Get inspired by reading stories from amazing Pink Star Walkers who share who they walk for.
If you have a story you'd like to share, get in touch with the Pink Star Walk team at email@example.com
“I lost my mother to breast cancer 10 years ago and then in 2013 I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. My friends had to push me 10km in a wheelchair as I had just undergone breast reconstruction. My fundraising page also inspired others to do the walk with me, they wanted to do more than donate - they wanted to participate. I am really excited about participating again this year. The walk coincides with my anniversary for being cancer free! That’s every reason to do it!!”
— Veronica Hirini, who raised $1,220
"I’m a personal trainer and a member of our Bootcamp group, Natalie, was diagnosed with breast cancer before last year’s Pink Star Walk. To raise money, we decided to donate a dollar for everyone who attended Bootcamp the month before the walk. On the day there was a group of us that did the walk together. It was a great evening, made even more special when Natalie came along to cheer us on at the end!”
— Shelly Girvan, who raised $583
"I’ve been doing this a few years now - this is my sixth walk, although not all are sequential. Dressed in various shades of pink from tip to toe so as not to stand out, but to blend into a sea of people. Men and women, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles - all with the same kind of crack in their heart as me. I’ve had plenty of reasons not to do it - a PhD, excruciating fibromyalgia and torrential rain! One year I slept for two weeks solid after the 5 km Pink Star walk, which is crazy, because I used to love running and walking before my diagnosis; fibromyalgia has zapped my strength but not my spirit. I also had every reason to ‘just do it.’ I’ve lost friends and family to cancer of one kind or another. This reached a crescendo in 2016, when my good friend Angela Bond passed away at only 43 from breast cancer. Cancer sucks! I recognised that I needed to take a wee moment, each year from there on in to honour our friendship and the fun we had together. She was afraid she would be forgotten. Every year since, I have organized a team. 2016, was our biggest and ’The Bond Girls’ raised more than any other team in NZ. The run however was cancelled in Wellington because a major storm was in process,it was just too awful for words. But all those sponsors and all that money?! I felt responsible, indebted to them. All that generosity! I decided that while it had officially been cancelled, I was going anyway and anyone in the team who wanted to join me, could. Well, almost everyone turned up and away we went. Your BCNZ crew was there to see us off and even shot the starting gun and a pic or two! I’ll never forget that walk. Afterward, Ange’s husband Dave put on drink’s and nibbles for us, such a kind gesture. We all gathered to dry out, laugh, and consider doing it all again next year... "
— Angela Millar
"Since, team size has been varied. Sometimes it’s just me and one or two others- but that’s OK. Last year, I walked with George and his 5-year-old son Jax, in honour of Emeli, a early-stage survivor, who had intended on being there along side of me. But, she was not long out of chemo and had overestimated her energy levels. Her wee son was such a trouper- thinking it was but a wee stroll he had committed to. He managed all 5km and then some on her behalf with McD’s at the end!! We named our team the All Pinks in Em’s honor- she’s a rugby girl at heart, but wonderfully, this year, Em is hoping to join us. As for 2019, our team is a pretty decent size and is called ‘Peb’s Pride’. Kate, a member of our team, lost her mum Betty to cancer this year. So, with Ange still on my mind for motivation to keep doing this, we dedicate this year’s walk to Betty. Back in 1960, in Darfield, a friend's son couldn't say Betty so he called Betty, Peb. The nickname stuck and John, her husband called her that forever. He even named his truck ‘Peb's Pride’. Our group of strong wahine and tane, will walk in Peb’s honour- this time dressed as lions and lionesses! The team is always quality. For example, last year Mary was walking for her sister in Aussie who had been recently diagnosed. This year (as with most) there is Chelle, a bad-arse breast-cancer survivor. So, while everyone is limbering up in unison at the front of the park, we will gather in a circle and give thanks. For those standing with us, and those who no longer stand but lay in rest. We will likely cry a little, and then - we get on with it. I have no doubt that we will be replicated all over the park- too many of us feel this! Friends continue to sponsor, and I’m always grateful for their amazing generosity. Along the way is the unexpected donation, and another story. A story from someone who normally wears the biggest smile but has the deepest pain- a pain I would have known nothing about otherwise. What keeps me going back year after year is the stories. Like I said, cancer sucks! "
— Angela Millar continued
"I am doing the Pink Star Walk for myself as I have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer.
