Breast cancer survivor Betty McKee has taken on a brand new voluntary role giving vital support to local women.
Betty, a retired psychiatric nurse from Downpatrick, has volunteered to become a specialist bra and swimwear fitter for women who have gone through breast cancer surgery.
The free bra-fitting service has been set up by Cancer Focus Northern Ireland at Ballymote Centre, Killough Road, Downpatrick, for women who live in the area. The service is available on Mondays, 10am to 2pm. To make an appointment call 07971 061 593 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Having been through breast cancer myself, I know how important services like this are,” Betty said.
“After surgery and treatment, some women feel less confident in their body and self-image, and this service offers personal, one to one support, helping each patient choose the right item, in the right size, to suit them.
“Feeling good in your clothes can make a real difference and following breast surgery there is no reason why women shouldn’t continue to wear the clothes they love. Our service helps women find a renewed sense of self-confidence in themselves after a very tough time in their lives.”
Betty came in contact with Cancer Focus NI 12 years ago when she joined the charity’s Downpatrick breast cancer support group after her own diagnosis.
“I’ll never forget that day – October 24, 2001. I took my grandson to an appointment with our GP and while I was there I mentioned that I had found a lump in my breast. I was feeling great, working away at my job.
“The doctor said it might be nothing but referred me to the breast clinic for a further check. I got an appointment at Halloween, on the day I had been due to go to Edinburgh with friends. The secretary was going to rearrange the date for me but something made me stop. I told her I’d take it.
“I had a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy on the same day and then I was told I had breast cancer. I was so shocked. The youngest of my three sons was only 13 at the time.
“It was worrying telling them but my husband was fantastic, he was very reassuring, saying I had cancer but not to worry, everything was under control. It was all very low key, which was the best thing for all of us,” she said.
“I had a partial mastectomy removed on November 11 and was in hospital for a week. That was followed by radiotherapy but after that I was well enough to return to work. It was a difficult time but we have all come through it and now I love being able to reassure and support other women going through the same experience.”
Other volunteers who are looking after the new bra-fitting service are Anna Cullen, Marilyn Prior and Sylvia Calvert. Anna and Marilyn are also former nurses.
“We’ve been trained on how to measure up properly for bras and swimwear so that our clients are getting the best support and shape possible.” Betty continued.
“It’s a very discreet and confidential service and we do our best to make people feel at ease. There is a private area where clients can change and tea and coffee is a provided. The ladies can bring a relative or friend with them too. The fitting service is free of charge, and the items are sold at wholesale prices, though there is no obligation to buy.
“Cancer Focus NI has a range of other fantastic services, too, such as counselling, art therapy, family support and our Sing for Life choir.
“We welcome anyone who needs help with fittings not only in Downpatrick but from the surrounding areas. For more information just call 07971 061 593 or email us on email@example.com.”
We also have bra-fitting and swimwear services at our service centre at Eglantine Avenue, Belfast, Newry, Enniskillen, Omagh, Donaghmore, Ballymoney and Altnagelvin.