Hearing the words “You have cancer, it’s Stage Four” is quite possibly one of the hardest and most painful thing a person will ever hear.
But for Patricia May, the hardest part was telling her daughter.
“I went to the clinic on my own that day expecting them to tell me it was just a cyst. I truly thought nothing bad would come back. We didn’t have breast cancer in our family,” May told The Huffington Post Australia.
It was August 2015 when May was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer. While it hadn’t yet metastasised, the size of her cancer meant she would need to start chemotherapy in two weeks’ time.
“My mind just shut down from there. It was so surreal. It still is very surreal,” May said.
May makes up just one of the 43 Australian women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every day -- and this year, the McGrath Foundation will prepare to shine a special message of support for these women as part of a unique projection called the McGrath Foundation Mosaic which will be unveiled during Sydney’s Vivid Festival in May.
The project is encouraging Australians to participate by uploading a photo and message of support to the women in their lives who have been touched with breast cancer. From there, all photos will combine to create an inspiring mosaic image of thousands of Australians, including the late Jane McGrath which will be projected onto the façade of the AMP Building at Circular Quay during Vivid Sydney.
An artist's impression of the McGrath Foundation Mosaic.
“Vivid Sydney is such an inclusive cultural event for people to come together. It has this sense of pace about it -- but it also has this ability to have people stop and reflect,” Petra Buchanan, Chief Executive Officer of the McGrath Foundation told HuffPost Australia.
Mick Fanning along with Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Johanna Griggs are some of the first Australians to participate in the project with Fanning dedicating his message of support to the women in his life including his mother who is a nurse.
“The women in my life -- my mum, my wife, my sister and nieces -- mean everything to me and when I think about that I start to consider the impact breast cancer has on sufferers and their families. It’s nice to know the McGrath Foundation is there to ensure families experiencing breast cancer get the support they need through the Breast Care nurses no matter where they live in this country. It’s a great cause and one I’m happy to throw my support behind. I wish all the women out there overcoming breast cancer and their friends and family my best wishes for a full recovery,” Fanning wrote.
May’s fight, like so many others before her continues as she prepares for surgery in a week’s time with radiation ahead of that. She admits her strength is thanks to the support of her loved ones and breast cancer nurse, Kim Wright.
“Not only did Kim explain a lot of the medical terms but she was there every step of the way for me emotionally, too,” May said.
The McGrath breast care nurse service has enabled 40,000 Australian families being supported by 110 nurses nationally to date.
The service is provided free of charge and is aligned with Jane McGrath’s vision that every family experiencing breast cancer has access to the support of a breast care nurse, no matter where they live or financial situation.
To view photos and messages already featuring on the mosaic, or to post your own photo and message of support, visit mcgrathfoundation.com.au/mosaic