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Spare bras raise money for cancer research

Staff, visitors and patients at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have been donating their unwanted bras to the hospital’s breast screening unit.

The Dorset Breast Screening Unit (DBSU) is collecting the bras to help raise funds for cancer research at the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton.

The research focuses on improving the treatment and diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

The underwear is stored in two ‘bra banks’, which have been donated to Poole Hospital from the charity Against Breast Cancer.

One is in the DBSU while the other is in the Ladybird unit, another breast imaging department at the hospital.

Information is also displayed on public television screens in the hospital’s outpatients department to help raise awareness of the scheme.

Once the total weight of the collected underwear reaches one tonne, the charity exchanges the bras into cash.

Against Breast Cancer contributes £700 to cancer research for every tonne of bras donated. The DBSU has raised £328 in the last year, equating to just under half a tonne of bras.

As well as helping fund important research, the bras themselves are transported to Africa to be worn by women in countries including Togo, Ghana and Kenya.

Those that cannot be worn do not go to waste. Wires, hooks and other attachments are salvaged, which helps support local businesses in these countries.

Some of the bras have been used to create a special Christmas tree in the unit’s waiting area. The idea arose after one of the unit’s radiographers saw a similar project last year while travelling. 

The appeal launched in December 2016. As the donations came in throughout the year, the pink ones were kept to one side, specifically for the tree. 

Mel Huish, breast imaging manager at Poole Hospital, said: “The scheme is going really well and it’s for such a good cause, both for research purposes and helping those in developing countries.

“The response we’ve had from staff, patients and visitors has been very positive and it’s a great way to raise awareness of our screening programme.

“Having the tree in the unit helps educate visitors in a light-hearted way that early detection can help prevent the spread of cancer.” 

Spare bras raise money for cancer research

Lydia Brett, radiographer, Kim Oliver, senior radiographer and Michelle Taylor, trainee consultant radiographer, with the bra tree and the bra bank in the DBSU

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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