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Quentin Bryce to address Canberra women

Beatrice Smith

“It was one of those things when you’re asked to be involved you couldn’t possibly say no.”

From being named Governor of Queensland to holding the auspicious office of Governor-General for five years, Quentin Bryce’s career has taken her across the globe and into the path of many of the world’s most fascinating people.

And this week, she will appear at the National Gallery of Australia on behalf of the women of Australia to support a cause she believes is close to all of our hearts – breast cancer.

“We all know a woman – or many of them- who have had breast cancer,” she says. “It’s something that I care very deeply about because it does affect so many women and is such a serious disease that has just a devastating effect.”

Indeed, the prolific and destructive nature of the disease is what the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) aims to combat with events such as their Pink Lady Luncheon tomorrow, at which Quentin will deliver a keynote address.

“I’m very privileged to have the role of [patron for] BCNA because it’s a very special organisation that’s made a huge difference in the lives of women with breast cancer,” explains Quentin. “[There are] passionate, creative, forward-thinking generous hearted women in that network.”

In the 20 years that Quentin has been involved in breast cancer advocacy (because “You couldn’t possibly say you don’t have time to engage in supporting the fight against breast cancer”) she’s been inspired by the many advances that have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and the care of women with the disease, although she’s always mindful of the women behind the statistics.

“They’re wonderful achievements but we must remember that it’s a very tough disease to go through and that we still have women who die from this disease and women who suffer terribly through advanced breast cancer.”

However, Quentin says she finds it uplifting “how much pink” is spread across the country at the moment, citing the McGrath Foundation as a wonderful example of “people coming together to contribute”. Quentin firmly believes that it is through this supportive network that so much has been achieved.

“It’s because everyone has or has had…someone close to them go through breast cancer,” she says. “I marvel at women’s spirit in dealing with the diagnosis but we have every reason to be optimistic with the research that’s been going on.”

In regards to the women of tomorrow, the young women finishing up Year 12 this year who might someday find the cure for breast cancer, Quentin says she has nothing but high hopes.

Her advice for them would be to “grab every opportunity that comes along, to really enjoy a wonderful time in their lives. These years of transition from girlhood to womanhood are very influential in their development and I want them to be joyous, happy, exhilarating, enriching and rewarding times.”

Quentin recalls that her time as Principal of the Women’s College at Sydney University, living amongst “wonderful young women scholars” was one of her happiest.

“It was such a marvellous time in my life and a great privilege to be part of their lives and encourage them,” she says.

“When I see the young ones on the campus in Brisbane where my office is, my heart skips because I see them doing so many wonderful things and…what I hope for them is that they have true equality of opportunity.”

We can only hope that one of these young women is a future Governor-General.

the essentials 

What: The BCNA Pink Lady Luncheon
When: Wednesday 25 October from 12-2.30pm
Where: The National Gallery of Australia
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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author