There is something you can do about breast cancer

Hugh's tractor run around NSW in 2015 raised $384,000 for the McGrath Breast Care Nurses who provide their care to patients and families for free. Photos: Supplied
Hugh's tractor run around NSW in 2015 raised $384,000 for the McGrath Breast Care Nurses who provide their care to patients and families for free. Photos: Supplied

"Everyone knows someone who is suffering from breast cancer," Hugh Bateman, committee member for Pink Up Mudgee, part of the McGrath Foundation's Pink Up Your Town initiative, says.

That opening statement is a frightening reality when you think about it, but one that we can all help to do something about.

With your support, the McGrath Foundation funds 170 nurses who provide essential physical and emotional support to anyone experiencing breast cancer (and their families) from the time they are diagnosed and throughout their treatment. Most importantly for those affected, this support is provided free of charge.

Having become aware that, on average, over 50 Australians are diagnosed with breast cancer each day and discovering via affected family, friends and clients how wonderful and helpful the McGrath Breast Care Nurses were, Hugh decided to act.

Despite the difficult circumstances for many, it's heartening to see communities still getting together and thinking of new ways to support their local families experiencing breast cancer.

Tracy Bevan, McGrath Foundation ambassador and director

He painted a tractor pink in 2015, then toured around NSW at its top speed of 27km/h, raising awareness and money, further aided by functions held at each night's stop by his contacts in the real estate game.

On his way through Sydney, he was met by then state premier Mike Baird, which he said was lovely, and by the time he got home from a trip that took him down to Griffith, across to Wollongong, up to Coffs Harbour and back home again after 28 days, a helpful $384,000 had been raised.

Hugh says the concept of 'pinking up' Mudgee, along with many other towns and suburbs around Australia, was born after that time in a Mudgee cafe with McGrath Foundation ambassador and director Tracy Bevan.

Since its introduction in October in 2016, 152 different towns have participated in Pink Up Your Town, many of them multiple times, and $1.7 million has been raised through various activities.

The Pink Up Your Town campaign raises vital funds for specialist McGrath Breast Care Nurses and creates a visual show of support for locals experiencing breast cancer.

The Pink Up Your Town campaign raises vital funds for specialist McGrath Breast Care Nurses and creates a visual show of support for locals experiencing breast cancer.

Each local committee comes up with numerous ideas and then puts them into action to raise those funds. However, for example, Mudgee would usually hold events like a golf day and a polo tournament, but if a region or whole states are under COVID restrictions, creative solutions need to be found.

"The lockdown has certainly affected our plans," Deb Woolford, committee member for Pink Up Berry, says.

"We booked our functions early in the year but had in the back of our minds that maybe they wouldn't go ahead, so we came up with other ways of raising funds.

"Last year, we came up with the idea of making and selling face masks which was very successful, so this year when COVID-19 reappeared, we started making masks once again. We have been using pink bandannas that were leftover from the Pink Test in January, cutting them up and making masks. We have been selling several hundred dollars' worth every week, and at the moment, we have raised over $8000. We also have a large group of volunteers that make a variety of handmade goods that we have been selling as well."

As much as they work to adapt, though, lockdowns have still had a significant impact on all charity fundraising activities, no matter the cause.

"We are hoping to hold street stalls, a plant sale, a raffle with lots of prizes, barefoot bowls day, and Shoalhaven City Turf Club are supporting us at their October race meeting by donating all gate takings, which we are hoping will be our main fundraiser," Deb says, but those particular activities might not be able to go ahead.

Other ideas: The local volunteers behind Pink Up Berry have been making masks out of unused bandannas from the Pink Test to raise funds.

Other ideas: The local volunteers behind Pink Up Berry have been making masks out of unused bandannas from the Pink Test to raise funds.

Fundraising activities may look a bit different in some places this year, but whatever they have planned, the best way you can help is to support the initiatives of towns that pink up this October.

With NSW, ACT and Victoria not looking likely to open up soon, Hugh says Mudgee and all the other volunteers will still pink up their towns to brighten things up for everyone.

Banners will go up, shop fronts will be decorated, and more, but they're also looking forward to the other states taking the lead this year in fundraising activity.

Even with various lockdowns, pinking up a town still can bring a community together for not just a great cause, but an essential one. And anything that can give people a sense of connectedness right now is undoubtedly a good thing.

As for the cause itself, though, the more funding there is, the more McGrath Breast Care Nurses there can be in more areas of rural and regional Australia that would greatly benefit from having one.

Fundraising activities may look a bit different in some places this year, but whatever they have planned the best way you can help is to support the initiatives of towns that pink up this October.

Fundraising activities may look a bit different in some places this year, but whatever they have planned the best way you can help is to support the initiatives of towns that pink up this October.

The best way you can help is to support the activities of any town that pinks up this October - whether by attending a fundraising event or simply buying a mask or any other item they've come up with to bring in some vital funding. Any little thing you can do will contribute, and it will be a lot less time consuming than sitting in a slow tractor for 28 days.

"Despite the difficult circumstances for many, it's heartening to see communities still getting together and thinking of new ways to support their local families experiencing breast cancer," Ms Bevan says.

"Pink Up Your Town is such a fun initiative to get involved with, and you can do so knowing you really are making an impact.

"Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, so our McGrath Breast Care Nurses are needed more than ever. It is through the support of communities around Australia that we're able to continue funding McGrath Breast Care Nurses in areas that need them most."

Find out more by visiting pinkupyourtown.com.au.

This story There is something you can do about breast cancer first appeared on The Canberra Times.