With every hand-made hat Warrnambool mother Marg Cope sells, she makes a secret wish that more women will get their breasts checked sooner.
After her own experiences following a breast cancer diagnosis in December 2015, the active “sixty-something year-old” uses her hats to remind south-west women that early detection is key.
Her lightweight stretch cotton head-wear are the product of her own hair loss following chemotherapy.
“Hair loss was one of the most devastating parts of chemotherapy treatment,” she said. “My hair fell out just after my first treatment.
Marg said after treatment during the summer months she found wigs were too hot and uncomfortable and she looked for other options.
“After looking at quite pricey hat options online I decided to create hats for myself using bright colours to match what I was wearing each day,” she said.
Her colourful creations were noticed by other patients undergoing treatment and orders for the $15 hats soon flooded in.
“I did this sewing on my better days,” she said. “And found it quite therapeutic and satisfying.
“The smile on the ladies faces shows this substitute for hair loss really makes them feel so much better.”
Marg hopes her hats will also serve as a reminder to women to have their breasts checked for any abnormalities.
“Don’t ignore it,” she said. “Don’t think it will go away because it won’t.
“Early detection is the most important thing because it doesn’t have a chance to spread to other organs.
“If it’s contained and it’s primary it can be stopped,” she said.
“If you get onto it soon enough you’re going to survive.”
Marg’s advice comes as Australia marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.
“Breast cancer affects one in every eight women in Australia at the moment,” she said.
“So if you’re in a room of 40 women, five in that room will have, or has had, breast cancer.
“But there is life after it, even though at the time you think your world’s over and everything sucks.”