We’d like to think otherwise but In all honesty it’s pretty rare that our work in the media actually makes a substantial ‘difference’.
Every now and then something comes along to restore your faith in the role of the media … and reminds us why we work in this ‘game’.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take images of ‘Kate’ … studio shots showing her character and the scars that have been part of her life since a double mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis years ago. The Sunday Mail have been going hard on a campaign to reduce hospital waiting times for surgery in Queensland hospitals … and Kate Yeoman is a prime example.
Kate is one of dozens who have been on hospital waiting lists for breast reconstruction surgery for many years. She was diagnosed with rare Tubular Carcinoma cancer eight years ago and endured a double mastectomy. She was advised that breast reconstruction would be implemented at the same time. It wasn’t and she is still waiting …
I made this image (below) in a friends little (private) studio … it featured across page 1 of the Sunday Mail with the head ‘Forgotten Women’ and Kate’s tale by journalists Jackie Sinnerton and Natasha Bita. Kate’s story spread to two more inside pages where it expanded to include narrative from three other women in a similar situation. The story and images have since spread around Australia.
The reaction by readers and the Queensland Government was immediate. The Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said he was “personally moved” by the Sunday Mail image and story on Kate’s plight and the other women’s stories. “My heart breaks reading the very personal stories of women affected by breast cancer,” Mr Miles said. “I’ve asked for Cairns Hospital to meet with these patients to ensure they receive their surgery as soon as clinically possible.”
Miles has now arranged for twenty four Cairns women with long standing issues to receive their required surgery in Brisbane … whilst Kate will have surgery in Cairns on 2nd of April to reconstruct the breasts she has been without for a too long eight years.
It gets better … in news just to hand (Saturday 29th Feb) the Queensland Government has announced that it will open operating theatres on weekends to ease patient wait lists and will pump in $20 million to do so and to implement other strategies.
Kate … who deserves a bloody medal for her magnificent courage and fortitude … is over the moon.
Kate today said “I am sitting in Kmart crying tears of joy. This is life changing for so many. Thank you to everyone who has recognised the importance of this, Sunday Mail, both sides of government and the public who have reached out after my very personal exposure. My mum was right, I shouldn’t have to go such extraordinary lengths to get this issue some attention, but I am so proud of what has been achieved. The impact of long waits can be devastating and this much needed funding injection will change and perhaps even save lives. Let’s hope this also creates a change in policy and that reconstruction is recognised as an important part of the treatment plan for breast cancer patients in Queensland.”
It gives you goosebumps … and I’m so pleased to be a tiny part of a triumph for Kate and many other Cairns women.
Images © Brian Cassey and Sunday Mail (slightly differing images of Kate) (below)