Una's story

Una Crudden became a passionate campaigner to raise awareness about ovarian cancer following her own terminal diagnosis in 2009. Working with the Public Health Agency (PHA), Una highlighted in this video the importance of being aware of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Una sadly passed away in December 2014. The PHA would like to thank Una’s family for kindly giving permission for her video to be shown.

The courage and commitment of the 60-year old mother of five, and grandmother, in her battle with cancer were recognised when she won the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Award.

Her tireless and inspirational campaigning ranged from lobbying political representatives and handing out leaflets, to using social media to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. She also lent her support to helping to raise funds for and awareness of the work of the Northern Ireland Hospice.

Una became a passionate campaigner to spread the word about ovarian cancer following her own experience. Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer - not because it lacks symptoms but because nobody knows about it, she said, and attributed this to a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in September 2009 after experiencing pains and swelling in her abdomen. Two months later, as the symptoms persisted, she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.

The earlier a woman with ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the more likely she is to have a better outcome. “Don’t get a repeat prescription if your symptoms persist,” she urged. “Go back to your GP and don’t be afraid to challenge them about ovarian cancer. No-one knows your own body the way you do, so make yourself heard!”

In September 2014, the PHA launched an ovarian cancer awareness programme in partnership with Target Ovarian Cancer and Angels of Hope. Leaflets and posters were distributed across Northern Ireland to highlight the signs and symptoms of the illness and to encourage women to see their doctor if these occur.

Una believed her campaigning, often during periods of not feeling very well, was therapeutic for her. "I have turned a negative into a positive. When you have a disease, people will listen to you more than they will to a doctor reading out a lot of statistics.”

She believed in the power of prayer, positive thinking and a good sense of humour.

“It’s not how long you’ve got, it’s what you do with your time that really matters. I’ve achieved so much more in the past four years than I would’ve done if cancer hadn’t come into my life. None of us have the promise of tomorrow.”

Speaking about her campaigning, Una said:

"It will be my legacy. It saves lives. How many people can say that?"