Brisbane breast cancer Fun Run is sold out and bigger than ever

Brisbane breast cancer Fun Run is sold out and bigger than ever

This year’s International Women’s Day Fun Run presented by Queensland X-Ray will be the biggest ever following unprecedented demand to join Brisbane’s Sea of Pink.

A record 23,000 people will hit the streets of the city on March 10 after Mater Foundation decided to increase the breast cancer fundraising event’s capacity from 20,000 last year.

And even with an extra 3000 places, the iconic 5km fun run still sold out in a record 25 days.

Breast cancer survivors Anna Finlayson and Anna Holland will be among the 23,000 people running, jogging and walking from South Brisbane’s Vulture St to the city’s Botanical Gardens on March 10.

They will be joined by more than 20 supporters from The Outdoor Club Graceville, a fitness and running group led by personal trainer Chris Hennessey.

Mrs Finlayson, a Chelmer mum-of-two, inspired her fellow members to join the Sea of Pink after receiving a “shock” breast cancer diagnosis last year.

The 35-year-old has since had three surgeries, including a mastectomy.

“I had some lumps in my breast between breastfeeding my first and second children, and they were monitored but were not of any concern,” Mrs Finlayson said.

“The cancer was actually unable to be felt and was difficult to detect even with a mammogram and ultrasound.

“I actually had no other symptoms, but I had a gut feeling I needed further testing. I’m lucky I had a thorough GP who requested a mammogram and biopsy, despite my younger age.”

Mrs Finlayson said it was “inspiring and humbling” to have so many members of The Outdoor Club Graceville support women with breast cancer.

“I don’t really think there’s anyone who doesn’t know someone touched by breast cancer in some way, so most people have a reason to run,” she said.

Mrs Finlayson said it was taking part in last year’s fun run – and absorbing Mater’s breast cancer care messaging – that prompted her to seek further medical attention.

“The fun run feels a bit like a full circle moment after everything I went through last year. I think I will be quite emotional on the day, but I am also really looking forward to it.” 

Mrs Holland, a teacher at Jamboree Heights State School, was diagnosed with stage two HER2 positive breast cancer five years ago.

“This is the first International Women’s Day Fun Run I will be taking part in since my diagnosis,” the 41-year-old said.

“It will be a great way to celebrate my five-year anniversary.”

HER2 positive is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. 

“In the early 90s, if you were diagnosed with HER2 positive, your life expectancy was 3 to 5 years but with the drug Herceptin, HER2 positive breast cancer patients now have some of the highest survival rates,” Mrs Holland said.

Mrs Holland, from Riverhills, said her son Emmanual was just six months old when she had difficulties feeding him from her left breast. She said while her doctor initially thought it was a blocked milk duct, she was referred to a breast specialist in January 2019.

After undergoing an ultrasound, biopsy, and mammogram, it was recommended she undergo a mastectomy.

Mrs Holland said while she tried to keep a positive mindset throughout her cancer journey, it was a “constant struggle emotionally and physically”.

“It was heartbreaking having to wean Emmanual when he was only a few months old,” she said.

“I have had a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction, six months of chemotherapy, 12 months of Herceptin, and around 28 consecutive days of radiation,” she said.

“In July 2020, I had a full hysterectomy as a preventative measure from ovarian cancer, which is also a huge risk when you carry the BRCA gene.” 

Mrs Holland said Mater breast and endocrine surgeon Dr Emma Clarkson cared for her throughout her treatment and said she was an “expert in her field” who was also very kind and understanding.

“The breast cancer nurses were also incredible; I had their phone number and could message or call them if I needed to know something between appointments.

“I still remember being a blubbering mess, when I had just found out that the cancer was worse than what I had originally thought and that I was going to have to have chemotherapy.

“One of them gave me a hug and said: ‘It's going to be OK, we are going to get you the right treatment and make sure you live until you are an old grandma’.”

Mater Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Thomas said the response showed the event holds a special place in the hearts of Queenslanders – and urged those who missed out to join their own ‘virtual fun runs’ across the state.

“Queensland has backed the fight against breast cancer like never before,” Mr Thomas said.

“This year’s event will be the biggest ever – and there’s still time for Queenslanders everywhere to sign up online to a fun run in their community.

“Everyone can join the Sea of Pink. It’s a fantastic way to stay fit, have fun – and fight breast cancer.”  

The virtual challenge allows people to walk, jog or run 5km, or choose their own distance, in their neighbourhood any time between Sunday 3 March and Sunday 10 March.

Funds from the event will go towards life-saving breast cancer research, as well as services and support for breast cancer patients at Mater hospitals in Brisbane, Springfield, Redlands, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg.

Register for the virtual event at


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