14/03/2016

A remarkable woman: Nancy Reagan


In 1981, I was in Washington.  Just as I was about to cross a road, I was swept to one side by the police and the access to the road was closed.  I waited to see what was about to happen.  After about
5 minutes, numerous police cars and a large black car with tinted windows swept past.  In the back was sitting a very elegant woman: Nancy Reagan.  She looked at me and waved.

She became very well known for her anti drug crusade but she made a significant impact on the lives of many women before then.  In 1987, she developed breast cancer and was treated with a mastectomy.  At the time of diagnosis, she apparently said, "I guess it is my turn".  She was referring to the fact that the former first lady, Betty Ford, had also had breast cancer.

Mrs Reagan was open about her diagnosis and encouraged women to visit their doctors for a breast examination.  No formal screening programme was in place at the time.  A study done shortly after her diagnosis showed that 65 of women in the area sampled had seen a health professional for a breast examination.

She was one of the first advocates for breast screening and many women who are breast cancer survivors today can thank her for her public stance.


Reach for Recovery project

Written by Lieske:

Michele Coe (of Reach for Recovery) informed me that they had no bags that they give out to the patients that have had breast cancer surgery. As Elaine Wegelin, my Mom, had been through the surgery side of breast cancer almost exactly a year ago, I asked if she could think of some ways to get the bags made. She jumped right in and said that she definitely wanted to help.

Stella sewed the bags
As she lives in Wellington, she approached some of her friends and also the Wellington Presbyterian Church who are always interested in community projects. She told them about Reach for Recovery and explained how useful the little bag and cushion is post-operatively. There was a lady in the church desperately looking for work. It was arranged that people could donate money towards the project. A certain amount of money would fund 1 bag. In total, they raised enough money to make 120 bags and cushions!

Maureen was involved with the cushions
Reach for Recovery supplied the material and stuffing. About 2 weeks later, Elaine arrived with the 120 bags and cushions. She is hoping to continue the project as she could not believe when she went onto Reach for Recovery's website, that they need about 40 bags per month for the amount of patients that they see on a monthly basis.

Elaine with the final product
She is hoping to find more people to volunteer their time and skills to produce the bags and cushions on an ongoing basis to help these ladies in a small way after their surgery. Thank you Reach for Recovery for the support that you give our patients and a big thank you to each and every person involved with the cushion project!

Some of the finished bags