The Pink Caravan starts its national tour tomorrow, Tuesday September 8, wending its way from Whangarei to Balclutha on its mission to provide breast health information to women in New Zealand’s smaller towns and provincial centres.
Two breastcare nurses will be on board the retro-styled NZ Breast Cancer Foundation-owned caravan. Their job is to answer questions about breast cancer and advise women about how to be breast aware, lowering their risk, and how to get help if they have any worries. Past experience suggests family history, mammograms and breast cancer symptoms will be popular topics.
The 32 towns on the 2015 itinerary are different from the destinations visited during last year’s inaugural tour. Some, like Whanganui and Whakatane, asked the caravan to visit after hearing about its work in nearby towns last year. Others were chosen because they lack specialist breast health resources.
The Pink Caravan will attend two A&P shows (Hawke’s Bay and Christchurch) and will travel as far south as Baclutha, before finishing its tour in Mosgiel on November 26. (See the complete itinerary below)
“Thousands of women visited the Pink Caravan to talk to our nurses last year, so we know there’s a real need for this kind of personal and unintimidating opportunity to ask important health questions,” said Evangelia Henderson, chief executive at the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. “We also received reports of women being diagnosed with breast cancer after being encouraged by our nurses to have a mammogram or see their doctor – we’re so grateful to have the opportunity to help women in our smaller towns.”
Visitors to the caravan can check out models of breasts – female and male – to feel what a breast lump is like, and can see photos of some of the less common signs of breast cancer. The NZBCF is also asking locals to visit the caravan to sign its petition, asking the government to extend free mammogram screening to age 74, up from the current limit of 69. New Zealand lags behind countries like Australia and Britain in this area, and a woman’s breast cancer risk is higher in her 70s than it was at 50.
The NZBCF Pink Caravan is grateful for the support of the many volunteers involved in the project. Local community groups help spread the news of its visit to each town, and members of the NZ Motor Caravan Association have volunteered to tow it on the many legs of its journey. Many of the MCA members have a connection to breast cancer, like the two West Coast sisters who’ve both had breast cancer, but others just have a deep appreciation of the cause and the job the Pink Caravan is doing.
“It’s like a giant relay, powered by goodwill and tow-bars!” said Mrs Henderson. “Our nurses had a wonderful time in the Caravan last year, and they can’t wait to get on the road again.”
About the NZBCF:
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that depends on donations and fundraising for its work in breast cancer education and awareness, medical research and training grants, advocacy, and supporting women with breast cancer. The NZBCF’s programmes are evidence-based, overseen by its medical advisory committee. The pink ribbon symbol is a trademark of the NZBCF in New Zealand.