Christmas is approaching at the end of a very stressful year for everyone and I find myself wanting to think about the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. As Founder & Director of ChemoWize I see women from young to old coping with the news that they have breast cancer. While I enjoy fussing about in ChemoWize Corner, our thrift store located in Wrightwood, as well as outreach at local schools and Farmer’s Markets, fundraisers and other
events, the real pleasure of my volunteer work is the women.
Women can be wise, empathetic, brave and philosophical – and also very funny. It is a privilege to be a small part of their journey, and to share both laughter and tears. I have learnt an enormous amount from women I have met through ChemoWize, beneficiaries, practitioners and volunteers alike, and have great respect for their ability to deal with what life brings.
Staying with the positive theme, we need to remember that at least 80% of women now survive their breast cancer – a massive improvement over the last 20 years – attributed to screening mammography, improved adjuvant therapy and increased awareness by women themselves. An enormous amount of research continues to be done. The ability to identify multiple genetic markers on the cancer now enables oncologists to help decide what the most appropriate treatment is for a woman after her surgery, identifying women who currently may not appear to require chemotherapy, but are at high risk, and also identify women who may seem to require chemotherapy, but are actually at low risk.
If, in these worrying times, with the added pressure of Christmas approaching, I have failed to lift your spirits, I have a suggestion. At the risk of sounding facetious or frivolous – if you are feeling low, may I suggest that you rent or buy the musical ‘Mamma Mia’. Fast-forward to the song ‘Dancing Queen’, turn up the volume really loud, share the joy in those women young and old – and dance as if you are still 17!
It works for me every time!
My best wishes to you all for the festive season and thank you for all the support you have given my organization.