The Pink Ribbon Breakfasts are about more than just having a lot of fun for Barbara Manning and her guests – they have proven to be life-saving.
The woman from Auckland’s North Shore will run her ninth annual breakfast this month. In the past, she has combined pleasure with raising about $4000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
But the event also had a serious side: raising awareness of breast cancer and the importance of having a mammogram.
Manning took great satisfaction out of joining with friends to encourage one of her guests, a woman in her 70s, to have her first mammogram.
* New Zealand’s genetic screening service lowers threshold for hereditary cancer tests
* Mother joins campaign for breast cancer medicine funding
* Breast cancer researcher thankful for foundation grant
“I couldn’t believe it – she said she had never had a mammogram and it was like a red rag to a bull.
“We just badgered her for about a week, gave her the phone number and said we would go with her.”
The insistence paid off: the mammogram detected stage three breast cancer and the woman had a full mastectomy just three weeks later.
“Every time we see her she says, ‘You girls saved my life’,” Manning said.
It was a situation Manning understood well: 10 years ago she was also found to have stage three breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.
The diagnosis was helped by the fact she had a mammogram every year – rather than two-yearly as funded by Government – after all three of her father’s sisters died of breast cancer.
“The surgeon at the time said if I had left it for two years it would’ve been a totally different story.”
Manning had a partial mastectomy followed by radiotherapy.
Two years ago, she was found to have a type of BRCA gene. The gene, made famous by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, can mutate, leaving patients with a high chance of breast and ovarian cancer.
Manning had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed about a year ago.
Despite her tribulations, she had not failed to host a Pink Ribbon breakfast in May for about 20 guests in her Browns Bay apartment.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great excuse for women to get together.”
Manning encouraged others to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast this month, with money helping fund advances in breast cancer detection, treatment and support.
Guests usually pitched in by providing dishes for the day, she said.
“I think people like to know that they’re contributing – not just to my morning tea, but contributing to other women’s welfare.”
Go to pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz for more information.