Pink Ribbon Day special meaning

Hers is the friendly, reassuring voice.

For Fraser Coast women diagnosed with breast cancer Liz Shaw is the human version of calm in the storm.

“I lessen the shock and take away some of the stress that goes with any diagnosis,” the McGrath Foundation breast cancer nurse says.

“It's important they know they are not alone. I try to normalise the situation for them, let them know they are not alone.”

Ms Shaw is urging anyone who pins a pink ribbon on today not only to think pink but to act pink.

“I think women are more breast cancer aware but whether they actually do anything with that awareness is another story.”

Regular self checks and mammograms are the key to an early diagnosis for the breast care nurse, who has a rate of one referral a day. She educates, advises and supports everyone with a lump, even when it's benign.

“We talk a lot about checking. Sometimes they don't find a lump but there is a different feeling, a heavy feeling, something is not right.”

Hylma Wilson's breast cancer was diagnosed after a mammogram in July. After two bouts of surgery she is in flying form.

The Urraween grandmother chats with Liz like she's an old friend.

“My seven-year-old grandson said to me: 'I wish you were younger.' I asked him why and he said: 'I don't want you to die.'

“I told him not to worry, I'm going to be around for a long time,” she laughs.

Ms Wilson is planning to start a caravan trek around Australia with her husband next April.

“It came as a shock but I'm very strong and I have a very supportive husband.

“I knew I had to get on with it. You've still got to get on with life.

“It's not the end of the world. My oncologist told me I'd probably die of old age before I die of breast cancer.”

It is this kind of upbeat attitude to the illness that Liz nurtures from day to day.

“It's very satisfying because of the impact it (the job) has on people's lives. It's also a privilege because it gives us a snapshot in the lives of people at a very stressful time.

“It's about breaking down the assumptions and demystifying it for them. Often all they hear is the bad stories.”

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