The Button Chest BreastScreen Tasmania
Forster, K., 15th IUCC Reach to Recovery Conference, 2009.
BreastScreen Tasmania is part of the national screening program. The program offers free breast x-rays every two years to women aged 50-69 years. BreastScreen Tasmania screens 26,500 women a year. The service operates from two fixed locations in Hobart & Launceston and a mobile unit screens at approximately 20 locations across the state, including King and Flinders Island. In total the service covers 68,300 sq kilometres. The geographic diversity of the state poses challenges to recruitment of women to the BreastScreen Tasmania program.
The Button Chest project was undertaken in 2006 when almost two thousand women and/or their families who had been diagnosed with breast cancer through BreastScreen Tasmania were contacted. The Button Chest project was based on the original Button Chair created in the USA in 1998. The Button Chest project is a tribute to all women – as well as their families, friends and support networks – who have battled or are currently living with breast cancer in Tasmania. It aims to highlight the importance of screening and particularly the important role that BreastScreen Tasmania plays in ensuring that breast cancer is detected early.
The “chest” or “trunk” was chosen because the breast cancer experience is often called a journey. We felt that for many women the process of telling their story and packing that story into the chest or trunk – whilst being part of their journey – may also mean that they packed up their troubles so to speak. Women who have experienced breast cancer themselves, their families or support networks have contributed both a button and story of that person’s breast cancer journey. Journals contain the collection of stories. The power of the Button Chest is in both the buttons and the compelling stories attached. For many it was the first time they had told their story. There is a common thread though – the diagnosis of breast cancer has changed their lives and most women are thankful for the wonderful detection techniques now available. Many of the buttons are in themselves very special to these women or their families – from very special garments such as wedding dresses. The Button Chest has now become a useful recruitment tool. It travels the state raising awareness in communities of the importance of early detection. The Button Chest has been displayed in community health centres, libraries, doctors surgeries, agricultural field days and health expos. Communities identify with the stories of ordinary women and their families and how their lives have been changed by a diagnosis of breast cancer. Importantly the Button Chest highlights the important role that the BreastScreen program plays in reducing morbidity and mortality from the disease through the early detection of breast cancer. The project is ongoing…….BreastScreen Tasmania is still taking contributions.
Acknowledgements: Gail Raw, State Manager, Cancer Screening & Control Services, DHHS, Tasmania Policy & Education Staff, Cancer Screening & Control Services, DHHS, Tasmania Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina http://www.bcbsncfoundation.org/health-of-vulnerable-populations/breast-health-project/button-chair/