Read the latest news from the Waikato Breast Cancer Research Trust.

October’s Breast Cancer Awarness Month Events

Breast cancer awareness is marked in countries across the world every October, to help raise awareness of early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease. This year we were part of several events to raise awareness of the research and clinical trials we are part of, as well as to raise funds to make our research happen.


The Breeze Waikato started the month riding for awareness with ‘Bras on Bikes’. Camille and Stu were joined by former captain of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Silver Ferns team, Casey Kopua and The Block boys, Sam and Ethan, for a bike ride along Cobham Drive. Despite a downpour at the start of the ride, the team wore smiles throughout the morning dressed in some of our finest decorated bras and their main message was “women and men – check your breasts!”


On 23rd October our Best of Dinner was a stunning event held at the heritage Matangi Dairy Factory. Guests enjoyed stand out entertainment from the recent “We Will Rock You” musical, performed by members of the cast from The Clarence Street Theatre. Our very special guest speaker Rachel Māia moved and inspired the audience with her courage and bravery as she spoke of her journey after leg amputation, including regaining her love of rock climbing that led her to compete internationally and locally.  The dinner was an opportunity to share with guests the work of the WBCRT and inspire them to ‘never let it rest’ with us. 


We were very grateful to Colleen Earby and the Huntly Women’s Allsortz Group for once again organising the Huntly Pink Walk and raising funds for Waikato based breast cancer research. Shelley Moffit from Harcourts Huntly did another fantastic job organising a bake sale (raising $821) and local teenager, Elle Rendell raised $250 from a cake raffle in support of her mother Tania who has been going through breast cancer treatment.

Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson and wife Trish also dressed in pink and showed their support for the cause. Allan has a number of close family members who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thank you, Huntly, for your fundraising efforts!


On the 31st October over 500 people took part in Hamilton’s Pink Walk & Button Run around Hamilton Lake. We were blown away with the support for local breast cancer research, not only from participants but also local businesses who donated prizes. Braemar Hospital were our main sponsor for the eighth year, and their ongoing support is truly appreciated.

Local band The Meraki entertained the crowd along with our MC, Camille from The Breeze Waikato. Curves Gym got everyone warmed up and we loved having SBI Productions help us out again this year with sound and live streaming.

A special thank you to all of our volunteers who gave up their time to put up promotional signage, help with registrations, marshal around the lake, cook sausages and everything in between.

Over $20,000 was raised through registration fees, raffle ticket sales, merchandise sales, and donations for the sausage sizzle and face painting, by Alicia Sim Artistry. A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved and making the Hamilton Pink Walk another huge success!


As a small, local charitable trust we receive minimal government funding for research and we rely on the generosity of people donating, sponsoring and fundraising for the vital research and clinical trials that make a difference to the diagnosis and treatment of those with breast cancer. Once again thank you to everyone who has been a part of our journey this year.

The better we understand it,

through research,

the BEST we can fight it!

2020 Pink Walk and Button Run

A HUGE thank you to so many individuals, volunteers, businesses and groups for being a part of the 2019 Pink Walk and Button Run! 

A very special thank you to our gold sponsor for eight years now, Braemar Hospital Your ongoing support is truly appreaciated and not only covers the cost of the running this event but also keeps everyone fed after with a great sausage sizzle!

Thank you to SBI Productions for their incredible donation of sound, lighting, screen and live feed again this year. Russell and the team worked extremely hard yesterday for us and we’re excited to see the footage from the event.

Heartfelt thanks goes to Red Events and Errol Newlands for their continued support of the Waikato Breast Cancer Research Trust.

There were many others who contributed to the success of the event…our volunteers that helped with registrations, giving out bibs, selling merchandise and raffle tickets, timing, marshalling, cooking sausages, setting up, packing away and everything else in between! We could not do it without each and every one of our volunteers! 

Thank you to Camille for being our fabulous MC and the whole team from The Breeze Waikato for their support, as well as the Waikato Treasure ChestsWaikato Rugby and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic for coming on down and the team from Chartwell Curves for warming up the crowd.

Thanks to Winger Hamilton and Schick Civil Construction for helping us share the event with a sign written car and the Waikato Business News for another great feature on breast cancer awareness.

It was great having Mercury support us again this year by providing their marquee and Allied Security Ltd for looking after it overnight as well as Vege-King donating fruit at the finish line. Alicia Sim Artistry also did some beautiful face painting.

The Meraki were fantastic at entertaining the crowd! Thanks to TR Group Truck & Trailer Rental NZ for providing their stage to perform on!

Thank you to Isla Trapski Photography for capturing the event and to your ongoing support and contribution to the work we do.

