Joanne Mackay Breast Cancer Foundation inspires continued legacy for women

Daughter's commitment: Bria Mackay, pictured, with her brothers Tully and Angus, took the reins of a Sutherland Shire breast cancer charity in honour of her mother Joanne, who lost her battle with the disease. Picture: John Veage
Daughter's commitment: Bria Mackay, pictured, with her brothers Tully and Angus, took the reins of a Sutherland Shire breast cancer charity in honour of her mother Joanne, who lost her battle with the disease. Picture: John Veage

A daughter is fulfilling her mother's wishes of providing support to women who battle the same disease that claimed her life.

Bria Mackay was this year appointed the director of Joanne Mackay Breast Cancer Foundation (JMBCF), named after her mother, Joanne, who died of breast cancer in 2002.

The Sutherland Shire charity works closely with Sutherland, St George public and private hospitals, and aims to ease the burden placed on women after initial diagnosis.

It financially support patients and their families through covering excess medical bills, quality wigs, household and utility bills and transport to medical appointments.

"I was only six years of age at the time of her passing," Ms Mackay, of Caringbah, said.

"The push for me to get involved was to stay connected to my mother. Mum never got to see the foundation take form it really was just an idea she had while battling. She wanted to dedicate herself to creating support for breast cancer patients when she got better.

"She was lucky enough to have an abundance of support from friends and family and was in a stable position financially. She broke when she met women who did not have these things while they too struggled with the affects of breast cancer.

"She began speaking about the idea of a foundation, one that would work at a very personal and hands on level. She wanted to provide the support that she felt so lucky to have."

Ms Mackay, an events manager, heads the foundation in her spare time, mainly on the weekends.

This year she has organised two fundraising events, Shire Pink Lunch, at Cronulla RSL. The first is a high tea on May 18 - an already sold-out event, and the other, on October 11.

"After turning 22, I was feeling it was the appropriate time to lead the foundation into the future and continue my mother's legacy," she said.

"It has been a life long dream of mine to take the lead on the foundation and bring it into a new era."

She has the support of her two brother Angus and Tully, and their father Brad, a former 1990s NRL player for St George Dragons.

"Dad is very much involved in keeping mum's legacy alive and together we feel with the support of the community we can grow to fulfill the goals we have put in place," Ms Mackay said.

"We have been operating for more than16 years and have maintained a smallish profile up until now. We help about 81 patients every year but would like to increase that."

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's recent report, Cancer in Australia 2019, shows that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and has the fourth highest mortality rate after lung, colorectal and prostate cancers. The five-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is 32 per cent.

But there is positive news for breast cancer patients on the treatment front, where the disease has been deteced early.

A new drug that showed to significantly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or death in an aggressive form of breast cancer has been approved for use in Australian patients.

NERLYNX (neratinib) was this year approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for Australian women.

Five-year data shows that the drug reduces the risk of invasive disease recurrence or death by 42 per cent in women with early-stage breast cancer.

It is available at no cost via the drug's access program.

Comments