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Breast Cancer Awareness

October marks the arrival of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with that, we've compiled a guide on signs, symptoms and the importance of self-examination. 

More than 2,600 Irish women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and figures suggest we have a one in 12 chance of developing the disease in our lifetime. 

Early diagnosis is key to breast cancer survival, and with 74 per cent of patients discovering the lump themselves, it's never too early to start self-examining. 

Signs and symptoms 

Women are encouraged to conduct a thorough breast examination at least once a month, and while we are all aware that lumps and bumps must be seen to by a doctor, there are some lesser-known symptoms that may indicate cancer in its early stages. 

These include changes to the size and shape of your breast, changes in the shape of direction of the nipple, and changes in texture and colour of your skin. 

As well as changes around the breast area, swelling or pain in your armpit and/ or around the collarbone, could be a sign of a underlying issue. 

For a full list of symptoms associated with breast cancer, visit cancer.ie

Risk factors 

While you can never fully protect yourself from a cancer diagnosis, there are certain risk factors that every woman should be aware of. 

Age, family history, and genetics all play a huge role in the potential development of breast cancer. As with many illness, your risk of breast cancer increases as you get older, and that risk is doubled if you've had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with the disease. 

Being overweight, excess alcohol consumption and smoking have also been linked to an increased risk.


The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, which is why the Irish Cancer Society recommend that every woman get into the habit of checking her breasts on a regular basis. 

Take note of what is normal to you i.e. if your boobs often become tender or change in size around the time of your period, there should be no need for alarm. It's all about knowing your own body. 

When it comes to self-examination, it's best to stand in front of a mirror so you can view your breasts from different angles. Feel around for any of the changes noted above, and discuss any concerns with your GP. 


Treatment plans are designed on a case by case basis, with doctors deciding which course is right for you. 

There are are number of options available including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and drug therapies. 

When diagnosed early, breast cancer is an extremely treatable disease, with survival rates improving year on year. 

For more information on symptoms, risks, diagnosis and treatment, please visit www.cancer.ie


By Trina Cleary

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and ironically, on October 18, 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer – Stage 2 Invasive Ductal and Lobular.

I turned 34-years-old two weeks before my diagnosis. I thought I was too young. 

As did everyone else – because I assumed breast cancer was an older person's disease – not someone who was active, fit, didn't smoke, did not drink alcohol excessively and ate relatively well.

To say I was devastated was an understatement.

I cried – a lot, but then I decided I would not be overcome by this horrible, negative thing, and I chose to share my entire journey on my Instagram account. The good, the bad and the ugly because breast cancer is not the pretty pink ribbon with smiling models that it is portrayed to be. 

So, where did it all begin? In early 2018, I discovered a small, pea sized lump while self examining in the shower. It was movable, deep in the tissue, it rolled under my fingertips and felt like a piece of grizzle.

Nobody ever told me about the importance of self examination.  I just know that from a very young age, maybe early teens, it's something I did regularly. Maybe I overheard an adult conversation, maybe I heard or watched something on TV and it just stuck with me.

Early detection is vital. If I knew then what I know now I would have taken myself straight to the doctor and not waited five months.

So what did I do when I found this lump? I ignored it. I figured "it's just a girl thing" and figured it would just go, fear and naivety playing a factor here.

I continued my examinations in the shower, and still Larry the Lump remained. At times it was painful, it grew as the weeks went by. I was worried but brushed it off, again embarrassed,  afraid, uneducated.

I eventually went to the GP in August 2018. The lump had grown to a size where I could no longer ignore it. Visibly you could see a difference in the size of both my breasts, my bra was tighter on that breast, the skin stretched, my nipple had started to invert. Whenever I carried out my self examination I had that sinking feeling in my gut and I just knew. That gut feeling is rarely wrong.

My GP was very kind, he felt it was a cyst due to size, my age, lack of family history, the fact it was moveable at that time but referred me to get checked anyway. At that time it measured around 2.5 – 3 cm give or take. That's 2-3 cm growth in five months.

Waiting for my appointment was mentally exhausting. I only told a handful of people but didn't want to worry them with my concerns for fear they were just dismissed, but inwardly I was terrified.

I ended up having to take a week or so off work to try and sort through my own head. 

I was anxious, needy, clingy, irritable, paranoid, crying at the drop of a hat, insecure and totally negative during this wait. I felt like I didn't have my own head during that period. 

Outwardly you would never have known but inwardly my mind was in overdrive with what ifs? The waiting is almost worse than the diagnosis itself.

Fast forward to October 18, my first life changing appointment.

My mam and sister came with me and all the way to the hospital they kept saying; "It's just a cyst, it will be nothing". I kept quiet because I half had a feeling it wouldn't be that simple. That gut feeling again.

At the hospital, the first consultant thought it was a cyst but he sent me off for a mammogram just to be safe. They ended up doing an ultrasound because 35 is the recommended age for a mammogram, again, I was too young.

I was on that table all of five minutes and I was marched back for a mammogram. It was then I knew, I knew she saw something, I knew because she went to my armpit and immediately stopped. She had seen something here.

