Cancer groups unite for new campaign

Three of Ireland’s leading cancer charities, namely Breast Cancer Ireland, Breakthrough Cancer Research and the Marie Keating Foundation, have joined forces for the first time to launch a new campaign entitled ‘Face Up To Cancer’. The three groups aim to raise funds for cancer research and support services across the island of Ireland, while also making what can be a hugely isolating experience for those diagnosed more caring.

In Ireland, almost 42,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year, which means that one person is diagnosed with cancer every 15 minutes. As a nation, we lose, on average, 9,874 people each year to cancer – an average of one person every hour. ‘Face Up To Cancer’ is a digital fundraising campaign, trying to engage thousands of people to upload their selfies and make a donation online for cancer research and support services.

Each image will form part of a facial mosaic, using the thousands of selfies submitted. There will be a series of eight portraits showing the faces of some of those that have been affected by cancer, and some of the experts striving to change the future of cancer care and treatments. RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan is an ambassador for the campaign. She lost her sister, Anne, who worked in public relations, at the age of 33 to the disease.


Other media personalities supporting the campaign are TNT Sports anchor Craig Doyle and cancer survivors Evelyn O’Rourke of RTÉ and Bobby Kerr of Newstalk. Adland creative and filmmaker Conor Ferguson, husband of RTE journalist Keelin Shanley, who sadly passed away from the disease in early 2020, is involved in the initiative, along with Stephen Teap, a close friend of Vicky Phelan, who lost his wife Irene to cervical cancer in 2017.

The campaign aims to put a face to cancer through the portraits, and to bring the country together through the simple act of ‘donating a selfie’, with the final resulting mosaics being revealed across digital platforms once the campaign comes to a close at the end of February. The monies raised will be used to support the lives of the one in two people in Ireland who will be diagnosed with cancer. Funds will be deployed in three critical areas:

  1. Investment in breast metastatic disease progression research: Advancing the understanding and treatment of breast metastatic disease progression to the brain.
  2. Research for hard-to-treat cancers: Funding research to develop better ways to detect and treat lung, pancreatic, ovarian, oesophageal, and other hard-to-treat cancers.
  3. Cancer awareness and support services: Providing on-the-ground support for individuals and families living with or beyond cancer.

To get involved, go to, upload your selfie, then choose your donation amount. Then share your selfie across your social channels to show your support using #FaceUpToCancer and #DonateASelfieSaveLives. For those wishing to donate directly, you can do so on the website. For more information and to stay updated, follow the campaign on its social media channels on Instagram and Facebook.

Engine Room handled the ads, Wolfgang the digital, and Crichton Communications the PR.

Facts about cancer in Ireland

  • Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the most common cause of death in Ireland.
  • The cumulative lifetime risk of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer other than NMSC during 2019-2021 was approximately 1 in 2 for both males and females.
  • Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), prostate and female breast cancer were the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Ireland during the period 2019-2021.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both sexes, between 2019-2021.
  • Colorectal cancer is the next most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer.
  • Seven cancers are responsible for almost half of all deaths – brain, lung, oesophageal, stomach, liver, pancreatic and ovarian cancers.
  • The number of people surviving cancer was 215,000 by the end of 2021. For the most common cancers, prostate survival has improved by 28 per cent, colorectal by 17 per cent, breast cancer by 16 per cent and lung cancer by 15 per cent, figures released last year by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) indicate.
  • The total number of cancers diagnosed has increased by 85 per cent since the mid-1990s, largely due to population growth and ageing.
  • Due to improvements in cancer treatment and earlier detection (e.g. national screening programmes), the chances of surviving many forms of cancer continues to improve.

Pictured are Miriam O’Callaghan, RTÉ, Bobby Kerr, Newstalk and Evelyn O’Rourke, RTÉ  

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