So Brave 2018 breast cancer fundraising calendar

So Brave Project: Dr Olivia Bell spent eight hours being turned into a painted masterpiece before heading to the Promised Lands for a photo session. Bodypaint Artist: Wendy Fantasia. Photographer: Jay Black Photography.
So Brave Project: Dr Olivia Bell spent eight hours being turned into a painted masterpiece before heading to the Promised Lands for a photo session. Bodypaint Artist: Wendy Fantasia. Photographer: Jay Black Photography.

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The local launch of the So Brave 2018 breast cancer fundraising calendar, starring Bellingen GP Dr Olivia Bell, will be held on Wednesday October 18 at Cedar Bar and Kitchen.

So Brave is a charity that empowers, educates and supports young women to be breast aware, and the vibrant calendar features body painted breast cancer survivors in their home towns.

Olivia chose to become involved in So Brave and share her story because she was one of the lucky ones, surviving breast cancer after being diagnosed at an early stage at the age of 37. 

She represented Bellingen at the official So Brave national launch on September 22 and 23 in Melbourne and was able to see how the calendar had turned out. 

“I was so excited to see the finished calendar which is just spectacular, as well as to meet the other models and hear their stories,” she said.   

“One of the overwhelming messages I took away from the weekend was that women need to know their body and trust their instinct when something feels wrong.  So many young women struggled to reach diagnosis, needing to self-advocate through the medical system.”

Being a doctor involved in the project gives Olivia the chance to educate and empower young women in how to be breast aware, raising funds along the way.

“I am passionate about sharing my journey as a patient and my knowledge as a GP to raise awareness with So Brave.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 20-40 and both research and early diagnosis are needed to saves lives.”  Next year’s calendar raises money both for research and for the McGraw Foundation Breast Care Nurses to support women in their journey.  It also features regional women from across Australia, with their stories on the website highlighting the challenges rural diagnosis can present.  

“The So Brave Project was something one of my friends suggested, as she was also young and going through her own breast cancer journey.  I have a passion for face painting and it seemed a great way to raise awareness of the impact breast cancer has on young women.  I appreciate that the calendar very much empowers women to celebrate their bodies after the immense changes breast cancer can impose and normalises this for all women touched by this illness.  Volunteering for a body painted calendar shoot is, I appreciate, an unusual thing for a rural doctor to do, so I very much hope this will help raise the discussion about breast cancer and breast awareness both in my community, and throughout our beautiful country.”

The local launch in Bellingen will include education on how to be breast aware, and a Q&A session.  It will be held at Cedar Bar and Kitchen, who are kindly supporting Olivia in hosting the event, from 10:30 – 12:30 on Wednesday October 18.  Entry is by gold coin donation or purchase of a calendar.  

“I would love women of all ages to attend and show their support.  We are all sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. Very few women will think to go to their GP for a reminder on how to be breast aware, so this makes it easy and fun.”  

For details, or to read Olivia’s story, go to the website http://sobrave.com.au

As a doctor and local GP, Olivia is also offering to do sessions talking about her So Brave journey and do a breast education session for any group of 10 or more women, at any organisation, workplace or social group.  

If you are interested please contact through the So Brave website or email team@sobrave.com.au.  To order calendars directly, or to donate, please visit the So Brave website.