October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre is calling on women – and men – across Northern Ireland to be more breast aware with the help of its Breast Bud Self-Check Hanger.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in Northern Ireland, with over 1,400 being diagnosed each year. Early detection is vital and to encourage more people to get into the habit of checking their breasts and chest regularly, the charity has produced its Breast Bud Self Check Hanger. The hanger – similar to a do not disturb sign on hotel doors – is waterproof and can be placed in the shower, on the door of the bathroom, or anywhere that will remind people to check their breasts and chest once a month, every month. The hanger features an easy to follow step-by-step guide on how to carry out a self-examination, encouraging people to become familiar with what is normal for them, so any changes can be identified at an early stage. The hanger also outlines what signs and symptoms to look out for when carrying out an exam, and encourages anyone who finds anything they are worried about to see their GP.
The campaign is proudly supported by 32 year old Judith Stewart from Belfast, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 when she was just 28 years old. Highlighting how important breast checks are, Judith said:
“I started carrying out self-checks following a health awareness talk by Friends of the Cancer Centre’s clinical nurse specialist, Elaine Shaw, who came to my work to give a talk about the importance of checking your breasts regularly and what signs we should look out for. After that talk, I started checking myself and it was during one of those checks that I found a small lump. I know I might never have found that lump had it not been for the talk from Elaine, and the awareness campaign from Friends of the Cancer Centre.
“The diagnosis and treatment was the hardest thing I have ever had to work through. Today I am doing well and I’m really proud to support Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Breast Bud campaign. It’s thanks to checking my breasts that I found the lump and my early detection meant I could be treated so effectively. If my story encourages just one person to start checking themselves regularly, then I’ll be really pleased as it could save their life.”
For 35 years Friends of the Cancer Centre has been committed to supporting people with cancer across Northern Ireland, enhancing the quality of patient care and support through its work. In addition to highlighting the importance of self-checks, the charity is also highlighting the support available to those impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis. Friends of the Cancer Centre proudly funds an oncology breast cancer clinical nurse specialist and a secondary breast cancer nurse, who are the only nurses of their kind in Northern Ireland. They provide vital care to those impacted by breast cancer, ensuring they are supported throughout their diagnosis and treatment.
Commenting on why self-examinations are so important, Colleen Shaw, chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said:
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women in Northern Ireland. As well as attending mammograms when called, self-examination is a really important and pro-active step that women and men of all ages can take to detect any possible changes early.
“Our Breast Bud Self-Check Hanger is a tool that we hope will help encourage people to get into the habit of checking themselves once a month, every month. October is a great time to get such an important message out, but ultimately we hope that breast checks become a regular part of people’s routine, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month when breast cancer is in the news, but every month.”
Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Breast Bud Self-Check Hanger is available online from www.friendsofthecancercentre.com .