New Marie Keating Foundation campaign challenges the ‘colour of cancer’ and highlights stark reality of breast cancer amid Covid-19
- 1 in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime with approximately 3,351 cases diagnosed in Ireland each year1
- Foundation concerned that Covid-19 pandemic has led to significant fall in attendance at cancer rapid access clinics, suspension of the BreastCheck screening service with worrying backlog, and reduced operating capacity in medical oncology and radiology2,3
- Campaign launched to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month and support those affected by breast cancer who might not feel it is ‘pink’
Breast cancer isn’t just pink; it is a kaleidoscope of colours and emotions for those affected. That’s according to the Marie Keating Foundation as it launches a series of compelling patient videos to mark breast cancer awareness month and open a debate around the ‘colour of cancer’. The colour pink has become synonymous with breast cancer, however many patients experience darker moments and have difficulties dealing with the stark reality of a cancer diagnosis; some can feel alienated by the overwhelmingly positive ‘pinkness’ that dominates the movement.
1 in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and it is the most common cancer in women in Ireland1. Each year approximately 3,351 cases are diagnosed, and sadly 728 people die from the disease1. Due to early detection and advances in treatment, breast cancer now has a five-year survival rate of 85%1.
Liz Yeates, CEO, Marie Keating Foundation and breast cancer survivor, commented, “With this campaign, we have put the patient voice and experience first, where it should be, and hope it will open up a much-needed debate on the ‘colour of cancer’. Not everyone feels ‘pink’ at all times, and that’s okay! We know how unique each person’s experience is, and we understand how difficult cancer can be. We are here to support patients at every stage, from bright to darker moments, and everything in between.”
Mary Bodley, patient ambassador living with advanced breast cancer, said, “Everyone’s cancer journey is unique. We all have our colour to describe our cancer. Mine is ‘forever sea blue’, it’s that feeling like sometimes you are drowning, and then sometimes that you are as free as the blue sea itself. My reality is that I won’t be cured, but I won’t let that stop me from helping others by talking about the importance of breast cancer awareness, screening and services which are crucial to so many families across the country, including mine.”
The Marie Keating Foundation is extremely concerned that the knock-on effect of COVID-19 will result in delays in diagnosis and treatment, meaning poorer outcomes for patients and hopes this month’s campaign can bring the patient voice back into focus.
Commenting, Professor Janice Walshe, Consultant Oncologist, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin said, “Cancer services have been hit badly by COVID-19, with many referring to it as the ‘forgotten C’. Symptomatic clinics and breast cancer screening need urgent resources and prioritisation to ensure that a second casualty of the pandemic is not needless deaths from cancer due to late detection. I am proud to support this campaign which puts the patient at the centre and highlights the uniqueness of every breast cancer journey. This campaign aims to highlight these issues while reassuring newly diagnosed patients that we are seeing improved quality of life and better outcomes thanks to advancements in treatment and care – but early diagnosis is key.”
The Breast Cancer Isn’t Just Pink campaign, supported by Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd, filmed four women living with or after breast cancer and captured their personal perspective on ‘pink’ and the colours they would use to describe their journey. Blue, red, white and purple were some of the colours picked to describe their unique journey, representing different challenges, changes and outlooks for each participant. A dedicated social media campaign will showcase the emotive videos and give a snapshot of the stark reality of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Luz Moya, Breast Cancer Lead, Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd. said, “At Roche, we are committed to improving the lives of those affected by breast cancer. With significant advances in cancer treatment being made, we need to ensure that the delays to innovative medicines are removed so that women get the opportunity to access the best available treatment option to give them the best possible chance. This campaign aims to challenge the perception of pink and shine a light on the kaleidoscope of emotions experienced during a cancer journey, highlighting the need for greater understanding of the reality of breast cancer in Ireland.”
Marie Keating Foundation nurses are on hand to speak to all those impacted by cancer and provides a range of services to suit different needs. The Breast Cancer Isn’t Just Pink video series, breast cancer information and links to support groups for every stage of a cancer journey, can be found at www.mariekeating.ie/notjustpink. Anyone affected by breast cancer is encouraged to share the colour or colours associated with their journey on social media using the #notjustpink throughout the month of October.
The Breast Cancer Isn’t Just Pink awareness campaign is dedicated to Deirdre Kelleher Dowling (RIP) who sadly passed away during the production of the video series.