MERCURY SERIES: Making a Difference
The Illawarra Honeybees are an example of how many little things can add up to a lot.
After two years of running community stalls, barbecues, a quilter's expo and warehouse bus trips, the group of 15 women has raised $25,000 to help Professor Chris Ormandy and his team at the Garvan Institute conduct important research into an aggressive form of breast cancer that mostly affects young women.
On Pink Ribbon Day, Professor Ormandy, Dr Warren Kaplan, Dr Alex Swarbrick and Dr Matthew Naylor met 12 members of the group, showing their appreciation for the effort the women, aged from 55 to 92, had gone to.
Professor Ormandy's team is a Cancer Council NSW grant recipient because of the work it is doing to investigate the breast cancer known as triple-negative or "basal-like" breast cancer.
The Honeybees are 15 women with connections to the former Cram House and to Figtree Physical Culture Club.
They are all determined to help make a difference to the mostly young women who fall victim to basal-like breast cancer, which accounts for almost 20 per cent of all breast cancer diagnoses.
Affected women have a poor prognosis, and the Garvan Institute is working to find genes in triple-negative breast cancers that can become targets for new therapies.
It is also looking for genes that can determine which treatments will be most effective.
Honeybees president Lynne Sadd said the group's fund-raising had always targeted breast cancer research.
It all started when Mrs Sadd started teaching at Figtree Physical Culture Club in 2004 and a 36-year-old woman she knew was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Last September, another event close to home prompted the Honeybees to direct their latest efforts to the work being done by Professor Ormandy. That was when the Honeybees discovered their friend and "physie girl" Kim Newman, 31, was undergoing a mastectomy.
"Kim is such a beautiful young woman, with her whole life ahead of her, as are many women in her circumstance," Mrs Sadd said.
"We had this great opportunity to not only invest towards a research initiative, but to direct those funds to a program close to our heart."
Mrs Sadd said the group's oldest fund-raiser, May Evans, is 92.
"We plan a fund-raising event every month."
The women called themselves Honeybees as they were "sweet little ladies ready to sting you for your money".
But Mrs Sadd said they could not have raised more than $80,000 for breast cancer research since 2004 without incredible community support, and the help of the physie club and their families.