I’m not sure that when I first met Tracy Bevan back in 2006 I had any sense of the adventures that we would go on to have together. At the time I was working for a PR Consultancy in Australia and was looking for a charity partner for an idea we had for one of our clients. From the get go the Foundation girls and my team clicked and so we started doing the Foundation’s PR pro bono.
Move forward two years then – it was actually the day my family and I were celebrating my youngest child’s christening that Jane passed away. I remember the text message coming through on my phone and feeling such a sense of loss. So I did what all good friends do at times like that ‘ I asked what I could do to help?
The call from Michaela (our amazing McGrath Breast Care Nurse Programme Manager at the time) came through at 9am the next morning. Could I give her any advice on handling the media? What should they be saying and who should be saying it? And how should they be handling the amount of donations that were sweeping into the charity? 60 minutes later, with my children dropped to other beautiful friends, I was sitting in the Foundation’s offices juggling phone calls, people, media and stakeholders and I guess I just never left.
Back then I came because I saw a friend who needed help. I stayed because after I had been here for even a little while I recognised it wasn’t only my friend, but literally the thousands of people who wanted to get behind this idea of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, that I could actually do something to help also. I’d always loved my career in PR but here was an opportunity to help people who were pulling together to make a difference to other people’s lives.
Nearly six years on then I couldn’t be prouder of everything that the amazing team here, and you as a supporter have achieved together. We’ve gone from 4 to 100 McGrath Breast Care Nurse positions across Australia. These wonderful nurses have supported over 25,000 Australian families over that time. One full time nurse will see up to 200 new families every year ‘ and their service continues to be provided completely free of charge. 85% of these nurses are in my beloved rural and regional Australia ‘ they are where people who struggle to access so little need them the most.
At the same time we have had events like the annual Sydney Pink Test Match and Pink Stumps Day to help drive both fundraising and breast awareness. We’ve had both the Channel 9 and BSKYB Cricket commentators proudly don pink attire. We have had Patrick Stevedores help us launch pink hard hats and a pink safety range; the Wilson Security V8 Racing team hit the track in pink livery; the NRL include us in celebrations to mark the Women in League round; our Pull on Your Socks initiative working with Winter Sports nationally; the Golden Slipper go pink; and the Rio Tinto Yandicagoona Mine Site carve a McGrath Logo from their red earth, while pink super size diggers proudly prowl around. We’ve had literally thousands of wonderful people show up to one of our Signature High Teas and many more have now gone on to host their own High Tea.
We’ve also then had the pleasure of working with corporate friends with real heart ‘ companies like Mount Franklin, Kumho Tyres, Community First, Samantha Wills, Vodafone, BP, Hoyts, Cricket Australia, all the state based Cricketing Associations, Mars/ Masterfoods, Sapphire Candle Group and Commonwealth Bank.
And through it all has been the conversation ‘ the one that focuses on encouraging people to be completely authentic in their dealings with us. Come as friends and help us to try make a difference to other people’s lives.
It’s little wonder then that at this point in time I find myself feeling such mixed emotions. You see this week marks my last with the Foundation ‘ after nearly six years I finish here this Thursday ‘ but I could not let that moment pass without saying thank you.
To say it has been one heck of a ride is an understatement. It certainly hasn’t always been easy ‘ and I would not recommend it as a cushy job ‘ but I can say it is without a doubt one of the most satisfying experiences of my life and I consider it a privilege to have had this opportunity.
From here I have no doubt that this amazing team and organisation will continue to strive towards our ultimate goal of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse for every family in Australia experiencing breast cancer and for a generation of Australians that have age appropriate breast awareness. From my perspective my move just means I will be cheering from the side line rather than leading the charge.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity and thank you for restoring my faith in society. You have proven to me that together, we really can make a difference.