Pink Caravan hits the road 

September 8, 2014
Pink Caravan hits the road to mark 20 years of breast cancer awareness – Kiwis invited to “Pop into the Pink Caravan”

The NZ Breast Cancer Foundation will mark its 20th anniversary – the 20th anniversary of breast cancer awareness in New Zealand – by going on the road. Leaving today, its new, retro-styled Pink Caravan will travel through small-town New Zealand, from Kaitaia to Bluff, with specialist breastcare nurses on board. 
Most of the caravan’s stops will be in towns that don’t have easy access to breast health services.

“We want women everywhere to know all the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, to understand their family and lifestyle risk factors, and to know what to do if they have any worries. We’re inviting women – and men – to pop into the Pink Caravan with their questions,” said Nurse Janice Wood.

The nurses will answer women’s questions about breast cancer and will use a new bioimpedance machine to help women who’ve had breast cancer monitor their risk of lymphoedema (a painful and debilitating condition that can occur many years after breast cancer surgery). In some locations, there will be opportunities for public seminars and training for GPs and practice nurses. A breast surgeon will be on board the caravan in several towns. 

The caravan will feature displays of breast cancer symptoms that most women won’t have seen before, plus male and female prosthetic breasts that will allow people to literally get a feel for what a lump is like. Visitors to the caravan will also be invited to sign a petition asking the Government to extend the upper age limit for free mammogram screening from 69 to 74, bringing New Zealand into line with countries like Australia and the UK.

“It seems hard to believe now, but 20 years ago, no one talked about breast cancer,” said NZBCF chief executive (Mrs) Van Henderson. “Since then, awareness campaigns by the NZBCF, the Ministry of Health and others, along with improved treatments, have reduced mortality by more than 30%.  The Pink Caravan is a chance for us to go out and say thank you to people who have trusted us with their donations over the past 20 years.” 

The Pink Caravan leaves Auckland on Monday September 8, and will be open for business in Kaitaia on Wednesday September 10. It will visit 30 towns, finishing in Bluff on December 6.

The Big Tow / Kiwi Grassroots Support

NZBCF staff have been blown away the level of support the project has received from the community, before the caravan has travelled its first kilometre.
One of the key challenges was figuring out how to move the caravan from place to place – the NBCF calls this the Big Tow. The problem was solved with a call to the NZ Motor Caravan Association, which asked its 53,000 members for help. The result was a flood of offers, many from people who have had breast cancer in their families, others from people who just wanted to support the cause.

The Pink Caravan was purpose-built for the NZBCF by Kevin Redshaw of Timeless Caravans in Palmerston North, who donated much of his time to the cause and enlisted many of his suppliers to do the same. Several of those involved in building the caravan have family members affected by breast cancer, and jumped at the chance to help get the message out.  

Local women’s groups will be helping spread the word in their communities, encouraging people to visit the caravan. Air New Zealand is providing flights to transport the nurses to the caravan’s destinations.

About NZBCF:  The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that depends on individual donations, community fundraising, grants from trusts and foundations and partnerships with business for its work in breast cancer education and awareness, medical research and training grants, advocacy, and supporting women with breast cancer. The NZBCF’s programmes are evidence-based, overseen by its medical advisory committee. The pink ribbon symbol is a trademark of the NZBCF in New Zealand.

For further information:
Adèle Gautier
Research and Communications Manager, NZ Breast Cancer Foundation
09 304 0961 / 021 423 353