A breakfast blushing with pink

Rekha Rajvanshi

By Neena Badhwar

On Sunday October 10, a virtual Pink Ribbon Breakfast session was organised by Rekha Rajvanshi and Sue Advani for breast cancer survivors and their supporters. It proudly collected $4000 in the lead up to the day when the screen lighted up in the hues of pink. Smiling, shiny, beautiful faces included three ladies who related their cancer stories having been diagnosed with cancer, two this year and one earlier with thyroid cancer.

Anita Barar

Jyoti Jadeja’s story brought tears to many with SBS Hindi program broadcaster from Melbourne, Anita Barar explaining in detail what she went through. Having been diagnosed with Stage 3, an aggressive form of breast cancer, Anita said it was a very difficult period in her life. Saroni Roy described her journey of thyroid cancer and the aftereffects of the treatment. Anita Barar said that the only words that helped her through her journey were the first three letters of the disease, namely: CAN.

Sue Advani

Palu Malaowalla, a GP from Parramatta, and a breast cancer survivor introduced Jyoti, and said, “I cried when I heard her story.”

The heartrending story of young Jyoti, mother of a 2-year-old girl was quite an emotional one to hear. Not only that she was diagnosed with breast cancer during the first trimester of her pregnancy, she was made to make a gut-wrenching choice between the unborn baby in her womb or terminate it for the sake of her first child.

“I still agonise over my decision. I could never ever imagine that I would get breast cancer and become a Pink sister like you,” she said. Her advice is to ”˜just get through and do all you need to do to prevent such a scenario’.

Jodi Mckay, MP

Jodi Mackay, MP insisted that we all must get screened even during Covid period and not delay. Sue Advani complimented Jyoti on her look and said, “Unfortunately, cancer does not discriminate.”

Anita Barar talked about, loss of hair, tingling feeling in her extremities, losing nails even and feeling conscious of her looks, her daughter in Singapore who could not visit her due to Covid lock down, said to her, “Mum you look really cool.”

Nimeesha Gupta, wife of Consul General Manish Gupta

Nimeesha Gupta, wife of Manish Gupta, Consul-General, Sydney, said, “Coming out of cancer and coming back to life is like a marathon. I remember meeting a lady in India with two children and the impact it had left on them and the family around them. She mentioned about Ayushman Bharat Scheme which provides not only free screening but free treatment to breast cancer patients.

“Children feel sad, angry and they need answers to many questions when a mother gets diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately cancer cases are on the rise in India with 1.3 million in 2020 to 1.7million by 2025, 240,000 of which are breast cancer cases.”

Julia Finn, MP

Julia Finn, MP, stressed upon early detection, “When you look after yourself, you can look after your family.”

Geoff Lee, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, NSW is a supporter of the breakfast that reminds him of his mother who had cancer
Saroni Roy

Saroni Roy talked about excruciating pain it had left in her left leg, “My health would pull me back as much as I wanted to move forward.” She joined acting course and started to get gigs, modelling assignments to help her take her mind off chronic pain and inflammation.

“Being an actor and an artist helped me in my healing process. It became my sacred space.”

Suman Saha, Councillor

Councillor Suman Saha talked about the virtual breakfast by the Pink Ladies not only to raise funds but increase its awareness at the same time.

Charishma Kaliyanda, Councillor

Charishma Kaliayanda, Councillor, Liverpool, who holds a job as a health educator spoke about how the family and friends can make a huge difference by helping to run errands, taking cancer patient to doctor’s appointments, dropping off meals and looking after children when needed. “Fortunately we have a very helpful community around us,” she said.

Usha Salagame who went through her own cancer treatment conducted the quiz on breast cancer at the end.

Rekha Rajvanshi thanked everyone for their generous donations in support of the breakfast, it having started in 2012.

Both Rekha and Sue have taken this initiative and donated funds every year to National Breast Cancer Foundation, Australia, Rekha herself a breast cancer survivor, “It has been a journey of realisation that life is short. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was alone, my husband miles away at sea, my two kids in school, and here I was consoling my friends who were in shock when they came to console me. After my treatment I took a stock of my life and thought I must do something positive. This is when with Sue Advani who is also a cancer survivor, we started the Pink Ribbon Breakfast. It has become an annual tradition, with more than 300 people attending. This year due to Covid 19 restrictions, we did it virtually.”

The breakfast brings together politicians who wholeheartedly support this cause when the Indian community celebrates life as such and a friendship that says: ”˜See we survived, So can you, make sure to get screened’.

The zoom session wrapped up with last year’s fashion parade video in the background with the song ”˜mud mud ka na dekh, mud mudke, zindgani ke safar me tu akela hi nahi hai, hum bhi tere humsafar hain’.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast plans to celebrate its 10th year next year in a big way.

Looking forward to meet and hug these brave ladies, the ”˜humsafars’ who have joined hands in, says Rekha, “raising awareness, celebrate survivors and support the ones who are going through it and receiving treatment.”

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