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Action Cancer launches Breast Cancer Awareness Month

From left, Gareth Kirk, chief executive, Action Cancer; Joanna Currie, consultant radiographer; and Sonya Cassidy, local service user.

Local service user Sonya Cassidy from Limavady has joined the Action Cancer team to launch Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).

Action Cancer is the only charity in the UK and Ireland to offer free breast screening to asymptomatic women aged 40–49 and over 70; those who fall outside the NHS screening age range (50–70).

Having to necessarily close its doors in March due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Action Cancer recommenced its breast cancer screening programme in mid-August and over the past six weeks has now screened 850 women who had been waiting since lockdown in March. Action Cancer would have normally screened 3,500 women during the period in which it had to close.

Appointments for the unique and free screening are now available at Action Cancer House in Belfast and on board the charity’s Big Bus, supported by SuperValu and Centra, which travels throughout Northern Ireland bringing this life saving service to the women of Northern Ireland in their own community.

“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we welcome the fact that other breast cancer charities join with us to raise awareness of the need for women to be breast aware and attend for breast screening,” said Gareth Kirk, chief executive, Action Cancer. “The reality is that the only breast cancer screening service available for local women and provided by a charity is from Action Cancer.

“With the need for PPE, extended appointment times and enhanced cleaning of our clinics, our Radiographers are going the extra mile to deliver this service. A breast screening at Action Cancer is free to our clients but the cost to the charity has increased from £80 per woman to £120.

“With our normal calendar of fundraising events and activities being cancelled due to restrictions, we are facing a massive funding challenge going forward.  Since recommencing our services, we have experienced unprecedented demand. It is very clear that our services are needed more than ever before.

“Unfortunately, our considerably reduced fundraising and retail income prohibits us from meeting that demand. We however remain committed as ever to continuing with delivering our life saving breast screening service to as many women as is possible.”

Joanna Currie, consultant radiographer, said: “Our state-of-the-art 3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis technology can detect cancer in its early stages when treatment can be more successful and also reduces the number of women called for further investigation.

“For every 1,000 women screened by Action Cancer, an average of six or seven cancers are detected. The vast majority of women who come for screening will receive clear results and will be given peace of mind.”

Sonya Cassidy, aged 49 from Limavady, said: “I received clear results two weeks after my mammogram with Action Cancer, the reassurance was fantastic. The staff are so friendly and professional, I’d highly recommend the service.”

The BCAM campaign has been supported by Gordons Chemists over the last 13 years, helping to spread the key message to female audiences that ‘early detection saves lives’.

Women aged 40-49 and 70 plus can book their free breast screening appointment either online at www.actioncancer.org or by calling 028 9080 3344.

Breast Friends

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Action Cancer is delighted to once again partner up with Northern Ireland based online car insurance provider its4women.co.uk. who are empowering people to raise funds for the charity’s unique breast screening service.

All mammograms (breast screening) provided by Action Cancer are free to the women being screened but now cost the charity approximately £120.

This year marks the second in partnership with its4women.co.uk with the online car insurance provider continuing their pledge that for every £1 raised by the general public through Breast Friends events it would donate £1 to a total value of £90,000 over a three-year period.

Kerry Beckett, marketing manager, its4women.co.uk, said: “Our ethos is one of empowerment, to help everyone realise their potential. We believe that involves encouraging your loved ones to feel inspired to sign up for health checks, so the Breast Friends campaign is one we are deeply committed to.

“We are supporting friends and families across Northern Ireland to seek an early detection of breast cancer that will ultimately save lives. Our shared goal is to raise a grand total of £180,000. This will provide 1,500 breast screening appointments for local women, saving approximately 10 lives and providing peace of mind to the vast majority of women.”

For your fundraising pack, get in touch with Leigh Osborne on 028 9080 3347 or email losborne[email protected]

You can view more about the campaign by watching the Breast Friends video on Action Cancer’s YouTube page https://youtu.be/h5shP36gYTk. This video features Brand Ambassador Donna McGavigan and her best friend, Frances Jack, from Strabane.


Big Bus in drive against disease

  • Action Cancer’s Big Bus travels round Northern Ireland delivering workplace and public screening
  • It provides digital breast screening for women and M.O.T. health checks for men and women
  • The Big Bus is supported by SuperValu and Centra who have provided over £3m in funding for various Action Cancer programmes since 2001
  • Women aged 40-49 and 70 plus can book an appointment on board the Big Bus or at Action Cancer House in South Belfast online at www.actioncancer.org or by calling 028 9080 3344

Check out the vital signs

Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by a doctor.

You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer. Reference: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer/

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