08 Aug 2022

Offaly students raise incredible amount for breast cancer research after teacher diagnosed with disease

TY students from Banagher College began a journey to walk for their science teacher to match her trips to Dublin for chemotherapy and have now raised over €10,000 for breast cancer research.

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When Banagher College teacher, Breed Hassett was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, the school's TY students decided to match her trips to Dublin for chemotherapy by walking 20kms over four weeks. However to Breed's surprise, former pupils around the world, local GAA players, colleagues, parents and students got involved in #Miles4MsH and have raised over €10,000 for breast cancer research in what can only be described as an amazing feat over the last couple of weeks.

Speaking to the Tribune this week, Breed, who lives in Kinnitty, explained her colleague, Teresa Cushen came to her and asked if it would be okay for the TY students to do some fundraising in her name for a nominated charity.

“I chose Breast Cancer Ireland because obviously that is the one I am going through at the moment. Within my circle of friends, I have two close friends, who have had breast cancer and I also know two other women locally, who have undergone breast cancer treatment. And, we are all in our early forties. So, this is quite scary.”

Breed's own mum died of cancer almost 30 years ago at the age of 41 years but, Breed said that because of research, breast cancer is now “one of the best cancers to get, if caught early and this comes down to research”.

“I think it's important people realise that we should all pay attention to our breasts and listen to our bodies, particularly women. I was busy. I was teaching and I have two children. You are busy and yes, we are inclined to put things off and put it on the long finger. It's important for people to realise that people need to push a little bit more. And, if they are not happy with the first answer to get another opinion.”

Back to the massive fundraising effort, Breed explained that Teresa and heralded decided on the charity and all the conversation was in October, which also happened to be Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“I was in the middle of my chemotherapy and there was meant to be a pink run but it was virtual this year. I messaged Teresa and asked her if we would do it. We were also trying to figure out how to fundraise outside the school to allow people not connected to the school to donate money if they wished.”

“My family wanted to donate, for example. So, I registered for the 'Virtual Pink Run' with Teresa and we did the 5km where I also generated a link to allow people to donate. I shared this link on Facebook and Twitter and the response has been absolutely phenomenal.”

When the Banagher College TY students began their walks, they also began to post photos of their adventures under the hashtag # Miles4MsH and this has led to a flood of photos from around the world of past pupils doing their kilometres for Ms Hassett in Amsterdam, Lebanon and Dubai, for example as well as from current students and colleagues.

Local hurling, camogie and football teams got on board and undertook kilometres as part of the fundraising efforts along with Chief Executive of Laois Offaly ETB, Joe Cunningham, who did a 10km run in Togher Wood for # Miles4MsH. Students from nearby Colaiste Naomh Cormac only recently raised €265.10 as part of the fundraising effort.

“It all came from a tiny idea. An idea that our TY students were talking about doing and having a purpose for their walks. It has raised so much awareness and funds,” Breed enthused.

The mum of two has since spoken to the TY students about what they have achieved over the last number of weeks. “I thanked them for everything they have done and the awareness they are raising. It has been phenomenal really. The messages I have received from past pupils, parents, current parents, colleagues, pupils etc. It has been absolutely amazing. It has been unbelievable that this is in all my name, which is so weird. But, it's all about raising awareness of breast cancer and that is what it's all about.”

“If only one person out there says, I better check my breast when they read this article or listen to me on the radio. Again, would I have looked to go for the second time to the doctor if my own friend wasn't going through it. I would have probably put it off and said that it was just a skin infection. But, because my friend was going through breast cancer and then other friend was diagnosed in November. I said I better go again and get this checked out.”

Breed is truly overwhelmed by the support people have shown her over the last number of weeks. “I really can't put into words how grateful I am to the people of Offaly, to my husband Liam's family, my family in Cork. They have just been phenomenal. I have also gotten more cards, bunches of flowers. People are just amazing. It's been very difficult to go and see people and sometimes getting that letter through the post has picked me up. Especially from someone that I have seen in years..... It puts your faith back in humanity. You realise that everyone is behind you. Sometimes, it's amazing and people are so fantastic. Teresa and the students are doing a phenomenal job at raising awareness, and the school. It's amazing and my colleagues have been behind it, one hundred percent.”

If you wish to make a donate to #Miles4MsH, you can do so by following this link, https://great-pink-run-virtual.

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