I was first diagnosed in 2012 with breast cancer in the right breast. I had my right breast removed. I had chemo, radiation and herceptin. I was all good for 6 years.
I was re-diagnosed on Christmas Eve with secondary breast cancer. I now have it in my bones, I have started chemo and I have had 5 days of radiation.
I have been wanting to do the Pink Star Walk for a number of years now but I never got around to doing it. But since I have been diagnosed again, I’ve decided to do all the things that I had kept putting off.
I also want to give back for all the support I have had throughout my first and now my second journey through this terrible disease and for all the other women who will have to go through this. "
— Denise Longley
"I moved to New Zealand in October 2016. After finding a GP & settling in to life in a new country, I was contacted in Feb 2017 & advised that I needed to come in for a breast screen – so I was booked in for March. I moved from Australia & they don’t even start to consider contacting you for breast screening until you turn 50. I had my screening & got a call that I needed to come back as there were some anomalous results, which I did on 1 April ironically. I had biopsies taken from the lymph nodes & more detailed ultra sounds – which detected masses in both breasts. It turned out that I had breast cancer in both breasts & not to do things by half I had a different cancer in each breast!!!! My breast surgeon advised that the best course of action would be a double mastectomy – which happened at the end of May 2017. I was very lucky that the cancers were detected early & hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes or further. If I had still been living in Australia, there would have been an extra 18mths or more before I was screened, so who knows how far the cancers could have spread in this time. I consider myself extremely lucky & am so thankful for the early screening done in NZ & also the level of care received. This is why the walk for me is so personal. I’m a survivor!
— Katie VandenBerg
"I am walking for myself this year as I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. I had a full left mastectomy and received a major infection, I still have an unhealed wound. I had nearly finished my weekly chemo when the Pink Star Walk popped up on Facebook. I've done the maths and I should have finished my 3-weekly chemo, with some time up my sleeve to get in a bit of fitness for the walk. The Breast Cancer Foundation has been very helpful with my cancer journey and I want to give back in some way."
— Kirsty Taylor
“I am walking for my two lovely cousins as they both passed away from breast cancer. My husband will be volunteering alongside me, as he also lost his grandmother and aunty to breast cancer. My husband's mother has secondary cancer of the breast and bone, we don't know how long she's got. This will be my third year doing the Pink Star Walk and the third year my husband will volunteer”
— Janette Beckett
"My Mum had breast cancer back when I was at uni. This resulted in a lump being removed and radiation and she recovered fine. Then two years ago (pretty much to the month) she was once again diagnosed with breast cancer, this time having to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy which I felt was a lot scarier this time around. While I live here she’s still in the UK, and my parents had been considering moving back here. This isn’t going to happen now as she still has to have hormone therapy and bone checks. I was also due to be married that December but had to cancel everything as I couldn’t get married without my Mum. Luckily she was a trooper and once again beat it. She came out last December for my wedding and it was amazing to have my mum there. I’m walking for her and all those who have it as it’s such a scary diagnosis and I want to help in any way I can. "
— Rachael Carty
"I sing with an incredibly fantastic bunch of people in a group called "Voxpop". A core group of us, numbering about 22 have been singing together for years. We're an auditioned choir, and I think we're pretty bloody good at what we do. We love performing and we've become very close friends over the years. Nearly two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, breast reconstruction, and ongoing aromatase therapy. Successful results and I've moved on, putting that episode of my life behind me, and chalking it up to an interesting experience. To add insult to injury, while all this was going on, I also turned 50! I really didn't feel like celebrating, I was bald, feeling sick and scared, but my singing buddies threw an awesome birthday brunch for me, I drank way too much champagne but figured I was having the next round of chemo the following day, so it didn't matter I'd be feeling like crap anyway. Our Voxpop group is a fair representation of the percentage of people in the community who have been directly affected by breast cancer and other cancers. FIVE women in our group have had breast cancer! Two others in the group have had some other form of cancer. The support, advice, and friendship that I received from these amazing people is very humbling. Not to mention the therapy and feeling of well-being that comes from singing! Last year I hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast and this year a bunch of us will walk 5kms to raise some money for BCF (who were also an amazing support and continue to be.) I'm sure we'll have a sing along the way (we can't help ourselves). We'll probably have a drink afterwards too! We'll have a toast our continued good health and beating breast cancer. "
