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Raising awareness of young women's breast cancer

Merran Taylor, a clinical coder in the HIS team at Dandenong, has been chosen to be one of So Brave’s 2018 Model Ambassadors. So Brave is Australia’s young women’s breast cancer charity which aims to raise awareness of breast cancer diagnosis in young women and fund breast cancer research. Merran will be featured in So Brave’s 2019 Fundraiser Calendar – an incredibly inspiring, colourful, empowering visual representation of the metamorphosis that each young woman has gone through in their breast cancer treatment. Each model is painted in full body paint and photographed for the incredibly body-positive calendar – to be launched in September 2018.

The calendar includes tips about breast care and breast health for women under 40 and shares the model’s stories. Its aim is to create awareness for breast cancer in young women and fund breast cancer research to better prevent, diagnose, monitor and treat breast cancer, especially in young women. All of the model ambassadors have been diagnosed with breast cancer before they turned 40.

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Merran was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 39... “I was a busy working mum of two young girls and put my health last on a long list of things I had to do. A lump had appeared about 6 weeks prior to diagnosis but I didn’t get it checked until a visit to the GP for something else. By that stage it had spread to my lymph nodes.

A week later I started neo-adjuvant treatment - 6 months of chemotherapy, then 5 weeks of radiotherapy and finally a mastectomy, full lymph node clearance and reconstructive surgery. I recently had prophylactic surgery to remove my ovaries & fallopian tubes and I will be on medication for at least the next 10 years.

I thought I was too young to get breast cancer. I thought it was something that happened in your 50’s and 60’s. I didn’t feel sick – a bit tired but I don’t know a parent who isn’t. I also had a benign lump in the other breast a few years previously, so I thought it was nothing. I am participating in the calendar to raise awareness with other women my age that it’s important to know your body and get anything that seems unusual checked. It’s ok to put you and your health first”

Fundraising from the 2019 calendar will support So Brave’s Research Grants Program which will fund research to educate, prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor breast cancer in young women under 40. $1 from every calendar sold also goes to the McGrath Foundation.