How we help

The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition provides a voice for New Zealand women who have experienced breast cancer.

We strive to make world-class detection, treatment and care accessible to all those affected by breast cancer in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

We provide information, support and representation, empowering those with breast cancer to make informed choices about their treatment and care

Our key aims are to:

  • Inform: by providing evidence-based information for women and their families to help them make decisions about treatment and care
  • Support: newly diagnosed women by giving them our Step by Step resource pack to help them through the early stages of diagnosis   
  • Represent:  the views of women with breast cancer to decision-makers to ensure world-class treatment and care is available in New Zealand
  • Promote: the practice of breast awareness and the free breast screening programme for 45 to 69-year-olds to ensure breast cancer is diagnosed and treated early
  • Improve: breast cancer outcomes for Maori and Pacific women
  • Network: to ensure communication and sharing of resources and information among New Zealand’s breast cancer-related groups.

You can read our 2016 Annual Report here.

Some of our recent work includes:

  • Making a submission to PHARMAC in November applauding their decision to fund pertuzumab for HER2+ metastatic breast cancer patients. However, there are some aspects of the proposed Special Authority criteria for access to pertuzumab that we have serious concerns about.
  • Early in 2016 BCAC made a joint submission with the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists to suggest that the Faculty amend its position that Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy (IORT) is not supported by sufficient evidence to form a view.
  • Developing an email campaign asking the Minister of Health to provide better access to cancer medicines. Sign our letter to the Minister here.
  • Creating a series of videos of women and men talking about their experiences living with advanced breast cancer. View the videos here.
  • Committee members have participated in NZ Breast Cancer Special Interest Group meetings and the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group conference.
  • Delivered Step by Step support packs free of charge to 1200 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand.

2015

You can read our 2015 Annual Report here.

  • Delivered Step by Step support packs free of charge to 1400 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand.
  • In March 2015, BCAC met with Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman, Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne and Labour Health spokesperson, Annette King. We highlighted the need for improved access to breast cancer medicines, ensuring the Breast Cancer Standards are implemented, better access to clinical trials, the ability to review the safety and ethical status of clinical trials and the timely introduction of intra-operative radiotherapy.

2014

  • Delivered Step by Step support packs free of charge to more than 1300 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand.
  • Appealed to the Minister of Health when a NZ cancer treatment centre was found to be refusing publicly funded medicines to patients who were accessing additional medicines in the private sector. The Minister commented that the DHBs involved were failing to meet their legal requirements and promised to resolve the issue.

  • Appealed to the National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) to establish effective mechanisms to review the safety and ethical status of clinical trials operating in New Zealand. BCAC also had input into a review of cross-sectoral ethics arrangements which is currently underway by NEAC.

  • Made submissions to PHARMAC to fund the breast cancer drugs Abraxane, Perjeta and Kadcyla.

  • Worked with Sovereign Insurance to improve policy conditions for women receiving breast reconstructions.

  • Lobbied the National Health Committee and the Royal Australian and NZ College of Radiologists to bring the Intrabeam radiotherapy technology into the pubic health system in New Zealand.

  • Submitted information to be included in the Ministry of Health Cancer Information Strategy document.

  • Participated in NZ Breast Cancer Special Interest Group meetings, the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group conference and the C4YW International Conference for Young Women with breast cancer. Attended and sponsored Shocking Pink to attend BCNA’s breast cancer science and advocacy training course in Melbourne.
  • You can read our 2014 Annual Report here.

2013

  • Delivered the Step by Step support and information pack free-of-charge to more than 1000 New Zealand women newly diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Reviewed and edited Step by Step content following consultation with medical professionals, BCAC member groups and others in the breast cancer sector with a view to printing a further 5,000 copies of this valuable resource
  • Provided up-to-date information on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, along with the latest research results and news on the BCAC web-site and Facebook page
  • Participated in web videos produced by Medicines New Zealand to further the understanding of medicines funding and patient support
  • Appealed to the Health and Disability Ethic’s Committee (Northern B) for a review of the SOLD clinical trial on the grounds that it puts New Zealand women with breast cancer involved at unnecessary risk
  • Worked on behalf of women with breast cancer who experienced trouble negotiating the health system to ensure their needs were met and that they received appropriate treatment.
  • Supported and facilitated the establishment of an advocacy group for New Zealand women with metastatic breast cancer
  • Established links with an Australian Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)support group in order to help better inform New Zealand women
  • Pushed for an expansion of the upper age limit for BreastScreen Aotearoa’s free screening programme from 69 to 75, as has occurred in Australia
  • Promoted the registration of two new breast cancer drugs, Perjeta® (Pertuzumab) and Kadcyla® (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) and provided in-formation on access programmes for both medicines
  • Supported the introduction of the Intrabeam technology to New Zealand, a one-dose radiation treatment for women with breast cancer
  • Participated in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; the NZ Breast Cancer Special Interest Group meetings; the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group conference; and the C4YW International Conference for Young Women with breast cancer
  • You can read BCAC's 2013 Annual Report here.

