Meet the Breast Care Nurse who started a movement
Alison Szwajcer, Jane McGrath’s breast care nurse, will be at the SCG today as Australia pays tribute to Jane McGrath at the Vodafone Pink Test for Jane McGrath Day.
One of Australia’s first breast care nurses, Alison was there to support Jane when she was re-diagnosed with breast cancer, allowing Jane to see firsthand the incredible difference it made to have access to a breast care nurse like Alison.
It was Alison’s support that led Jane to believe every breast cancer patient should have access to this specialised care and support no matter where they live and for free, helping to focus the mission for the McGrath Foundation which now funds 154 McGrath Breast Care Nurses.
Now a Metastatic McGrath Breast Care Nurse at St George Hospital, Alison believes Jane understood how breast care nurses could be incredibly beneficial to other families going through breast cancer.
“Jane found it helpful to have someone she could call, to ask questions, get clarification or even just to speak to if she was just having a down day. Having not had access to a breast care nurse when first diagnosed, I think she believed everyone going through breast cancer should receive this kind of support.
“To know that the McGrath Foundation came about because of the experience Jane had with myself and my colleague, Rosemary, is sometimes quite difficult to comprehend. We can see such a huge benefit for everyone diagnosed with breast cancer throughout Australia and I’m very humbled to have been a small part of it.
McGrath Foundation Co-Founder and President, Glenn McGrath, said Alison had a huge impact on his family.
“When we first met Alison, we couldn’t have imagined the difference her support would make to Jane, but also our entire family.
“We’re just one of the many thousands of families who have been touched by breast cancer, but to think all of this started because of our experience with Alison is truly incredible,” said Glenn.
McGrath Foundation Ambassador and Director, Tracy Bevan, said Jane McGrath Day is an important way to recognise how one person could spark change.
“Today we recognise my best friend Jane’s legacy, but also the work of our McGrath Breast Care Nurses, like Alison, who go to work each day trying to make a patient’s breast cancer experience that little bit easier.
“In their own way, both Jane and Alison were committed to ensuring the best support and care for those going through breast cancer.
“Every year, I say how Jane would be gobsmacked by the sea of pink at the SCG on Jane McGrath Day. But this year, she would be completely overwhelmed by how Australia has got behind our virtual Pink Seat campaign.
“So if you’d like to show your support for the 55 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer every day, buy your virtual Pink Seats from pinktest.com.au,” said Tracy.