ACT News

License article

ACT's 'pink ladies' spreading the word

When Lucy Costas was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, her world was thrown upside-down.

‘‘I remember feeling a darkness had come into my life,’’ she said.

But thanks to ‘‘wonderful’’ treatment from the Calvary Hospital Breast Nurses Team, Ms Costas is now healthy.

She said good treatment and support groups helped her through her illness.

‘‘There’s a lot of solidarity between women who have had breast cancer,’’ she said.

She’s now one of many volunteers who, after suffering through the disease, are giving back to the community.


This week, volunteers planted more than 6,000 ‘‘Pink Lady’’ silhouettes in Canberra’s National Arboretum to raise awareness of breast cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The display is hard to miss if you’re driving along Tuggeranong Parkway – the fluorescent figurines gleam like a sea of pink flowers.

In previous years the pink ladies have appeared at Calvary Hospital, but leader of the hospital’s Breast Nurses Team Jennifer Dalton said the new location was better situated.

‘‘Around 40,000 people travel on the parkway daily, and it’s safe to assume about half of them will have breasts,’’ she said.

ACT women have a higher risk of breast cancer, with one in eight at risk compared to one in nine nationally.

Angela Rezo, chair of the Breast Cancer Treatment Group for the ACT and southeast NSW, said the reason for the higher risk wasn’t known.

‘‘It could be that women are working longer and maybe delaying child bearing,’’ she said.

Between 350 and 400 ACT women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

But with treatments continually improving, chances of survival are better than ever before.

Dr Rezo said outcomes for sufferers in the region were as good as, if not better than, anywhere in Australia.

‘‘The majority outcome means a normal life expectancy, and I think we can celebrate that,’’ she said.

Ms Dalton said women should check for signs early and regularly.

‘‘If you notice any early changes, talk to your GP and go to breast screen,’’ she said.

Dr Rezo said there was also increasing evidence that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and body weight lowered cancer risk.

Recent research has also showed that moderate levels of physical activity can reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer by 24 per cent.

Remaining active can also reduce the risk of death by more than one third compared with inactive women, according to Cancer Australia, however a recent survey found that one in four breast cancer survivors weren’t aware of this.

The Calvary Hospital team organised the display, which runs until Friday, together with breast cancer support groups including Breast Cancer Network Australia, Bosom Buddies and the ACT Cancer Council.