I. Just. Knew.

I had another ultrasound and then a biopsy on the lump I had originally found, as well as the newly found lump. The cancer had spread to my lymph node under my arm.

Tears fell from my face the entire time as my mam rubbed my head, the nurse rubbed my leg the entire time and were all so supportive. I couldn't feel anything, just pressure.

Once she was done, I asked why did she feel the need to do a biopsy. Her response: "Ask the question you really want to ask.” 

Both mum and I asked: "Is it cancer?"

Her reply was simply, “Yes.”

I felt my world crumble. I felt sick. I felt numb. I felt like it wasn't happening to me. Dream like. All the while thinking – Chemo, my hair, my son and I'm going to die.

I fell to the ground while my mam and my sister held me and we cried and cried and cried. We had the task of breaking the news to my dad, friends and family. And more tears followed.

I let the grief take over, it's part of the process to just start crying at the drop of a hat. To not sleep. To cry in your sleep. To not eat. There is no right or wrong way to deal with getting delivered this news.

You just have to feel the feelings and go with them. 

Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis is not something anyone expects to go through, especially at the mere age of 34.

It's also not a dirty thing, a dirty little secret or anything to be ashamed of. 

Fast forward to one year and I’ve just passed my one year cancer anniversary. I finished up my treatment four weeks ago, after eight rounds of chemo, one lumpectomy, one mastectomy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. 

I have been on holiday, I'm back training, I'm back driving and will be phasing back to work next month.

Cancer was certainly the worst thing that has happened to me but I vowed not to let it be a negative thing and to do my best to raise awareness around self check and early detection.

Many disagreed with my choice to be so vocal about it all. I feel that with social media being such a huge part of life now, what better way to raise awareness on such a taboo subject, remove some of the fear of the unknown, a subject, that the only real knowledge people have is what you see in films which isn't always a true representation.

Please, self check once a month, note any changes and take concerns to your GP. Don’t hesitate and brush it off as ‘just a girl thing’.

You can follow Trina’s journey on her blog and Instagram.


Deciding what to do on Valentine's Day can be a major chore, especially for single ladies out there. 

It can be a frustrating time of forging through millions of Facebook events, restaurant promotions specifically for two and condescending Whatsapp messages of pity from friends in relationships.

Why not break a world record while trying to find love? Something for the CV as well as a future cuddle buddy would be IDEAL, and the event raises money for two great causes as well.

Valentines Day Love GIF

An official Guinness World Record attempt will take place at the Custom House Quarter on Valentines Day 2019, and it looks absolutely unreal.

If you're single and ready to mingle, or just want to go along for the laugh (or have a competitive streak that can only be tamed by breaking records…) make sure to head to the CHQ speed dating event.

They need more than 655 attendees to beat the current record, and one of them can be you.

Maybe you're looking for a future life partner to walk down the aisle towards (seriously) or perhaps you're just bored this Valentine's Day like millions of us, round up your single friends and join the queue for a night to remember.

marge simpson episode 20 GIF

Tickets are €15 per person and include a drink on arrival (very much needed), snacks and entertainment on the night. If you show your ticket to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum within three months following the event, you get two-for-one entry. Second date alert?

Take home some hilarious stories, not to be told at family events, and maybe even some romance? Who knows what lies in store.

All proceeds from your tickets will be going to Movember Ireland and Breast Cancer Awareness too, so you'll feel extra wholesome after finding a match made in…well, not heaven but close enough.

schitts creek comedy GIF by CBC

Get your tickets on Eventbrite, and based on your answers when registering you will be split into categories based on orientation and age (over 18s lads) to match you with your perfect date.As perfect as basic algorithms can manage at least.

Dates per person last three minutes each, so you'll get the sparks of love or just a few snippets of nice conversation/small talk, either way it's a win-win.

Matching will be done on a little app, where you can keep track of everyone you meet throughout the night. Think socially acceptable cyber snooping, like Tinder with a tracker.

valentines day cupid GIF

A link will be sent out to the app via email in January, and your profile can be created before the event.

The app basically acts as your wingwoman on the night; when you meet someone you can scan their QR codes and swipe right or left after the date based on if you're into them or would rather hide in a bin than ever see them once more. 

If you both swipe right, you'll receive each other's contact details, and then LOVE WILL BLOSSOM. Hopefully. If you remember your phone charger.

For more information on the event where you'll find your future baby daddy, follow the link. Y'all are welcome, enjoy breaking records for a good cause.



Raising awareness of breast cancer is a seriously important cause, and one lingerie brand at NYFW made it their mission to do just that. 

Lingerie and loungewear specialist Ana Ono, who describe themselves as catering for people with "two breasts, one breast, no breasts or new breasts," chose models for their latest show who had survived or were currently battling breast cancer.

The choice of these models made for a striking show which raised awareness of the disease as the images were shared across the globe. 


A post shared by Peter Cooper (@iampetercooper) on

The show featured 16 amazing women from various backgrounds who showed off both the underwear and their cancer scars. 

Designer Dana Donofree, the brainchild behind Ana Ono, is a breast cancer survivor herself, and decided that it was time to create a pretty but functional line of surgery and mastectomy bras for women suffering from breast cancer.

