The Think Pink Foundation provides professional and caring holistic support completely free of charge to patients, their families and carers at any stage of their journey with breast cancer.
The generous financial support of MIRVAC included the provision of a new $2 million living centre at Docklands in 2020 – further support included Think Pink’s fundraising events such as the Mirvac Golf Day with financial sponsorship, providing staff volunteers and logistical support, all of which has enabled the Think Pink Foundation to assist thousands of women and their families since 2010.
Breast cancer can happen to anyone at any time and through the ongoing long term support of MIRVAC and its staff and suppliers Think Pink has been able to deliver supportive care; care that is respective of and responsive to families needs.
This support was crucial especially during the arrival or COVID-19 when the Think Pink Living Centre (within a week) pivoted the entire operation onto ZOOM – breaking down the tyranny of distance and increasing numbers of services by 300%.
Thank You Mirvac for assisting us to provide the best social, psychological and practical support to hundreds of women and their families to enable a caring program through breast cancer journey.
In their words - clients appreciate MIRVAC's support
Hi. My name is Evelyn Wilson. I am nearly 77 and my journey started last year.
It really began on January 1 when the bushfires ravaged Mallacoota. Our old caravan which was in storage was unfortunately burnt. We (my husband and I) had gone to Mallacoota for probably 25 years or more. OK, so that happened and we were organising to go up there with the tent again, when Paul had an aneurysm in the brain and unfortunately passed away on February 8. Almost a year ago now. Three weeks later, I found a lump in my left breast – triple negative stage 3. Heart conditions, Diabetes I knew about, but not cancer. On the way to the Breast Surgeon I got a message that I was the only one who could come in. She was coming to support me and listen for info. Very little did I comprehend. I had a mastectomy on April 1. In overnight and home the next day, because by then COVID 19 had reared its head. I wasn’t in a very good place at that time, and my son stayed with me for the weekend, and then I was on my own, never having been on my own for any time in my life. Because of COVID 19 my extended family could not be there at a time in my life that I needed them desperately. I have 2 sons who made sure they did the shopping for me, but that first lockdown was awful for me. All my medical appointments were on the phone and I didn’t know if what I was going through was right, so I just kept battling on.
During chemotherapy I thought there must be bras that were better than the ones that I had originally, so I rang the surgeon’s Breast Cancer Nurse to ask her, and she put me on to Gen the Breast Cancer Bra fitter who was wonderful who I saw at Mulgrave. Not only did she fit me for the bra and prosthesis, she asked me if I had contacted Think Pink. I had never heard of them. So Gen took my phone and organised it for me for which I’ll be forever grateful. On the next Monday Andrea rang me and asked for my story which I told her and she said there was an over 50’s forum if I was interested. Was I ever interested!! To connect with people face to face after so long was wonderful! During this zoom meeting I was asked to tell my story along with everyone else, but I could not even open my mouth. Andrea took over and told my story and by the time the session finished I was able to participate.
The next session of the over 50’s group came around and I had been participating in Tai Chi, Reflexology, and some Mindfulness and Meditation classes although I found it very hard to concentrate during the meditation sessions as my mind would wander all over the place. The second over 50’s group saw me able to talk and to realise that tears were not an indication of weakness. I had found it really hard to equate being a ‘strong’ person as my friends kept saying I was, with the blubbering mess I was at times. Listening to other people talk who had been through similar, but not the same experience that I had was settling for my spirit.
Also, by that time I had something else to think about. I had said for a long time that if anything happened to Paul, I would buy a motor home and continue travelling around Australia. During lockdown I happened to ring a friend who told me that friends of hers, who I also knew, were selling their motor home. So after a lot of photos, a mechanical inspection, and a lot of thought I bought myself the motor home. Problem! It was in Newcastle. I was in Melbourne and we were locked down for the second time. My son organised for it to be brought down on the back of a truck and here I am now, writing this, sitting in my motor home in Mallacoota with the heater on because it has been raining since Monday evening and I got here Monday lunchtime. I am as happy as a pig in mud, socialising with friends I’ve made up here over the years, and looking forward to making new friends on my travels.
Without the support of Think Pink and all the activities, I would not be as far along My Journey as I am now. I was asked by a psychologist if I was anxious about whether or not the cancer could return. I said no, as I feel there is no point worrying about something that may never happen. Plenty of time to worry about it if it does. BUT, here I am, the sun has come out so life is pretty good at the moment. Thank you Think Pink for helping me on a journey that I never considered I would have to face. At the moment I feel that I could face anything, but that may change. We will see.
I was diagnosed with Grade 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer in December 2019.
I had just returned from a 4 week trip to Europe and was feeling the best I had felt in years.
I had nursed my mother in my home for the last 5 months of her life the year before and had suffered extreme trauma with toxic family members. The stress after her death was awful and being executor of her will, I had to relegate it to a solicitor and have a restraining order taken out on family members. I truly believe that this was the time I developed cancer.
