Pink Sock Day and the story of two Trinity mums

Every day in Australia, 57 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and in 2020 it touched close to home when two Trinity mums were diagnosed with the disease within months of each other. This year for Pink Sock Day, we share their stories in hope of raising awareness and support for the McGrath Foundation to ensure that no woman or family going through breast cancer feels unsupported.

Meet Lisa Costa, wife and busy mum to Year 10 Trinity student, Harry, 2017 TC graduate, Joseph and 18 year old daughter Amelie.

For Lisa, her breast cancer journey started back in late 2019 when she visited a GP after feeling incredibly tired for months, a feeling that was initially put down to leading a busy lifestyle. With no history of breast cancer in Lisa’s family, she continued on, but on New Years Day in 2020 whilst on a family holiday in Bali that changed when she woke and felt a lump. Immediately she knew something was not right.

Lisa’s mind raced back to early 2019 when she received a mammogram reminder notice in the mail, 10 days before heading to Europe with her family for a six-week holiday. With no family history, the reminder notice was put aside – a decision that left Lisa now asking herself “what have I done?” 

It wasn’t long after Lisa and her family returned to Perth that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Still feeling that this could have been avoided, it was here she was shown the imagery of her mammogram – the mammogram was clear. 

“I remember them saying to me, Lisa we don’t want you starting your journey on a negative note as you will need all the energy and positivity for what lies ahead.”

It was these words that gave Lisa the reassurance she needed to know there was nothing she could have done to avoid the diagnosis.

Following her diagnosis, Lisa immediately told her husband with her attention turning to the kids and how was she going to share this with them?

“You worry how they are going to cope, and the fear associated with the word cancer. I didn’t want them to be scared, because it’s a word that can mean so many things, have so many journeys and different outcomes but for our family, unfortunately, it had only ever been a sad outcome.

“The two things we wanted to get across to them, was that one, I had a good prognosis and two, even though it’s only one word, there is a million different types and a million different outcomes.

“We also made a commitment that they would get all the information first as we didn’t want them overhearing conversations.”

Lisa remembers their reaction clearly, initially one of shock but then one that was a tidal wave of love that engulfed them all and one to this day, Lisa says helped carry them all through.

Goodbye hair

Prior to Lisa’s first treatment, her oncologist recommended to cut her hair as the treatment could leave a feeling of fragility that could further exacerbate if she started to lose her hair.

Lisa made the decision to go with her advice and what followed was an overwhelming level of family and community support. Within hours of Lisa’s decision, both her sons plus many of their Trinity friends also decided to shave their heads in support of Lisa.

“On the day of the shave, we were all in lockdown, so we all set up our iPad’s so we could all come together on Zoom to do our version of the greatest shave.

“The next day, I received random messages from people I use to work with, families from Harry’s footy club, and other friends who all shaved their heads in a show of support. I could not believe the level of love shown within the community.”

Meeting Michelle

Although both Trinity mums, with boys in the same year group, Michelle and Lisa had only crossed paths a handful of times but there was something about Lisa’s journey that struck a cord with Michelle and she decided to reach out to Lisa to see how she was going.

A friendship between the two ladies was immediately struck but what they didn’t know at the time was Michelle was also about to receive her own devastating news, news that would soon create an unbreakable bond.

A devastating diagnosis

In July 2020, following a few months of not feeling right, Michelle too was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unlike Lisa, there was a history of the disease in Michelle’s family, after her sister was diagnosed at the age of 22.

“I remember just walking out after receiving my diagnosis, just bursting into tears.

“I needed to have surgery to remove the lump and my lymph nodes, but I just remember thinking about my kids and how I was going to tell them.”

As a mum and step mum to three girls and son Dylon who is in Year 10 at Trinity, Michelle knew that being open and honest with them was important.

“For me it was never about how strong I was going to be, or what will happen to me. I was more worried about the children and the effects this would have on them.

After telling the kids, Michelle remembers how the Trinity community wrapped themselves around her, Dylon and their family.

“Dylon’s Head of Year, PCG teacher and the whole Trinity community were amazing. I was so fortunate to have had them rally around Dylon and myself.”

Soon after Michelle’s surgery, she felt her body change with the radiation treatment bringing relentless tiredness.

“I can’t do the things I use to do in the same way. You feel like you have to carry on but you can’t. Every day is a struggle.”

Raising awareness through Pink Socks

A day like Pink Sock Day now has greater significance for Michelle and Lisa and their boys Harry and Dylon. 

“It’s really important and it’s something Trinity have done really well. They empower young men to empower and support women, whether it be their mums, their sisters, their aunties. You never quite know what someone is going through and boys aren’t always the greatest at showing emotion, so a day like Pink Sock Day is a great day for them to show their support in a different way.

“It’s lovely to see the boys out there with their pink socks on. They get out there and I think they feel quite proud. They really are Men for Others and this is the message I got from them throughout my cancer journey,” shares Michelle.

“Over the years, I have loved Pink Sock Day for the awareness it brings. There are so many families going through this and it just means so much to them.

“I was lucky to have such a wide support network and care from the breast cancer nurses and to think there might be people who might go through this journey without that care truly is devastating. This is why supporting something like Pink Sock Day and the McGrath Foundation is so important,” explains Lisa.

Where to now?

Lisa and Michelle both are still on their journeys to recovery with both ladies still under close monitoring.

What they do both recognise though is how lucky they are to have found each other through the Trinity community and how important it is to share these stories to help others cope through their own journey.

“It can be difficult when a child hears their mums diagnosis and having that fear of the unknown and wondering if their mum is going to be okay, but we hope they can look at Harry and Dylon and see that they are doing okay and for many it’s not a journey we want to take, but if you’re given the tools, the family, the friends and the support, you can get through this.”

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT

In 2016, Year 12 Trinity student, Lochie Taylor made a proposal to organise a PSA Pink Sock round. This day would involve all 1st sport teams representing Trinity to wear pink socks during one round in June to support women’s health and to touch on all the Trinity mothers and women who encourage the boys through school and life in general. 

This day would also help to raise some much needed funds for the McGrath Foundation to support women experiencing breast cancer with Lochie also hoping it would educate young Trinity men to demonstrate a greater awareness and appreciation towards the work their mothers undertake. 

Now in its 6th year, Lochie's legacy lives on and the Trinity sports teams will again be pulling on the pink socks as they line up against Aquinas College on Saturday June 12 at the Trinity Playing Fields in Waterford.

Come down and show your support (dressed in a bit of pink preferably). Gold coin donation on entry.

For those who can’t get down to support the boys, please show your support by donating to our fundraiser here.  All money raised will go directly to the McGrath Foundation to help other women like Lisa and Michelle experiencing breast cancer.