IT doesn’t take much to trigger a story from a stranger, just the knowledge that they will be heard.
A hundred pink cut-outs of women placed in the grass near the Warrnambool breakwater on Saturday to promote issues surrounding breast cancer revealed some interesting facts.
There aren’t enough cancer specialists in New Zealand and sufferers have been forced to travel to Australia for treatment.
Small villages on the Indonesian island of Sumatra face similar problems.
Breast cancer survivor Ann Krause stood by the crowd of tiny silhouettes listening as locals and visiting tourists stopped to share their stories.
Each year Warrnambool’s social breast cancer support group picks a day to place the pink tributes in memory of those cancer has claimed and those still fighting.
But the low-key event is also an impromptu chance for many to bare their soul.
“During the day we had a lot of passers-by stop to talk about their family experiences,” Ms Krause said — and a surprising number of those were men.
“We’ve found in the past that often it will be a man who walks up because he hasn’t talked to any of his mates about it.”
Although 41 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day, improving survival rates mean that “it’s not necessarily a death sentence these days”.
“When I was diagnosed I didn’t know anyone who had it at the time,” Ms Krause said.
Her message for those who have lived through cancer is to maintain regular contact with doctors.
“You have to do it. Once you’ve had any cancer, with any ache or lump you do wonder ‘has it come back?’.”
The group has a typically Warrnambool way to find some reprieve from the lingering thoughts — by using a 14-metre long dragon boat suitably painted bright pink. The vessel is a regular sight on the Hopkins river.
“When you’re on the water you can’t think of anything else,” Ms Krause said.
“The dark cloud doesn’t have to be so looming.”