BHP employee and former Newman FIFO worker, Emily Halberg, is encouraging West Australians to quit alcohol for the month of July, in a bid to raise much-needed funds for West Australians affected by cancer.
Ms Halberg has been named our 2022 Dry July Ambassador after a shock breast cancer diagnosis at just 31 years of age, and just three months into being a first-time mother.
“In November 2020, my son Finn was 14 weeks old when I felt a lump in my right underarm while I was breast feeding and expressing. It felt distinctly different than a blocked milk duct,” Ms Halberg said.
“After a visit to my local GP we decided to do an ultrasound and biopsy to rule out the possibility of cancer, however the day after the biopsy (on the way to my grandfather’s funeral), I got a call from my GP to return to the clinic immediately.
“Further tests revealed I had Grade 3, Stage 2, triple negative breast cancer. As awful as this news felt, I was so thankful the scans had revealed it was contained to the breast only, therefore it was treatable.”
In November 2020, Emily started her treatment which included eight rounds of chemotherapy, 23 rounds of radiation, a lumpectomy, and hook-wire surgery. In May of 2021 she finished her treatment and by November of that year she had returned to full-time work based in the Perth office.
“I’m so grateful to have such a strong support network throughout this journey, including my friends, family and workplace,” she said.
“BHP were generous and supportive, enabling me to transfer from a FIFO to a Perth based role, including granting additional quality time of maternity leave.
“It has been the most challenging 18 months of my life, and I want to do everything I can to prevent others from the same experience.
“I want to raise awareness for people living with cancer and the impact cancer has on families, which is why I am so proud to be Cancer Council WA’s 2022 Dry July Ambassador, and I strongly encourage all West Australians to sign up to Dry July to support Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 Information and Support Line.
“I would like to encourage people everywhere, including my many thousands of colleagues at BHP, to take that step further in the month of July to help raise funds for an important cause.”
Our CEO, Ashley Reid, said committing to the Dry July fundraiser was great way to raise funds for an important cause.
“We are honoured to have Emily on board this year to help raise awareness about our 13 11 20 Information and support line,” Mr Reid said.
“Our 13 11 20 Information and Support Line is a confidential service run by experienced cancer nurses and is available to those affected by or concerned about cancer. This service is not government funded – it is funded through the generosity of donors and fundraisers.
“The service connects West Australians with relevant support, information and resources to help them through their cancer journey. Last year, the service provided support to more than 5500 West Australians.”
Mr Reid said that participating in Dry July also yielded a range of health benefits.
“Going dry for July is a great opportunity to look at how you can reduce your overall alcohol use,” he said.
“Alcohol is a cause of cancer; research shows that every year more than 3,200 cases of cancer can be attributed to alcohol use, such as mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel and breast cancer in women.
“There is no safe level of alcohol use, as any level increases the risk of developing an alcohol-caused cancer. The more you drink, and the more often you drink, the greater your risk.
“To reduce your cancer risk, the message is avoid alcohol. If you do drink, drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 on any day to reduce your risk of harm from alcohol.”
To sign up to Dry July visit https://www.dryjuly.com/cancercouncil
To support Emily visit I’m Dry this July!