— Anna Willison, Vox Pop Singers
"I’m doing the Pink Walk this year because I have just finished treatment for Breast Cancer myself. I’m also walking for both my Grandmother and my Aunty who I never knew but both also had Breast Cancer. I’m also walking for my beautiful sister who passed away earlier this year from Ovarian Cancer in the hope that one day there will be more awareness and research for this also. "
— Jodie Lynes
"This year was one of the hardest times for me finding out my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only did being so far away make it difficult, but also the fact that she has been the strongest woman in my whole life and seeing her go through this was one of the worst heartaches I have had to deal with. This year, I am going to make a difference for her and all the other women out there. Through this horrible time, I have seen such great strength and positivity from my mom, and it has truly shown me what matters in life. I'm doing the Pink Star Walk for mom and all the other amazing women that have also gone through this. The aunty's, the moms, the sisters, the wives, the girlfriends. Everyone deserves to have their life fought for "
— Larysa Sydorczak
"I'm 24 years old and just over a month ago I was starting my final semester at university for my psychology degree with the dream to become a psychologist. I was at an exciting time where I was applying for postgraduate study options and had just been offered a place for 2020 when I found a lump in my breast. A couple of weeks later was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma and had to put my whole life on hold to start treatment immediately. I'm now recovering from a double mastectomy and going through fertility treatment, with the thought of chemo starting soon looming in the back of my mind. I know this is going to be the hardest year of my life and the worst is yet to come, but I already know that I'll get through it with the support of my friends and family. I was so lucky that I found the cancer when I did, and I hope I can encourage other young women not to wait until their free mammograms at age 45. This year I’ll be doing the Pink Star Walk with support from a big group of my amazing friends. "
— Geneva Wilson
"I had breast cancer twice and am here to tell the tale. I was 47 the first time and 57 the second time. I am now 69 and have registered for the walk this year so am out "training ". It will depend on the day how my arthritis is as to how far I will go, but the mind is very willing so here goes. My mother also had breast cancer at 64 she survived and lived until she was 96. I have four sisters and they are all good and very supportive of me. "
— Helen Hall
"It all started in 2017 when I found a lump in my armpit. I was only 24 and it felt like my world was about to end. I was in tears and could hardly sleep until I went to my GP, who looked at it and after some deliberation made a referral to my local hospital for an appointment through the breast clinic. Unbeknownst to me, while I was waiting for my appointment to come around, my mum had been and had a mammogram. The night before my appointment I received a call from my mum. She had just had a phone call from a breast nurse about her mammogram. That was the evening my mum was diagnosed. I constantly marvel at the timing! Fortunately for my mum, her tumour was small and low grade with good prognostic markers. I rushed up to surprise her after her lumpectomy. She couldn’t see why everyone was making a such fuss because she didn’t feel like she was sick. She would tell me how the radiation was making her tired and how sore the skin around the treatment area was. But she handled it all with such calm, strong attitude that put my mind at ease and made me realise how proud and lucky I am to be her daughter. Fortunately my lump was found to be benign but sometimes I wonder why it had to be my mum and not me. Not only am I walking for her but I’m also walking for the other young women who haven’t been as lucky as I was and are out there showing breast cancer who’s boss! "
