All too often, amazing is achieved through heart ache, despair and because there is a genuine and desperate need, and So Brave is the perfect example. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fund My Challenge chatted with Rachelle Panitz, Founder & Managing Director of #SOBRAVE.
Rachelle established So Brave six years ago after experiencing the lack of community and support for young women battling breast cancer first-hand.
“At 32, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer when my children were very little, and I had just gone through eighteen months of treatment.”
A chance meeting with celebrated body painting artist, Wendy Fantasia at a conference set off a series of events which would result in the formation of Australia’s first charity organisation for young women with breast cancer.
“About a week later, I woke up from the night’s sleep and said to my husband, I have got this idea, why don’t we body paint a whole bunch of young women who have had breast cancer…don’t you think that would be amazing, don’t you think that they would feel so empowered and with everything they have been through, wouldn’t they just feel so good about themselves, and so confident.”
Working under the auspice of the national breast cancer foundation during their first twelve months, So Brave emerged as a fully bonafide charity just twelve months later.
“By the end of the year it was very obvious that there was a big gap in the market for young women who have breast cancer in Australia and now, since 2017, we are the only young women’s breast cancer charity in Australia.”
So Brave delivers the key and crucial messages around self-examination and the importance of regular check-ups, whilst supporting young women and providing education for the next generation of young women and empowering them to be smart, breast aware young women, with a community to lean on should they become one of the 5% of women between 20 and 39 diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year.
“It’s a fusion of not just that breast cancer awareness message, but also engaging with artists and not just the body paint artists, but photographers and videographers to basically transform these women, so they come in in the morning when we do our body paint days and they are usually very nervous because they have been through a lot and some of them are a bit disassociated with their bodies and then by the end of the day we do a reveal much like one of those makeover shows and they see themselves in the mirror for the first time and that’s probably one of my favourite parts of the day because they see themselves in a completely different light.”
“OH MY GOD I LOOK LIKE A WOMAN AGAIN”
“IT’S AMAZING, I CAN’T SEE MY SCARS ANYMORE”
These are the typical transformation comments made by the young women who take the challenge and strip off for Wendy and her body painting specialists, and for Rachelle they are comments which make it all worthwhile.
“Things like that, that make us think, oh wow this is so much more than just paint on someone’s skin, this is something that really affects them in a big way.”
Since 2015, Rachelle and the So Brave team have travelled to every corner of the country, with models undergoing their body paint transformation before facing the cameras in capital cities and regional centres where Rachelle says breast cancer sufferers face the biggest battle.
“Regional women as we know in Australia have access issues, equity issues, but they also have worse outcomes when it comes to breast cancer, they are more likely to get a secondary disease and are also more likely to pass away from the disease.”
If you would like to know more about So Brave and the incredible work they carry out, visit
www.sobrave.org.au or follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @sobraveofficial.
If you would like to start a fundraising challenge for So Brave or simply donate, download the Fund My Challenge app, or visit the website and find challenges to support.