Watch Kiwis tell their breast cancer stories online now!
The shock of a new diagnosis; the challenge of treatment; and the relief of survival make for powerful viewing in a new series of web videos exploring Kiwi experiences of breast cancer.
Kiwi Stories of Breast Cancer has been produced by the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) and features 15 women and men talking candidly about diagnosis, treatment and recovery from breast cancer. You can view their stories here.
BCAC deputy chair, Dr. Chris Walsh, says the web videos are a first - giving New Zealanders the opportunity to see and hear the breast cancer stories of fellow Kiwis at the click of a mouse.
"The stories of these courageous New Zealanders are compelling, emotional and informative. They will touch people, whether they have breast cancer or not, and we hope they will inspire others to face a breast cancer diagnosis with determination and the knowledge that they are not alone."
One of the women featured in the web videos is Rotorua beauty consultant, Lisa Beamsley, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 38 and her son was only 3. She had a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
She tells of her determination to survive breast cancer to be there for the child she fought for so long to have and of the sisterly bond that helped her through treatment and into recovery.
"I wanted to be involved in the web videos because I fought hard and I'm proud of myself for beating breast cancer. I wanted to share that with others to help and inspire them because when you're diagnosed with breast cancer there's nothing like hearing from someone who has 'walked the walk' - it can really encourage and motivate you."
Also featuring is Waikato mother of three, Raewyn Calvert, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 48. She had a full mastectomy, chemotherapy and delayed breast reconstruction.
The Cambridge woman says she hopes the videos will help to demystify breast cancer and encourage others to face a diagnosis with courage and hope.
"I was very keen to be involved because when you're first diagnosed you can feel very isolated and afraid. But when you see and hear someone else speak about their breast cancer, you realise that they have dealt with the same things as you and it's not so scary anymore because you see those who have survived and moved on - that's very encouraging."
Each year in New Zealand, around 2,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and Mrs Calvert says the web videos help to show the 'human face' behind this statistic.
New Zealanders of different ethnicities, genders, ages, backgrounds and with different types of breast cancer feature in Kiwi Stories of Breast Cancer.
Dr. Walsh says, "By presenting a wide range of breast cancer experiences we hope to provide information and support to newly diagnosed women and their families no matter what they're facing. Now, wherever you are in New Zealand, you can hear how fellow Kiwis have coped with this disease and come through it with a renewed passion for life."
The short videos each focus on a different aspect of the breast cancer experience from diagnosis, to surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and breast reconstruction. The participants relay their experience of these treatments and provide tips on coping and how to adjust to life after breast cancer.
As well as those diagnosed with the disease, Kiwi Stories of Breast Cancer also features the partners, siblings and children of those diagnosed; and medical professionals talking about the intricacies of treatment.
The web videos were produced by BCAC as part of its ongoing commitment to provide support and information to New Zealanders with breast cancer.
For more information and to view the Kiwi Stories of Breast Cancer, visit the web video page on our website.