The Beacon March FY23

Tough enough to wear pink and walk the talk with BCNA I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. When my doctor said, ‘You have breast cancer’, I felt numb. My husband had just

I want to hear that everything is looking great with no hidden surprises. One of my customers, who is also a dear friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like me, she decided to have both of her breasts removed. During her recovery we talked and spent time together going through BCNA’s resources. We have a photo of us together proudly showing our lifelines. She is an inspiration to me. Thomas Cook produced a Twisted X range for the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign. When Murray asked me where I wanted to donate a portion of the proceeds, I asked for it to go to BCNA, as this organisation means a lot to me. BCNA made a huge difference when I was first diagnosed, and still does to this day. I’m very thankful for the support around me, including my treating team, my own incredible family, my Thomas Cook family and BCNA, who have all continued to give me strength. We are all ‘tough enough to wear pink’ and walk the talk with BCNA. COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE The owners of family business Thomas Cook Boot and Clothing Co, Murray and Sue Cook, recall the day that Karen told them she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. ‘She burst into tears and said, “Please don’t sack me”,’ says Sue. Karen had been a valued member of the sales team in Western Australia for five years, so when she asked to keep working, the Cooks supported her. Soon, the whole team rallied. ‘At one stage, everyone dyed their hair pink to show their support,’ says Sue. ‘We also designed a new shirt and named it after Karen. When she couldn’t travel to our sales conference in Melbourne,

treatment. They all chose to come to me. The support from my workplace and customers has been amazing. It’s a special bond we all have now. I had a mastectomy and axillary clearance in December 2014 and started chemo in January 2015. I read articles on My Journey and watched the webcasts to learn as much as I could about what lay ahead. The Helpline provided me with great support and practical advice. Sue and Murray gave me a beautiful Pandora bracelet with a charm on it as a symbol of us going through this journey together. During my treatment, Sue sent me an angel charm. Another time, she sent a breast cancer ribbon. Every January, Sue and Murray give me a special charm. Each one reminds me of what I’ve been through and of their ongoing support. My oncologist showed me a pyramid, with different stages and types of treatment. The bottom of the pyramid was my greatest choice, as it showed higher success. I decided to draw my own pyramid, starting with my treatment and recovery, getting fit, being positive and, right at the top, making a difference. In September 2015, I chose to have my second breast removed. That was the point where I decided to take back control of my life and work towards getting well after chemo and eventually being fit again. My scar reaches from one side of my chest to the other. It’s my lifeline of living! In 2016 my son and I set a goal to go to the 14th World Dragonboating Championships 2019 in Thailand. After three years of hard work and determination, we flew to Thailand to compete and my team won gold and three bronze for Australia. It was such an incredible experience. My son won silver and my husband was there cheering us both on. There are still anxious moments after every scan and check-up.

everyone in the team wore the shirt as a surprise for her on the video link.’ When the Cooks decided to create a footwear range and donate a percentage of the sales, they asked Karen which not-for-profit she would choose to support. Without hesitating, she nominated BCNA. Murray and Sue say that now, years later, Karen continues to be their inspiration for their ongoing support of BCNA. If, like Murray and Sue, you’d like to give back and be part of a supportive and engaged community, please consider donating to BCNA. Your gift may support a program or our advocacy work to reduce the financial impact of a diagnosis and improve access to better care. Contact our National Major Gifts Manager, Kathryn Austin, on 0415 534 937 or . HELPFUL RESOURCES We acknowledge that not everyone will have a positive experience with their workplace during and beyond a breast cancer experience. It is also your choice when and if you tell your employer about your diagnosis. These resources may be helpful to navigate your individual situation: Upfront About Breast Cancer podcast: Episode 44: Work after breast cancer: Tackling the difficult conversations My Journey Managing the financial impacts of breast cancer factsheet Cancer Council – Contact your local state/ territory for information on legal support

finished his treatment for cancer and was in remission. When I got home, I sat on the front step of my home crying. All I thought about was telling my two boys, who had just endured their dad’s fight to survive. When I rang my boss, Sue, to tell her about my diagnosis, she was so supportive. I said, ‘Please let me keep working. I need this for me’ . Sue and her husband Murray were incredible. They said, ‘Karen, you just focus on getting well’ .

 The team wearing the Karen shirt

As a sales representative for Thomas Cook Boot and Clothing, I travel a lot to see my customers. Sue gave them the option to travel to Melbourne or to come to my home in Perth, where I had set up a showroom with our ranges so that I could still work during my

 Karen and her husband in Thailand



March 2023 | Issue 94

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Issue 94 | March 2023

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