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Breast cancer survivor flags the ‘knead’ to check breasts

Rule number one for the perfect scone recipe is to sift your ingredients to avoid lumps, says Hervey’s Range Heritage Tea Rooms owner Desley Ralph.

So she was shocked when she felt a lump in one of her own ‘scones’ in early 2007.

I was 42, perfectly healthy with no family history of breast cancer, but found a lump in my breast so went to my GP and was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound. The results were inconclusive so I went back for a biopsy where it was discovered there was quite a large cancer – and then the rollercoaster started.
Desley Ralph, breast cancer survivor

From her diagnosis in March, Desley underwent chemotherapy before a mastectomy in August, further radiation therapy, and then was in remission in time to celebrate being cancer free at Elton John’s Dairy Farmers Stadium concert in December 2007.

“I just remember thinking, this is such a nice way to end this chapter – and it’s just so crazy that it all happened in the space of that one year.”

“My breast surgeon was Dr Jason Boldery – I was one of his very first patients, but from the very start he was so lovely and I’m so grateful to be here on the other side.”

Dr Boldery said it was important for all women – whether they have a family history or not – to check their breasts regularly.

“It has been an honour for me to support breast cancer patients in North Queensland since 2007, when I met Desley – who is the perfect example that every person should be checking themselves and contacting their GP if they notice anything out of the ordinary,” Dr Boldery said.

“Over the past 17 years, I have supported more  hundreds of patients through their breast cancer journeys – and we continue to see positive results for cancers detected as early as possible.”

This weekend, Desley will be joining a team of fellow breast cancer patients and survivors in the sea of pink at Cluden Park for the International Women’s Day Fun Run presented by Queensland X-Ray.

“Our Dragons Abreast team name is Twin Titties, a flashback to when Townsville and Thuringowa were separate cities,” Ms Ralph said.

“Dragons Abreast is an international dragon boating organisation with teams all around the world, and the Townsville club formed in 2004. We paddle along the Strand each Saturday morning as an awareness piece – people know when to expect to see us ‘pinkies’ out paddling – but also as an opportunity to socialise and support each other."

It’s all about making those connections and networking – but also moving and having a good life as a result. I am so lucky that I have always had such a supportive family around me, but I can remember the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis was really hard for me and it was just so good to be surrounded by other people with shared lived experience.
Desley Ralph, breast cancer survivor

“I’m looking forward to running this weekend – I think the more opportunities for us to have visibility of a sea of pink the better: both as a reminder for women to check their breasts, but also for patients and survivors to know we are here for them.”

Mater Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Thomas said the support of fun runners made a huge difference in support those with breast cancer. 

“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 International Women’s Day Fun Run presented by Queensland X-Ray will be held at Cluden Park this Saturday 9 March from 3.30pm. For more information or to register, visit

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