POLITICIAN Michelle Gildernew used the unique breast screening service onboard the Action Cancer Big Bus when the mobile clinic visited her constituency area recently.
Leading by example, the Fermanagh and South Tyrone Sinn Fein MP (42) booked a screening appointment after organising the Big Bus visit to her local community. She is encouraging other women aged 40 – 49 and 70+ to contact Action Cancer for a free breast screening.
The service is available on the Big Bus mobile unit and at Action Cancer’s head office in Belfast. Every year the Big Bus, which is sponsored by independent retail group SuperValu, visits 200 communities across Northern Ireland providing breast screenings to over 3,500 women and health checks and advice to approximately 2,000 people.
Michelle Gildernew commented on her experience and explained why the women should take advantage of the breast screening service:
“I have visited the Action Cancer Big Bus a number of times to show my support for this vital community service. I was keen to bring it to the constituency again and as I now fall within the charity’s screening age range of 40-49, I thought I’d take advantage of the service while it was on my doorstep. The screening only took 20 minutes, the process was very straightforward, and the staff were extremely professional and reassuring. Only a few weeks later I have my results, which thankfully tell me that everything is normal.
“I am very thankful for the peace of mind the Big Bus has given me and I want to encourage other women to attend for an appointment when it is in their area. For those six women in every 1,000 that Action Cancer screen who are diagnosed with breast cancer, their cancer is detected in its earlier stages when it may otherwise have gone unnoticed, and as we know early detection is the best way to combat the disease.
“Having a good friend who died of breast cancer in her 40s I would urge all women aged 40 - 49 and over 70 to contact Action Cancer for a free breast screening, and those aged 50 - 70 to attend screenings when called by the NHS.”
Gareth Kirk, Action Cancer Chief Executive added: “With approximately 1,150 women diagnosed with and 300 dying from breast cancer in Northern Ireland every year1, our message of being breast aware and to self refer for screening has never been more important. Our service has saved the lives of hundreds of women and offers reassurance to thousands when no cancer is detected.
“When our local politicians use our breast screening programme and share their experience, more women will become aware of our service and come forward for screenings. Michelle has set a great example.”
As part of SuperValu’s long-term commitment to Action Cancer’s mobile cancer services, which they have sponsored since 2001, local SuperValu stores have provided more than £1million of funding for the Big Bus, including £120,000 towards the annual running costs. SuperValu stores throughout Northern Ireland host Big Bus visits and raise funds to keep the service moving.
John McSorley from the SuperValu store in Aughnacloy was on hand to welcome Michelle to the Big Bus and commented; “SuperValu has been in partnership with Action Cancer for eleven years, as a way of giving something back to the communities where SuperValu stores operate. We are extremely proud to be part of the Big Bus project; to help the charity give peace of mind to thousands of women each year and save lives through the early detection of cancer.”
Individuals wishing to make an appointment for a service and groups and companies wishing to make a booking for the Big Bus to visit their location should telephone Action Cancer on 028 9080 3344 or use the dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org