I caught up with BCNA CEO Christine Nolan to discuss the importance of their work supporting women who are living with Breast Cancer.

Can you tell me about what Breast Cancer Network (BCNA) Australia does?

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is the peak national organisation for Australians personally affected by breast cancer, and consists of a network of more than 105,000 individual members and 300 Member Groups. We work to support, inform, represent and connect Australians affected by breast cancer, and we are passionate about ensuring people with breast cancer receive the very best support, information, treatment and care appropriate to their individual needs.

How are you different from other organizations that also raise money and awareness for breast cancer?

There are a number of breast cancer organisations, and although we work closely together we all function for different and important reasons.

At BCNA we do not raise funds for research into a cure for breast cancer, instead we provide information and support to women and families coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. Finding a cure is incredibly important, but in the meantime women are still being diagnosed and they need support to help them get through a very stressful time.

Advocacy is also an important part of our work at BCNA. With more than 105,000 members and 300 Member Groups, we make it our mission to ensure that our members’ voices are heard by policy makers, health providers and planners.

What kind of support do you offer women living with breast cancer?

At BCNA we have a dedicated Services Team who take calls from people diagnosed with breast cancer, family and friends of those diagnosed, and health professionals. Often they speak to women only hours after a diagnosis, and they are on hand to talk through what to do next and direct them to the right support for their individual needs. The BCNA Services Team can be reached on 1800 500 258.

We also have a range of free information resources to help people diagnosed with breast cancer better understand what is ahead of them and help them make the right decisions about their treatment and care. Our key resources include the My Journey Kit, which is a free resource for people newly diagnosed with early breast cancer, the Hope & Hurdles pack, a free information pack for people living with secondary breast cancer (also known as metastatic or terminal breast cancer), and the My Care Kit, a practical pack for women who have recently had breast surgery which includes a Berlei bra and soft forms.

I love the idea of the ‘My Journey Kit’. Can you tell me how it works and where women can get their kit?

The My Journey Kit is a resource for anyone (men too) who have recently been diagnosed with early breast cancer. It’s a free information pack that can help people work through the shock of diagnosis and make decisions about treatment and care. The My Journey Kit also has information for partners, family and friends, so it’s a terrific resource to share with people close to you.

The My Journey Kit includes an information guide to help women understand their diagnosis and treatment options, a personal record book to record personal details, keep track of appointments, and note down questions, information booklets for partners, family, friends or colleagues, and a range of optional information booklets.

The My Journey Kit can be ordered through the BCNA website (www.bcna.org.au) or by phoning 1800 500 258. Importantly, the My Journey Kit can also be ordered by family members or friends of those diagnosed, and will often be distributed by breast care nurses and health professionals.

How important is it for women to take care of their health and wellbeing while going through breast cancer?

We know that exercise and healthy eating is important for everyone, but for women diagnosed with breast cancer moving often and eating right can have a number of added benefits. Maintaining an active lifestyle and balanced diet can help to improve physical and emotional wellbeing, mood and sleep, and increase bone mineral density. Exercise can also help manage some of the physical side effects of breast cancer treatment, such as fatigue and pain, and research shows it may also reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring.

What does BCNA do to assist supporting women on their health and wellbeing journey?

Health and wellbeing is a strategic priority for BCNA, and we are working on a number of initiatives to help support women to get active and lead healthy lifestyles.

BCNA is supporting Australians diagnosed with breast cancer to take control of their health and wellbeing with two free information booklets. Our Breast Cancer and Exercise and Healthy Eating and Breast Cancer booklets are designed to provide women with reliable and comprehensive information to help them improve their health and wellbeing.

Over the past year, we have implemented a Victorian Government funded pilot program – Active and Well after Breast Cancer. This pilot has been developed to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of Victorian women. Delivered in partnership with BreaCan and the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, this pilot provides women with the tools they need to adopt healthy habits for life. Central to the initiative is an information day, regular Active and Well e-newsletters, a weekly motivational SMS and the Get Active and Keep Well group on BCNA’s Online Network to help women get active, eat well, and achieve their health and wellbeing goals.

We have also recently partnered with Fernwood Fitness to develop Revitalise with BCNA, a six-week online health and wellbeing program for women with breast cancer. The new program is open for registrations and includes customised advice from breast cancer and health and fitness experts on healthy eating, exercise, mindfulness, relaxation, goal setting and motivation.

If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with breast cancer and would like to access our health and wellbeing initiatives visit www.bcna.org.au or phone 1800 500 258

How can women support BCNA through Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is such an important time for women diagnosed with breast cancer, their families, and the wider community. There are lots of ways you can support BCNA this October, including hosting a Pink Lady fundraising event, hosting a tribute Mini Field of Women, attending one of our Pink Lady luncheons, participating in a challenge for BCNA, or purchasing product from one of our generous corporate supporters. For more information about how to help us recognise this important month and support Australians affected by breast cancer visit www.bcna.org.au

In conjunction with Business in Heels we are raising money for BCNA all month! If you would like to donate or bid in our silent auction please go to our Go Fundraise Me page and ALL proceeds go directly to BCNA. To bid on item go to the Facebook page.

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