Away from the challenges of chemotherapy and the scars of surgery, the Cabrini Brightways breast cancer luncheon was a celebration of life and a pillar of hope for women living with breast cancer.
The annual event, hosted by the Cabrini Foundation, is a fundraiser for services to support the ongoing work of Cabrini’s doctors and nurses in treating people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Now in its sixth year, the luncheon is a highlight on the social calendar.
If there was one thing that was made clear at the luncheon, it is that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone in the community equally and there would be very few people who haven’t been touched by breast cancer in some way, whether it is a relative, friend or colleague.
Looking across the room of smiling people, their courage and strength is inspiring. It demonstrates the hope that can be found in even the darkest of situations.
One of those women is Tina Ezard wife of chef and restaurateur Teage Ezard, whose restaurants Ezard and Gingerboy are household names among Melbourne’s fine dining establishments. On the eve of her 45th birthday, Tina was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a bilateral mastectomy but six months later, the breast cancer returned. She was treated at Cabrini, where she finished active treatment nine months ago and in her words is now feeling amazing.
Despite what she has been through, she said it made her family stronger and more resilient and helped bring them closer together. “You learn to breathe and you learn what’s important in life,” Mrs Ezard said.
“We are mothers, entrepreneurs and we try to do it all but this is a time when being able to step aside is really important.”
She praises the breast Cancer nurses and staff at Cabrini for helping to get her through the difficult times.
“I would walk into the chemo room and by the end of the session we would all be laughing,” she said.
“It’s not the dark experience people envision it to be. It’s actually very uplifting.”
Another person who knows the highs and lows of supporting a family member through breast cancer, is 14-year-old Gretta Pearce, whose mother Nicole Lanyon died of breast cancer a few months ago, aged 44.
Gretta plans to use her experience to help others, by becoming a nurse, so she can assist people going through cancer.
“Watching what mum went through, I would like to be able to help people like the nurses who helped her,” she said.
“I don’t love hospitals but everyone at Cabrini made us feel like we were at home. We felt safe and I knew that mum was in good hands.”
Gretta said she hoped she could continue her mother’s legacy.
“My mum was a beautiful and caring lady who always put everyone before herself,” she said.
“I want to follow in her footsteps and help bring people together.”
Cabrini Breast Cancer Service Manager Vicki Durston said Cabrini operated its breast cancer program in partnership with a host of organisations.
“At Cabrini, we believe in partnering with organisations to ensure our patients have the best possible care and support throughout their treatment,” she said.