As proud sponsors of the Melbourne Football Club, every few years Haymes Paint is fortunate enough to witness the MCG light up in pink for the Field of Women, an event supporting the Breast Cancer Network Australia.
In the lead up to the event, we have been fortunate enough to chat with Kate Gale, a breast cancer survivor who hails from Haymes’ hometown of Ballarat. Kate is an advocate, author, mother and hairdresser whose story has inspired thousands of breast cancer sufferers and survivors nationwide.
The Field of Women event at the MCG
Can you tell us a little bit about how you first found out about your diagnosis?
I was cutting a hairdressing clients hair and she informed me that she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The next morning I did a self-examination and I found the lump. I had never done a self-examination before, but this woman’s story gave me the push that I needed to do one.
Kate on the day she had her hair shaved
Being diagnosed with breast cancer must be an incredibly life-changing experience. How did your diagnosis change your life?
Breast Cancer turned my world upside down. Who thinks at the age of 27 they are going to hear the words “you have cancer?”. It has made me look at life in a different way.
We also got hit quite hard financially, but it made our family unit a lot tighter. Cancer has made us appreciate everything in life, from money to experiences. I am grateful I have travelled the cancer road, and proud!
Kate and daughters, Bree and Gemma
If you could give one piece of advice to someone going through a diagnosis, what would it be?
That’s a hard question. You need to trust your medical team and ask every question; no question is a silly question. Put one foot in front of the other and take one day at a time. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Like Haymes, you are also a Ballarat local. How did the community rally around you in the wake of your diagnosis and recovery?
My friends and especially my family were my biggest supporters. They organised cleaning of the house, through to babysitting and meal drops from the local cricket club.
I was also introduced to a local woman who was also a hairdresser with daughters. She took me along to a support group who met once a month for a meal and a chat. This group made me realise I could get through it.
What impact has the support of BCNA had on your breast cancer journey?
I wouldn’t have been as passionate about raising awareness of Breast Cancer if it wasn’t for BCNA. Attending conferences and workshops run by BCNA has not only opened my eyes to the options out there, but has given me the opportunity to meet some of my nearest and dearest lifelong friends. Having these people in my life has been the best support any person diagnosed with breast cancer could have!
Kate and friend Tracey at the BCNA Field of Women
What is your favourite part about the BCNA Field of Women activation?
I will always remember the first Field of Women I attended. To be able to stand on the MCG for starters was a huge thing for me, but to be doing it alongside all those other people dressed in a pink poncho and seeing all those pink lights as the lighting was dimmed is indescribable.
Do you have a favourite memory from the Field of Women?
Lyn Swinburne, the founder of BCNA, asked for everyone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer to raise two hands in the air. I raised mine with so much pride. As I looked up at the screen I couldn’t believe how many arms were in the air, but when I looked around my little area, I was the only one! The looks on people’s faces as they turned and looked at me is something I will never forget. I even had a random man come and hug me and say, “oh my god, you are so young!”. It was a moment that changed my life and I have loved sharing it with family and friends ever since. It isn’t something you think will get you emotionally, but it does!
As a passionate advocate for performing self-breast exams, what advice would you give to anyone reading this?
Whether you are young, old, male or female, it doesn’t matter. Listen to your body and ask questions. It’s not all about fundraising to me, it’s about making people aware that cancer can happen to anyone, and that there is help out there.
Kate and family at the BCNA Field of Women
This year the BCNA’s Field of Women will be held on the 12th August. This is a rare and special opportunity to stand on the iconic MCG in support of Australians affected by breast cancer. Anyone is welcome to participate, and for the first time this year children under 15 can participate for free.
To purchase your own ticket and support an incredible cause, visit the BCNA website.