Danica Bunch: 2023 Mum of the Year

Danica Bunch: 2023 Mum of the Year L-R: Kylie Duncan, CosMedic Collective, Danica Bunch, 2023 Mum of the Year Winner, Finalists; Samantha Whiteman and Jess Crombie and Ami Zielinski Credit: Diana Smith

During the 90 days between noticing her breast abnormality in November 2022, being diagnosed with breast cancer, receiving treatments and regaining hope, Danica Bunch turned to journaling to navigate the challenges these upheavals brought her and her family. By drawing on her expertise in crisis PR management to frame her own pathway to emerge stronger and more resilient, Danica took herself on a journey in self-care, processing and transformation. Her book ‘She Has Breast Cancer’ provides the tools for women to regain control and reach a place of resilience no matter what crisis they are facing.

Take a professional’s approach

Danica says she instinctively resorted to using a professional framework to manage her personal crisis and incorporated strategies for each phase of treatment before realising it was logical that every woman would benefit from this model because it made the upheavals easier to navigate.

“By giving visibility to some of the processes I went through, it can help others through similar sorts of things, now or in ten years’ time” she said. “I want women to read it and think I am going through their crisis with them, with it unfolding as it happens.”

Pages of rebuilding hope

The book gives people hope. By stepping-out how women can create something to look forward to, it nurtures a sense of comfort that things will be OK.

It helps women compartmentalise many of the practicalities and demands of the situation so they can focus on self-care, emotions or their identity. She also shares some of the self-care she used such as diet, breathing, hydration, meditation, sleep, parenting and friends.

“The book helps women focus on the re-build they need to do from being overwhelmed by the crisis itself,” she explained. “It can be used as a tool for any crisis even though it is about my breast cancer journey.”

On being fierce

“In the right circumstances, when you are under pressure, it’s amazing what you can achieve because growth comes from hardship,” Danica reinforces. “My story has a stronger narrative because I wanted to strengthen my relationship with myself. I felt betrayed by my body, but like in any relationship I had to really lean in and invest in my body to regain that love.”

She said ‘She Has Breast Cancer’ book is all about finding the strength in the struggle and the climb to achieve that goal.

“I think we have a lot of fear in life and unfortunately a lot of our life is navigated by fear, not by being fierce,” she said. “I know that most of that fear-attitude has been challenged and it no longer rules me so I look at life very differently now: I’ll be upfront; I’ll have those tough conversations; I’m open to vulnerability.”

The myth of certainty

Readers are finding the earlier chapters – where life turns on a coin for Danica – and the discussion about the myth of certainty particularly resonant. Here she candidly recalls grasping the challenge and the certainty that was taken away.

“None of us know what is around the corner or knows that the proverbial bus won’t hit us tomorrow and these chapters are a challenge for readers to get through,” she said.

“However, women are really diving into the chapters about rebuilding their personal brand. When we go into and come out of motherhood (when the children are grown) or when we lose a partner we have the opportunity to rebrand and ask ‘who am I now? who do I want to be?’. Women are really curious about this principle and how to take steps to make that clearer.”

Applying crisis frameworks to life

Incredibly, Danica’s almost completed her second book. She says it has a very similar approach to ‘She Has Breast Cancer’ but it’s gender-neutral and is a series of short stories of different types of crises like divorce, job-loss and losing a very close friend.

“But in each of those stories I show how the crisis framework can be applied to different situations, so I hope it will allow me to connect with a wider audience so as to have a greater impact,” she said.

On a more personal level these books and the work Danica is undertaking is a legacy for her children. “I want to instil some of my values, approach to life and mindset in a piece of work that will be ageless. A legacy and impact of course to the readers but also something my children will always have and turn too. My children are my greatest inspiration but also teachers – I have learnt more about myself through being a mum than I have from any other life experience.”

Be the inspiration

Danica says she is taken aback by the Mummy Awards nomination. “I think women don’t always embrace being a mum, and feel the weight of stereotypes and stigmas about it. I want this book to help women with preparedness for crisis but also to be a reassurance that they too can manage whatever is thrown their way.”

I also don’t believe motherhood is about having your own children – I believe or see it more of a phase of a woman’s life where she can be a ‘mother’ by being a mentor, carer or inspiration to all children.”

Rising above, resilient

Danica says she wants to use this platform to raise awareness of this opportunity we all have to make a difference in the lives of all young people. “I parent very differently now as I see my role to prepare my children for life, not shelter them from it. My children have had a tough year, yet I’ve never seen them flourish more from hardship. We have to show all our children how to be resilient and how we navigate the ups and downs of life by example, and this award helps me share how to do that in the best possible way.”

She says she is very grateful for the nomination and encourages more women to be mentors to younger women to help them live their stages of life the way they choose.

Our 2023 Mum of the Year is sponsored by CosMedic Collective.

  • Image Supplied: Danica Bunch

  • Image supplied: Danica Bunch with family

  • Image Supplied: Danica Bunch, Book 'She Has Breast Cancer'

Diana Smith

I'm an Orange-based photographer, writer, face painter and book designer. I enjoy meeting the lovely folk of our community and have been involved in publishing/media/comms for about 15 years. I have done several exhibitions and in 2022 published my own childrens story, 'The Mouses Houses.'

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