Newtownabbey woman praises Action Cancer after diagnosis

A Newtownabbey breast cancer survivor has praised the work of Action Cancer after the charity detected her condition in 2017.

Michele Cowan, who is now is an Action Cancer Breast Cancer Ambassador, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 following a screening appointment at Action Cancer House.

Michele’s cancer was detected through the charity’s breast screening service, a unique initiative to Northern Ireland. It is available to women aged 40-49 and over 70 — those who fall outside the NHS screening age range (50 – 70).

Michele said: “It is thanks to Action Cancer that my cancer was detected early. It was my third time attending for screening with the charity which just shows how important it is to continue to attend routine screenings every two years. Following my diagnosis, I underwent surgery and radiotherapy and began taking tamoxifen. I had my five-year oncology appointment on July 4 where they recommended all medication to be stopped which was just great news. I am so thankful to Action Cancer for providing this free service. Without it my story could have been very different.”

Michele Cowan (centre) with daughters Chloe and Nicole.

The cancer screening service is always free to the user. However, each appointment costs the charity £120.

With no regular government funding Action Cancer is reliant upon community and corporate fundraising in order to deliver this life-saving service which is available both at Action Cancer House in Belfast and on board the Big Bus mobile screening unit which travels to over 200 locations each year.

The charity has forged a successful partnership with local online car insurance company its4women who sponsor Action Cancer’s ‘Breast Friends’ campaign, raising valuable funds for its life-saving breast screening service.

For every 1,000 breast screenings Action Cancer detects six cancers, meaning the ‘Breast Friends’ partnership with its4women has potentially saved the lives of nine local ladies and has given peace of mind to hundreds of others.

Michele Cowan and its4women Marketing Manager Kerry Beckett.

Since 2019 ‘Breast Friends’ has encouraged groups of friends to get together in social settings and fundraise. Every £120 raised covers the cost of one breast screening appointment with Action Cancer.

Its4women partnered with Action Cancer, pledging to match all fundraising up to the value of £30,000 per year, totalling a financial commitment of £90,000 from 2019 to 2022. Even though the pandemic seriously impacted fundraising activities carried out by the general public, its4women generously stood by their pledge and donated the maximum £90,000.

To date the campaign has generated over £153,000 and provided nearly 1,500 breast screenings for local women.

Speaking about the partnership, its4women Marketing Manager, Kerry Beckett said: “Our ethos is one of empowerment, that combined with the fact that Breast Friends has already raised enough to provide nearly 1,500 women in Northern Ireland with a potentially life-saving breast screening appointment, made it an easy decision for us to do it all over again. Knowing the generosity of the Northern Ireland public I am confident they will join us in raising these vital funds for Action Cancer.

“Its4women will match all Breast Friends fundraising until 2025 to a total value of £90,000. This means that together we have the ability to raise £180,000 which will equal 1,500 breast screenings for local women.”

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Action Cancer is calling on people to get involved with ‘Breast Friends’ over the coming months by holding summer BBQs or garden tea parties with loved ones and raise money for Action Cancer’s life-saving breast screening service. The charity is reliant on fundraising from the general public and the local business community in order to deliver its range of cancer prevention, detection and support services.

For more information on Action Cancer’s services, call 028 9080 3344 or visit