Speech by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, AC
Governor of Queensland
Launch of DVD You’re Not Alone: a film about living with secondary breast cancer
Central Lecture Theatre
Queensland College of Art
Griffith University, South Bank Campus
17 April 2008
Pia and Mary, Fran and Kay, My friends
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather, and I thank you for your warm welcome.
I am really thrilled to join you for the launch of this important documentary:
- thrilled, touched, inspired, grateful:
- for the stories of these women;
- their courage and spirit;
- their support for each other;
- the wisdom they’ve gleaned from experiences we can’t begin to fathom.
As each of them shares her own insights, we glimpse a journey that’s uncertain, arduous, painful, shadowed. No-one can tell them when it will end.
Yet their walk along it is honest and brave, lit up by unquenchable hope.
They are learning and accepting, talking, sharing, searching in themselves and those around them.
They’ve owned their disease in empowering ways; they admit its ferocity; they are undaunted by its sharp edge.
They are glowing examples of how to live well in the face of huge adversity.
What moves me most about them is how they find themselves caring for their families and friends: not only coping with their own debilitation, but cheering and encouraging their loved ones; allowing them to come to terms with grief and loss.
They speak to me of women’s incredible capacity for life: how we sustain and nurture it in ourselves, our children, our communities.
How we cherish it, revel in it, even as our grasp on it seems to fade.
They also speak of the power of women’s friendships and networks: in building knowledge, engaging support, providing information, counsel, help.
Over a generation, I’ve watched the response of women to breast cancer: individually and collectively; in small communities and across the nation.
I’ve marvelled at the fortitude and energy they’ve drawn upon; their rigorous enquiry and ceaseless advocacy; the way they’ve made us, as a society, conscious, informed, protective, generous.
They are true leaders and pioneers in women’s health: the finest model for how we ought to understand and nourish our shared humanity.
Listening to the hearts of Fran, Kay and Pam, we draw close to the centre of that humanity, the flame that burns in each of us, made brighter by the surrounding dark.
For Pam, the journey’s ended; yet her words remain to lift and bless her comrades as they now go on, knowing they are not alone.
Judith Wright, one of our most distinguished women poets, spoke of the deep roots of our souls and the tenacity of our grip on hope in the midst of the storm:
Come back to the kind flesh,
To love and simple sight.
Let us forget awhile
That we create the night.
Out of this dark of time,
Alive and human, come.
Brief is the warm day
Wherein we have our home.
My friends, thank you for the gift of life opened in this film.
As I launch it now, my wish and prayer is that it will warm the days of many who walk this path: a comforting voice; a guiding presence; a radiant hope.
 “Night” Five Senses. Penguin, 1963.