Saturday, October 23, 2021

Lessons from cancer: Sydney’s annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

“I knew something was wrong when the nurse attending to me went from being really mean, to really nice.”

Jyoti Jadeja was speaking at the online community event Pink Ribbon Breakfast, an annual fundraiser for breast cancer.

- Advertisement -

Sporting telltale headwear, the 32-year-old had listeners in thrall as she recounted her breast cancer story with characteristic candour.

It all began when she felt the bra pinching, the award-winning Sydney lawyer narrated.

Days later, she had her diagnosis: carcinoma.

The timing of it all, she described, was “a sick joke”. Mum to a two-year-old, she was keen to get pregnant again. The shock diagnosis had urged her to consider having her eggs frozen, but imagine her surprise when the scans revealed she was pregnant already.

“The decision I had to make, was whether to put off chemo till the third trimester, or terminate the pregnancy. In what turned out to be the most harrowing time in this saga, I opted to terminate the pregnancy and begin chemo.”

READ ALSO: “Never thought I’d hear that C word”: Srividya battles ovarian cancer

Melbourne’s Anita Barar

Another speaker Anita Barar, similarly scarf-clad, claimed she saw no signs and felt no symptoms. She has no family history.

Stage III, revealed her diagnosis. And growing aggressively.

“Is this the end of the road for me,” she asked her surgeon.

He replied laughingly, “No, you don’t need to resign yet.”

Our targeted treatment sees 95% success, he assured her.

“I’m happy to report, I’m in the 95%,” proclaimed Anita, an award-winning writer based in Melbourne.

What stood out in both women, admirable in their honest and courageous recounts, was their positive attitude to it all – graceful acceptance, countered with a quiet but dogged determination to resume a normal life as soon as possible. Both admitted to turmoil – and there must be plenty of it ongoing as treatment continues – but they are already brimming with the wisdom of lessons learned.

“Trust in your treatment,” said Anita. “There’s an entire team of wonderful health workers who are currently caring for me, and I am indebted to them.”

“Take a year of your life to focus on the rest of your life,” said Jyoti, advising self-care.

The Pink Ribbon Breakfast, organised by survivors Rekha Rajvanshi and Sue Advani, has gained good profile in Sydney’s Indian community, with numbers increasing each year in attendees as well as donations.

Rekha herself relives the moment many times when years ago, clutching the hands of her two very young kids, her sailor husband away at sea, she waited with bated breath for the surgeon to advise her.

“I had no family around me, and didn’t know many people as we had moved here only recently. But those that I did know, all stepped up to help,” she told Indian Link.

rekha rajvanshi
Rekha Rajvanshi

That was 2007. By 2012, having lost one friend to breast cancer and having seen other friends go through it, she knew she had to do her bit. Together with a colleague she organised the first Pink Ribbon Breakfast, intended as a gentle way to allow sufferers and carers to tell their story among friends, as well as fundraise.

“The response was wonderful, with plenty of warmth and acceptance and hope.”

Today, it’s grown of its own momentum, with many ‘pink sisters’ joining in, dressed in the colour of the day. It’s become one of the mainstays on the annual social calendar.

Attending this year, besides those who have traversed the breast cancer path themselves, were members of parliament, local councillors, medical practitioners and community partners, many of these being repeat attendees.

Nearly $4200 was raised this time round at Pink Ribbon Breakfast, slightly lower than previous years no thanks to lockdown. It would have been so easy to give the event a miss this year, as one guest Julia Finn MP observed, but for Pink sisters Rekha and Sue, it was imperative that they soldier on.

As Jyoti and Anita recounted their heart-wrenching stories, perhaps there were many women, microphones muted and cameras turned off, who lifted a hand to do a quick self-check.

If they did, then Pink Ribbon Breakfast is evidence that grassroots efforts and bottom-up approaches – by lone citizens willing to drive change that they are concerned about – can indeed create the necessary momentum.

Visit for more information:

National Breast Cancer Foundation

READ ALSO: Pink Sari Inc launches two new health projects

Link up with us!

Indian Link News website: Save our website as a bookmark

Indian Link E-NewsletterSubscribe to our weekly e-newsletter

Indian Link Newspaper: Click here to read our e-paper

Indian Link app: Download our app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play and subscribe to the alerts


Twitter: @indian_link

Instagram: @indianlink

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/IndianLinkMediaGroup

- Advertisement -
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

  To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic death...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Being a ‘Chutney Mary’ and an unlikely romance with India (Book...

  For Melbourne-based social and political researcher Valerie Britton-Wilson, India has long held inexplicable allure. In her latest book A Touch of India she details...

The best of Perth

  Residents of Perth will proudly tell you that their city is the most isolated in the world. The journey from Sydney on the Indian...
smriti mandhana

WATCH: Smriti Mandhana on joining the Sydney Thunder (WBBL)

  Indian star opener Smriti Mandhana, the first Indian female cricketer to score a century in both ODIs and Tests in Australia, is an exciting...
Families ready to reunite with their loved ones overseas. Source Pixabay

Travelling to India after 1 Nov: All your questions answered

  Indian Link CEO Pawan Luthra discusses the Australian government's decision to reopen borders on Nov 1 with travel professional Ashwini Sonthalia. Who can go? Who...
Families ready to reunite with their loved ones overseas. Source: Pixabay

Travel exemption applications now open for parents of Australians

  As Qantas announced the new flights to India, Federal Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews announced that from today, parents of Australian citizens and...