As may of you will have heard, local ovarian cancer activist, fundraiser and tireless campaigner Una Crudden died this morning.
Her family have asked for donations via: www.justgiving.com/UnaCruddenBelfast in lieu of flowers / insertions.
Despite having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Una fought tirelessly for greater recognition of the disease, improvements in detection and treatment and funding for local hospice services. She succeeded in hosting the first awareness event at Stormont and persuaded Belfast City Council to light up City Hall in teal, the colour used by ovarian cancer campaigners.
What Una’s legacy, and the work of the Team Sorcha campaign teaches us is that women’s health needs to be further up the agenda locally. Ovarian and cervical cancers are more difficult, but by no means impossible, to detect. Better screening needs to be in place. Awareness of the signs and symptoms women need to watch out for must be raised, in school and through public information campaigns. Funds need to be put into research and treatment. This evening, this is what politicians are calling for – SDLP is tweeting about it, and politicians from Martin McGuinness to Jim Wells are posting tributes and photographs of Una.
What Una Crudden wanted was something much more tangible than a hashtag. We need to see worthy sentiments and tributes from our politicians translate into action and results, to prevent other women having their lives cut short by illnesses that should have – and could have – been detected much sooner.