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Locals helping locals

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They’re a passionate bunch who will sew until their fingers ache, all to bring comfort to others.

More than 60 ladies gathered in an unassuming church hall in Kotara last week for a Giant Sew-In to benefit the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation, which supports locals with breast cancer.

Their mission was deceptively simple: to cut, sew, iron and stuff as many Comfort Care Packs as possible, which included a crescent-shaped pillow, designed to facilitate rest, and a bag to hold post-operative drainage tubing, as well as information about the foundation’s services.

The packs are delivered to Hunter hospitals for breast care nurses to distribute to patients who have undergone breast surgery.

The cushions can be used under the armpit, between breasts, as a chest splint, arm rest or as seatbelt protection, while the drainage bags allow patients to move about more easily.

And, in a first this year, blue fabric was used for a number of cushions for the small but measurable percentage of men who develop breast cancer.

The initiative is year-round, with smaller sub-groups of volunteers meeting on a regular basis to sew.

These ladies – known fondly as The Pink Army – are led by volunteer program coordinator and lifetime member of the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation, Jane Harris.

Jane has personally seen to the creation of more than 10,000 care packs over the past 15 years.

In 2018 alone, 620 packs were distributed, and foundation manager Liane Morris says they will go close to that again this year.

Patients who’ve received the packs are effusive in their thanks for such simple items.

Sarahann Collins, who underwent surgery in May, said, “When I had my mastectomy, this pack was comforting to me physically and emotionally. To have these for someone going through a life-altering experience was a really important and touching gesture.”

Established in 2000 by Milton and Virginia Rigby, the foundation is a local charity, to which all donated funds stay in the region.

It is the only breast cancer charity that directly supports individuals living with or dying from the disease, with funds going solely to providing practical assistance – from treatment transport to house cleaning to a free wig library – rather than research.

More than 600 new breast cancer diagnoses are made in the Hunter each year.

For more information, or to get involved or donate, go to hbcf.org.au

The HBCF Comfort Care Packs are proudly supported by AGL.

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