United in colour, united in cause


Indian community comes together for Pink Ribbon Breakfast to raise awareness on breast cancer

Men in pink shorts, and a group of women from all age groups dressed in pink. A plethora of pink everywhere including props, umbrellas, photo frames and balloons. It was certainly a novel but welcoming sight at the breast cancer awareness fundraiser in November.

On Sunday, 13 November, members of the Indian community in Sydney met at the Parravilla Function Centre for a Pink Ribbon Breakfast as part of the Breast Cancer Awareness month. The aim was to raise the much-needed funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) which supports research for prevention and cure of breast cancer and to educate the public about the importance of the role of NBCF and garner more support for the pink ribbon campaign.

The event was organized by Rekha Rajvanshi and Sue Advani whose lives have been affected by cancer. The fundraising/aware raising event was also supported by Hon. Geoff Lee, the MP from Parramatta and Hon. Jodi McKay and Hon. Julia Finn, MPs from Strathfield and Granville respectively, both who looked gorgeous in their beautiful pink sarees. Gurdeep Singh, the Councilorfrom Hornsby Shire also supported this fundraiser.

According to NBCF, one in eight women will be diagnosed with this deadly disease in their lifetime and in Australia eight women die from breast cancer every day. Statistics show that 150 men were also diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Sydney based writer and poet Rekha Rajvanshi, a breast cancer survivor, said, “We need more men to join us in such important events so that they understand the sensitivity of this issue. Community should stand by each other and stay positive. Strong will power and positivity is the key to success.”

Rekha took up this initiative in 2010 and in 2012 was joined by Sue Advani and since then every year they have raised funds by hosting the Pink Ribbon Breakfast in October-November. The team is getting bigger and stronger as more women are joining in to support the cause.

During the event Rekha and Girija Subramaniam shared their experiences of cancer survival while Dr Chandrika Deshpande talked about her breast cancer research project with NBCF and the important findings. Meenakshi Chopra from Pink Saree Project spoke about the importance of mammograms and early detection and Dr Usha Salagame spoke about her research findings and emphasised the importance of a healthy life style and regular exercise. Sue Advani advised women to be ‘selfish’ by giving their own health the highest priority. She said, “Don’t neglect early symptoms as early detection is very important for swift recovery. If we are well, we are able to look after our family better. Cancer affects the whole family not just the individual.”

This year Kamal Athwal of Paravilla Function Centre provided the venue. The well organised event had something for everyone. Two talented local singers Meena Mohanty Kumar (a cancer survivor) and Dipankar entertained the attendees with some melodious songs. There was a game of Bingo and the raffle prizes were sponsored and organised by Punam Wahan, Kamini Sahni, Bharti Gidwani and Rashmi Bhagwat.


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