Wed, May 22, 2024 10:43 AM

Breast cancer scare sparks one of a kind idea


Paula Hulburt

A breast cancer scare has motivated a Royal New Zealand Air Force aviator to create a unique patch to help raise awareness about the disease.

Aircraftman Yolandi Cook, a logistics specialist based in Woodbourne, Blenheim, has created – and is selling – the first ever Pink Kiwi patch.

She came up with the idea after discovering a lump, which thankfully turned out to be benign.

The 29-year-old mother-of-two says the scare sparked the idea to come up with a unique way to spread breast cancer awareness.

“It was quite sobering at this age to think I might have breast cancer. As a mum, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to face the possibility of not seeing your kids grow up – and yet I know this an experience that is common for Kiwi women,” Yolandi says.

Yolandi says the bulk of patches have been sold to New Zealand Defence Force personnel, with some members buying multiple patches to swap with their foreign counterparts while on deployment overseas.

“These patches can also be worn by the general public and could be popular on the kids’ schoolbags or with backpackers on their OEs,” Yolandi adds.

Sales of The Pink Kiwi patch have already raised $15,000. Photo: Supplied.

All profits from sales are being donated to Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

The Air Force is getting behind her initiative by letting personnel wear the Pink Kiwi patch on their uniforms to support Pink Ribbon Breakfast on 23 May.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Kiwi women, with around 3500 women diagnosed every year – that’s nine women a day.

So far, nearly 2000 Pink Kiwi patches have been sold, raising $15000 for Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Pink Ribbon Breakfast is Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s largest annual fundraiser.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, says she can’t wait to see the Air Force’s uniforms adorned with the Pink Kiwi patch:

“We love seeing imaginative ways to start important conversations about breast cancer awareness and we’re thrilled the Royal New Zealand Air Force has embraced the pink flying kiwi.

“Our vision is to see zero deaths from breast cancer and as a charity that doesn’t receive any government funding, it’s only thanks to wonderful fundraisers like Yolandi that we can work towards this ambitious goal.”

The patches are available for the public to buy for $15 via, but are limited in numbers.

It’s not too late for people to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast. Registrations close on 31 May and people can host anytime until 30 June.

For more information and to sign up to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast, visit

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