THE McGrath Foundation's Pink Up Your Town campaign is set to be bigger than ever, raising funds for McGrath Breast Care Nurses who provide support to people with breast cancer and their families.
The 2020 campaign will run throughout October and will see towns across Australia turn pink and host fundraising activities in support of the McGrath Foundation. The campaign is also a visual display of support for local people experiencing breast cancer.
Based at Nepean Hospital, not far from Penrith, McGrath Breast Care Nurse Sarah Maguire has been working closely with patients over the past 12 months.
A registered nurse since 1990, Sarah knows all too well how important it is that breast cancer patients receive support.
"It's a very overwhelming diagnosis and we're here to offer support throughout their treatment plan which can involve surgery, chemo and recovery.
Sarah said the recent restrictions meant many patients who had once been able to access her support face-to-face were now having to make contact over video or phone calls.
"It's probably made things a bit more challenging because it's taken away that physical interaction you would normally have where you bounce off one another.
"I think it's made our assessment skills improve and it's great to be able to continue meeting patients' needs."
More than 19,000 women and approximately 167 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, so Sarah said it was more important than ever to ensure people were conducting self checks, attending breast screens and speaking with their GP.
"It's important that people are familiar with how to check their breasts so they know what looks and feels normal.
"Health services are providing COVID-safe environments so if you notice a lump, any abnormalities or have any concerns, make an appointment to see your GP."
With a Graduate Certificate in Oncology and Graduate Diploma in Palliative Care, Sarah is currently working with a team at Nepean to develop new programs which focus on patient self-care and wellness once treatment has finished.
"We know there are side effects of treatment and exercise is a key part of wellness post-treatment," she said.
"We're working on a COVID-safe program which enables patients to be able to get together for some exercise, learn some new skills and maintain that social bond once treatment is over.
For Sarah and her patients, Pink Up Your Town has a personal symbolism.
"I think Pink Up Your Town shows people who are diagnosed that their community cares and they are all invested in helping them in recovery," she said.
"And personally, it lets me know that what I'm doing is having a positive impact - patients are getting their needs met.
"It makes me proud to be part of the McGrath Foundation and it helps me appreciate the community in which I live.
"It's incredible to see."
For more information about the McGrath Foundation and McGrath Breast Care Nurses, visit: mcgrathfoundation.com.au.
- Australian Community Media, publisher of this newspaper, is a partner with the McGrath Foundation and Pink Up Your Town