As we approach our 20th anniversary in 2018, we are looking back over our history and at the origins of our organisation.
In the very first edition of The Beacon published in the summer of 1997/1998, our founder Lyn Swinburne wrote of the need for a national voice for those affected by breast cancer.
For our network and our voice to be truly national, she implored readers from all around Australia to share their experiences and raise the issues that affected them.
Her message remains at the heart of BCNA today and is reflected in the theme for this issue of The Beacon – your voice matters.
Before BCNA, breast cancer was not often talked about publicly. It was discussed in whispers, and many women spoke of a feeling of shame at diagnosis.
We have come a long way since then, and the voices of our members have led to many of our proudest achievements.
From highlighting an issue that had been overlooked or ignored to humanising a common experience or unmet need, our members have been able to bring about change by raising their voices.
By speaking up and sharing your story, you help us to understand your experiences so we can provide better support and more information and ensure our advocacy work focuses on the issues that most affect you.
Thank you to everyone who has had their voice heard by participating in our Member Survey – your feedback is greatly appreciated. More than 8,000 people have completed the survey to date. Anyone diagnosed with breast cancer is encouraged to take part. The survey will close on 30 June. Visit bcna.org.au/membersurvey.
In the last edition of The Beacon, we introduced our exciting new State of the Nation project. As well as showing how far we’ve come in the past 20 years, this project is helping us to see where the gaps in treatment and care are and who is missing out.
From connection to support services after a diagnosis, to reconstruction waiting times and access to lymphoedema services, our State of the Nation work has already identified areas where we can help. This has highlighted to me how important it is to provide a platform for women and men to share their experiences and concerns.
Our advocacy work isn’t just about achieving a better journey for Australians diagnosed with breast cancer in the future, nor is it just focused on large-scale issues. Over the years we’ve raised many concerns. They aren’t all necessarily issues of great science, discovery or clinical understanding, but they are real issues, faced by real women and men.
As a person-centred organisation, we value every one of our more than 120,000 members. We speak out on behalf of individuals and press for immediate improvements for communities. We want all of you to receive the very best support, information, treatment and care.
If you don’t raise your issues, they won’t be heard by those with the power and influence to bring about improvements.
As Lyn said in our first issue all those years ago – use your voice!
Chief Executive Officer