BCAC this week celebrates the passion and commitment of committee member Jenny Williams who worked tirelessly to raise awareness of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

Jenny died last week, four years after being diagnosed with IBC, and after the cancer had spread to her liver.

Her legacy, however, lives on.  She was so determined to make New Zealanders more aware of this rare and aggressive type of breast cancer that she helped to set up IBC Australasia.

The organisation aims to help women identify the unique symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer, which does not appear as a lump like most other breast cancers.

The symptoms of IBC can develop quickly and include:

  •        a red or rash-like tone to the breast
  •         a swollen or inflamed breast
  •         a warm and tender or painful breast
  •         dimpled or pitted skin on the breast
  •         an itchy breast
  •         an inverted nipple.

IBC is often misdiagnosed as mastitis or a breast infection because the symptoms are very similar to these disorders.

Treatment for IBC is different to many other breast cancers because the patient usually has chemotherapy before surgery.  This is because there is usually no tangible lump to remove.  Surgery often follows if the cancer has responded well to chemotherapy.

For more information about IBC see the website Jenny helped create, read this information sheet on inflammatory breast cancer or view BCAC’s web videos in which Jenny talks about her experience of IBC.

BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says Jenny’s passion to educate and inform others is an inspiration. 

“Jenny was incredibly courageous in facing her advanced disease and motivated to the very end of her life to improve the journey and outcome for others with breast cancer.

“She was a shining light for us all and her inspirational example will live on for all of us.  She gave so much to BCAC during her time on the committee.  The web videos will be a lasting resource and reminder of the positive way in which she faced her challenges.”

If you'd like to leave a message of support for Jenny's friends or family or to express your thanks for Jenny's life and contribution, visit her Facebook page or her Twitter page.