Majella O’Donnell launches new breast cancer campaign

BREAST cancer survivor Majella O’Donnell has helped launch a new fundraising campaign by the Irish Cancer Society. The campaign called ‘Cups against cancer’ is asking people in Donegal to host a coffee morning in October.

In 2014 88 women in Donegal received a breast cancer diagnosis with 2,900 women nationally diagnosed every year, that’s eight women every day.

The fundraising drive has been announced as scientists from BREAST-PREDICT, an Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre with researchers at six universities around Ireland, and Cancer Trials Ireland, have found a potential way to treat one of the most common types of breast cancer.


BREAST-PREDICT researcher Prof Leonie Young and Dr Sara Charmsaz have found a new way to monitor the treatment of Estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer patients. Women with this form of breast cancer, which is one of the most commonly diagnosed, usually take drugs such as Tamoxifen or Aromatase Inhibitors to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. However, some of these patients can become resistant to these treatments and their cancer returns. Prof Young and Dr Charmsaz have found that ER-positive women with high levels of the biomarker S100Beta in their blood are significantly more likely to have disease recurrence.

Professor Young explained, “The early detection of patients with treatment resistance enables a different strategy to be put in place which can significantly improve these patient’s survival. We hope these findings can lead to a clinical trial in the future, with patients potentially benefiting from these new monitoring strategies which could increase survival of patients.”

Four years on from her own fight with breast cancer, Majella has launched the campaign which will help other women affected by the disease.

She said: “When I found out I had breast cancer I was shocked. The treatment was tough and it was difficult emotionally. Thankfully there are a lot of supports available and more advances are being made as a result of cancer research which is improving the outcome for breast cancer patients. It’s fantastic to see new discoveries being made, but these developments are reliant on donations so in order to fight back against this disease we need to raise funds.

“This year over 2,900 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer here in Ireland. That’s eight women a day. These are our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends and they need our support. So please, sign up at and get your cups out for a good cause this October.”

Money raised through Cups against cancer will help to provide advice and support to breast cancer patients through the Freephone Cancer Nurseline and 13 Daffodil Centres around the country, fund transportation for chemotherapy patients through the Volunteer Driver Service and nursing care at home for end of life patients through the Night Nursing Service.

Mark Mellett, Head of Fundraising with the Irish Cancer Society said, “Your cup of coffee can ensure a woman who has just been diagnosed has the correct information and support to help her through such a frightening and worrying time, and it can even ensure patients can get to their chemotherapy appointments. We want to continue to be there for people on every step of their cancer journey, but we can’t deliver these services or fund lifesaving research without the public’s help.”

You can also support the campaign by buying a pink ribbon. Volunteers will be selling Irish Cancer Society Pink Ribbons in Letterkenny on September 29th and in Killybegs, Portsalon, Falcarragh, Buncrana, Dungloe, Glenties and Letterkenny IT on October 6th.


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