I am a Nurse of 44 years and now work as a Personal Trainer/ Nutritionist with my husband and my 2 businesses. I have 2 children and 2 granddaughters (4 and 7 years old). My son has lived in the USA for the past 6 years and my daughter is nearby.
My world fell apart after my diagnosis. Being told you have cancer at the age of 62 was life changing.
That first week was such a blur with GP appointment, Breast Surgeon appointment, biopsy, Oncologist appointment, full body CT and bone scan and starting chemotherapy all in the space of 7 days. Phew!!!
The plan was to have 6 months of 16 cycles of chemo (4 AC & 12 Taxol), lumpectomy with node removal and then radiation. I am extremely sensitive to medication and suffered terribly after the first chemo cycle so much so that the 2nd dose was reduced by 20%, the 3rd dose was reduced a further 10% as I was bedridden for 12 days post chemo. Prior to being given the 4th and final AC, it was decided by my Oncologist to go straight to the weekly Taxol as the side effects were too demanding on my body. I had the 1st Taxol and a week later I developed severe chest pain and went to ED. It was discovered that I had a mild heart attack.
One thing I am forever grateful for was that my 3cm tumour had decreased in size after the 1st cycle of AC and after the 2nd cycle, the tumour could no longer be felt.
My Oncologist and now Cardiologist agreed that I could not have any more chemo and my appointment with the Breast Surgeon was brought forward by 3 months. I had a left lumpectomy and 4 nodes removed in March 2020, just as Coronavirus was rearing its ugly head.
My results were extremely favourable and showed that I had a PCR (Pathological Complete Response) to the very small amount of chemo that I received. The 4 nodes were cancer free and my husband and I were elated at this news.
I had a few weeks of recovery and then began 15 cycles of radiotherapy. This was such a breeze compared to the chemo and I proudly counted down the days. I had to attend my appointments alone thanks to Covid 19, but I was happy to be able to see some light at what had been a very long and dark tunnel.
As a nurse I thought I knew so much about cancer and its treatment, but it became very apparent that I knew absolutely nothing and wondered how I could have been so naïve. I have since realised that unless you experience this disease and its treatments, you can never understand it.
I liken it to telling someone about childbirth, but until you experience it, you can never understand what it is really like.
Well, I am nearly 5 months after finishing treatment and have been through the gamut of emotions that goes with this diagnosis. Fortunately, I had been working with a great Psychologist since the death of my mum.
It reminds me of the 5 stages of grief and I go through different stages at different times, and then work things out by being aware of what is happening in the here and now and finding things to be grateful for every day. Understanding grief has been a life saver for me and my emotions. The fear of recurrence is real and often very debilitating, but I feel and hope that with time, that will decrease.
I found out about Think Pink whilst reading a book written by Lindsey Kennedy and had a look at the website and was so impressed by what I found. Finally some much needed support. Hooray!
I felt very neglected when I was diagnosed as I wasn’t given any information regarding Breast Care Nurse or support groups and had to source everything myself. A Cancer diagnosis is hard enough, but I feel having a support system in place is invaluable and I’m so pleased I have found Think Pink. I participated in my 1st Zoom meeting yesterday in the Fabulous over 50’s support group.
Speaking to other cancer patients is so uplifting as you know they understand exactly what you are talking about. Hearing other stories can be heartbreaking and strengthening.
I am having some ongoing issues related to treatment, but I am learning what is my “new normal” and what I can live with once I understand it. Things such as a seroma in my suture line, Radiation fibrosis of the chest wall, Lymphoedema and chronic lethargy. All minor things comparatively.
I know things are particularly hard during the Coronavirus and with the lockdown, but I have been so grateful for this time to heal and recover. My daily walk to my beautiful local beach with my husband of 41 years and my little dog has been my salvation. I am like the “ever ready bunny” and go nonstop all the time, but I am slowly (very slowly!) learning to listen to my body more. I think I must be a very slow learner! I still walk every day and pound up and down the hills and lift weights 3 days a week and adore feeding my body only the most nutritious plant based foods with the occasional bit of meat and fish and love feeling semi normal. Whatever that is!
I look forward to working more with Think Pink and hopefully helping others going through this journey.
It’s my 63rd birthday on Sunday 30th August and I had planned my “Circle of love lunch” to celebrate the 7 women who got me through the past 8 months. I wanted to show them how much it meant to have them in my life, but due to being in isolation, I have had to postpone it for another day in the near future. The love and support of my husband has been amazing, and I will be forever grateful to him.
I must add here that once treatment is over, people do expect you to go back to your old way of life and don’t understand about how you are feeling. Life will never be the same again and every day you manage the side effects and the fear. Some days are harder than others, but I do find Joy in every day.
The support drops off, the phone calls decrease and when you express your fears, people do dismiss them. This is very hard to deal with as you are a completely different person after this experience.
My advice for anyone newly diagnosed would be to take a deep breath, have some support person with you at each appointment, take notes, ask questions and seek any help and support that you might need. I’m not very gracious at accepting help, but was so overwhelmed with offers to help it changed my outlook. I think I might be slightly less of a “control freak” than I previously had been, although my family and friends may disagree.
