Cornmarket launch fight against cancer
FREE health assessments for ASTI Salary Protection Scheme members
This January, ASTI in partnership with Irish Life and Cornmarket, are proud to launch Pink Power and Blue Power, a free health assessment programme for members of the ASTI Salary Protection Scheme. Under this programme, over 5,000 secondary school teachers are invited to attend a comprehensive Breast or Prostate Health Assessment for FREE.
The programme was built when Cornmarket and ASTI reviewed the Scheme and noticed a worryingly high level of claims for cancer amongst members of the Scheme. Ivan Ahern, Director, Cornmarket spoke about why they decided to take action, “when we noticed that 19% of all claims in the ASTI Salary Protection Scheme were due to cancer, we wanted to do something to help make a real difference. Our customers are at the core of everything we do and their health and wellbeing is important to us.”
Cornmarket, ASTI and Irish Life worked together to develop the programme, which is specifically focused on increasing awareness and education around breast and prostate health. And for good reason. Statistics show that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death amongst middle-aged women in Ireland; while prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men*.
As BreastCheck, the national screening programme is already available for females over age 50, Pink Power was built to give younger members, under age 50, a free breast assessment. Blue Power is available for male members aged 40 to 65.
Roisin Kelly, Head of Risk Operations, Irish Life, explained why they agreed to sponsor the programme, “Over €1.5 million has been paid to ASTI members and their families for cancer related illnesses in the past 2 years. More than half of this was for breast cancer claims. Irish Life is delighted to bring this innovative programme to ASTI members who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to it.”
The free assessment only takes 15 minutes and includes:
- Rapid access to a GP
- A clinical breast or prostate examination
- A personal report with clinical findings
- A referral for further tests, if required.
If further tests are required like a mammogram, ultrasound or a biopsy, this will be arranged for free through the programme (where there is no health insurance or if health insurance falls short). Most importantly, members will get rapid access to the high-tech symptomatic breast clinic at Beaumont Private Clinic where they will be met by a Consultant Surgeon and examined. Blue Power participants will be referred to Bon Secours Private Hospital Dublin, where they will meet a consultant urologist for a consultation, MRI/CT scan or a biopsy, if required.
The ultimate goal of this programme is to help save lives through early detection and rapid intervention. Professor Arnold Hill, Consultant Breast Surgeon, Beaumont Hospital, explains why they got behind the programme, “Even though instances of breast cancer are increasing in Ireland, mortality rates are decreasing. That’s why it’s really important that we keep increasing awareness. Sadly, breast cancer knows no bounds. It can choose any woman of any age or background. This is a truly unique opportunity for ASTI members to get a highly professional free assessment with a referral to Beaumont Private Clinic, if required. It’s also important to note that the majority of breast cancers are not hereditary, so even if you don’t have a family history you should still participate”.
Pink Power participants will also benefit from excellent resources through Breast Cancer Ireland, who have also endorsed the programme. Members will receive these resources through email during the programme. Aisling Hurley, CEO of Breast Cancer Ireland said, “This is a super initiative as it will educate younger women about the importance of being more breast aware. Our Breast Aware App, which is free to download, offers a discreet monthly reminder, a simulated video guide on how to perform a self breast examination, highlighting the eight signs and symptoms to look out for.”
It is equally important that males participate in the programme. Dr. Richard Power, Speciality Consultant Urologist and Transplant Surgeon, Bon Secours Private Hospital, Dublin said, “In Ireland, Prostate Cancer is the second most common Cancer in men, after skin cancer. Each year over 3,300 men are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. This means that 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during their lifetime. Although there are many men with this disease, most men do not die from it.”
Eligible members will be sent their invitation packs over the coming months and the programme will run until April 2017. Kieran Christie, General Secretary, ASTI, urged members to attend their assessment, “As teachers, we are often struggling to do the best we can for our students with limited time and resources, sometimes under immense stress. We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. This is a potentially lifesaving initiative. I sincerely ask that every eligible member avails of it”.
If one life can be saved through this initiative it will all have been worthwhile.
*Irish Cancer Society, November 2016