Celebrating life ion the Pink
Breast Cancer survivor Petrina Burnett. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

It is fitting that Petrina Burnett sees today's Pink Ribbon Day as a celebration of life.

The 37-year-old physiotherapist from South Perth has hit the all-important five-year survival mark after having breast cancer.

She is back working full-time and says she is in a good place in life after having to "jump a few hoops".

Ms Burnett admits the first years after chemotherapy and radiation were tough but she used exercise, particularly walking and pilates, as her own "treatment".

"When you stop your medical treatment, it can be a very anxious transition in that first few years of 'wait and see' but I had heard that exercise could affect survival and that was an incredibly powerful message for me," she said.

"I found regular exercise was a way of feeling more in control and not only had physical benefits but was a way of clearing my head."

New Cancer Australia research being released today confirms exercise can be a magic bullet for the 14,500 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Half an hour of exercise a day can significantly reduce the chances of a relapse.

Cancer Australia chief executive Helen Zorbas said lifestyle factors such as moderate physical activity could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring by 24 per cent and lessen the risk of death more than one-third.

But a recent Breast Cancer Network Australia survey found one in four women who had breast cancer were unaware of the link between exercise and keeping cancer at bay.

Almost half of women who knew of this benefit did not get the knowledge from a health professional.

Dr Zorbas said survival rates continue to improve but the main concern after breast cancer was uncertainty about the future and fear of a recurrence so lifestyle advice should be integral to follow-up care.

The West Australian

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