Tonight is the night for only of the most eagerly anticipated charity events in Inishowen in years - the Half-Strip and Dip.
Up to 300 women from across the peninsula and around the county will descend on a top-secret location at 8pm on August 30 to raise funds for and awareness of breast cancer.
Excitement over the event has been reaching fever pitch over the last few weeks and businesses in Moville and beyond have even got behind the event - even offering themed cocktails and special giveaways.
The ‘Half-Strip and Dip’ will involve women of all ages - but strictly over 18- and all shapes and sizes, doing a half strip - on the upper half of their body - and entering the water.
They can swim, splash or just dip their toes in. The important thing is that they’re taking part to raise money for Breast Cancer Ireland Schools Outreach Programme, North West Breast Cancer Centre, Letterkenny and Cancer Care West. The event has already raised awareness of breast cancer and opened the conversation around it locally, something the organisers are delighted with.
The event has been organised by women Mary McLaughlin from Greencastle and Katrina Doherty from Moville, who told the ‘Journal’ they are ‘shocked’ at the number of women wanting to take part.
Mary, who is a nurse in the Donegal Hospice and Katrina, a teacher at Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana, have known each other a long time. When Mary’s colleague Sharon, who received treatment and reconstruction after being diagnosed with breast cancer, mentioned she would like to do a fundraiser, Mary contacted Katrina.
Katrina had also mentioned her wish to hold a fundraiser as she too was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015, following which she received a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. Taking inspiration from the ‘Strip and Dip’ held each year in Wicklow Mary and Sharon decided on a ‘Half-Strip and Dip,’ as a way of raising awareness of breast cancer. Katrina contacted some people to see if they’d be interested in taking part and it all snowballed from there.
Mary said: “We thought we’d organise it for the last Friday of the summer and decided we’d print out 100 cards. We thought it would be great to get that amount of people taking part, but then we had to print 100 more and then some more again. We are shocked by how many people have really taken to this and want to do it. It’s not just the fundraising part of it either that is great. The whole town is talking about breast cancer and this is really raising awareness of it, which is what we wanted.”
Katrina agreed and said that open discussion and support is especially important in rural areas.
“This really is an opportunity for people to talk about it. Many people would come up to me and ask how I was diagnosed - maybe those who have some worries themselves. This event is a conversation starter, which is good as it’s needed.
“Inishowen is really lacking in relation to support groups. Cancer Care West was set up in 2017 and is fantastic but when I was diagnosed I didn’t have that. Locally, it would be great for a support group to be set up. There are lots of support services in Dublin, where I received treatment, but you don’t really have that in rural areas.”
However, Katrina said that what we do have in spades is community and our willingness to band together and support our own.
“We just can’t get over how much support we’re getting.”
Mary outlined how the recipients of the funds raised focus on the ‘pre, during and after’ of breast care and awareness.
“With the breast education programme, Breast Cancer Ireland go into schools and educate girls about their breasts and how to examine them. The breast unit in Letterkenny give fantastic care during treatment and Cancer Care West gives support during diagnosis.”
Mary and Katrina outlined said while some people may be feeling shy about taking part they have no reason to.
“It’s women of all shapes and sizes, those with scars or without, we have a group called the ‘Menopausal Mermaids’ coming from Northern Ireland and buses coming from Letterkenny and Ramelton. People are doing it who have had cancer, others have never had it. Some people are doing it as they know someone who has or had cancer and others just want to take part.”
Buses will depart from Moville Square at 7.15, with others leaving from Greencastle, Buncrana, Rameton and Carn at other times. They will all meet at Moville and leave in a convoy to the secret location.
Katrina outlined how women can take part in whatever way they feel comfortable.
“You can be topless for just a moment, maybe run to the water’s edge and take your robe off.
“It’s just about enjoying yourself and everyone will be doing the same. I think we’ll have a fantastic night. It will be emotional and it will be exhilarating and everything in between. I think people will remember the day they did this.”
If you haven’t signed up already, you can still take part. Contact Katrina 087 2077 939 or Mary on 086 393 1043.
Or see the ‘Half-Strip and Dip’ on facebook. Following the event, a team of the ladies will play in the Mark Farren Memorial Cup at Moville Celtic football pitch, with the proceeds going to the charities.