Felix Crudden, from Belfast, along with Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) Pam Cameron and Alex Easton and Rebecca Rennison from Target Ovarian Cancer, met with the Public Health Agency to call for a full ovarian cancer awareness campaign, with both broadcast and print media, to reach as many women as possible.
Felix’s wife, Una Crudden, died of ovarian cancer in December 2014. Una was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009 and was a tireless campaigner who wanted to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms. Una’s work included securing a leaflet awareness campaign and seeing Belfast City Hall lit in teal.
Early diagnosis is key if more women are to survive ovarian cancer, but too many women in Northern Ireland are being diagnosed late. High one year survival rates are an indicator of early diagnosis, yet the latest figures for Northern Ireland show that just 63 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are living for a year or more.
Felix said: “Una was passionate about raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. We met with the Public Health Agency to continue Una’s campaign and to stress the need for more to be done to make women aware of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer; bloating, tummy pain, needing to wee more often or urgently and always feeling full. I know this would mean a lot to Una and the hundreds of other women with ovarian cancer living in Northern Ireland and I hope the Public Health Agency can commit to a full awareness campaign.”
MLA Pam Cameron, who helped arrange the meeting, said: “I had the privilege of knowing Una and witnessed both her personal campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer but also the impact of this terrible disease. We need to do everything we can to make sure every woman living in Northern Ireland knows the symptoms of ovarian cancer so she can act early.”
Rebecca Rennison, Director of Public Affairs and Services for Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Early diagnosis is key to increasing the number of women surviving ovarian cancer. We know that if diagnosed early enough 90 per cent of women with ovarian cancer will live five years or more, yet at the moment nearly 40 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Northern Ireland are dying within a year of being told they have the disease. If we are going to improve early diagnosis it is vital that women know the symptoms to look out for.”