THE McGrath Foundation has appointed Leah Savage as a new McGrath Breast Care Nurse at Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) to provide increased support to people and their families experiencing breast cancer in Traralgon and surrounding areas.

Living in the Latrobe Valley her entire life, Ms Savage has been a registered nurse for more than 20 years, with extensive experience in oncology and cancer care nursing before becoming a McGrath breast care nurse in late 2023.

She joins six other McGrath Breast Care Nurses across Gippsland, from Bass Coast to Bairnsdale.

“I’m excited about my position as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse at Latrobe Regional Hospital, and I feel that I’m finally starting to settle in. I’m honoured, and excited to take the role on,” Ms Savage told the Express.

Every year, more than 4700 people in Victoria are diagnosed with breast cancer, and one in seven women in Australia will be diagnosed in their lifetime, meaning there is an increasing need for specialist McGrath breast care nurses to support people impacted by the disease.

Research by the McGrath Foundation shows that early access to a McGrath breast care nurse improves both the outcomes and experience of a person with breast cancer.

“For women and men diagnosed with breast cancer in regional and rural areas, there are challenges because we rely on the community resources rather than being able to treat everything within the same hospital or healthcare facility like you might in a metropolitan area,” Ms Savage said.

“That’s why my role as a McGrath breast care nurse is so important, I can be a central point of contact and help patients navigate where to next in their treatment, referrals needed and ensure they are well supported from diagnosis right throughout treatment and beyond.

“GPs play a major role in supporting regional and rural patients. Mental health is a common issue with patients experiencing breast cancer as there are fewer resources available in regional and rural areas. This is referred to community-based healthcare providers.”

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer for women in Australia and more than 20,000 people are diagnosed each year, with the rate of diagnosis rising.

“There are a number of reasons breast cancer diagnoses are rising. Improved awareness and screening have contributed to a rising rate of diagnosis nationally,” Ms Savage said.

But Ms Savage pointed out that treatment has advanced for the better over the years.

“Breast cancer treatment has improved massively with immunotherapy and the variety of treatment options available to patients now that we didn’t have in the past making a huge difference,” she said.

“Clinical trials, pathology, (and) increased genetic testing have all also helped improve patient outcomes.”

Holly Masters, McGrath Foundation Chief Executive, said Ms Savage would provide free care and support for Gippsland families.

“McGrath breast care nurses are experts in breast cancer care and help people with breast cancer navigate the complex medical system, from diagnosis and throughout treatment,” Ms Masters said.

“Our nurses act as the ultimate patient advocates, becoming a trusted and consistent point of knowledge. We are incredibly proud to provide this vital service to the Traralgon community.”

There are currently 47 McGrath breast care nurses throughout Victoria, in regional, rural, and metropolitan areas. The support of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse is a free service, and is available without a referral.

To get in touch with your nearest McGrath Breast Care Nurse, visit

There are 223 McGrath breast care nurses in communities across Australia who have supported more than 137,000 families since 2005.