When Jodie made the decision to start a support group meeting local to the Hawkesbury it was made that little bit easier when her beautician at the time connected her with another one of her clients who had also just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Jodie made the call and arranged to meet up in a coffee shop with Susan. They instantly bonded and cried, and shared their fears for what they were going through. Word of mouth prevailed and soon enough there were 5 or 6 ladies and the group continued to grow over time.
Over the years the group increased in size and it has been so amazing to meet such beautiful, brave and courageous women and see the impact that the support groups have on them. Today we have at least 20-25 women attend our monthly support group meetings.
Behind the scenes Jodie was still competing in triathlons and fundraising for research and together with best friend Kym Burton, other fundraising events were being held locally to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women. A decision was made to set up a registered charity and fundraise to support women of the Hawkesbury diagnosed with breast cancer. Any money raised would be used to help local ladies financially, and we could offer them services to help them whilst they are going through their treatment. We enlisted a team of friends who offered different skills including Maria Miller who is still a part of the management team today.
For the next 9 years Jodie, Maria and Kym volunteered their time and managed the Pink Finss whilst juggling family commitments and working. During those 9 years we worked hard at establishing two core fundraising events, the annual Pink Finss Charity race day and the Pink Tie Ball which, along with further community support, funded the donations being made to our ladies. We have developed some amazing relationships with local sponsors during this time many of which have been with us since the very first year and its made our job so much easier knowing we have their backing and support. We have enlisted the help of local volunteers for our events one of which is Emma Jane Garrow who is now our Events and Social Coordinator and who plays a big role in planning our successful events.
Throughout those 9 years the network of ladies that we helped continued to grow and sadly the demand to expand our service offering to ALL women’s cancers was inevitable and in 2017 we opened up to support all women’s cancers. Shortly thereafter it also became inevitable that we needed a “home”. Somewhere our ladies could come to in private, and which could comfortably house the numbers attending each month. We were fortunate enough to secure some space in the Old Hawkesbury Hospital in Windsor and our very special home was created. We had some office space, and a place for an oncology massage therapist to work out of.
2019 was a BIG year for the Pink Finss. The workload continued to increase and the demands it was placing on the team (who were still all volunteers) was becoming unrealistic to manage. Kym Burton was the first employee of the Pink Finss and would be working full time to manage the Pink Finss. Having somebody working for the Charity meant we could focus more time on connecting with our community and work on the systems we needed in place to service our ladies. It has always been the aim of the Charity to help as many people as possible so when we were approached by Hawkesbury Living Cancer Trust who offered a funding commitment if we opened up to men it seemed like the transition that we needed. We had systems that worked, the staff and facilities to manage the workload and now we had a funding commitment to enable us to do it.
A part of this funding commitment provided for us to employ another person and in 2021 we employed Leann Tibbey. Leann has a personal connection to Pink Finss having supported her own sister through breast cancer and receiving support from Pink Finss during that time.