Girls' Night In

Cancer / Women's Health

Raising awareness in October, Breast Cancer Month

Cancer Focus NI is reminding women to check their breasts regularly as part of raising awareness of the disease during October. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Northern Ireland – every year 1,300 are diagnosed and 300 lose their lives. 

Cancer Focus NI is funding vital research into breast cancer at Queen’s University Belfast which has the potential to make an enormous difference to the lives of many women. 

Mum of three Kate Gray is battling metastatic breast cancer – so breast cancer awareness month in October is especially poignant for her. 

Kate, husband David and daughters Emily (10), Connie (7) and Megan (4) have had tremendous support from Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. 

“The charity has been a complete lifeline for us all,” she said. “The fact that it funds potentially life-saving research means a lot to me as new developments could mean earlier diagnosis, better treatments outcomes for other women and life extending treatments for women in my situation,” Kate said. 

After going through surgery, switching to different chemo drugs and starting Herceptin, Kate is feeling much more like her old self. 

“I’ve finished chemo and am on a cocktail of other drugs which is hopefully holding the cancer in place. 

“I’ve been seeing the Cancer Focus NI art therapist Joanne Boal since October and she’s been absolutely brilliant. This therapy really appealed to me as I’m an artistic person. Joanne has given me valuable coping strategies for all the things I am trying to figure out,” she said. 

Cancer Focus NI family support workers have also seen the children. Connie in particular was struggling at school. “The service has been a big lifeline for her and has helped her from imploding. It was very difficult for us, as parents, to explain to the children what was going on in a way they could understand, they are very young, and the family support workers helped us with that,” Kate explained. 

“My mum has used the charity’s counselling service as she was having difficulties too – my diagnosis was only one of a number of traumatic events in her life, so she really valued having someone to express her anxieties and feelings to. 

“And I have also used the Cancer Focus NI bra-fitting service, which is for women who’ve gone through breast surgery.” 

Kate is urging women to regularly check their breasts and go to the doctor if they have any concerns. She is also urging local women to take part in the Girls’ Night In fundraiser to help raise funds for the charity’s research into the disease. 

Anyone who would like a party pack for their own Girls’ Night In or for more information, please call 028 9066 3281, email fundraising@cancerfocusni.org or visit www.cancerfocusni.org. 

Anyone who has any concerns about cancer can call the Cancer Focus NI information and support NurseLine on 0800 783 3339 and speak to the specialist cancer nurse.

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