Renae Vojtek is honoured to be the first ambassador for Victoria University’s Pink Ribbon Day in support of women’s cancer on Thursday October 10.
After surviving her own battle with breast cancer this year, the 36-year-old VU project manager is using her experiences to raise money for the Cancer Council for treatment and research, and support the many thousands of other Australian women affected by cancer.
“My aim is to urge women who are diagnosed never to give up,” she says.
Renae’s strong family history with the disease is typical of the estimated 50 Australian women diagnosed each day with breast or gynaecological cancer.
Her grandmother had a double mastectomy, and her mother died four years ago within months of being diagnosed, aged 56.
“They were normal women of their generation – they didn’t talk about it, and were busy working and taking care of their families – which always came first.”
Renae was vigilant as a result of her mother’s death, getting frequent check-ups and monitoring her body for changes.
But Renae was not prepared for the news her doctor gave her in April that she too had breast cancer after she noticed “something didn’t feel right” following a gym workout.
“I felt a slight bruising on my left side and thought I’d pulled something,” she says. “But when it didn’t go away, I got it checked.”
The next few days were a roller coaster of emotions. Renae was called back to her doctor to learn the devastating results of her ultrasound on a Wednesday, was in hospital on Thursday, and had 90-minute surgery to remove a lump from her breast on Friday.
“My doctor said he needed to get it out as quickly as possible because it was an aggressive form of cancer.”
Renae credits an astonishingly quick recovery from her operation followed by several months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to the incredible support of her family, especially her partner Eddie and their 8-year-old son Aidan. She also praises her colleagues at Victoria University, especially those she has worked closely with in the Facilities department at Footscray Park for the past three years.
“Everyone has been wonderful and I have been lucky to be surrounded by great people through all this.”
Renae was inspired to launch VU’s first Pink Ribbon Day – established exclusively for women’s cancers – by her colleagues asking what they could do to help her.
VU's Pink Ribbon Day event will take place at Footscray Park Campus from 12pm-2pm with food, raffles and a silent auction that includes a pink kayak. All staff across the University will be encouraged to wear pink for the day and make a donation to the Cancer Council.