Web_N014213_colorIT ALL started as a low-key party fundraiser with The Bodyshop at Home for inspiring Wonthaggi paramedic and athlete Deb Rielly who’s attacking her latest fight with cancer with colossal force. Due the response to that recent event (100 people attended), and the ideas that have flowed since, a new group, brilliantly named ‘Tough Titties Inc’, has been established to support all ‘people doing it tough’.

Tough Tittles will provide ‘a hand up, not just a hand out’ to those battling cancer or other illness or trauma in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast areas. Organiser of the initial fundraiser, Lizzy Yates, along with Deb and Allison O’Halloran, head up the ‘Tough Titty Committee’. The Tough Titties Inc mission statement sums up the movement that Lizzy hopes will become a template for communities all over Australia. “Tough Titties Inc is a not for profit organisation that supports both individuals and their families affected by major illness and trauma in the community, those who are ‘doing it tough’,” the statement reads. “One of our roles is to link those in need with information and resources to help empower and support them and their families during ‘tough times’.”

Tough Titties will also promote awareness of early detection of various cancers and diseases through running campaigns. The first is for Breast Cancer awareness and the importance of regular self-breast exams. The ‘Touch Ya Titties’ campaign was born at The Bodyshop at Home party where Deb encouraged attendees to simply ‘Touch Ya Titties’ to feel for any abnormalities in their breasts. The community is already supporting this campaign. Terry Earl and the team from TnT Explosive Printing in Wonthaggi have developed T-shirts while other businesses have also committed their support. “It’s a fun and cheeky way to create awareness and it is proving be really popular among cancer survivors, their friends and families and also breast care nurses,” Lizzy said. “We believe in working with other existing groups within our community, to make a greater impact on people’s lives by pooling our resources as a community to work together rather than doing lots of individual fundraising. “Fundraising will allow us to create a practical support network for those affected by and living with cancer as well as those suffering as a result of other illness and trauma through various means from emotional support to financial support.  “Our vision for the future is to grow our organisation Tough Titties Inc. and to replicate it in regions and communities both here in Australia and throughout the world.”

Of the 100 people at the fundraiser, many put their hands up to be a part of fledgling group. Lizzy, Deb and Allison have recruited shrewdly with a bank manager appointed as treasurer and an accountant as secretary. A website is coming soon. Men are most welcome to join in. The committee has plans to support the blokes with upcoming campaigns, as well as programs for younger age groups which could be known as ‘Tough Teenies’ and ‘Tough Totties’. “We want a wide network of people to be involved,” Lizzy said. “We have a lovely, giving community, and this will be a support network for all members of this community that will be there and ready to go when it’s needed. “We don’t want it to be a drain on businesses. Instead, we’re aiming to disperse resources and support businesses through the hosting of events at various venues.”

Allison said supporting Tough Titties Inc will make a real difference in the local community. “You know exactly where your money is going. It all stays local and it’s a great way to give back to your community. “But it’s not just about money. It’s about donating resources and services. You might be able to donate an hour to mow someone’s lawn or give them a makeover. “You should not have to go backwards when you’re going through an illness. Everyday things shouldn’t be a chore.” Deb said the local focus makes Tough Titties a winner. “A lot of people in the community want to help people in their own community, although some are just too proud to ask for help and slip through the gap. “People going through tough times will know that help is available without it being an invasion of their privacy or pride.”

Let’s get started
If you’d like to get involved, a great place to start will be a community walk this Sunday, October 20 in Wonthaggi at 10am.  Meet at the Wonthaggi Golf Club and follow the same circuit as the popular Mothers’ Day Walk. Look out for the Tough Titties collection tins in local businesses and Tough Titties memberships are available for $25 per person. As Tough Titties is incorporated, tax deductable donations can be made. For more details, visit the Tough Titties Inc Facebook page at www.facebook.com/doingittough