One of Australia’s tracked Antarctic snow vehicles has been painted pink and filled with messages of love and support as a unique tribute to those whose lives have been affected by cancer.

The Hägglunds will head south to Antarctica later this month on the Aurora Australis, arriving at its new home — Davis research station – in November.

Australian Antarctic Division staff were invited to name the pink Hägglunds, nominating ‘Opal’ – the birthstone for the month of October and symbol of inspiration and hope.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Social Club officially unveiled Opal at a fundraising breakfast at the Division’s headquarters in Kingston, this morning.

The Division’s Social Club President, Melanie Pike, said painting the Hägglunds pink was a way to honour those whose lives have been affected by cancer and raise awareness of the support available through organisations such as BreastScreen Tasmania.

“Like many people in the community, staff at the Australian Antarctic Division have been touched by cancer and we wanted to show our support,” Ms Pike said.

“Hägglunds are commonly used in Antarctica and as the only pink one on the continent, Opal will be a very special part of the Australian Antarctic Program.”

Ms Pike said staff were being invited to write messages for those affected by cancer inside the Hägglunds before it departs for Antarctica.

“We wanted to find a way to bring the Hägglunds alive and personalise its presence in Antarctica, so we are encouraging our staff to leave a tribute for any loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer, or to write a message of support for family and friends living with cancer,” she said.

The Division’s Social Club joined forces with BreastScreen Tasmania.

BreastScreen Tasmania Acting State Manager, Lyn Gibson said the pink Hägglunds was a wonderful way to communicate an important message regarding a cancer diagnosis.

“Not only does a diagnosis of cancer affect the individual concerned, but also their family, friends, work colleagues and even expeditioners in Antarctica,” Ms Gibson said.

“Providing access to screening and support services in remote locations through the Mobile Screening Units is a vitally important role of BreastScreen Tasmania.

“Women and their families are able to access screening services from the Bass Strait islands, to as far south as Dover.”

The Hägglunds will stay at Davis research station where it will be used to transport scientists and expeditioners over the coming years and serve as a reminder around the importance of screening and early intervention.

As part of this initiative, staff at the Division and in Antarctica have raised over $750 for the cause. The money will be used to purchase iPads for cancer patients undergoing treatment at the Royal Hobart Hospital.