Self-detection can save lives

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    Invercargill midwife Lisa Rabbidge knows all too well the impact breast cancer can have, after finding out she had the disease last year.

    INVERCARGILL midwife Lisa Rabbidge had no hesitation putting her hand up to help in this year’s Pink Ribbon Street Appeal when she heard they were short of volunteers.

    Last October, Mrs Rabbidge found a deformation in her breast during a self-examination.

    The diagnosis was grade three invasive carcinoma in her left breast.

    Seventeen days later, she had a mastectomy and started chemotherapy treatment on New Year’s Eve.

    She has three weeks left in her year-long course of Herceptin intravenous drug which is used to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.

    As a healthcare professional, Mrs Rabbidge said sometimes it was a hindrance knowing so much and she had days when she thought “why me?”.

    “But then I think ‘why not?’, it just happens to everybody. The more we talk about it, everyone knows at least two or three people that have breast cancer or some type of cancer.”

    She has now become a campaigner to urge more people to take the time to check themselves.

    “You just can’t put your head in the sand or be embarrassed, or say it won’t happen to me.”

    She wants all women to take care of themselves and lose the stigma around having mammograms.

    “Self-detection can actually save your life.”

    Breast Cancer Foundation chief executive Ah-Leen Rayner said breast cancer was the most common cancer affecting Kiwi women.

    Each year, about 235 women in the Southern District Health Board area were diagnosed with breast cancer and about 45 would die from it.

    The foundation is seeking volunteers to assist in the street appeal being held on October 29 and 30.

    There was a risk of cancellation in Bluff and Winton unless volunteer area co-ordinators could be found there to oversee local collection sites.

    They were seeking both area co-ordinators, who would manage a small team of collectors.

    The co-ordinators would be supplied with all materials to look after local sites.

    Anyone interested in being an area co-ordinator could sign up at: pinkribbonvolunteer.org.nz/becoming-area-coordinator

    Ms Rayner said the street appeal was vital as the organisation received no government funding.

    “We rely entirely on the generosity of New Zealanders to keep our vital work going.

    “But, once again, the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 lockdowns has dealt a crushing blow to our fundraising efforts. And without more volunteers in Southland, we can’t run our street appeal here.

    “By giving up a few hours you’ll be making a huge difference in the fight against breast cancer. The money raised will help to save lives through cutting-edge research, the promotion of early detection and supporting patients through their treatment and recovery.”

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