Page 6 - CanTalk Issue 73 Autumn 2015
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CANCER SOCIETY OF NEW ZEALAND • Te Kāhui Matepukupuku o Aotearoa  CANTALK 73 AUTUMN 2015

Breast Cancer Nirvana                                    I created the ‘Hello Italy, Goodbye Treatment Tour’ to
                                                         help people celebrate and get their spark back after
We extend a warm welcome to Andrea Fairbairn – the       cancer.
creator of Breast Cancer Nirvana. Andrea’s involved in
some great initiatives empowering those affected by      Kiribati Cancer Society
breast cancer here and in the Pacific. (editor)          In my day job, I’ve worked in international aid. The
                                                         Kiribati Cancer Society has asked me to support their
Breast Cancer Nirvana (BCN) provides resources,          cancer services and I’ve started a project to support
tips, support and inspiration for people impacted        them.
by breast cancer.
                                                         How has technology improved communication?
I started the BCN website in 2011 after my second
diagnosis of breast cancer. I wanted to share my         We are all unique and like to communicate in different
learning from my first breast cancer and make things a   ways. Some of us want to communicate online, eg.
bit easier for others.                                   skype, chat groups, Facebook/private groups, YouTube,
                                                         and twitter. I can communicate with thousands of
How BCN has added value to others                        people with one article and through social media with a
                                                         couple of sentences.
•	 Resources and real time diaries of what it’s like
     to go through a breast reconstruction, chemo and    Communicating internationally is as easy as
     then move on from breast cancer.                    communicating nationally. It’s instant and easy, and
                                                         people can respond instantly too. It is a conversation
•	 Support and connection–many women have told           not one-way communication.
     me that BCN has helped them through their journey.
                                                         People can access support on their own terms, in their
•	 Every woman has a different experience of breast      own way and in their own time. Women with low energy
     cancer and the more unique voices, the better.      can simply tap on a keyboard or their phone rather than
     BCN is one support resource in the toolbox of       leave the house.
     resources out there.
                                                         Websites are flexible and responsive and can change
•	 I’ve written eBooks with my experience and tips.      quickly as needs arise.

•	 BCN is consumer- and needs-driven. I write about      What happened when I reached out to others
     topics that are relevant to me and my readers.
                                                         •	 BCN has allowed me to connect with thousands
•	 People without a direct experience of cancer have          of different people. I get emails from all around the
     learned what it is really like.                          world and my inbox constantly surprises me.

•	 I’ve reached out to thousands of people since         •	 BCN has helped me find some meaning and
     2011. Half my visitors are from NZ and the rest          purpose in cancer.
     from overseas.
                                                         My book – Chemo and Back Again
How I’ve used my website for change
                                                         I’m launching my book Chemo and Back Again in
I’ve used BCN to promote my vision and projects. My      May with a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for
message is for women to put themselves first and use     my website, the Kiribati Cancer Society and to fund
all the support and resources they need to survive       some free spaces on the Italy tour. To pre-register your
breast cancer. Then at the end of cancer treatment,      interest, please go to http://thejoyassignment.com/.
many women need targeted support to move on.
                                                         I’m grateful for the support of everyone at the
Pacific breast cancer                                    Wellington Cancer Society especially Julie, Drew, Chris
Through BCN, I started a Pacific breast cancer           and Virginia. Sarah, thanks for asking me to write the
campaign to improve cancer treatment uptake and          article. □
survival. I went on Tagata Pasifika showing what
chemo was like and I had an idea to start a Pacific      Andrea Fairbairn
women’s cancer support group in Wellington. Lots of
great things have come out of that and the group is      andrea@breastcancernirvana.co.nz
now called Fesoasoani.
                                                         Later in CanTalk (page 8) you can read about the ‘Hello
I speak about the needs of others based on what          Italy, Goodbye Treatment Tour’ – Andrea’s trip to Italy
I’ve experienced and what women have told me.            with a party of breast cancer survivors and supporters.
I’ve been able to join the National Cancer Consumer
Representative Advisory Group and represent a cancer
consumer and Pacific Island perspective.

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