"We dress women with unilateral and bilateral mastectomies, with or without reconstruction. We clothe women in lush Recovery Wear™ and loungewear with a unique drain management system so from the moment they step out of surgery and enter treatment, they feel comfortable, feminine and beautiful," reads a statement on the Ana Ono site."


A post shared by Ericka Hart, M.Ed. (@ihartericka) on

"From there, we offer patented Radiation Wear specifically designed to avoid areas of the skin that often get burned or scarred and chafe during treatment. And with a collection of post-op bras and wirefree bralettes, we are making a difference to be there with these women on every step of her journey for the rest of her life."

Proceeds from the Ana Ono show were also donated to the non-profit organisation Cancerland, which works to encourage women to live well while dealing with their disease. 

Not only did the show raise breast cancer awareness on a high fashion platform, but it also made a statement to women suffering from breast cancer that there is no shame in having scars. 


A post shared by AnaOno (@anaonointimates) on

One of the models, body positivity activist Erika Hart, took to Instagram before the show to express her delight in being included.

"I want to say this is a dream come true, but really it's a dream I gave up on many moons ago."


A post shared by Ericka Hart, M.Ed. (@ihartericka) on

"Leaned into the often vocal thoughts that I was ugly, flat footed (yes someone told me this), not the right this or that to be a model. So, I am walking this weekend for the folks who have been told they couldn't," she said.

We seriously commend Ana Ono raising awareness, raising funds and empowering women who may feel that their disease holds them back from identifying as beautiful. 


A woman has shared the photo that informed her she had breast cancer before she had even set foot inside of a hospital.

Erin Smith Chieze posted the photo of lemons, each one displaying a physical mark of breast cancer, in a bid to raise awareness of those symptoms visible to the naked eye.

In the post, Erin explained that she was sharing the photo in response to a new social media trend calling on women to post a heart icon on their pages, to raise awareness for breast cancer.

She explained that she first came across this photo in 2015, and when she discovered an indentation similar to that on one of the lemons, she "instantly knew" she had breast cancer.

While Erin couldn’t feel a tumour in her breast, she knew she needed to see a doctor.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer five days later, and her status was placed at Stage 4 a month later.

“A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self-exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease. We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts,” she wrote.

Now, Erin is calling on women everywhere to study the photo and share it with their friends and loved ones.

“If you truly want to help people with cancer, or those who will get cancer, share photos like this one. I wish I remembered who posted the original picture I saw; it truly did make a difference for me,” she added.

Such an important picture, please share it with everyone you know. 


Are you sitting around the house finding it oh-so difficult to get up, get out, and get exercising?

Well, we may just have the perfect solution for you. 

The Great Pink Run 2015, all in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland, is taking place on Saturday August 29 in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

And among the stars participating is Kerry footballer, Paul Galvin.

“It’s my pleasure to help promote this event for a very worthy cause," he said 

"With 13 weeks to go it sounds like a great way to set yourself a training target, or just mark it down in the diary as a great, fun, and colourful event for all the family to get involved at the end of the summer holidays.”

Model Karena Graham and TV3 presenter Sinead Desmond have also joined Paul in raising awareness for the very special cause.

And as well as the 10km challenge, there is a 5km Family Fun Run for those who reckon the longer distance might be a little optimistic. 

An amazing cause AND a great way to get fit: the Great Pink Run is sponsored by Avonmore Slimline Milk and all the information you need is on the event's official website.


Hopefully, most of us ladies, if not all, are pretty religious on checking our body for any lumps and bumps.

When it comes to fighting breast cancer the most effective method is early detection, which is why we must do a proper breast exam regularly.

However, there may be a way to predict the chances of getting non-inherited breast cancer.

According to doctors, a blood test may be able to determine if a woman has a higher chance of getting breast cancer, even if they don’t have the genes.

The scientists who discovered this have identified a “switch” in blood that increases a woman’s chances of developing the disease.

Senior research officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Dr Matthew Lam,  believes “this could mean that in the future a woman may be able to have a simple blood test to look for this DNA signature, and therefore know if she is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.”

“If she does have this signature, she could then work with her doctor to explore the options available to help her take control of her own risk. These could include lifestyle changes, tailored breast screening, risk-reducing drugs or surgery.”

Sounds pretty awesome to us.




The thought of posting a selfie with no war paint on is scary stuff.

But raising money for a really good cause might give you the extra courage you need.

The Irish Cancer Society has been flooded with donations in the past couple of days thanks to the ‘No makeup selfie’ trend.

Thousands of women around the country shared a selfie of themselves wearing no makeup on Facebook and Twitter to raise money for the worthy charity.

‘#nomakeupselfie’ is currently the number one Twitter trend in Ireland as hundreds of photos continue to be posted every hour.

And not to be outdone, even men got in on the craze by posting selfies of themselves with lots of slap on.

The charity says that more than €200,000 has been raised so far and counting, as the trend continues online.

Cancer charities in the UK revealed they have raised more than £4 million thanks to the campaign, with celebrities such as Kym Marsh joining in.

If you would like to make a donation to the Irish Cancer Society Text Pink or Daff to 50300 to donate €4.