Who are we

BCAC is administered by a committee of women, most of whom have had breast cancer. Their experience of breast cancer has motivated them to dedicate themselves to improving the care and treatment other newly diagnosed women receive.

Our committee members are:

Libby Burgess - Chair 

Libby Burgess is the Chair of BCAC and was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 41 years old. Libby was a member of the Guideline Advisory Team that developed evidence-based clinical best practice guidelines for early breast cancer in New Zealand. She provides a consumer perspective through membership of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Special Interest Group and the National Breast Cancer Tumour Stream Working Group which has developed the 'Standards of Service Provision for Breast Cancer Patients in NZ' guidelines. Libby has actively campaigned on a range of breast cancer issues including the need for fully funded access to Herceptin and other breast cancer medicines, provision of breast reconstruction and timely access to radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. Libby is a scientist based in Auckand. 

Libby was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2011 New Year's Honours list for services to women's health.

Emma Crowley - Deputy Chair

Emma works for an employment law firm in downtown Auckland. She was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer in 2012 at age 24. Emma wants to see all breast cancer patients in New Zealand have access to the best quality care and medicines available globally. She is also interested in health policy and the law surrounding this.

Fay Sowerby - Secretary

Fay joined BCAC in 2015 because she sees an ongoing need to improve: outcomes for Maori and Pasifika women, access to medicines and medical devices and clinical trials for breast cancer patients in New Zealand. Today Fay is a Board Member of Breast Cancer Cure (2009-Present) and a member of the Health Research Council Breast Cancer Research Partnership Assessment Committee (2013-Present). Fay sought appointment to the Breast Cancer Cure (formerly Breast Cancer Research Trust) Board to ensure funding for ongoing research to improve early detection, predictive and prognostic diagnosis with the discovery and development of new targeted treatments and prevention. Breast Cancer Cure has funded over $10M of research more recently through the New Zealand Health Research Council Cancer Research Partnership.   

In 2013 Fay was diagnosed with breast cancer and her focus sharpened and become more personal.

Early in her career she was a business and change strategist with KPMG and KPMG Consulting for 20 years. She managed her own consultancy from 2005-12 and for 7 years was a Crown Owned Entity board member. Fay and her husband Warren have two adult daughters, and four grandchildren. She seeks to retain a balanced lifestyle while supporting family and improving outcomes for New Zealand women.

Louise Malone - Treasurer 

Dr Louise Malone is BCAC's treasurer. Whilst she has not had breast cancer herself, Louise has many close friends who are survivors. She is motivated by a desire to help ensure that New Zealand women receive world-class, scientifically-supported treatment for breast cancer, and a wish that the voices of those with cancer be heard and taken seriously by decision-makers. Louise is a retired scientist with more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in the field of agricultural entomology.


Rowena Mortimer

Rowena was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She lives in Coatesville with her husband Barry and has two children studying at Otago University. Rowena is a partner in the law firm Lewis Callanan based in Browns Bay, Auckland and firmly believes that cancer patients deserve a better deal than they are receiving at the moment. Her aim is to advocate on behalf of breast cancer and all cancer patients to improve all aspects of their care. In her spare time she walks, watches dressage, thinks about taking up squash and loves to travel.

Nic Russell

Nic Russell’s story is extraordinary and inspirational. In 2005 her daughter Kenzie was diagnosed with cancer and just months later Nic herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tragically Kenzie died but Nic is a survivor and more. She is now a graduate, motivational speaker and marathon runner, ocean swimmer, triathlete and adventure racer. Nik participated in the campaign to have Herceptin funded and established a charity in Kenzie’s memory, Kenzie’s Gift, which provides support for children and families living with serious illness. More recently she created the Hope Emerges photographic project which aims to change the conversation around mastectomies and breast reconstruction. Visit Kenzie’s Gift at http://www.kenziesgift.com/ or Hope Emerges at http://www.hopeemerges.co.nz/



Gillian Wintrup

Gillian Wintrup lives in Tokoroa with her black Labrador, Lochie and is a member of the Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust. As a researcher and young woman who has had breast cancer (she was diagnosed at 35) she is determined to find better ways to help young women experiencing the disease. She has also participated in Look Good Feel Better, Encore and Pink Pilates and felt she needed to give something back to the community. Gillian works as a programme researcher for FITEC, the Forest and Wood industry training organisation which creates the qualifications for workers in these industries.

Melissa Bell

Melissa lives in Dunedin with her husband and two sons. She is very involved in education and is currently Principal of St Hilda’s Collegiate School. Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer early in 2013 at the age of 40. She is greatly appreciative of the tremendous support received from her local community, including her own students who organised a high profile ‘Positively Pink’ campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women while raising funds for breast cancer research. Melissa has participated in Pink Pilates, Look Good Feel Better workshops and is a strong advocate for the importance of exercise both during cancer treatment and afterwards. As her cancer is HER2+ she will always be hugely grateful for those who campaigned for fully funded access to Herceptin. Melissa is a founding member of ‘Cool Girls Go Running’, a social running group who also have been a key support group for her during her treatment.

Greer Davis

Greer was 25 when she was diagnosed with ER+/PR-/HER2- breast cancer in 2012. Through her unexpected experiences as a young woman dealing with treatment decisions, surgery, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery, she became very interested in how young women’s experiences of breast cancer can be improved in New Zealand, and was determined to make something positive out of her experience. In 2013, with assistance from BCAC Greer attended a conference in the USA specifically for young women with breast cancer (C4YW 2013). She was impressed and envious with the resources and support that young women with breast cancer receive in the US and is keen to see what can be done in New Zealand.

Lynda Ames

Lynda lives in Auckland and was 38 years old when first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990. After radiotherapy, mastectomy and chemotherapy Lynda enjoyed good health and continued to work and travel with her husband, Richard. Unfortunately in 2008 her cancer returned. Although Lynda accepted everything conventional medicine had to offer she also looked into how complementary medicine could help her. Lynda and Richard then attended the Life and Living retreat at The Gawler Foundation where Lynda learned how to help herself and play an active role in her own healing. Lynda’s cancer is HER2+ and she has to thank BCAC and supporters for campaigning to get Herceptin fully funded. Lynda is currently a volunteer at The Ambury Park Centre – Riding Therapy for disabled children.

Ros Day-Cleavin

Ros lives in Dunedin with her husband Chaim and two children Marguerita and Maxwell. Ros was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and underwent the full range of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and endocrine treatments. Ros has worked in tertiary education at the University of Otago for the past nine years and will soon return to work as a consultant in the field of resource management and environmental planning. She joined BCAC in 2017 to contribute to advocacy work on behalf of all those who experience breast cancer in New Zealand. She also provides a consumer perspective through her role on the consumer advisory panel of Clinical Trials NZ.

Irene Kereama-Royal

Irene is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Raukawa, Tūwharetoa and Parehauraki descent. Diagnosed in 2015 and again in 2016 with HER2+ breast cancer and losing her son to cancer in 2011, Irene has an avid interest in advocating the removal of barriers and improving access to the latest research in breast cancer diagnosis, treatments and reconstruction options for Māori, Pacifica and rural women. Irene is also a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s expert panel on gene editing technologies with specific interest in the development of gene editing for breast cancer treatments. In her spare time, Irene is the matriarch of three adult children, nine mokopuna and an energetic teenager. She is currently enjoying rehabilitation provided by the Pinc & Steel Programs whilst on leave from her job as Māori Research Manager at Unitec in Auckland.