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Louth’s Ribbon Runway Fashion Show empowers breast cancer survivors

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As well as showcasing the latest fashions from a number of local boutiques, the highlight of this annual event organised by Alison McCabe of Breast Care by Alison, is the section in which breast cancer survivors model swim and beachwear specially designed for women who have undergone mastectomies.

Alison, a trained bra and prosthesis fitter, believes passionately in helping breast cancer survivors feel good while undergoing treatment and afterwards. She provides a greatly appreciated service from the welcoming fitting room at her home in Blackrock and also travels to neighbouring counties to provide this valuable service.

The fashion show is not just a much-needed fund-raiser for the North Louth Hospice and Homecare Foundation, but also an opportunity for breast cancer patients to regain their confidence after treatment.

“It’s all about empowering women, about making them feel good again,” says Alison.

Retired nurse Maria Callaghan is taking part in the fashion show for the third time,

“It’s great fun and it’s great that Alison does it for a charity that helps people with cancer.”

Maria, from Duleek, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which added to the stress she faced.

She underwent chemotherapy and had surgery twice, first a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy and lymph clearance when it was found that there was still some cancer remaining. She also had to have 15 sessions of radiotherapy in St Lukes.

At the end of that gruelling treatment, she didn’t want to have to face any more surgery so she opted not to have reconstruction.

“I told them I’m not going to be doing any Page 3 modelling,” she says.

Maria also developed lymphedema as a result of having her lymph nodes removed and has to wear special compression sleeves.

“I do yoga at the Gary Kelly Centre, go to water aerobics in Aura Leisure in Drogheda, and walk. I also work five hours a week in a nursing home every Friday.”

She finds the service provided by Alison to be invaluable.

“I had my first bra fitting after surgery at Beaumont and there wasn’t even a mirror in the room,” she recalls.

Luckily, her husband had seen an article about how Alison was continuing to provide services for women during the pandemic in The Drogheda Independent, so she got in touch with her.

“Alison is wonderful, she’s very accessible and caring and looks after everyone.”

She is looking forward to taking part in Friday night’s Ribbon Runway fashion show alongside other breast cancer survivors who depend on Alison for a personalised service.

“We have great fun. It’s a change to meet and exchange stories. Everyone has a different journey.”

“I am so proud of all my ladies,” says Alison.

Tickets for the fashion show are available through Eventbrite priced €25 including a glass of bubbly. The participating boutiques are Ruby Nu, Ozone and Sheba and there will be a raffle on the night with some great prizes.

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