Author(s): Jo Wiles
When Jane McGrath met breast care nurse Alison Szwajcer after her diagnosis of secondary breast cancer her words were, 'Today I met an angel'. It was then she realised she could make a difference to all Australians experiencing breast cancer - to help them and their families through this confusing, upsetting time. Her wish was to make sure that every family going through breast cancer had an angel by their side - someone to talk through the practicalities of the medical journey but also to help keep life on track. This is how the McGrath Foundation was born. As the McGrath Foundation celebrates its tenth anniversary, there are more than 100 McGrath Breast Care Nurses across the country - from rural Tasmania to Broken Hill to the Great Ocean Road to Western Australia and beyond. These specialist nurses support families through breast cancer by providing invaluable physical, psychological and emotional support from the time of diagnosis and throughout treatment. The support McGrath Breast Care Nurses provide across the country is as unique as this great land. One nurse arranged for a 'roo-sitter for a patient's pet joey while she had surgery. Another supported a patient who painted her country pub pink to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation. Another grew so close to a beloved patient she was asked to give the eulogy at her funeral. This is a moving tribute to the strong bonds that form between nurses and their patients. It is also a celebration of Jane McGrath's enduring and precious legacy.
Jo Wiles is a journalist who was previously Deputy Editor of The Australian Women's Weekly and Executive Editor of Woman's Day. Jo was also the Founding Editor of The Australian Women's Health Diary, a fundraising diary produced by AWW on behalf of the Breast Cancer Institute of Australia. In Jo's 14 years as editor, the diary raised $8.1 million for clinical trials research into the causes and treatment of breast cancer.