Cathy hopes cancer screening film will help save more women's lives
The devastating impact of breast cancer on the women she loves has inspired Cathy Martin to undergo a mammogram for a charity video aimed at saving lives.
The PR boss and creator of Belfast Fashionweek is hoping her Action Cancer 'one minute mammogram' video will encourage other women to get their breasts checked.
The light-hearted clip of Cathy and the Action Cancer team guiding women through the simple mammogram process has already been viewed several thousand times online since it was uploaded yesterday.
Action Cancer offers free breast screening to women aged between 40 and 49 and 70 plus, who fall outside the health service testing ages of 50 to 70.
Cathy hopes by showing women there is nothing to fear from the screening process they will be motivated to avail of the Action Cancer service.
The 42-year-old got the all-clear but told the Belfast Telegraph breast cancer had touched the lives of her friends and family so she felt compelled to use any influence she might have with women in Northern Ireland to do some good.
Cathy said: "My mum Mae has breast cancer cells and tumours in all her bones. It is thought she had a small primary tumour on her breast bone which went undetected and spread into the bones.
"I am also of the right age now to avail of the free screening service and know through my work I can reach lots of women so wanted to use any influence I might have in a positive way."
Cathy also wanted to honour the memory of the 35-year-old founder of the Pretty 'n' Pink charity, Noleen Adair, who died in 2014.
"My friend Noleen Adair died last June from a long battle with breast cancer and another close friend Marian Nicholas is in recovery now," she said.
"And lots of other friends and family members have fallen prey to the disease over the years."
Action Cancer's consultant radiographer Joanna Currie said the team was delighted with the response Cathy's video has received online.
"Cathy's light-hearted video shows exactly what happens during an Action Cancer breast screening appointment, dispelling any fears that women may have about having a mammogram," she said.
"Anything that encourages women to be breast aware and to come for regular screening is a positive."
To book a mammogram or for more information visit http://www.actioncancer.org
Action Cancer is the only charity in the UK and Ireland to offer breast screening to women aged 40 to 49 and 70 plus. Women in these age categories fall outside the NHS age range (50-70). It has been screening women in Northern Ireland for breast cancer since 1978, 10 years ahead of the NHS. Action Cancer's phone number is 028 9080 3344.
'I may have lost one of my breasts but I'm thankful that I'm still alive'
Mary Allen (50) lives in Ballymena with her husband Donald and is the mother of four grown-up children. Her breast cancer was detected on board Action Cancer's Big Bus in November 2012. Mary attended the breast clinic at Antrim Area Hospital and also had to undergo a mastectomy. She says:
Things haven't been easy but I have recently had reconstructive surgery to create a left breast which is helping me to move forward," she said.
"Women have these breasts and take them for granted. It's only when you lose one that you realise they are so important to you; to your femininity and confidence. I am, however, so thankful to Action Cancer for detecting my cancer early on.
"This early intervention meant that I did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
"I may have lost one of my breasts to cancer, but I am thankful that I haven't lost my life to cancer. I am alive to tell the tale.
"My message to all women is to be breast aware and avail of a free breast screening from Action Cancer if you are aged 40 to 49 or 70 plus - it might just save your life.
"I'm convinced my decision to book an appointment on the Big Bus saved mine."
'You're never too old to be proactive so book yourself an appointment'
Dorothy McAlinden (82) lives just outside Castlewellan in Co Down. She is widowed and has six children and 12 grandchildren. Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer following screening on board Action Cancer's Big Bus in October 2013. She says
Following an advert which appeared in my local newspaper I decided to book an appointment on board the Big Bus when I saw that it was coming to Ballynahinch.
I knew what to expect as I had been for a screening at Action Cancer House three years previously.
I thought the Big Bus is practically coming to my doorstep, I have no excuse.
I phoned a friend and said 'come on, we're going'.
When people are older, they are inclined to think 'what's the point?'
But there's every point, you've got the rest of your life ahead of you.
"You are never too old to be proactive about anything - if you're proactive you have less to worry about.
For most women the screening will produce clear results, reassuring you that everything is fine.
Action Cancer's breast screening could save your life.
I want to encourage women aged 70 plus to be proactive and book an appointment today."