope? The commitment and awareness to cancer itself. I feel people are really behind finding a cure.
We all have a purpose in this life; what is yours? To make my children proud. To make a difference for all the right reasons and to look glamorous whilst doing it. To always remain having a positive and great attitude towards life.
Anything else you would like people who read this to know about breast cancer? I don't think age matters, Cancer certainly doesn't discriminate. I do feel that the awareness of age in this area is wrong with mammograms etc. I'm am 32 with no gene and here I am. As I'm sure many other young females are too, unfortunately.
Follow Amanda's journey on Instagram @amanda.barrass_
Well there you have it, a young mum aged 32 living with cancer.. So what can be done? What difference will having a Girls' Night In make? Where does the money go?
Here's where the money goes: No matter how big or small, Girls’ Night In and Pink Ribbon Fundraisers will make a big difference to all Australian women who are affected by breast or a gynaecological cancer:
$5 can go towards producing a meditation DVD to help a woman deal with the agony of chemotherapy.
$10 helps pay for an Information Pack for women to cope with the aftermath of surgery.
$50 can help fund a call to a cancer nurse on 13 11 20 that informs and supports a woman through her cancer diagnosis.
$100 can go towards accommodation for women who need to stay away from home while accessing treatment.
$250 can help pay overdue electricity, phone, gas or rates bills for a mum who hasn’t been able to work for six months.
$500 can go towards funding a grant for new research into ovarian cancer.
$1,200 can help us fund three days of research into breast and gynaecological cancers.
Some ideas for your Girls' Night In:
Your Girls’ Night In doesn’t need to be a big event. A simple get-together and chance to catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while can be the ultimate Girls’ Night In.
You could host a movie night and charge for admission and popcorn, create a bidding war on a recipe, or put on a dinner and get everyone to donate what they would have spent at a restaurant. Alternatively, keep it simple with a donation box at the door.
Have a themed pink night, clothes swap, karaoke or a pamper night.
Or you could do what you love to do most with your friends; spend time with each other and catch up over a meal.
Have a clothes swap
Fundraising will assist in much needed funds to help beat breast and gynaecological cancers. Register today to host your Girls’ Night In this October or November to help beat women’s cancers. Visit www.girlsnightin.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85