The breast cancer aware community of Yinnar South

Story and photos by Greg Allen-Pretty

The good folk of Yinnar South are seeing daily reminders about breast cancer and the importance of regular examinations. Hay bales with pink wrap adorn the otherwise green paddocks, the stacks bearing breast cancer awareness messages.

After receiving a tip-off we grabbed the Nikon and nipped out to be abreast of the situation. The first stack we saw had a straight forward enough message: “Be breast aware”. But then we spotted another one a little more out of the way: “Save a life, grope ya wife”. That one is not on the school bus route. A third stack says: “Check your boobs.”

With the help of her brother, Yinnar South farmer Tammy Pettigrew embarked on the awareness campaign after her mother received a breast cancer diagnosis last year.

“It was found in a routine mammogram that she has every two years, so the early detection meant that it was quite small when they found it,” said Tammy. “Early detection is the key.”

The good news is her mother is now doing well.

The words on the pink bales were carefully applied using black paint and a roller, and are designed to get peoples’ attention.

“I want people to see them and remind them to go and get the mammogram. And if they’re over 40 and haven’t had one, they should contact Breastscreen on 13 20 50 and book in for that mammogram.”

The response from Tammy’s neighbours has been positive.

“The mailman has told dad that my boobs are sagging!” said Tammy, a reference to the fact that the bales have now been standing for five weeks and are starting to droop. “Someone else told me they’d got a bit lopsided, so there’s been a bit of humour in it, but the message is getting through.”

Tammy said she will do it again after next year’s harvest and, as well as the pink wrap, may also get blue wrap which is the colour for prostate cancer awareness.

Breast screening is available at major Gippsland hospitals including Wonthaggi, Warragul, Latrobe, Sale and Bairnsdale. A mobile unit services other towns including Leongatha, Foster, Yarram, Orbost and Mallacoota.

These services are operated by BreastScreen Victoria, which says 50% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 50-69. This is the reason why a breast screen once every two years is recommended for women in this age group.

Women over 40 can find out more HERE or call Breastscreen Victoria on 13 20 50.