Jolene Purdy

I’ve held a Pink Ribbon Breakfast for 15 years – I’ve hosted one ever since the campaign first started in New Zealand. My friends have come to expect it now, that they’re often on to me early asking when our Pink Ribbon Breakfast is going to be!

I had breast cancer in 2000 and I was 39 at the time. In April I found a lump and went to see my GP who did a fine needle biopsy that found nothing. Three months later, the lump was still there, so I had a mammogram, and was diagnosed with grade 2 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS – a type of pre-invasive breast cancer). I then had a lumpectomy.

In October I travelled to Hamilton Hospital for radiation treatment and stayed at the cancer lodge there for six weeks. Funnily enough I enjoyed it, especially being there with others who were in the same boat as me – there was a strong sense of connection. I now have mammograms every year.

My last Pink Ribbon Breakfast looked a little bit different, as I moved from Tauranga to Whangārei and don’t know as many people locally yet. But I invited new friends I have made as well as colleagues and asked them to bring a friend.

For the first time, my mum also registered herself to host a breakfast to keep the tradition going back home with a Friday lunch for her and her friends.

I follow the same format every year, a Sunday brunch in May that kicks off at 9.30am with breakfast served between 10 to 10.30am. I provide the food but ask my guests to donate. How much is up to them, but I usually ask them what they would normally pay for a breakfast out at a café.

The most I’ve ever had attend is around 25 – I like to have everyone seated to eat so that one was a bit of a squash! But usually it's around 15 people. As a veteran Pink Ribbon Breakfast host, I have a box with all of the regular kit I need, as well as fold up trestle tables. I usually choose food that can be mostly prepared the day before so I don’t spend all Sunday morning cooking and can enjoy hosting my guests. I also choose a theme for the food, which in pre-Covid-19 times were inspired by my travels overseas to countries like Turkey and Morocco.

There was the one fateful time where I did poached eggs for everyone, which I will never do again! It was just a nightmare.

In the past I have also done supper versions, which started at 5pm, with a light meal of soup and toasties, finished off with a sweet treat of course!

I love the opportunity to have friends around and cook for them, and also to show my appreciation that I am still here. It means a lot to be able to raise money for such an important cause.