"I'm Penny and I'm walking for my wonderful and inspirational daughter, Maree. Maree was diagnosed with breast cancer in July this year, a few days after her 31st birthday, and one week after her annual MRI detected a small lesion in her left breast. She had a double mastectomy a few weeks later and is now preparing for the next treatment steps. I passed on the BRCA2 gene, oblivious to it before she was born, as little was known about it when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34, and again at 43. Maree is having to make significantly tougher choices than I ever had to and is far more aware of all the ramifications of her decisions. Thankfully, she has a remarkable, supportive husband, and incredible workmates, friends and family who have gone above and beyond to support her. It's been inspiring watching her deal with the diagnosis in such a positive and fearless manner. We will also be walking for my mother, who died of breast cancer aged 47, and my grandmother, who died aged 61. It is easy to forget how precious it is to be alive, but we are honoured to support those who have fought, are fighting, or are yet to fight breast cancer. We are the "Knackered Knockers", parts of us may be missing, but our spirit is alive and well! "I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful, and too determined to be defeated.'' "
— Penny McConnell
"I am fundraising to say thank you to BCFNZ and pay it forward. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in October 2015 and I am coming up to 4 years cancer free, and feel well enough now to start doing more to help fundraise and spread awareness for the great work The Breast Cancer Foundation do for women like me. Personally, I did not approach anyone for support at the time I was going through surgery and treatment, I buried my head in the sand and didn’t want to deal with it. I sort of went into a hermit mode and focused on work and radiotherapy. Subsequently, I have joined Mybc and done a 10 week rehab course. I wish I had engaged more with BCF at the time rather than being in denial and trying to pretend cancer never happened. I think I would have had a much better recovery. I think BCF is amazing, and I want to support it going forward."
— Sheryn West
"My younger sister Wendy (56) and I have both been diagnosed and treated for Breast Cancer in the past 12 months. Wendy was way worse off than me. She had a double mastectomy and has endured chemo, radiotherapy and is having herceptin every 3 weeks. I was lucky my mammogram picked up a tumour. Early detection meant I had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. We also lost our precious Mother 2 weeks after my diagnosis. It's been really tough but the Breast Cancer Foundation have been amazing. We can't thank them enough so doing the walk is just a small way of giving something back, and if we can raise money, and awareness, then we will be very happy sisters 😀
— Di Henderson
"In 2016, my beautiful wife, Nina, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was just 33. At the time of diagnosis, it was in her left breast, left armpit and her liver. Nina was the epitome of strength, faith and courage. She didn't let this get her down; she chose to take it head on. She went through a draining and difficult chemo regime, followed by a mastectomy in March, 2017. At no point did she let it get her down, her head was high, her faith was strong and her courage was unwavering. As things seemed to improve, she discovered another lump in October, 2017. Again, in December, she had another surgery. This time, they found that the tumors in her liver were basically gone so the surgeon did everything she could to minimize any more occurrences. For 6 months, things felt like we were over the hump. But in May, just a few days after her 36th birthday, she discovered another lump. This time, the oncologist discovered that the cancer had spread further. At this point, we found there were basically no chemo treatments available so Nina underwent intense natural treatments, from fasting to vitamin C, to a fully vegan diet. I had never seen Nina so strong or so healthy, but unfortunately the cancer kept spreading. In late December 2018, Nina started struggling with pain and breathing. By mid January, she was admitted into a hospice and passed three days later, leaving behind myself, a 5 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. As horrible and painful as it is to no longer have Nina here with us, we have the faith and hope of being with her again. When I am sad and struggling, I remind myself of the courage, strength and hope Nina displayed, and to know she is now free from pain always brings a smile to my face. The most memorable part of Nina's cancer journey was the way she carried herself and didn't let it get to her. In fact, when she passed, so many people were in utter shock as they didn't know she had cancer, or they didn't realise how bad it was due to her smiling face and pure positivity. She was, and still is, a beacon of life, light and joy. I miss her so much.
