The Whangārei Town Basin is set to turn pink once more with the fourth annual Pink Loop Walk returning to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Support Northland Trust.
Event initiator and organiser Melanie Waldron said Sunday’s walk is a fun event for everybody to come along and to support people in Northland with breast cancer.
“The Pink Loop Walk is our only fundraiser event. Since we are an independent organisation, we don’t receive funds elsewhere.
“The money raised will stay in Northland and go towards people with breast cancer who are from the region.”
Breast Cancer Support Northland provides a support network through volunteers who have been coping with breast cancer in some form.
While they don’t give medical or treatment advice, the volunteers offer practical and emotional support, encouragement and information for breast cancer patients.
Fortnightly meetings give women a chance to talk about their experiences and connect to people who are battling the same disease.
According to Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, around 160 Kiwis in the Northland area are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and more than 20 die. Almost everyone knows someone affected by breast cancer.
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Waldron received her diagnosis eight years ago after she had found a lump in her breast. She was 36 then; her children were 8 and 10.
Waldron was two years into a new relationship with her now-husband, who also had two children, and they were halfway through renovating their house.
She said while a lot of women get breast cancer in their 40s and 50s, it wasn’t uncommon amongst younger women.
“Being young, the doctors first didn’t believe it was cancer,” Waldron said.
What she didn’t know at that time was that she had a family history of breast cancer.
The biopsy confirmed Waldron’s fears, and she had to undergo six months of chemotherapy, two months of radiation and seven surgeries.
It took four years of treatment to combat the highly aggressive form of cancer Waldron was diagnosed with, which wasn’t an easy time for her family. Today Waldron is cancer-free.
She said returning to normality after the treatment was over was a big challenge. To give her a new focus, Waldron got increasingly involved with Breast Cancer Support Northland and helped to improve their support services.
Waldron said apart from the meet-ups, the most important aspect of the organisation was teaching women how to reclaim their lives and bodies after the diagnosis.
With the Pink Loop Walk, an idea that Waldron brought into life, she not only wants to raise funds but create awareness for breast cancer and improve early detection:
“You’re not too young for breast cancer. Know your breast.”
As part of the breast cancer awareness month, volunteers in association with nationwide organisation Breast Cancer Foundation NZ collected money around Northland last weekend.
While the Pink Ribbon Appeal and the Pink Loop Walk are collecting for the same cause, they are organised by two different entities with separate finances.
The Pink Loop Walk starts Sunday, October 20, at 9am on the Canopy Bridge in Whangārei. There will be entertainment, food and participants are encouraged to wear pink and bright costumes.
Registrations are open online on breastcancernorthland.co.nz or from 9am on Sunday at the Canopy Bridge.