Celebrating a year of achievements in 2019

Among our key milestones of 2019, we achieved funding for new medicines, produced an updated Step by Step support pack, and continued our wide-ranging work to ensure world-class detection, treatment and care for women with breast cancer.

It was fabulous to see so many smiling faces at our AGM in Auckland on 3 December. Members and guests gathered to celebrate the successes of the past year and look ahead to priorities for 2020.

Libby Burgess was re-elected as Chair and all other committee positions remain the same. Libby gave a stirring presentation about impact of BCAC’s work, the fact that we put love into everything we do and our commitment to continuing to ensure world-class detection, treatment and care for women with breast cancer.

Click here to see Libby's AGM presentation

Libby emphasised that 2020 is election year, a prime time to continue strongly advocating for positive change to improve the lives of the 3,300 women diagnosed with breast cancer in NZ each year.

In Libby’s presentation, she outlined key achievements of 2019 including the wonderful news that three medicines for advanced breast cancer are to be funded – trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), fulvestrant (Faslodex ) and a CDK 4/6 inhibitor – palbociclib (Ibrance) or ribociclib (Kisqali), which will be provided first and second line. This followed advocacy by Metavivors, BCAC and supporters.

Guest speaker: Malcolm Mulholland

Our guest speaker was Malcolm Mulholland, Chair of advocacy group Patient Voice Aotearoa (PVA).  Malcolm is the husband of Metavivor Wiki Mulholland. Both were pivotal in marches to Parliament, along with Metavivors, BCAC and supporters, that led to funding of the key medicines for advanced breast cancer.

PVA is a coalition of groups spanning multiple diseases and BCAC is an active member. PVA has a vital petition underway, calling for doubling then tripling the medicines budget and for a review of PHRAMAC.

We fully support the petition and encourage you to sign and share it. Here is the link: www.sign4life.nz

Malcolm gave a poignant and insightful speech at our AGM. He explained he became involved in health advocacy after Wiki was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. He said that before then he hadn’t known much about cancer and had assumed that if you were sick, you would be treated.

He soon learned that the health system was seriously broken. Of 36 OECD countries only Mexico spends less per capita on medicines than NZ, and there are more than 100 medicines on the PHARMAC waiting list.

This inspired Malcolm to became involved in PVA and he discovered how much need there was for much greater medicines funding and medicines approvals across multiple diseases.

Chair’s presentation: Libby Burgess

At the AGM, Libby congratulated Malcolm and Metavivors for their pivotal role in raising the profile of women with advanced breast cancer throughout NZ. The women took part in many media interviews over the year, explaining their experience and needs, and built awareness of how important it is for people’s right to life to be respected.

In her presentation, Libby gave our supporters, funders, donors and fundraisers a heartfelt thanks. Without this help we would not be able to provide our free services and resources that improve the lives of women with breast cancer throughout New Zealand.

Other key achievements were outlined including:

  • BCAC Deputy Chair Emma Crowley presenting a petition on behalf of BCAC to Parliament calling for increase funding so all ABC medicines recommended by ESMO can be funded.
  • creating new 4th edition of our support pack, Step by Step, for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Around 1,400 packs were delivered throughout the year.

Libby outlined priorities for 2020 which include:

  • reviewing the performance of the new Cancer Control Agency and development of the proposed Cancer Action Plan 2019-2029.
  • continuing work on reducing inequities in detection, treatment and care for Māori and Pasifika women with breast cancer. This will include ongoing liaison with DHBs and the Ministry of Health.
  • briefing and interacting with the Minister of Health, politicians, Cancer Control Agency, MoH, BSA, PHARMAC etc
  • working with PHARMAC & pharmaceutical companies to secure funding for new medicines
  • listening to those diagnosed and working to achieve best outcomes through communication, collaboration and representation.


- 3 December 2019


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