Breast cancer touches many families, with one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. On the eve of Mother’s Day and the iconic Mother’s Day Classic breast cancer fundraising event, haven sat down with a local mum to hear about her battle with the beast.
Dr Robyn Cameron didn’t tick any of the boxes for breast cancer – other than being a woman. Despite this, she was diagnosed with breast cancer twice before the age of 46.
Robyn’s success in overcoming the disease has fuelled her passion for fundraising for breast cancer research while also working full time as a senior lecturer at Griffith University in the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics. She believes it was her early detection and the research scientists had undertaken before her diagnosis that enabled her to be here today.
“If it wasn’t for the research, I wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have the methods to show how to detect it early or know how to treat the cancer,” Robyn says. “I often say we’ve had amazing results with cancer discoveries and wonder what would the story have been if fundraising or funds for research dried up before the discoveries were made?”
Robyn was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38 with two young children, then aged 5 and 8. While she thought her children may have been too young to understand, she recalls one morning when her son climbed into bed and gave her an almighty hug proclaiming, “Mummy I’m frightened you’re going to die”.
Robyn found the lump herself after watching an ad on TV. She made an appointment with her doctor immediately.
“I can’t tell you how important it is for women to check their breasts,” Robyn says. “If they think something is a bit different they should go to their GP immediately. The earlier a cancer is detected, the better the outcome.”
Turning fighting into funding
When searching for a way to make her impact, Robyn considered raising money to help fund surgeries, auxiliary services and research.
“I kept coming back to research because if we can find the key to cancer we wouldn’t need the wigs,” Robyn says. “If we can cure it, it has more impact so I decided to put my energies into fundraising for breast cancer research. I started fundraising around 2005 for the Cancer Council and in 2007 I started with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.”
Robyn’s fundraising efforts have been recognised by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) who presented her a patron’s award. Robyn is also a Queensland ambassador and on the speakers’ bureau for the NBCF. Robyn’s battle with cancer and desire to help the research efforts in this area led her to become a founding member of the Mother’s Day Classic on the Gold Coast.
In the beginning the small team would meet in the library at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus so Robyn could attend between teaching her classes. Her efforts continued to be acknowledged and in 2016 she won the Gold Coast Women in Business Award for community dedication.
The Mother’s Day Classic
Since its inception on the Gold Coast in 2009, the Mother’s Day Classic has continued to grow with around 4000 people participating in 2016. The event is run entirely by volunteers and aims to fund the research that is key to achieving NBCF’s goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. Robyn says the event becomes bigger every year and has an amazing atmosphere.
“The people I know who enter the Mother’s Day Classic have all been impacted in some way,” Robyn says. “Whether it’s their partner, aunty or grandmother. They’ve all been touched by breast cancer.
“My kids even enter the Mother’s Day Classic as their Mother’s Day gift.”
For many women the Mother’s Day Classic has become an integral part of their Mother’s Day ritual as it celebrates those who are still with us and commemorates the lives of those who can’t be. The Mother’s Day Classic will run from 7.30am on Sunday, May 14 at the southern end of Pratten Park, Broadbeach. Participants can walk or run the 4km or 8km tracks to help raise vital funds for breast cancer research. There is also a Brisbane event, kicking off at South Bank Parklands from 6am.
Registration for the Mother’s Day Classic is open until Friday, May 12 and you can register online at www.mothersdayclassic.com.au.