Ingredior would like to introduce you to our wonderful client, So Brave. The following Q&A will tell you more about this incredible business and how they’re changing the world for young women with breast cancer all over Australia.
What do you aim to achieve with So Brave?
So Brave’s vision is to be the voice for young women with breast cancer in Australia – to educate and advocate for young women and to continue to fund research that better prevents, diagnoses, treats and monitors breast cancer.
- So Brave believe that young women don’t need to feel alone, they are able to take control of their journey by being their best health advocate, because the lives of young women matter.
- So Brave believe in better outcomes for young women facing breast cancer, their family and carers.
- So Brave believe young women with breast cancer or those that support them, are capable and empowered to help them achieve their dreams, because a diagnosis shouldn’t destroy your dreams.
- So Brave believe in young women taking control, taking action for the best outcomes.
How has Ingredior helped you in your pursuit of those aims?
Ingredior has become an amazing partner to So Brave – from providing bookkeeping and financial services support and workspace for interns to supporting charity at events.
One of So Brave’s core strategic priorities is financial stewardship as a trusted brand and charity in Australia. Ingredior is helping So Brave to deliver on these primary objectives through their oversight – by transparent and prudent business and financial stewardship that will sustain a Brand that is recognised, trusted, disruptive, innovative, vibrant, and relatable to our target audience.
What is the story behind So Brave?
So Brave’s founder, Rachelle Panitz, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32, having just given birth to her son 6 weeks earlier and with a 3-year-old daughter. Breast cancer turned her family and professional life upside down, and even though she was told she was lucky to get a cancer that affects so many women in Australia, she felt alone and strange in a world where the majority of women going through treatment couldn’t relate to her situation. She decided that when she was better, she would harness this setback and help empower other women. As a young mother diagnosed with breast cancer just weeks after the birth of her son, Rachelle wanted to create awareness that breast cancer can happen at any age, with or without a family or genetic history. More importantly, she felt very isolated, confused and frustrated with the lack of medical support and information about the risk of breast cancer and in diagnosing young women.
So Brave was established to support young women through:
- educating young women to be breast aware;
- empowering young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer to reclaim their bodies and remain strong in the face of their diagnosis;
- funding and research to improve outcomes for young women with breast cancer.
Rachel founded So Brave after a chance meeting with internationally renowned body paint artist Wendy Fantasia and the project has gone from strength to strength. So Brave’s first Calendar featured the stories and breathtaking images of young women who were diagnosed with breast cancer before 40 years of age in iconic and beautiful locations in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast. The Calendar, launched in August 2016, began with amazing media publicity and successfully raised $70,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Centre for Personalised NanoMedicine.
So Brave provides services to women across the country, including to regional and remote women. So Brave’s primary fund-raising channel is through the sale of its calendars which feature 12 So Brave model ambassadors (breast cancer survivors) who are painted with full body paint and are then photographed at iconic locations around the country. Its foundational activities revolve around model ambassadors who share their stories and act as patient advocates to educate and raise awareness.
Over the past 12 months, So Brave has hosted over 50 awareness-raising events across the country, talking to, and educating women of all ages about breast health and being breast aware. The fundraising activities have been critical in delivering our empowerment programs, awareness raising activities and funding our donations and investments in breast cancer research. So Brave are now expanding into schools and universities – raising body and breast awareness in young women and men.
So Brave is renowned for the incredible full body paint works modelled by breast cancer survivors. How did you come up with that idea?
Like so much in this project, the beautiful synergies and unexplained coincidences that lead to So Brave’s creation and success has been very organic. From the founding idea, to attracting photographers, models, survivors, supporters and community – it’s a fundamental gap that was missing that is now filled for young women in Australia diagnosed with breast cancer.
What’s one common misconception about breast cancer?
There are many – some women believe it doesn’t happen until you’re older, some don’t believe they need to check because they don’t have a family history, and some think that if it doesn’t hurt then they don’t need to get it checked. All these reasons and many more are the reason why So Brave’s mission about raising awareness of breast cancer in young women, ensuring young women in particular, but all women do regular monthly breast checks and follow through with check-ups with their doctors and getting scans where something unusual for you is present. It can be anything from a lump, to skin dimpling, puckering of the skin or nipple, lumps in the breast or into the armpit, changes to the colour or shape of the breast, changes to the skin of the breast. Anything unusual needs to be investigated. Breast cancer doesn’t have to occur in high risk families with a history of breast cancer either – it can happen to anyone.
What are you hoping to achieve by scaling So Brave?
So Brave want to expand advocacy and awareness programs into senior high schools and universities across Australia. So Brave want all Australian young women and men from high school age up to be #breastaware and body aware – to empower them to be their best health advocates.
So Brave want to develop and expand its “S.M.A.R.T. Women are Breast Aware” message to ensure young women and men know:
S – Significance and Statistics – that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in Australia before they are 80. That in 2018, over 18000 women were diagnosed with the disease, and 5% of these were diagnosed before they were 40 years old. Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women aged 20-39 years old.
M – Manual, Monthly and Mirror – to check every month in front of the mirror, and manually. To know how to check their breasts.
A – Advocacy and Awareness – they know how to check their breasts and advocate for themselves with their local health professionals to get adequate healthcare and diagnosis.
R – Regular and Routine – for young women to know that doing a monthly breast exam is not taboo – it is a normal, healthy part of becoming a woman and in looking after yourself. To engage with young men at these education sessions, talking about overall body awareness, having a good relationship with a GP, and knowing that this could be reality for someone they know – their mum, their girlfriends, their sisters, and future daughters. To also let people know that this happens to 148 men each year.
T – Talk and Tests – Talk with your friends, your medical professionals and ask for tests if anything unusual for you is still present after 4 weeks. To have a regular and trusted GP.
Everyone has a female in their life and, given the chance, would love to ensure their ongoing wellbeing and vitality thrives. If you could give one piece of advice for those who think “it won’t happen to me”, what would it be?
Breast cancer does not discriminate – it doesn’t care how old you are, whether you have a family history, what sexuality or background you’re from. Rachel was young, healthy, pregnant, had breastfed my first child and had no family history. She had to push for her diagnosis and unfortunately this situation isn’t dissimilar to a lot of women across the country. You know your own body – if something isn’t right, get it checked out and make sure you’re doing your monthly checks – it might just save your life!