30. Breast Cancer Awareness Month – How you can help.

I keep seeing and hearing ads on the radio and on telly and from bloggers on their Snapchat and Instagram accounts who have been paid to promote breast cancer awareness month. Centra are running a Cups against Cancer campaign. Today FM are doing dare to care. But what is it all about? Are they creating the right kind of awareness? Have you actually checked your breasts as a result of seeing one of these ads? At the risk of sounding cynical, I’m not sure the emphasis of these campaigns is focused on the real issues real people are facing. They’re all trying to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society. What about the individual who has been affected or the mammy who might discover a lump down the line. Where’s the awareness? I don’t see Pippa O’Connor or Ian Dempsey telling women to check their breasts for lumps. Or to look out for any symptoms at all. They don’t tell you to watch out for a red mark or puckering on your skin. They don’t tell you to notice if your skin looks like orange peel. They don’t tell you to notice if your sweat from under your arm smells differently or if there’s any bleeding or discharge from your nipple. They aren’t creating any awareness about the actual illness at all! They’re telling you either hold a coffee morning, tweet some hashtag or donate €4 by text to a premium number who will take a cut of the money. It makes me fucking angry to see millions of euros of money thrown away to these campaigns which have been so beautifully branded in pink by some well paid graphic designer and launched in some five star hotel. Where is the money actually going? It is widely known that the majority of the money raised goes to multinational pharmaceutical companies in the hope of finding a cure. Cure my arse. It’s not in the pharmaceutical company’s best interest to find a cure. There’s too much money to be made out of cancer treatments. I’m planning on addressing this issue in a blog post soon but for now… If you want to do your bit to help people during ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ (excuse me while I choke on my pink ribbon), you can do something for an individual you know who has been affected. It is admirable that people want to help and have hosted coffee mornings or donated to the text line and people’s hearts are in the right place but coming from someone who has reached out to the Irish Cancer Society for help to get treatment abroad and was turned away*, here are some practical ideas to help someone you know who is healing or reeling from a cancer diagnosis.

  1. Make them some food
  2. Get them some organic veg at the market
  3. Babysit their kids so they can go out for a meal or to the cinema or to do something nice
  4. Send them a voucher for a treatment/massage/seaweed bath/therapy
  5. Give them a lift to an appointment
  6. Send a text to let them know you’re thinking of them and if they need anything to shout
  7. Send them a book which you know is helpful
  8. Bring them to a yoga or meditation class or out for lunch
  9. Send well wishes in the form of a card/prayer/light a candle
  10. Text them with a TV or movie suggestion which you loved.

I wrote a post on helping people in this situation a few weeks ago and there are more practical tips in there if you want to help someone you know. And not to repeat old ground but seeing as it is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought I’d give my two cents on the issue.

P.S, this is not a please send me gifts and massages and books and presents post. I have the most generous friends and family who I actually got these ideas from as they have been so kind and helpful to me since my diagnosis. This is a post to advise you how to care for someone you know who is in a shit situation. Hashtagging something on Twitter isn’t going to help them!

*Not bitter about the Irish Cancer Society at all!!! Or their CEO who earns 135k. What?!?! Yes you read that right. Yet another ‘charity’ who looks after those at the top.

*****EDIT October 2018*****

I am aware that the Irish Cancer Society helps fund some vital services around the country like Vita House in Roscommon which I have directly benefited from in the form of reiki and facial treatments. It is a fantastic service for the local community and there are similar services nationwide. If you want to support these services, think about a direct donation. If you or a family member would like the support of a local cancer centre, you can find a list here.


  1. Hi Mairead, I agree with you totally and could not have articulated it as well as you. I agree that instead of raising money, they should educate people about checking their breasts and what to look for. As a Breadt Cancer Survivor The Pink Ribbon also really angers me.
    I once took part in a Run for the Cure organised by the bank. I had to pay 40 dollars to participate. I repeatedly aske
    D the bank to let me know how much of the money went to Research, never got a reply.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. I had the honour of meeting you at the weekend Mairead. Your story is incredible. You are a true titan. Thank you for the coffee and cake 🙂

    I don’t give any money to charities any more. I never see where the money goes or who gets it, but that’s common sense. I questioned this before and I could never get answers. But I do believe in helping people out. But if I do I do it directly.

    Your a credit to your work Mairead. You have have a great blog and keep the good work up.

    • Ah Shane, thanks for getting in touch! It was a pleasure to share such an enlightening weekend with you! I hope you’ve been keeping up the good work of Dr Joe? I’ve done 2 out of 3 mornings, not a bad start. Need to become more disciplined though!

  3. You’re spot on there Mairead!!! Whatever the charity, people in need get a tiny cut by the time it reaches them, if anything at all.
    As you say if people really want to help they have to go directly to the person & help that way.

  4. Donate to Metavivor or MetUP. These organizations donate 100% to research for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Please! This is where money needs to go. These are in US but I am sure there may be similar groups in your neck of the woods. We need $$$ in research. Check out and follow my blog at http://www.HeatherSabella.com I have stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

  5. Touching on the subject of donating to these big cancer societies how does the CEO make almost a million $ (seffrin family) who own a few charity groups along with others donate less than 15%to the actual charity????

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.