Think Pink this October and help enable a better journey through breast cancer

Kaylah Joelle Baker

This October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Think Pink Foundation is hosting a fundraiser for its Living Centre in Docklands.

The fundraising event will incorporate three fun and practical makeup masterclasses hosted by Nutrimetics specialist and Living Centre volunteer Lucia Cardamone, and everyone is invited to attend.

As a free-of-charge centre, The Living Centre at Yarra’s Edge exists to support patients, and their families and carers in seeking professional and caring holistic support at any stage of their journey with breast cancer.

While operating the centre has become more challenging due to the pandemic, Think Pink Foundation director and patron and founder of The Living Centre Irene Hendel OAM is hopeful the fundraiser will help share their message.

“Hopefully there will be a lot of women who don’t have breast cancer [at the fundraiser] who will become aware that we exist and that we offer a totally free facility for the women, who are often financially destitute, that come to us,” Mrs Hendel said.

“Women can cope with most things that come their way, but when they lose their hair and their skin changes due to radiotherapy or chemotherapy, they don’t feel like themselves and feel very vulnerable. The Living Centre has always been very mindful of this.”

In addition to makeup classes being used to help women as they go through breast cancer, the centre also has a hairdressing salon where they have continued to fit women with wigs without any charge.

This has resulted in “thousands” of wigs being fitted since The Living Centre first opened in 2010 on St Kilda Rd, and more recently, at the new Docklands location.

While the move to Docklands in February 2020 resulted in the centre having to close to the public shortly after the official opening, Mrs Hendel said The Living Centre team was able to pivot and offer their services online to women both in and outside of Victoria.

“Since the pandemic started, we have been doing all of our programs online and we have been able to expand our geographic reach to include women in rural areas and other states,” she said.

“Some of our in-house programs, like art therapy, have been challenging to provide online, but our very popular exercise, yoga and meditation programs have grown and become invaluable to hundreds of women during the pandemic. It’s been amazing.”


Reaching patients all over Australia is something Mrs Hendel doesn’t take lightly, as it was her personal experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer twice, and seeing other women around her struggling, that led her to envisage the centre in the first place.


“The first time I sat with the same group of women [at the hospital] I was amazed at the spectrum of age groups that were there, as there were also really young people among the group,” she said.

“Two girls in particular had lost their hair while undergoing intense treatment, and when I asked how they were coping I was shocked when they told me they had to sell their cars in order to pay their out-of-pocket medical bills. They were financially destitute.”

Mrs Hendel described this conversation as “the moment” that led her and her husband David Hendel to establish the free facility for Victorian women and men struggling with a breast cancer diagnosis.

With initial support from Kmart and long-term ongoing support from Mirvac and Freemasons Victoria, The Living Centre has become a space where people can receive support and know they are not alone in their breast cancer journey.

Professional counselling and advice on coping strategies are available for people affected by a diagnosis, and a unique “Supporting Blokes” group is also offered for partners and loved ones of those diagnosed.

To allow The Living Centre to continue to make a difference in the lives of those navigating breast cancer at this time, the makeup masterclasses fundraiser will be held on October 8, 23 and 27 between 1pm and 3pm for a cost of $50. •


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