Breast cancer is now one the most frequent cancers diagnosed across the globe. Treatments have improved significantly, where you no longer have to follow a straight pattern, and psychosocial and supportive care now plays a larger role in caring for patients with breast cancer.
One such organization is the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer support and education charity based in Australia, which raises money to place McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities across Australia and increase breast health awareness.
Founded in year 2005, by Glenn McGrath, the famous Australian cricketer and his wife Jane, after her struggles with breast cancer. It has grown into one of Australia’s most well-known and respected organizations. The McGrath Foundation’s origins are straightforward – yet well-known.
The mission of this foundation was based on Jane’s experience with her nurses during the time of her diagnosis. Jane’s cancer reappeared many years after her original diagnosis. This time, she had a breast care nurse who empowered and soothed her as well as the rest of the family. This encounter inspired the Foundation’s purpose, which has evolved into an ongoing commitment to help thousands of women and men every day, no matter where they reside – for free.
The foundation has experienced nurses that are there to assist you from the moment of diagnosis until the end of therapy. While almost 95,000 families have been assisted since 2005, more nurses are required to address Australia’s increasing prevalence of breast cancer diagnosis.
In 2008, the Australian Government pledged $12.6 million to the McGrath Foundation to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses in 44 communities through to June 2013. This commitment was furthered in 2013 with the announcement of an $18.5 million grant to continue funding 44 existing McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities nationwide as well as the placement of up to an additional 10 full-time equivalent McGrath Breast Care Nurse positions. This was extended for a further four years, in November 2016, confirming the positions of 57 Government-funded McGrath Breast Care Nurses until 2021.
Another mission of the McGrath Foundation was to promote breast education among Australians. McGrath Foundation has also developed a program, making sure that everyone in Australia is aware of breast cancer and how important it is to know about their breast health. They also made sure that people in Australia should be confident in detecting changes, should be knowledgeable about the risk factors for breast cancer, and are checking their breasts regularly.
According to the Foundation, the program “aims to empower young women, in particular, to look after and know their bodies, and to take action that promotes their health and wellbeing”. It includes resources for schools, the workplace, and the community with workbooks, presentations, and videos available for free download from the McGrath Foundation website.
The McGrath Foundation even spearheaded the development of the McGrath Model of Care, which aims to improve and standardize supportive care nursing practice and provide best-practice care to patients across Australia.
In Australia, the McGrath Model of Care for Breast Care Nursing provides a framework for delivering best quality supportive care nursing. The McGrath Model of Care defines and coordinates the delivery of breast care nursing across the continuum of care for all individuals with early or metastatic breast cancer. From diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation, and follow-up, as well as the transition to wellness or palliative care.
Beginning October 1st, the McGrath Foundation will encourage everyone to follow this easy routine established by its McGrath Breast Care Nurses and to repeat it once a month. During the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the McGrath Foundation aims to remind Australian women that they are in charge of their own breast health and encourages them to use this opportunity to learn the easy three-step strategy to breast checking, ‘Look, Feel, Learn.’
Getting to know your breasts so you know what’s typical for you is an important part of knowing breast health. Look for lumps, discomfort, skin thickening, redness, inverted nipples, dimples, skin blisters, and nipple crust or discharge. The more you study your breasts, the more you will understand about them and the simpler it will be to detect changes.
- Look – in the mirror, with your hands at your sides, at the shape and look of your breasts and nipples. Raise your arms over your head for a second look.
- Feel – all of your breasts and nipples, seeking for anything out of the ordinary. Feel from your collarbone to below your bra-line, as well as beneath your armpit.
- Learn – what is typical for you! Breasts vary in a variety of forms and sizes, so learn to know yours. If you detect any changes, see your doctor.
Examine yourself a few days after your menstruation has ended, when your breasts are less likely to be swollen and painful. If you no longer have periods, pick a day that is simple to remember, such as the first or final day of the month.
The McGrath Foundation also hosts a variety of events and community fundraising initiatives each year to support its vision as well as to spread awareness. A few such fundraising events are:
- Sydney Pink Test– In honor of Jane McGrath, McGrath Foundation holds as Sydney Pink Test each January. The Sydney Cricket Ground turns into a sea of pink on day three.
- Pink Stumps Day– Pink Stumps Day allows people to bring the spirit of the Pink Test into their community by providing clubs, businesses, and schools the opportunity to show off their cricket skills and fundraise for the McGrath Foundation. Pink Stumps Day is held in February each year
- Pull-on your Socks– It is an initiative that targets people to purchase pink McGrath Foundation sports or everyday socks and host a fundraiser in support of the McGrath Foundation.
- McGrath Foundation High Tea– It was hosted by Jane McGrath and her best friend Tracy Bevan, who is the Ambassador and Director of McGrath Foundation. It is a high tea hosted by them, as one of the foundation’s first fundraising initiatives. The McGrath Foundation continues to host high teas in Sydney and Melbourne as a way to connect with supporters and raise funds.
In 2008 the McGrath Foundation also partnered with Community First Credit Union and developed the McGrath Pink Visa to raise money for McGrath Breast Care Nurses. The McGrath Foundation has a strong corporate partnership program and is aligned to several well-known brands that provide fundraising and awareness support.
The McGrath Foundation has over 50 corporate partners including Cricket Australia, IGA Supermarket, Mount Franklin Water, Baskin-Robbins, and Bupa.