Impressions from a very pink day of the year

By Emily Jade O'Keeffe

Impressions from a very pink day of the year
There are very good reasons mothers shouldn't put themselves last on the family priority list.

Have you ever taken a close look at a mother’s “To Do” list?

For each mother the tasks may be different, but always prioritised. Neatly in order, the needs she must meet of the most important people in her life are first, followed by those whose needs she will meet last.

Her kids are there, always at the top, followed by her partner; maybe her parents and even the dog may pull rank. That’s just what a Mum does.

And yet for many, if they only put themselves at the top of their “To Do” list, their families may not be walking the Mother’s Day Classic in their honour.

I’ve walked the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic many times, brightly dressed in pink, enjoying the fresh air among the sea of feathers, glitter and fairy wings, or “the sea of humanity”, as my Dad would call it.

It’s a great event to be a part of – there’s the wonderful spirit and sense of camaraderie amongst the participants, and of course in 15 years it has raised $14.8million for vital breast cancer research via the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Each time I can’t help but shed a tear when I see the signs pinned on the backs of mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, grandparents and children. I defy anyone to not cry when you see a five year old hanging on tightly to the hand of his dad with a sign pinned on his back “I’m walking for my Mum”.

Early detection is key to a better outcome in breast cancer, which one in eight Australian women will face in their lifetime. My wish is for all Mums to put their health higher up the priority list!

“Oh my God, this can’t be happening to me, I can’t die, I’ve got kids”. That was the first grief-stricken thought that ran through the mind of Brisbane mother of two Natalie O’Connor when she was told she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Six weeks prior, she had discovered blood on her bra seemingly from her nipple, but life was busy with her children and husband to take care of, so it took that long for Natalie to finally see her GP. SIX WHOLE WEEKS.

One week later the 41-year-old was wheeled into surgery for a full mastectomy and the removal of her lymph glands to treat her aggressive breast cancer.

Suddenly the stay-at- home mum whose children had never even been babysat outside the family was relying on the understanding of her husband’s employer for time off and the kindness of friends, family and kindy mums to help her take care of her children and support her during the fight for her life.

Natalie has one piece of advice for mums. ‘Don’t let pride get in your way; there is nothing wrong with asking for help and putting yourself first. The disruption to your life turns everything upside down but you just have to do it for your kids’.

Thankfully Natalie is alive to walk the Mother’s Day Classic this year holding the hands of her two children and savouring every precious moment. “I wouldn’t wish cancer on myself but it has been a life-changer. I’m at uni studying to be a teacher now and loving life. I’m taking life by the horns,” she says.

And from now on, her health is at the top of her “To Do” list so she can be the mother she was born to be.

To register or donate to Mother’s Day Classic, go to

Emily Jade O’Keeffe is a proud Mother’s Day Classic ambassador, a radio announcer, children’s swimwear designer and mum of baby Millie. She’ll be walking in the Brisbane Mother’s Day Classic event on Sunday May 12. 


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