It’s been 2 years since our vibrant Purple Bra Day Ambassador, Kate, underwent surgery and treatment for breast cancer. A passionate fundraising powerhouse, Kate hopes to bring fun and excitement to this year’s event and help to raise as much as possible for a charity that’s close to her heart. Her message? ‘You’ve got to get your boobs checked, girls!’
The incredibly fit mum of two was running ultramarathons just three weeks before her cancer was diagnosed. ‘I would never have suspected it,’ she says. ‘There was no lump – nothing at all – and I had a breast full of cancer. How could I have been so fit and so healthy, and not have even known?’
Spreading the word comes as second nature for Kate. Although she admits it was difficult at the time, she bravely shared her story on her Facebook page – and still has people coming up to thank her, explaining that it was the catalyst for having their breast check, pap smear, prostate examination or bowel check.
Max Clarke, CEO, Breast Cancer Care WA & Kate, our 2023 IGA Purple Bra Day Ambassador
Kate first participated in Purple Bra Day in the midst of her cancer treatment in 2021, raising a whopping $13,177. She had only recently connected with Breast Cancer Care WA, but was touched by the support she had received and wanted to give back.
‘I love community things,’ explains Kate, ‘and I love fundraising. And I just thought it’s a great opportunity to give back.’
‘As it turned out, my third round of chemo was on Purple Bra Day. I remember it was the kids’ dress-up day at school as well. Our youngest son wore a full purple outfit,’ she says. ‘And I still remember walking him to school, which was really special.’
Kate was overwhelmed with donations, not only from her friends and the school community, but people she’d just met or helped by sharing her story.
This Purple Bra Day, Kate also hopes to raise awareness about what it’s like to be a breast cancer survivor.
She runs her own successful home styling and organising business and has plunged back in 5 days a week, aiming to get her life back to where it feels as normal as possible. She’s stopped drinking alcohol, her hair has grown back and a recent scan of both breasts came back clear. But while she’s grateful to get out of bed everyday, life is far from easy.
‘While on the outside I’m very happy, but I’m in pain every day,’ she explains. ‘I’m still very active, but I’ve lost a lot of the feeling in the left side of my body. I can’t do the things I used to do, such as lifting things with my left arm.’
‘Looking back, the surgery and the chemotherapy were actually easy. It’s what you’re now left with and what you’ve got to deal with afterwards,’ she says. ‘I’m a very happy, glass-half-full person, but I do struggle day to day with the side effects of the chemotherapy, my medication, and the pain from my surgeries.’
‘Your life is not quite the same as it was before. The journey doesn’t stop after your chemotherapy, or your surgery. I think the hard part is that on the outside you look OK, but on the inside it’s a different story.’
When it all gets too much, Kate still reaches out to her BCCWA counsellor, Aileen, for support. They were first connected in 2021 when Kate was having chemotherapy, and when COVID hit their counselling sessions continued over the phone. She also joined a support group, and enjoyed meeting other women who were in different stages of treatment and recovery. ‘It was really lovely to know that I wasn’t alone,’ she says.
‘Aside from your family and friends, there is support out there. There are other women that are going through what you’re going through, and I think that helps. Because as beautiful as your friends are, they just don’t get it exactly what you are going through unless they’ve had an experience like that.’