Think Pink and Join the Walk

18/06/2015

Before Bulstrode House was refurbished, the Breast Unit was short on space and a grim environment to hear what was often difficult news. But thanks to proceeds from the Pink Ladies’ Sunset Coastal Walk, the state-of-the-art facility is now the envy all UK breast services. As islanders gear up for Saturday’s walk, Jill Chadwick finds out how the girls plan to use the funds raised to help local ladies

ON SATURDAY an army of pink clad women will snake their way along the west coast, heading to the Sunset Coastal Walk’s finish line in Town.


The biennial event is the major fund-raiser for the Pink Ladies. The breast cancer charity was set up in 2001 by a group of local women undergoing treatment. What started out as a support group for those in a similar position has branched out into raising awareness and funds to help provide local patients with the best care and surroundings it can.


The last walk attracted around 2,000 women and the organisers are hoping that this year’s event will be just as well attended.


‘It’s our big fund-raising event and not only do we want to raise money, we aim to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer,’ explains Pink Ladies facilitator Karen Leach, service manager for community health and wellbeing at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.


‘We had an amazing turnout last time and the funds are used to help women who have been affected by a personal diagnosis of breast cancer. This year the Pink Ladies have decided that the money raised will go toward the purchase of a new mammography machine for the Guernsey Breast Unit.’


Karen explains that the machine is used for the two-yearly breast screening programme, which has 10,000 women registered and an additional 1,000 routine and investigation mammograms.


It is also used for women coming back for follow-up examinations after being diagnosed with breast cancer.


The machine is used all day, every day and is one of the most important diagnostic pieces of machinery in the fight against breast cancer, she says.


The machine can detect small changes in the breast that cannot be felt by either the woman or a health care professional.


It will cost around £350,000, so all the Sunset Coastal Walk funds will go directly into the pot to pay for it. It is hoped the machine could be purchased in the next few years, but if enough money can be raised it could arrive sooner.

 

Proceeds from the last walk were used to refurbish Bulstrode House and create a fabulous new breast unit at a cost of around £160,000.


The Pink Ladies are very proud that with support from the local community they raised the whole amount to provide a unit that really is the envy of health services throughout the UK. The Health and Social Services Department worked with the Pink Ladies and listened to their feedback about the sort of premises that were needed. For example, through their input there is a separate exit so women and their families who may have received bad news are able to leave discreetly without having to go through the main reception area.


The unit has also been segmented so that different clinics can operate independently of each other, again giving women with different needs and at various stages of diagnosis and treatment some privacy.


Karen says that with the help of Suzanne Falla at Maison, the Pink Ladies have been able to create a space that has been described as calming and welcoming. Women who come to the unit find it relaxing and patients who are in for routine check-ups are not in the same clinic areas as those attending for results and investigations.


The unit also has a special quiet room for patients and their families should they need time to process a diagnosis and want space to compose themselves, gather their thoughts and think of any questions they may like to ask the team.


‘The refurbishment improved the unit beyond all expectations and I think it really shows how much we value the views of the women who come through our services,’ Karen said.


‘With the help of the Pink Ladies we were able to create something very special and they are proud of what their funds were able to achieve.’

 

The organisers have been concerned that sign-ups for this year’s Sunset Coastal Walk have been slower to come in than other years, but they are hopeful that the women of Guernsey will turn out to make the event as successful as it has been in the past.


‘We have organised a post-walk party at Market Square, with refreshments and entertainment from an Abba tribute band. It is always a great evening so we would ask women to find something pink, put on their walking shoes and join us at the start of the walk at Grandes Rocques or Bordeaux,’ Karen said.


The Pink Ladies’ Doreen Le Poidevin, a key member of the Sunset Walk organising team, is delighted to have a new feature for the finishing line celebrations in Town.


‘For this year’s Sunset Walk, with the support of advocates Ogier, the Pink Ladies are going to have Castle Cornet lit up in pink,’ she said.


‘It will be the first time we have been able to do this for the Sunset Walk, so we hope everyone will come into Market Square for the party after the walk and see the castle lit up.


‘Abba Sensation will be on stage and food and drink will be available from Market Bistro. You can still register, so come and join us and help us to raise money towards a new mammogram machine.’


Walkers can turn up on the night to register, but Doreen and the team are urging everyone to register ahead, which will save time queuing on the night and help with the catering plans.


Article courtesy of the Guernsey Press & Star



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