Read more client stories …
Dear Andrea, firstly – thank you for having gone miles above and beyond your call of duty, for taking care of me and my family during the most difficult time of our lives. As soon as the diagnosis happened, you made sure my extended medical team knew about my changed health condition.
When I was in hospital, things went a little pear shaped to my family to say the least. When I got home, you did everything in your control to make sure not only myself, but also my husband and children were OK. The word “ok” is so short and simple, but it means the world to someone facing a crisis such as us. Secondly, in the last two months, my world has changed with the second diagnosis; and the world has changed with COVID-19.
Thank goodness my Think Pink world hasn’t really changed!I really like how Think Pink still have the regular sessions via Zoom, even though I haven’t really been attending but it really provides relief for our mental health, including mine, knowing it’s there when I am up to it.
Well Done Andrea and the Think Pink team! And, may I save the best for last: You and Ros are there for me as always! Take care and best wishes.
Dear Michelle & Think Pink – being a scuba diving instructor with a lot of physical exercise in my job, there has been almost no exercise from me since my double mastectomy and Diep Flap stomach removal – in March this year. Everything just seemed too hard or too scary to do, and I worried I’ll exacerbate my pain areas.
After attending a Zoom class with Michelle this morning, I sat on the floor and cried at the fact I have finally found something I am able to do and that brought feelings of achievement. It’s made me feels so much better about getting back into some form of fitness for myself.
Michelle was amazing in her descriptions and advice in the exercises, and I will def be back for the next class.
Thank you so much to her and the time she places into helping us and guide us through Pilates in her classes, and thank you to the hard-working staff at Think Pink who allow this to happen.
I can’t thank you fabulous souls at Think Pink nearly enough for providing such wonderful support for us as we travel our journeys with cancer. The variety of programs offered means there is something to aid & interest everyone. New ideas and knowledge are always helpful & joining in is always a really positive experience for me. It’s good being divided into dedicated groups for some of the days – it keeps the info relevant. I know the others in my group really understand ‘the road’.
Knowing support is there for the asking is gold.
How The Living Centre Programs work
Traditionally Think Pink offered services only onsite at our Living Centre, a unique state-of-the-art, independent and nonclinical wellness facility, located in Melbourne’s Docklands. Our team has always assisted rural and regional Victorians with the practical aspects of a breast cancer diagnosis, for example, by offering accommodation a our Living Centre.
In early 2020, in response to COVID-19 our staff designed and piloted a new online model of delivery. This model has led to the innovative use of technology to support breast cancer patients and their carers and families.
It has enabled the exchange of health information and provision of programs and services over a much greater geographical area – particularly reaching many more people living in rural and regional Victoria. These people have unique supportive care needs, as they are more likely to face disadvantages in accessing cancer services and support. This model increases access and participation in our
programs and services by allowing them to remain at home.
In 2019, it was estimated that 19,371 women and 164 men were diagnosed with breast cancer (AIHW, 2019).
Imagine you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The world as you know it has just been turned upside down and you have to ask yourself questions like:
- What is going to happen to my family and me now?
- How will I continue to work and earn money?
- Am I going to die?
- Who will look after my family if anything happens to me?
- How will my partner, family and friends react to my diagnosis?
- Will my life ever return to the way it was before I was diagnosed?
- What can I do and where can I get help?
The breast cancer journey is an emotional and physical roller coaster and a breast cancer diagnosis can bring a range of unexpected emotions. Uncertainty and fear of the future, changes in personal and family relationships, a sense of isolation – these are just some of the emotions that may be felt when one is diagnosed. Research (CCV 2020; Schmid-Büchi, van den Borne, Dassen & Halfens, 2010; Liao et al., 2012) has shown that in addition to receiving best-practice medical treatment, looking after the psychological and emotional aspects of breast cancer is also very important to patient outcomes, their wellbeing and quality of life. Supportive care is an umbrella term used to describe a range of services that may be needed to support people with cancer.
Supportive care is something that all people with cancer can benefit from. These supportive needs can be broken down into three
- Physical needs
- Psychological needs
- Practical needs
Supportive care needs are present at any stage of a patient’s cancer journey. To meet these care needs, Think Pink continues to deliver programs and services to hundreds of people annually affected by cancer in urban, rural and regional areas.
At Think Pink we value the partnerships formed with organisations and individuals who support our mission through financial support, pro bono services, volunteering and donated goods.
We work together to establish sustainable relationships that benefit our partners and Think Pink clients. Through these partnerships we can provide a better journey through breast cancer for patients and their families.
We are proud of the partnerships that have supported us for many years. Our work would not be possible without their support.
The Mirvac Group initially leased The Living Centre premises to Think Pink at a substantially reduced and very affordable rental and through their contractors, provided the entire building fit-out free of charge. These set-up costs were valued at over $200,000.