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Thriving Together - Living Longer, Living Stronger Virtual Conference

This webcast was held on Thursday, 14 October 2021 and can now be viewed on demand.

About the Virtual Conference

For many people, one of the hardest things to come to terms with when being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is the understanding that the disease is not going to go away. Over recent years, advances in treatment for metastatic breast cancer mean that more people are living better and living longer. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is increasingly providing a wider range of options tailored to your individual circumstances, and leading to better outcomes. 

The reality is there is simply no one path for someone who is living with metastatic breast cancer. We know some people encounter long periods, even years of cancer stability with little disease progression, while others have a more difficult experience.

Many people find the unpredictable nature of how the disease will progress and the uncertainty of what lies ahead as the most challenging aspect of their illness. Others also find the lack of understanding by those around them regarding managing current, new and ongoing treatments and side effects a never-ending challenge. 

Join us for BCNA’s virtual conference on Thursday 14 October, 6–9pm to explore new treatments on the horizon for metastatic breast cancer and an in-depth look at the management of bone metastases. We will also explore the importance of connecting with others for support to enhance control and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and strategies to help you with ‘living’ with metastatic breast cancer. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to ask questions to the speakers at the end of each session.

Please click here to view the conference agenda.


Kirsten Pillati, CEO Breast Cancer Network Australia

Kirsten Pilatti was appointed CEO in March 2018.  She has an exceptional understanding of the cancer sector having spent over a decade at BCNA and five years at Cancer Council Victoria where she was responsible for delivering communications and campaigns around prevention messages.

Kirsten has held a variety of roles at BCNA including:

  • Director of Programs and Services
  • General Manager, Strategic Projects – State of the Nation
  • Partnerships Manager
  • National Marketing and Communications Manager.

Highly regarded for her passion and focus on Australian women and men who have been affected by breast cancer, she is committed to giving everyone a voice and reducing the disparity of care across the country.  Kirsten firmly believes that members are at the heart of what we do at BCNA and is dedicated to delivering services and supports that ensure women, men, families, colleagues and friends affected by breast cancer have a place to turn to for information, connection and support.Her deep connection to our 150,000 members was recently cemented after spending 18 months travelling around Australia interviewing more than 3,500 women and men about their experience of breast cancer treatment and services to find out where the gaps in service delivery are occurring. The findings were outlined in the State of the Nation report, which was delivered to Federal Parliament in June 2018.She is also proud of the work she has done to turn the spotlight on important issues such as access to breast reconstruction for women in Cairns and driving changes to the Australian healthcare system including access to drugs through the PBS such as the CDK inhibitors for Australians with metastatic breast cancer.Taking up the role in BCNA’s 20th anniversary year was not lost on Kirsten who is committed to working closely with members, staff and partners such as Bakers Delight, Berlei, Sussan, Red Energy, Focus On Furniture and Australian Paper to ensure that we can continue to ensure that Australians affected by breast cancer receive the very support and care appropriate to their individual needs.

Born and raised in Western Australia, she lives in Melbourne with her partner and two sons.

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Dr. Belinda Yeo, Medical Oncologist and Clinician Scientist 

Belinda Yeo is jointly appointed to the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, as a Medical Oncologist and to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute as a Clinician Scientist with a specific interest in breast cancer. She trained in Sydney before joining the Breast Unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital, London as a Clinical and Research Fellow. She completed a Master’s Degree at The University of London and The Institute of Cancer Research in novel genomic and non-molecular breast cancer risk assays. She is co-lead of the VCCC Research and Education Stream for Breast Cancer, she is a clinical trial investigator and continues her translational research investigating improving personalization and minimising toxicities for patients with breast cancer. 

Professor Jane Turner, Psychiatrist 

Professor Jane Turner has worked for 30 years as a consultation-liaison psychiatrist in oncology. She has extensive experience in the care of women with breast cancer and their families and is a member of the Board of the Advanced Breast Cancer Group, one of the longest running professionally led support groups for women with metastatic breast cancer in Australia. She is President of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS). Current and previous research includes: a successful national multi-site trial of a manual-based intervention for fear of cancer recurrence; nurse-led survivorship interventions for women treated for breast cancer; development and evaluation of training for nurses to support parents with cancer who have young children. 

