Tightly holding my children’s hands and standing with thousands at the 2018 Field of Women, all together in a sea of pink, I couldn’t help but notice birds soaring overhead against the grey sky. It seemed so fitting to see this symbol of life and freedom.
All around me were tears, smiles, hugs, community spirit, togetherness and a whole lot of love. There was joy, there was solemnity.
Beforehand, as we waited to move onto the MCG, I heard a participant say, ‘I’m just so glad I can be here’. I think that was a common sentiment and certainly one I shared.
Thinking back on my breast cancer diagnosis in late 2015, when my children were aged 6 and 7, and my treatment, which included chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgeries, it all seems simultaneously vivid and recent as well as somewhat unreal and akin to a nightmare.
When the field participants were asked to raise both arms if they were a breast cancer survivor, I did so, reluctantly letting go of my children’s hands. As soon as I lowered my arms, I quickly grabbed their waiting hands as my tears began to flow. My strong façade broke and emotion took over.
My tears continued when the song ‘I’ll Stand by You’ began and my mind turned to all those who stood by me in my darkest hour – my husband and other family members, close friends and acquaintances who became new friends, and my medical team.
Throughout the event, it was clear this was an organisational feat to put together. It was a treasured and unforgettable moment to share with my children and thousands of strangers.
‘I was a bit emotional,’ said my now 9-year-old, still holding my hand, when we were sitting in the stand later. And then this, ‘You know how there were birds flying above us when we were standing on the ground? Well, were they randomly there or did the organisers make that happen?’
The question, which made me laugh, and the field event, were reminders of the preciousness and randomness of life.
If you are awaiting a diagnosis, newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment, finished active treatment or living with metastatic cancer, regardless of how much support you have, there may still be times you feel alone.
However, you are never truly alone as we are everywhere – we are in the next aisle at the supermarket, living nearby, in the same cafe, cinema and train … and we were decked out in pink at the Field of Women. If you listen closely, you will hear our roar.
To see more photos, visit flickr.com/photos/bcna.
BCNA would like to thank everyone who was a part of Field of Women – whether standing on the ground or watching on TV and Facebook Live.
Special thanks to Red Energy, the Victorian Government and the other organisations and people who made Field of Women 2018 possible.