— Bruce Rodger
"My name is Hayley McLeod. Im 31 and have 3 beautiful little children and an amazing husband. I am walking for myself as I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. My very good friend Aimee is walking with me as she has been such an amazing support through my journey this year. I found the smallest little lump on my left breast. When I went to get it checked the surgeon found another lump that was much bigger (13mm) then the 2mm one that I found. They did a lumpectomy first taking both lumps and a few lymph nodes. They knew the bigger one was cancer from a biopsy, but they didn’t test the smaller 1. When the results came back it showed both lumps were cancer. So 10 days after my first surgery I had a mastectomy on the left side. I started chemo four weeks after surgery. The first four rounds were brutal. Which was hard with the kids. But with amazing support from my amazing family and friends we got there. But I am almost done the second lot of chemo now. I will have only one round left after the Pink Star Walk. I think it's a great event and will be nice to see people who have survived it as most of the time you only hear the bad endings. And it's also good to bring awareness to other people as cancer has no age limit so it gets people checking which is most important.
— Hayley Mcleod
"My name is Courtney and I am 28 years old. Over a month ago I was in the shower and as I washed my breast I felt a small tender lump near my sternum. I didn't freak out immediately as I knew that a lot of women get cysts etc that are not harmful, so the first thing I did was call Healthline. After answering a lengthy 20 minute questionnaire about my health, family history etc they told me it was highly unlikely to be anything serious, but to go see my GP if I felt it get any bigger. So at the end of the phone call I was relieved and carried on as usual without giving it a second thought. That relief was short lived as I received a phone call from my GP a few days later, she had been sent the notes from my call with healthline. She was not so quick to rule out anything serious and asked me to come in for an examination. She examined the lump and said it was likely to be a fibroadenoma (a non-cancerous tumour commonly found in young women), but referred me to have an ultrasound just to be sure. Unfortunately the ultrasound was not conclusive so they asked me to come back on Friday to have a biopsy done. That was not a pleasant experience. I was told that I would most likely get my results the following Friday, or if I was lucky they might come back Thursday. So I carried on as usual in ignorant bliss thinking that I had days before I needed to worry about what might come next. On Tuesday morning my phone rang - it was my doctor. As soon as I saw that pop up on my screen my heart sank and the nerves set back in. The woman on the phone was very vague, and simply said that they had my test results and would like to discuss them in person. As soon as she suggested that I bring a support person with me I knew. I had spent all that time trying to be positive, but at that moment I knew. I called my husband and my mum in a blubbering panic and they both said they would come to the appointment with me at 4pm. It was an incredibly long wait till 4pm, as I tried to stay busy at work so as not to let my mind run wild. My husband came to pick me up from work to take me to the appointment just in case it was bad news and I couldn't drive home. We (along with my mum) all waited nervously for my name to be called. When my GP called my name and our eyes met I could already tell from the look on her face that I was right in my assumption that it wasn't good news. She cut straight to the chase and just like ripping off a bandaid, she said that it was breast cancer. My entire world had just been tipped upside down. After those two words were said I don't remember much, except for the part that she said it was a Grade 3 (aggressive type) cancer. She then brought my mum into the room and broke the news to her, it was awful. I could see her heart break as she said the dreaded "C" word. She prescribed me anti-anxiety and sleeping pills at that point, and said that I should expect a call from a specialist to discuss further steps, but that I could be waiting for that call for around two weeks. Luckily for me, I was able to get an appointment a few days after my diagnosis so I felt much better that we at least had the ball rolling. From there it has been a whirlwhind of meetings with my surgeon, chemo specialist, radiation specialist, psychologist, fertility specialist, and numerous tests etc. I've had two ultrasounds with biopsies (as after having an MRI they saw what looked to be another lump in my other breast - turns out that that was a fibroadenoma), a chest xray, a mammogram, and I can't even count how many blood tests. Before I knew it I was being handed my hospital admissions form to have surgery (Wide Local Excision and Sentinel Node Biopsy) on Tuesday 15/10. I have a long road ahead of me, but I am very lucky to have a large support network of family and friends to help me through it all, including my husband who has been incredible and my absolute rock since getting my diagnosis. After surgery, I will be started on hormone injections and will then have my eggs retrieved and embryos frozen as a precautionary measure with the effects of chemotherapy in mind. After that, chemotherapy will start and will likely continue for months. Then, a month after chemotherapy has finished, I will have radiation treatment, after which I hope to be completely CANCER FREE. Despite the incredibly hard journey I see ahead of me I am trying my best to stay positive and cope as well as I can by taking it one day at a time. All going well on Tuesday, I will be at the Pink Star Walk on Saturday with my large cheer team walking alongside many others in the hopes that the money we raise will fund more awareness and vital research so that perhaps one day women may never have to worry about or fear breast cancer anymore.
