In Canberra, people could barely see their feet as they trotted around Lake Burley Griffin. In Melbourne it was crisp, damp and grey, while Sydney was sunny – as were dozens of the country towns that fielded participants in the Mother’s Day Classic breast cancer fundraising walk and run.
Just short of 100,000 people took part in this year’s MDC – Australia’s largest breast cancer fundraiser, which has grown from a literal walk in the park 22 years ago to a national institution occurring in nearly 90 locations. About 25,000 of the participants attended the Melbourne event.
The event has so far raised more than $36 million for the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s research to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer – and has set a target of $40 million by 2020.
Every week, in the media we report new breakthroughs and trials and treatment innovations – along with new understanding of the complex nature of breast cancer.
Since 1994 the five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with breast cancer has improved from 76 per cent to 91 per cent – statistical proof that investment in research is money well spent.
Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and better treatment outcomes. It can seem that we’re on the cusp of this horrible disease being defeated.
My mother has survived breast cancer twice – after being afflicted 20 years apart. My grandmother died from it back in the 1960s when a diagnosis was all but accepted as a death sentence. So there has been great progress.
But consider: This year, it is estimated that 3090 people will lose their life to breast cancer, including 32 men. That’s eight women losing their life to breast cancer each day in Australia – and countless surviving friends and family members sideswiped by grief and loss.
If it hasn’t touched your own circle of concern in some way, you’re a statistical anomaly.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, whose mother died of breast cancer, took time out from campaigning to run the four kilometres in 20 minutes at the Melbourne event. He started off at the head of the pack with former Melbourne and St Kilda AFL player and MDC chief operating officer Stephen Newport.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 12, 2019
He then returned to the starting line, delivered a speech before the walk and survivor wave commenced. Along with Rebecca Keys, breast cancer survivor, Mr Shorten pressed the horn to start the walk, before returning to the political fray.
Louise Davidson is MDC Foundation chair and co-founder.
She said: “It was a wonderful day at the Mother’s Day Classic today [Sunday]. It was very touching to see the sea of pink as people ran or walked in support and memory of those with breast cancer. A big thank you to everyone who participated and especially to the thousands of volunteers who make the event happen.”
Sharon Morris, CEO of the MDC Foundation said: “I was heartened to see thousands of families, friends and teams cross Mother’s Day Classic finish lines around the country; the colour and camaraderie of the day is a message of hope for the 53 women diagnosed with breast cancer every day.”
Vivienne Interrigi is MDC national ambassador and a breast cancer survivor. She said: “It is an honour to be an MDC community ambassador, to have the opportunity to share a meaningful day today with so many families and friends who stand and walk with us in our fight to stay alive.
“I am inspired to keep going strong with our goal of raising awareness and funds to go into breast cancer research – so that one day, our children would not have to go through what we had to. A very happy Mother’s Day to everyone today.”