Thank you to all the businesses that donated prizes, in no particular order: Midas Diamond JewellersFastlane FitnessSkyCity HamiltonBody CafeDirect Group UniformsSouth City Health Pharmacy HamiltonDinsdale Westend PharmacyHot Gossip Bra ShopBunnings south HamiltonPlacemakers Hamilton and Westpac Hamilton.

And last but no least, thank you to all 500 of your that registered and took part in the walk and run, each one of you has contributed to better outcomes for those diagnosed with breast cancer. 💛

From the Waikato Breast Cancer Research Trust we are incredibly humbled by the level of support and contributions from so many. Thank you for helping us “never let it rest”.

Welcome to our new team member

Donna has joined our team as Personal Assistant to Dr Ian Campbell. Donna has a health and science background and many years’ experience as a Research Coordinator working in Interventional Cardiology initially, then as a Senior Research Coordinator for the Vascular Interventional Research Unit at Auckland Hospital.  Donna also has a background in Pharmacy and Teaching Support Work specialising in Dementia care.  

Donna values the positive impact research has on people’s lives, and values working with like-minded people who are innately motivated to achieve better health outcomes for all people. 

Breast cancer is a new area to Donna’s working knowledge and experience, however, Donna appreciates and understands the importance of mothers, daughters, sisters and best friends and is moved to support the WBCRT in any way she can. 

BEST OF Dinner 2019

A heartfelt thank you to everyone that contributed to such an incredible event at the Matangi Dairy Factory on 23rd October. We really had the BEST time and throughly enjoyed entertainment from The Clarence St. Theatre and we were moved and inspired by our guest speaker, the bold, brave and beautiful Rachel Māia.

A special thanks to Gallagher Group, our major sponsor, and the many generous businesses and individuals who donated services, time and raffle items.

Photos courtesy of Mirror Magic

Research continues to answer questions about sentinel lymph node biopsy

Whether or not breast cancer has spread to the axillary or armpit lymph nodes, remains an important indicator of outcome for women/wāhine with breast cancer, and may help predict the need for further treatment (e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy). Historically axillary node status has been determined by removal of most of the nodes (axillary clearance).  This operation may lead to arm swelling (lymphoedema), pain, some abnormal skin sensation or shoulder stiffness.

Waikato Hospital surgeons and researchers introduced “sentinel node biopsy” to breast cancer surgery in 2002. Sentinel node biopsy involves the removal of only a small number of lymph nodes most closely related to the breast cancer.

The Waikato is now a centre for a fourth international sentinel node biopsy trial. It is important we carefully evaluate the benefits and risks of introducing this lesser surgery to the axilla for women/wāhine with different types of breast cancer. Helen is a participant on the “Sentinel Node biopsy versus Axillary Clearance Part 2 (SNAC 2) trial, she recently shared with us her journey.

As the daughter of a pharmacist and a nurse, being an occupational therapist myself and married to a medical man, particpating in a clinical trial seemed sensible

“It has been difficult to remember many details about this story as it began 10 years ago, and my mind has proven to have the ability to forget the actual pain and discomfort.

I had had a history of cysts over the years so when a routine mammogram indicated I should have an ultrasound; I assumed more cysts. I was surprised to be told I had breast cancer and disbelief was my initial reaction as I felt remarkably fit and healthy and well! My next reaction was “Tell me the plan to get rid of it”. The label for my breast cancer was multifocal grade 2 invasive lobular carcinoma and the advised plan was to have a total mastectomy with reconstruction. ‘In for a dime, in for a dollar’ – get it all over and done with in one hit was my reasoning.

With this plan timetabled, my surgeon, Ian Campbell, asked if I would participate in a clinical trial. As the daughter of a pharmacist and a nurse, being an occupational therapist myself and married to a medical man, this seemed sensible. I reasoned that it may help with future treatments and improve life expectancy for others. It was SNAC 2 trial, Sentinel Node biopsy versus Axillary Clearance.

Needless to say, I ascertained there was no additional risk to myself, only a couple of extra appointments and another ultrasound with dye injected to trace which lymph nodes were feeding / draining the three tumours.

My surgery proceeded as expected but then came the news that one lymph node had cancer cells and with that news, another date with the surgeon was organised. Following this I was discharged with a drain in place which the district nurse encouraged me to keep until there was no more fluid to drain. I have been lucky enough to escape any issue with lymphoedema.