— Courtney Weerasinghe
"On the 14/07/2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Everyone who has a cancer diagnosis can tell you the exact date they are told. I now refer to my life now in two stages... BC (before cancer) and PC (post cancer). We are very fortunate that we live in NZ where we have a breast screening program. Because I was having two yearly mammograms my cancer was picked up very early (hadn't gone to my lymph nodes). It was a progesterone, oestrogen and HER2 positive breast cancer which meant it was aggressive but fortunately as it was caught so early it was very treatable. I'm also extremely lucky that herceptin is now publicly funded. This is the wonder drug that ensures those with a HER2 diagnosis now survive allot longer. I couldn't imagine BC how anyone would cope being told they had cancer. For me I was shocked and very wobbly initially and had a week off work to adjust. I had to chunk the treatment into 4 stages so it wasn't completely overwhelming and focussed on one stage at a time. Stage 1 CUT.....surgery...I now have boobs of a 17 year old ...gone from a g to a d cup. Stage 2 POISON..... chemotherapy....this was weekly for 3 months and is the hardest thing I have had to go through. Having to turn up and have poison injected into your veins takes allot of mental stamina and was only possible with the support of my chemo buddies. Stage 3 - BURN ....radiotherapy - 16 consecutive daily zaps of my right boob to be exact. Can't speak highly enough of our radiation oncology unit at Wellington Hospital they have it nailed from a consumer experience perspective. Stage 4 - RECOVERY. I took five weeks leave after the first three stages and thought when I came back to work I would be able to pick up exactly where I left off. I tried that and 5 weeks later was exhausted and caught a virus. It actually takes 5-6 months to recover from stages 1-3. My immunity was impaired, body extremely fatigued, I got tired very easily, felt much more vulnerable and really felt the cold. It's been quite the treatment journey and the only way I have been able to get through it all is because of the incredible support I received. Having breast cancer has changed my life. PC I now exercise regularly, have dramatically reduced my wine intake, eating allot healthier and working on my work/life balance. I actually feel physically unwell if I don't do this and by doing so I'm dramatically reducing my risk of getting breast cancer again (which is a great motivator). The reason I am so open about my experience and sharing my story, and why Team Itty Bitty Titty are doing the Pink Star Walk for the third time this year, is because I want to raise awareness of the importance of early detection. (Photo the first year and in my eleventh week of chemo). There was no history of breast cancer in my family. I didn't do my own breast examination BC. Fortunately I did get regular mammograms. What is very worrying is that 27% of eligible women still do not get regular breast screening. I hope my story inspires you to be doing all you can to reduce your own risk and those that you care about, through early detection. 3300 women and 25 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and more than 600 die. The NZBCF has a vision of zero deaths from breast cancer. By making sure you do your own regular breast examinations and those eligible having regular mammograms you are significantly increasing the chances of early detection and positive treatment outcomes. I am living proof of that. I now have 97% chance it won't come back because of early detection and prompt treatment.
— Caroline Tilah
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