2012

  • Distributed Step by Step support and information packs to more than 1400 New Zealand women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. 
  • Carried out a survey of Step by Step users which showed that the resource was extremely well recieved.  Women described it as helpful, informative and practical.
  • BCAC chairperson Libby Burgess participated as a consumer/patient representative on the National Breast Cancer Tumour Stream Working Group to develop high-quality standards of care for breast cancer in New Zealand
  • Advocated for changes to PHARMAC’s operating policies and procedures in order to see more transparent decision making around medicines funding.
  • Made submissions to PHARMAC on the need to introduce the breast cancer drug lapatinib (Tykerb) as a second-line treatment for women with advanced HER2 Positive breast cancer
  • You can read BCAC's 2012 Annual Report here

2011

  •  Producing a series of web videos, Kiwi Stories of Breast Cancer, of men and women talking about their experiences of a breast cancer diasgnosis, treatment, care and life afterwards, and how they have coped with this challenging journey.
  • Creating and developing a new website to provide a comprehensive resource supplying detailed information about all aspects of breast cancer and the supports that are available.
  • Briefing the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, on issues faced by women with breast cancer, including the need for timely cancer treatment particularly chemotherapy and surgery; the shortage of medical oncologists to provide effective treatment for New Zealand cancer patients; and the need to regionally extend and fund the New Zealand Breast Cancer Registers to capture detailed data about breast cancer.
  • BCAC Committee member, Libby Burgess, was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to women’s health in the New Year’s Honours.
  • You can read BCAC's 2011  Annual Report here.

2010

  • Distributing Step by Step support packs to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Briefing the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, on issues faced by women with breast cancer, including long waiting times for chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment; inconsistencies in provision and care around the country; and increasing and retaining a high quality cancer workforce.
  • Meeting with the country's medicine's regulator, Medsafe, to clarify issues surrounding the bioequivalence of generic medicines.
  • Supporting the establishment of breast cancer support group, Wahine Toa, to specifically address the needs of Māori women diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Participation in the Breast Cancer Special Interest Group (BCSIG) of the NZ Association of Cancer Specialists as consumer representatives.
  • Making submissions to PHARMAC asking the medicines funder to extend access to the taxane docetaxel, and lapatinib, a targeted therapy for HER2 positive breast cancer.
  • Attendance at numerous conferences to extend knowledge of breast cancer treatment and care in order to advocate more effectively for world-class services in New Zealand.
  • Responding to consultations, to the ministerially appointed High Cost Medicines Panel and to PHARMAC on its Exceptional Circumstances funding.
  • BCAC Committee member, Dr Chris Walsh, was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to women’s health in the New Year’s Honours.

2009

  • Publishing more than 2500 Step by Step support packs and distributing them to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. 
  • Assisting with the creation of clinical guidelines for the management of early breast cancer to ensure all women in New Zealand get the very best treatment no matter where they live.
  • Meeting with the Health Minister, Hon Tony Ryall, to highlight the need for better breast cancer treatment and care.
  • Making a submission to PHARMAC to improve its consumer and consultation representation.
  • Helping to recruit women for various breast cancer clinical trials and research projects.

2008

  • Driving the Herceptin campaign which resulted in the Government funding a year-long treatment programme of the drug for women with HER2 Positive breast cancer.
  • Supporting the Herceptin Heroes as they undertook a Judicial Review to get Pharmac to fund a 12-month programme of Herceptin.
  • Making submissions to Glaxo SmithKline, Pharmac and the Government to make Lapatinip (Tykerb) available in New Zealand.
  • Working to ensure delayed breast reconstruction is available in a timely manner throughout the country.