For some weird reason I had thought that the surgeries would suffice to beat this cancer but no … chemotherapy, followed by radiation, gave me better survival stats so again – ‘in for a dime in for a dollar’. I took all the drugs to combat the side effects of chemo, wore my wig and managed.  The radiation was a chore and I remember feeling weary towards the end. Now, 10 years later, the whole experience is a bit of a blur, but I know it irrevocably changed my life and furnished me with the resilience and understanding to dual with further life events.

I know that I would not have come to this place without the comfort and kindness of friends and family.”

Springtime’s Breast News

Check out our springtime newsletter and our upcoming BEST events you can get involved with to help FUNdraise for the Waikato Breast Cancer Research Trust.

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Hilary’s story of EXPERT trial participation

“Having a cancer diagnosis makes you realise there are many different kinds of cancer and that the medical profession is constantly trying to discover how best to deal with the disease”.

Last year I had breast conserving surgery for a stage two cancer, picked up by mammogram. Among all the emotions you go through with a cancer diagnosis, there was a small sense of relief that mine had been found at an early stage by having regular mammograms, as it would have been too small to be detected otherwise. 

I was asked at Waikato Hospital if I’d be interested in participating in the EXPERT trial if I was a suitable candidate – and this brought another little glimmer of light  that in some way I could help the search for better cancer treatments.

Before my surgery, I’d been told that the follow-up treatment would be several weeks of radio therapy plus hormone therapy.

This initiated late night web searches about potential side effects and the effectiveness of radio therapy for breast cancer. I found out more than I really wanted to know about radiotherapy, but also learned that there is some doubt as to whether it is necessary for all types of breast cancer and that the only way of finding out was to carry out clinical trials like EXPERT.

Fifty years ago the only treatment for breast cancer was a radical mastectomy followed by cobalt radiotherapy and it’s only through clinical trials that breast conserving surgery has become the norm for low risk cancers like mine.

Knowing more about the treatment options and having information about potential side effects and what type of cancer I had, helped me feel more comfortable about making a decision for my own treatment.

As we live on the Coromandel Peninsula, I travel three hours each way to attend appointments, but I feel it’s important to be involved in research which will help the treatment of other women, and also so that I can benefit from the long term follow-up that the study provides.

Waikato Treasure Chests need more women power

The Waikato Treasure Chests (WTC) are our local dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors and supporters. A competitive team consists of 22 women in the boat. There is increasing evidence that exercise benefits breast cancer survivors, including reducing risk of breast cancer recurrence. Dragon boat paddling also helps maintain the mobility of the arm most affected by the breast cancer surgery.

The objectives of the WTC are to;

  • promote wellness, fitness, fun and camaraderie,
  • send a positive message of hope to other people living with breast cancer and to those who support them,
  • raise awareness about breast cancer whilst supporting the search for a cure.

Give it a go!

For further information waikatotreasurechests17@gmail.com or follow WTC on Facebook www.facebook.com/waikatotreasurechests

Breast Cancer Trials annual conference

Breast Cancer Trials Australia & New Zealand (BCTANZ)  is the largest breast cancer research group in NZ and many of the clinical trials that the WBCRT team enable are coordinated through this group.

Waikato researchers, Dr Ian Campbell, Dr Marion Kuper and research nurse Heather Flay attended the BCT conference held this year in Adelaide, South Australia.

There were many eminent international breast cancer experts who updated conference attendees on a cross section of topics relating to breast cancer diagnosis, care and treatment.

Topics covered advances in breast imaging, the management of low to intermediate grade ductal carcinoma insitu (surgery or active monitoring) and the need to develop laboratory tests that distinguish between aggressive and non-progressive forms of DCIS (which is sometimes referred to as a pre-cancerous condition), the introduction of new technologies to assess surgical margins during breast conserving surgery and more. 

It is always inspiring to have local and international experts passing on their knowledge and experience of practice and research from international cancer centres. We can bring this knowledge back for the benefit of Waikato wāhine/women.

Clinical trial “ Examining Personalised Radiation Therapy (EXPERT) for low-risk early breast cancer

The current standard of care for women with early breast cancer is radiation therapy after breast conserving surgery to reduce risk of recurrence and improve survival. However, breast cancer is a complex disease and the absolute benefit of radiation therapy in individual patients varies substantially. 

The EXPERT clinical trial is investigating whether a laboratory test called a genomic assay can help doctors select out women with low risk breast cancer, who may be able to avoid radiotherapy and its associated side effects.This research aims to improve personalised use of radiation therapy in early breast cancer patients, according to individual risk of local recurrence.

Waikato Hospital is a centre for this international clinical trial coordinated by Breast Cancer Trials Australian & New Zealand. Other centres in New Zealand are Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch Hospitals.

To learn more visit: https://www.breastcancertrials.org.au/current-clinical-trials/expert

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