Breast Cancer Patient Is Bringing Pink To Mackay


Raelene Brown is still in the midst of her breast cancer journey, but it won’t stop her from joining the “Sea of Pink” in Mackay on Sunday 10 March.

The 52-year-old will be one of the more than 3,000 people in regional Queensland taking part in the International Women’s Day Fun Run presented by Queensland X-Ray.

While 23,000 runners, joggers and walkers will take part in the 5km event in Brisbane CBD, Ms Brown will join her Hastings Deering workmates on a 5km course stretc

The Marian resident knows firsthand how important the support of others is to breast cancer patients.

She was diagnosed in 2020 after visiting a mobile BreastScreen Queensland truck at Mirani.

“We’d had some family emergencies, so I put off going for my free check-up,” Ms Brown said.

“Then I noticed the change in shape in my left breast and I thought ‘Well, I’ve got no more excuses not to go’.

“Two weeks later I received a letter asking me to visit the BreastScreen clinic in town for more tests.”

Then came the news she’d be dreading.

“It was quite advanced,” she said. “I ended up having a tumour that was six centimetres by 10 centimetres, and when they did the mastectomy I ended up having 11 tumours.”

Ms Brown is sharing her story to encourage other Queenslanders to support and participate in the International Women’s Day Fun Run.

Funds from the event will go towards life-saving breast cancer research, as well as services and support for breast cancer patients at Mater hospitals across Queensland, including Mater Private Hospital Mackay. 

“I also want to encourage women – particularly those in regional areas – to go for their check-ups, because it can save a lot of heartache in the long run,” Ms Brown said.

“The earlier you get checked, the earlier you get a diagnosis and the less invasive your treatment may be.

“And everything was done in Mackay – we didn’t have to travel, which was just a godsend.”

Ms Brown underwent five months of chemotherapy, before undergoing a mastectomy performed by Mater Private Hospital Mackay breast surgeon Dr Wendela Schimmer.

“Unfortunately, Raelene’s tumour was advanced at diagnosis which made it necessary to start treatment before the surgery,” Dr Schimmer said.

“Although we often try to preserve a woman’s breast, sometimes the circumstances make it impossible. At other times, it can be a woman’s choice.

“It is a very tough decision and I have an immense respect for the women who have to go through this.”

Ms Brown has since undergone a further six weeks of radiation treatment.

“I still have my portacath in and I have a daily tablet, which I’ll probably be on for 10 years to try to stop all of my hormones,” she said.

“So, my journey isn’t over yet, but my check-ups are now every six months and I’m on a mission to tackle my ‘bucket list’ and spread the word about getting checked!”

She will join the International Women’s Day Fun Run fresh from an overseas adventure to Japan and a visit to Graceland in the US, the home of Elvis Presley.

“I’ll be there! I’m not competing, but I’ll walk it,” Ms Brown said.

“I’m hoping to have all my coworkers from Hastings Deering come for a walk too!”

Mater Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Thomas said the support of Queenslanders made a huge difference to those fighting breast cancer.

“Queensland has backed the fight against breast cancer like never before,” Mr Thomas said. 

“This year’s event will be the biggest ever – and there’s still time for Queenslanders everywhere to sign up online to a fun run in their community. 

“Everyone can join the Sea of Pink. It’s a fantastic way to stay fit, have fun – and fight breast cancer.”   

The virtual challenge allows people to walk, jog or run 5-kilometres, or choose their own distance, in their neighbourhood any time between Sunday 3 March and Sunday 10 March. 

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