The Beacon March FY23


Accepting all the help you can get




Read the June 2022 edition of The Beacon , ‘How to be there when you don’t know how to be’ (pages 6–7). BCNA’s My Journey has articles and resources about young women and breast cancer, and how you can support someone with breast cancer . Listen to the Upfront About Breast Cancer podcast, Episode 39: In conversation with Shananne and Kate: Under 40 and experiencing breast cancer.

In March 2022, BCNA’s Policy & Advocacy Team hosted its first Think Tank event in Melbourne, bringing together 21 BCNA consumer representatives from across Australia. The event was such a success that Think Tank 2023 was born. Less than a year after the first Think Tank, BCNA’s consumer representatives from across Australia gathered again recently in Melbourne across 27 and 28 February to continue the conversation. Think Tank 2023 celebrated the value of consumer voices and explored building the capacity of BCNA’s Seat at the Table (SATT) program. A number of researchers presented at this year’s Think Tank, highlighting the contribution BCNA’s consumer representatives made to their research projects as advisers with a lived experience. A full report on Think Tank 2023 will be featured in the next edition of The Beacon .

D uring my treatment, I was exhausted and had trouble sleeping. I also found some foods tasted metallic. Yet I was never sure if these were treatment side effects or because I was 12 weeks pregnant – which was when I found out I had triple negative breast cancer. Once we knew it was safe to continue the pregnancy, my husband Trevor and I were able to share the news with friends and family before I went in for my first chemo at 15 weeks. If you’re diagnosed at a young age as I was – I was 33 – it makes sense to talk about the impact of treatment on fertility. In my case, it was relatively straightforward because I’d already been through IVF for my daughter, who was two, and my second pregnancy. I knew I had the option to use our stored embryos in the future. At the start, people were amazing. Friends and family dropped off meals and my sister-in-law even organised a GoFundMe to help us pay for some treatment. As COVID spread, it was tricky to get other kinds of support. No

and up-to-date information. Both were really helpful. I connected with a few other services as well, including an Australian and New Zealand Facebook group for women diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Mummies Wish sent small gifts for the kids, such as colouring-in books to keep them entertained, and arranged cleaners, meal deliveries and petrol vouchers. This practical support made a huge difference. I accessed Look Good Feel Better and joined a Facebook group called Defining Breast Cancer whose founder, Jo, was also diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. She was a great support. When I was first diagnosed, I found it hard to see my future. Now, I know I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be. Being pregnant helped get me through because I got an amazing prize in the end. No matter how old you are or your situation, I recommend you accept all the help you can get. If somebody’s offering to cook meals or if they’re offering to babysit or do the washing – say yes. – Renee Jones

one was allowed to visit, so apart from my husband and my mum, who’d moved in with us to help, I couldn’t connect with people the way I wanted to. I went to chemo treatments alone. Friends stayed in touch from afar, but none of them were by my side or knew what I was going through. I still feel like people don’t really understand what it was like for me. I had recently started a new job and my work colleagues were very supportive but I was working from home so it wasn’t the same as being around people. I was teaching a certificate III in early childhood education and my students were a breath of fresh air. I loved logging in and talking to them every week. I chose to have my treatment in Ballarat rather than Melbourne because it meant that everything I needed was in the same hospital. The chemo nurses came down while I was in labour to help guide the midwives, as I was still experiencing side effects. They all worked so well together. The McGrath breast care nurse was wonderful. She told me BCNA’s website and My Journey were trusted sources for current


BCNA’s Online Network has always been a special place where people affected by breast cancer can connect and share experiences in a safe online community. You may have noticed it now looks a little different! Our new Online Network is more inviting, better looking and easier to use. It includes new category icons for you to easily find breast cancer topics and discussions, makes some of our digital resources more accessible, including our Upfront About Breast Cancer Podcast series, has a new events section and has an upgraded search function. Check out the new look and sign up via



March 2023 | Issue 94

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Issue 89 | October 2021

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