Bangor cancer survivor Nina Cristinacce 45, has decided to get feisty in the kitchen in order to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer with the help of her new apprentice, UTV’s Julian Simmons.
A joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, Stand Up To Cancer aims to raise money to fund research which will get new and better treatments to cancer patients faster.
Seven years ago, whilst on holiday with her children Emma, then eight, Ryan seven and Alex five, Nina felt a pea-sized lump in her breast and, having lost her mum to ovarian cancer two years earlier, decided to get it checked out. Following a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had been feeling tired, had no appetite and was losing weight,” said Nina “so I knew I was ill, but I was not prepared for the news I had breast cancer. I was a single mum with three young children. How could this happen?
“I had a mastectomy and opted to have a reconstruction at the same time, then six cycles of chemotherapy followed by five weeks of radiotherapy.
“By May 2011 my treatment was over and I was so relieved.
“After working all my life in the catering industry in various guises,” continued Nina “ including waitress, chef, restaurant manager, film and television catering and finally as a maker of pies, I decided to open a speciality coffee shop in Bangor in March of this year, with the ethos of using as much local produce as possible and supporting small independent businesses in our area.
“My experience as made me realise how important research is and that is why I decided to join in the ‘Ballsy Bakes’ activity, by getting inventive with flavours and making rebellious bakes to raise funds for the charity.
Now Nina is calling on local people to follow her lead and organise their own fundraising activities with help from the charity’s free fundraising pack.
“I have enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen and thinking up unusual flavours,” said Nina, “but this is just one of the fun and simple ways to Stand Up To Cancer.
This campaign is very close to my heart as we’ve all had friends and family affected by the disease. I would encourage everyone to take on their own challenge and dig deep to help beat cancer sooner.
“ I’m afraid I made a bit of a dog’s dinner,” said Julian, “I’m sure you could do better.
“But if you are like me in the kitchen, why not dare to wax your legs, lose an eyebrow or even a full head shave. Or you could challenge your friends to a 12 hour game-a-thon.
“However you choose to Stand Up To Cancer, you’ll be helping to raise crucial cash for life-saving research.”
Since it was launched in the UK in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than £38 million to fund over 40 clinical trials and research projects.
Stand Up To Cancer is supported by a host of celebrities from TV, film and radio including Davina McCall, Alan Carr, Bill Bailey, Edith Bowman and Kirstie Allsopp.
This autumn Channel 4 will once again bring the brightest stars from show business together in a dedicated season of Stand Up To Cancer programming.