More than 60 people gathered at Bow Lane Hairdressing in Lisburn to show their support for a local woman who’s battling cervical cancer.
Twenty-seven-year-old Claire Holmes is facing months of gruelling treatment for her illness. So, in a show of solidarity with her, her fiancé Ryan Hegarty and dozens of family members and friends of all ages - males and females - got together at the salon to get their heads shaved or partly shaved.
Claire, who is from the Low Road area of the city, started experiencing symptoms in autumn of last year. In December she was seen by a doctor who put her symptoms down to hormones, but referred her to a specialist as a precaution.
At hospital in January, the doctor saw something unusual on her cervix, but again put it down to hormones and other factors. However, on May 31 she received the devastating news that she has stage four cervical cancer.
“I have no doubt that if they had investigated further in January that I would have had, whilst the same diagnosis, a different staging,” Claire said. “Cervical cancer is staged 1-4 with 4 being the worst so I am keen to get my message across to all girls, no matter what age, when it comes to your health and your body be persistent with doctors.”
Women aged 25 - 49 years are currently screened every three years. However, Ryan believes more regular screening should be offered.
Having organised a number of events to raise awareness about cervical cancer, he said: “I felt I just had to do something. I know there are many people fighting different cancers but I feel that the screening for this disease needs reviewed. I also understand women being nervous of having this test done, but I can’t stress enough the importance of early diagnosis. The more we as a group of family and friends can do, the more media presence we can achieve and therefore if it makes one young girl go to the doctor then I feel we have been successful.”
It’s not just family and friends who’ve got behind Claire, local businesses have also been showing their support by donating vouchers and prizes to be raffled.
Julia Graham, owner of Bow Lane Hairdressing, said: “Claire is a family friend, so I was obviously keen to help and show my support for such a good cause. But as a member of the business community in Lisburn I have been overwhelmed by the support shown for this local girl.”
For more information about the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, and how to get help, log on to www.cancerreasearchuk.org