Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Pink Walk a first for breast cancer survivor Kristen Cook

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Next week Kristen Cook will dress top-to-toe in pink with her daughter Amiah, aged 3, and walk through Tauranga's CBD to raise awareness. Photo/George Novak
Next week Kristen Cook will dress top-to-toe in pink with her daughter Amiah, aged 3, and walk through Tauranga's CBD to raise awareness. Photo/George Novak

Kristen Cook was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago.

Next week she will dress top-to-toe in pink with other breast cancer survivors, and supporters, and walk through Tauranga's CBD to raise awareness of the disease which kills 600 women a year in New Zealand.

The now 44-year-old was breastfeeding her daughter, Amiah, when she noticed a lump in her left breast last September.

"I felt quite scared when I noticed it, my mother has had breast cancer too," she told The Bay of Plenty Times.

Ms Cook said she rang her mother, Pauline, straight away so she would not forget to get it checked as soon as possible.

Kristen Cook. Photo/George Novak
Kristen Cook. Photo/George Novak

Tests confirmed there was a lump in her left breast about 5cm in diameter. Later tests confirmed the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

It was decided she would need surgery to remove the lump, then chemotherapy and radiation.

At the time her mother moved up from Wellington, and camped in her back yard to help look after her daughter and granddaughter.

Friends and family also set up a Givealittle page and fund raised for her, so she would not have to work while under going treatment.

Ms Cook said the worst part of the ordeal was waiting to have her breast removed - about six weeks after she was first diagnosed.

After the surgery Ms Cook said that she did not fell like herself during post-surgery treatments either.

"I felt like I was in somebody else's body, you are still there inside but just in someone else's body."

After the ordeal, she went back to Nepal where she has worked before. She then had a mini holiday in Thailand, where she did a body cleanse to help get her body on track again.

A year on, she has put the experience behind her, which has made her outlook on life much better, she said.

"The whole experience has had a positive effect. I value my life, my daughter, and feel like I have been given another chance," she said.

Ms Cook, who is now looking for work again, said she wanted to thank those who supported her through her journey.

Next week she will join thousands others in her first Hot Pink Walk around Tauranga.

"I want to give back as much as possible. The Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga and others who have survived breast cancer are the only ones which know what is like.

"I am sure I will be doing the walk every year for a very long time."


The Hot Pink Walk:

5.30pm: Meet at Masonic Park for Zumba warm-ups
5.40pm: Strut your stuff across the stage in your hot pink outfit
5.50pm: A dove release will take part to remember those women and men lost to breast cancer
6pm: The walk starts around Tauranga

For more information on the The Breast Cancer Support Service, head to their website here.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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