By: Joseph Arthur
MULTIPLE clubs across the EFL will support breast cancer awareness and the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) this week by taking part in the organisation’s ‘Pink Sports Day’ program.
Kilsyth Junior Football Club will host ‘Pink at Pinks’ for a third consecutive year, while both Vermont and Heathmont will join in on the movement and host sports days as well.
‘Pink at Pinks’ takes place at Pinks Reserve and is organised by breast cancer survivor, Bonnie Isbester. Bonnie’s son plays for the Kilsyth under-17s and since her diagnosis Bonnie has worked tirelessly in raising funds to support those suffering from breast cancer.
“I was diagnosed almost three years ago at 41 years old, so quite young,” Isbester said.
“Obviously when you get a diagnosis like that you crap yourself and think ‘am I going to survive this?’.
“So I went into the whole ‘I need to help raise funds and awareness’ mode and everything like that.”
It was Bonnie’s desire to help raise funds and awareness that lead to the introduction of ‘Pink at Pinks’ which works in collaboration with the BNCA’s Pink Sports Days, but she hasn’t stopped there.
Bonnie has spoken to multiple junior and senior clubs about her journey from diagnosis to remission in a bid to further raise awareness.
Even meeting and befriending Peter Hitchener of Channel 9 after a talk at Eastern Health, who will toss the coin before the Kilsyth vs. East Burwood under-17s match this weekend.
“All of our teams – we’ve got 13 teams – they all buy the pink socks and all the money goes to breast cancer, so they wear the pink socks and we’ve got the pink armbands, so we just try to do as much as we can,” Isbester said.
“I’ve done quite a few talks at different clubs as well, where I got up and spoke about my experience and told them about my breast cancer journey.”
The journey for Bonnie Isbester has been a challenging one and although her cancer is in remission, the battle continues every day.
Isbester said what’s important to her is always trying to find ways to make something positive from the fight and ensure that others who are diagnosed have access to the same support she did.
“I worked every day through the journey of having treatment, because I couldn’t stop and think, so the biggest part of the struggle is with is your mind, always thinking ‘is it going to come back?’,” she said.
“My biggest thing I like to get out to people is early detection.
“Early detection and awareness, also raising money to find cures and raising money to go towards trials and things like that.
“Getting funding through these sorts of days is very important and it brings the community together, the amount of people that want to donate.”
Breast cancer impacts more than just those diagnosed, it also provides challenges for families and friends who suffer as a result of a loved one’s diagnosis.
“It’s not just me that’s got the breast cancer, it’s someone’s mum, it’s someone’s aunty, someone’s sister, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife and it can even be found in men as well,” Isbester said.
The BCNA works solely to provide support for these men, women and families and the introduction of ‘Pink Sports Days’ has seen donations and awareness increase exponentially.
Pink Sports Day program manager Carmen Mullenger said that community engagement across all forms of sport – particularly football – is crucial to continually supporting those suffering from breast cancer.
“It’s (Pink Sports Days) one of our key community fundraising initiatives,” Mullenger said.
“There’s a fairly rich history in football and Pink Sports Days, we were actually the first charity to ever do breast cancer charity rounds in football.
“Clubs get involved by wearing pink football socks and also just by running charity events and auctions on the day.
“’Pinking up’ as it’s called is a big visual show of support.
“19,500 thousand people are diagnosed every year, including men, so it’s not just a women-only disease,” Mullinger said.
“BCNA are the peak national support organisation for breast cancer Australia, we fund support for the women and their families, that’s our key service.
“Everything that we provide is provided for free to the women, men and families.
“Breast cancer just touches so many people and once it becomes even more personal you just know that it’s worth fighting for.”
For more information on hosting a Pink Sports Day at your club, click here.