Warrnambool cancer survivors back each other - and the pink dog - in April

LORRAINE Finn knew who to turn to when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer in mid-2010.

Jenny Garner had fought — and beat — the illness five years earlier. Lorraine says the calming words of her friend were invaluable.

“She was great. I could ring her up at any time. I would ring Jenny if I was worried about something,” Lorraine said.

“I could get off the phone and think ‘that’s OK, what was I worrying about’. She had been through it, she knew.”

The two Warrnambool women formed a friendship through their involvement with greyhound racing in Warrnambool over the years.

Their shared health battle has prompted them to throw their support behind Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Go The Pink Dog campaign.

GRV will donate $500 to the McGrath Foundation every time a dog wearing the pink rug (out of box eight) wins on a Victorian track in April.

The annual fund-raiser has generated $340,000 in four years. GRV officials hope to raise a further $55,000 this year.

“If people understand why they (GRV) are doing it, what’s behind it, it makes all the difference,” Lorraine said.

“You hear people say ‘go the pink dog’ but half of them don’t know what it’s about. Everybody barracks for the pink dog to win in April.”

Lorraine had spent just two days in hospital — for the births of her two daughters — before her cancer diagnosis, aged 69. The long-time Warrnambool Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association member was shocked at first, then angry.

The inevitable question of “why me” dominated her thoughts.

“One of my daughters said ‘mum, we have to take it one day at a time and be positive’. That’s how I’ve done it,” she said.

A mastectomy, six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation therapy followed. The support of her  husband Kevin, daughters Dianne and Marita and the greyhound racing community was instrumental.

“It sneaks up like a thief in the night. But so far I’m really good. I’ve got good doctors, good support everywhere,” she said.

Jenny was the mother of four-year-old daughter Hannah when she received her diagnosis in 2005: “It was a very big shock”.

She had a mastectomy within the week before undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Jenny is also thankful for the support of her husband Leon, a former greyhound trainer, her family and friends. Fully recovered, her involvement with racing is now whelping brood bitches.

“Treatment and recovery went as expected, but to me it’s all in the mind. You have to stay positive and if you stay positive you can beat it,” she said.

“There are always curve balls that are thrown at you and different things that come up. And you have to deal with them and keep going.”

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