Air Force women think pink for breast cancer
Pink Ribbon Guest Speakers share their experience with breast cancer to raise awareness within the RNZAF community. Left to right - W/O Bronwen Kelly (RNZAF Air Loadmaster), Mrs Sarah Thompson (RNZAF dependant/Registered Nurse), Mrs Jackie Tucker (St Johns Ambulance Officer).
“So – we did find something” are five words Warrant Officer (W/O) Bronwen Kelly will never forget. She experienced first-hand the effects of breast cancer and hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland on Saturday to raise awareness and support the research which helped save her life.
The former Geraldine local and Saint Margaret’s College Old Girl was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 after she found a pea-sized lump in her breast.
“After hearing my surgeon say I had Grade 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, the most common invasive breast cancer, I pretty much glazed over: ‘this can’t be happening’, ‘I have little kids’, ‘I’m young, fit and healthy’, ‘this happens to other people’, were the thoughts going through my head,” said W/O Kelly.
Her survival is credited to her early detection of the cancer and the professionals who made up her medical team.
One year on from her diagnosis and the Auckland mother of two is back at work. She is an Air Loadmaster (ALM), which involves flying on No.40 Squadron’s C-130 Hercules and Boeing 757 aircraft as the crewmember responsible for accurately calculating aircraft weight and balance, and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers and freight.
“I consider that I’ve been given a second chance at life, it really puts things in perspective. I make sure I take time out for myself as well as my kids,” she said.
In July W/O Kelly will celebrate 25 years of being in the RNZAF, after joining in 1989.
“I don’t know where to start with the amazing things I have been privileged to be a part of. Highlights are my deployments to Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands, and Antarctica, as well as supporting disaster relief after the Christchurch earthquakes,” she said.
If you wish to support the RNZAF women you can make a donation through their Pink Ribbon Breakfast fundraising page –Visit http://www.pinkribbonbreakfast.co.nz/page/rnzafbaseaucklandhostpage, click on 'Donate to a Friends Breakfast', then type in RNZAF. All proceeds go to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.