Rikki Stern: Cancer Chicks: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Brave young woman launches a cancer movement
Brave. Strong. Resilient
When Rikki Stern was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 20, she craved contact with others in her position but could not find community support for women her age.
That inspired her to launch Cancer Chicks, an Australian social media group based on a similar concept in the UK.
Thanks to Rikki’s initiative, more than 300 young women use the group to share the highs and lows of their journey.
“These women benefit from group rehabilitation. They have a network that provides comfort and support through shared experience,” says Rikki.
Although she is “over the moon” at being named a Westfield Local Hero, Rikki is also touched and grateful for the support.
“It is amazing to know that the community at large are trying to help as much as they can.”
The women who use the forum are generally aged 20 to 30 and may have a terminal illness with short prognoses.
“They have experienced major surgeries, invasive treatment, had body parts removed or had pregnancies terminated. Having lost hair, breasts and ovaries, many struggle with their self-identity and body image,” says Rikki.
“I am humbled to say that I am now cancer-free, and have been able to create a community of beautiful women who I proudly call my friends,” says Rikki.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
Rikki feels strongly that young women with cancer need a break from the confinement of their homes and hospitals as well as an opportunity to be re-empowered and have some enjoyment.
To help with this, Cancer Chicks has teamed up with Pink Hope, an organisation that focuses on the prevention of breast and ovarian cancer.
They will use the grant to fund a Girls Getaway to give young women some respite and a chance to connect, share stories and attend workshops.
“We are a small organisation, and without this money we would not have been able to achieve this,” says Rikki.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.