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Ulster launches information DVD for breast cancer patients considering reconstruction

17 October 2013

A collection of short films aimed at informing and supporting women who are making a decision about breast reconstruction following a cancer diagnosis, was launched today by the University of Ulster.

The unique project features women from Northern Ireland, who tell their own personal stories about the decisions they made, regarding whether to have breast reconstruction or not, and how these decisions have impacted on their everyday living.

The stories have been compiled on a DVD called ‘Inform’, which was funded by local charity, Friends of the Cancer Centre, and will be distributed through Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. It will also be available to view on the Friends of the Cancer Centre website:

Around 1200 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Northern Ireland and approximately 28% of those who have a mastectomy will decide to undergo reconstruction surgery.

Women faced with making this decision have to assimilate and comprehend a large amount of information in a clinical environment, at a time of extreme stress

This DVD will allow them to make an informed choice in their own time and in their own surroundings about the outcome that is best for them. It may also have the added benefit of making partners and families aware of the issues facing women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Leading the ‘Inform’ project is Dr John Winder, Reader in Healthcare, University of Ulster Nursing and Healthcare Research Institute, who worked alongside Eilis McCaughan, Professor of Cancer Care at the University, to create the DVD.

Clinical input was provided by Mr Stuart McIntosh, Consultant Breast Surgeon and Ms Siobhan O’Neill, Specialist Breast Care Nurse, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Leading charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland also assisted and supported the making of the DVD.

Speaking during the launch on the University’s Jordanstown campus, Dr Winder said: “During interviews with women who had a breast reconstruction, we noted a range of issues that kept coming up, impact on daily living, the impact of surgery and recovery time and also the desire to speak to other women who had been through the process.

“This led us to the idea of developing a DVD where women could hear other women’s stories and learn from these.”

Mr McIntosh added: “I am delighted that these women have chosen to share their own personal experiences through this DVD with other women facing the same decisions.

“This will be an invaluable aid to the many women I see facing similar circumstances at a very difficult time in their lives.”

Colleen Shaw, Director of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: “One of the key roles of Friends of the Cancer Centre is to ensure that cancer patients are supported throughout their journey.

“We do that by funding projects and services that make a real and meaningful difference to their lives, now and in the future.

“From speaking with patients we know that a cancer diagnosis comes with what can seem like an overload of information and decision making, at an already extremely difficult time.

“To be able to fund a project that will inform and guide women through their options regarding breast reconstruction, in the comfort of their own home and in their own time, is therefore extremely worthwhile.

“With the DVD accessible through the Friends of the Cancer Centre website, it has become even easier for patients to instantly access this vital information, ensuring that they have the support they need when they need it.”

Liz Atkinson, Head of Care Services, Cancer Focus, said: “We are very pleased to be associated with such an important project for breast cancer patients.

“We are aware of how valuable this informative DVD is to women who are faced with further difficult choices after their breast cancer diagnosis.

“This DVD will make it much easier for women to visualise and understand just what this surgery will mean for them. Anyone who has any questions or worries about breast cancer can call our Helpline on 0800 783 3339, Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm, and speak to one of our specialist nurses.

“We also have breast cancer support groups in Belfast, Downpatrick and Armagh. For more information please visit”

The University of Ulster project developed from a Health and Social Care Research and Development Office Knowledge Transfer project with the Belfast Trust.

Many of the women included on the DVD are happy to be case studies for media stories and features. Mr Stuart McIntosh, Dr John Winder and Professor Eilis McCaughan are all available for interview.

Notes for editors:

The Institute of Nursing & Health Research (INHR) at the University of Ulster has a vibrant culture of research and scholarship with more than 30 researchers and 13 professors based on the Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee campuses.

INHR vision is to be world leading in research and development that enhances the knowledge, expertise and engaged scholarship of nursing, midwifery, public health and allied health professions research. The University of Ulster works to achieve this vision by:

*Undertaking high quality strategic and applied research through a range of creative and appropriate methodologies

*By contributing towards the development of models, conceptual frameworks and theories relevant to policy, practice and education

*By providing consultancy on service evaluation and developments, in partnership with statutory, private and voluntary organisations

*By educating and training high calibre research students, within the context of providing a high profile community for seminars, master classes, workshops, lectures and conferences

*By engaging actively in knowledge transfer at local, national and international levels

*And demonstrating the impact of new knowledge through innovation and development

Information about Friends of the Cancer Centre

Friends of the Cancer Centre is Northern Ireland’s leading cancer charity, based at the heart of the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital.

For more than 30 years, the charity has been providing support to cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland by funding vital projects and services that make a real difference to the lives of patients locally.

For further information, please visit

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