I recently came across this wonderful project by the Tasmanian Department of Health, for their cancer screening service. The Button Chest Project is a tribute to all women – as well as their families, friends and support networks – who have battled or are currently living with breast cancer in Tasmania. They chose a travel chest as a symbol of the breast cancer journey, based on the fact that one needs a suitcase to travel and often experiencing breast cancer can be called a journey, of sorts.
The chest is covered with donated buttons, and holds journals with the stories from women, their families and friends. Women who have experienced breast cancer themselves, their families or support networks are asked to contribute a button and a one page story of that person’s breast cancer journey.
It is hoped that the power of the Button Chest will be in the compelling stories attached to each button. Many letters and button donations have been received with heart warming and heartbreaking stories attached.
The Button Chest and Stories will form an exhibit that will be shown around Tasmania to highlight the importance of screening and the important role BreastScreen Tasmania plays in ensuring breast cancer is detected early.
The original Button Chair concept was created in North Carolina, US in 1998. Kathy Higgins, the Vice President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield in North Carolina - the owners of the Button Chair - shared their concept during a visit to Tasmania. After her visit it was decided to implement a similar project in Tasmania in October 2006 to raise awareness of the importance of screening for early detection.