BCAC is mourning the passing of its former Treasurer, Sue Guthrie, who recently lost her battle with breast cancer.

Sue was only 47 when she died on November 11 2009, but she lived with courage, serenity and dignity to the end.

Says BCAC chairperson, Libby Burgess, “Sue was an inspiration to all who knew her for the way she lived her life and the way she faced her death.

“She was committed to making a positive difference for all those who faced breast cancer and maintained this passion and dedication even as her own health worsened.”

Sue’s friend Megan Halbert says Sue was a strong and intelligent advocate, whose loving compassion shone through as she reached out to help others facing breast cancer.

Sue worked in health information management for the Auckland District Health Board. She had been diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 1990 and recovered, before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.

Sue joined BCAC in 2006 and quickly made her mark, as she steered the fledgling organisation through some fairly rough financial straits.

Her calm, no-nonsense demeanour helped BCAC to grow and thrive, and enabled the organisation to make a real difference to the treatment of women with breast cancer in this country.

Sue played another key role for BCAC, as the sole New Zealand representative on the Consumer Advisory Panel of the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group.

Says Libby, “Sue’s medical knowledge, her intelligence and her ability to get on with everyone enabled her to make a fine job of this challenging role. She helped to bring a patient perspective to the design of clinical trials. This is a hugely important contribution to breast cancer medical research and will surely make a difference to women’s lives in the future.”

Sadly, Libby says, this experience also taught Sue that we in New Zealand have poorer access to medicines than those in Australia and many other countries. Sue learnt that this contributes to the fact that New Zealanders are more likely to die of a breast cancer diagnosis than if we were diagnosed in Australia.

“Sue had an aggressive form of breast cancer and we’ll never know whether having the best treatments could have saved her life, but she knew that our system failed to provide her with the most effective medicines that are the norm in other developed countries.

“This was a big motivator for Sue in her involvement with BCAC and our efforts to establish world-class treatment for our precious women. We’re making some headway but we’re not there yet,” says Libby.

Sue truly had a remarkable gift for making friends and many spoke in tribute to her at her funeral, remembering her beautiful singing voice, her wonderful sense of humour, her courage and dignity, and her compassion and care for others.

Here at BCAC, we’ll remember all of Sue’s wonderful attributes and honour her life by continuing to fight for access to the most effective breast cancer treatments for New Zealand women.