So Brave calendar launch inspires

Stripping off for a calendar with a difference has not only helped two south-west women regain confidence post-breast cancer, but will also support others on a similar journey.

The So Brave 2018 calendar was officially launched in Warrnambool last week, with local women Deanne Evans and Emily Jarvis among others from across Australia who posed for work.

The pair spent about nine hours being covered in body paint before being photographed at well-known south-west landmarks.

So Brave aims to empower breast cancer survivors, while encouraging other young women to be breast aware.

Miss Evans said last week’s launch was a fund-raising event, as well as a chance for everyone to see the finished So Brave calendar for the first time.

“People were absolutely fascinated,” she said.

“When you see it in full you don’t even think it’s the same person.

“For me, seeing my own photo was just… I was in awe, absolute awe.

“People are so happy seeing them, and it just made us feel great too. It’s a celebration of us.”

About 60 people attended the launch, with more than $3000 raised for the McGrath Foundation’s breast care nurses thanks to a silent auction and generous community and business donations.

Miss Evans, who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in July 2015 when she was 31 and went into remission last year, said the nurses were invaluable.

“We definitely need more nurses because they help you so much, even just by explaining things to you in words that you understand,” she said.

“They’re just a friend as well, someone to cry on, or I’d ring up and go ‘am I being stupid thinking this?’ and she would say ‘no, it’s common to think that, or feel that’. That reassurance really helped.”

Mrs Jarvis and Miss Evans shared their stories with The Standard earlier this year, telling of their cancer journeys and how their involvement in So Brave had boosted their confidence and helped raise awareness among other young women.

Miss Evans said the process also helped grow her support network.

“We’ve made friends out of it as well,” she said.

“I didn’t have any friends (with experience of breast cancer) when I was going through treatment. Even though Emily’s been through it seven years ago, we can still talk about it. It’s good to have that support.”

So Brave founder Rachelle Panitz said the project was an “amazing and empowering” exercise for the women involved, as well as raising much-needed awareness of breast cancer among younger women.

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