Andrea Smith, BCNA Consumer Representative

I’m a middle-aged mum with 3 teenage girls who happens to have metastatic breast cancer, something I’ve been living with for 5+ years. I like to think that my cancer diagnosis is the least interesting thing about me. I dragon boat, and have represented NSW in the seniors category – one day I’d like to represent Australia; I do research in cancer care – mainly melanoma, but am gradually doing more research in supportive care in metastatic breast cancer which is where my real passion lies; I also love to spend time at the beach, in the bush, camping, lying in a hammock reading, or just hanging out with my dog, my family and my friends. I joined BCNA as a consumer rep in 2020. 

Mary O’Brien, Social Worker and Psychotherapist

Mary O’Brien co-founded the Advanced Breast Cancer group (ABCG) with Dr Bronwen Beacham in Brisbane, in May 1999. Since 2001 it has been delivered to women throughout Queensland, by telephone as well as face to face, but since July 2020 exclusively via videoconference.   She is a Social Worker and Psychotherapist, who with colleagues has published papers on the effectiveness of the group and this group model of care, and now a book with Pia Hirsch ‘A Darker shade of Pink - the story of the ABCG’.   She could never have foreseen that the ABCG would become such an important part of her professional life. Yet 20 years on, it is still one of only a few professionally led groups for women with metastatic breast cancer in Australia. 

Pia Hirsch, Occupational Therapist and Group and Individual Psychotherapist

Pia Hirsch has been running the Advanced Breast Cancer Group with Mary O'Brien since 2003.  She is an Occupational Therapist and Group and Individual Psychotherapist.  Over this time, she has learned a great deal from talking with women about how to deal with adversity, the reality of facing death, and finding what really matters in life. She co-authored their book, not only to share their professional experience of implementing and running a service such as the Advanced Breast Cancer Group, but also to give a voice to the women who everyday face the reality of living with a terminal illness.   She hopes it demonstrates that to talk openly and honestly together in a safely held space can help confront and manage the challenges that arise. 

Professor Sherene Loi, Medical Oncologist

Sherene is a Medical Oncologist specialised in breast cancer treatment as well as a clinician scientist with expertise in genomics, immunology and drug development. Sherene is recognised internationally as a leading clinician scientist whose work has led to new insights into the breast cancer immunology field. 

After completing Medical Oncology specialist clinical training in Melbourne, Sherene undertook a PhD and postdoctoral studies at the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels, Belgium. In 2013, she returned to a Group Leader position at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, as well as Consultant Medical Oncologist in the Breast Service and head of the Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Unit. 

To date, Sherene has published over 250 peer-reviewed research articles with a lifetime H index of 84. Her recent work has been highly influential with 36,500 total citations and 27,531 (75%) within the past 5 years. Sherene is ranked in the top 1% of highly cited researchers globally by the Web of Science since 2018. Sherene is a Board Director as well as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australia New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (BCT Australia/NZ), which is the largest breast cancer clinical trials cooperative group in Australia. She Co-Chairs the Scientific Executive Committee of the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) based in Bern, Switzerland which conducts academic global breast cancer clinical trials in over 16 countries. Sherene is the current holder of the Inaugural National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) of Australia Endowed Chair and a research fellow of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), New York. 

Rosalind Casperson, BCNA Consumer Representative 

I am a young mum who has lived with metastatic breast cancer for over 5 years. I have two young boys and a family who mean the absolute world to me! My experience of having metastatic breast cancer has been a rocky road and has meant I am often changing courses of action very quickly. In our family our best way of dealing with extensive surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and medications is to do it with a sense of humour and a laugh! I love taking my boys to sport, music lessons and getting out in the garden when I can. My way of dealing with the uncertainty of this diagnosis is to ensure that it empowers my boys to have a strong sense of resilience in their lives. I deeply miss my work as a senior Human Resources professional but I could not continue with my role and still be completely focused on being here. I joined BCNA back in 2016 as a Consumer Representative which was a lovely way of getting involved with people; supporting different possibilities for those with breast cancer, whilst still working to be a valuable member of this community.