A new mural which is the culmination of a community led cancer and mental health project was unveiled on Derry’s Strand Road on Thursday.

‘We Carry On’ was designed by Peaball graffiti collective based on new research from Ulster University into the mental health impact of cancer surgery, commissioned by Hive Cancer Support (formerly the Pink Ladies Cancer Support Group).

The resulting piece of community art on one of Derry’s busiest streets will help people who have been through cancer surgery feel seen.

This project was made possible through funding from the Ideas Fund, a grants programme run by the British Science Association and funded by Wellcome, which enables the UK public to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing by working with researchers. Developing Healthy Communities and the North West Community Network are local development coordinators for the Ideas Fund.

Maureen Collins, Project Manager of Hive Cancer Support said: “We are delighted to see this mural come to fruition. Taking part in this research project was a hugely emotional experience for our members who spoke in depth about their cancer surgery and its lasting impact.

“Some of them had to confront really difficult feelings that they thought were gone and buried and I have so much admiration and respect for them for being willing to do that.

“In recognition of this, we brought the people who took part in the study together and presented the mural to them first before this evening’s launch. This mural, at the heart of our city, is a tribute to all cancer thrivers and reminds people Hive Cancer Support is here to help you carry on- whatever that looks like for you.”

Dr Claire McCauley, Lecturer with the School of Nursing and Paramedic Science and Lead Researcher at Ulster University paid tribute to the ‘bravery’ of the people who took part in the study.

“The collaborative approach between the participants, Hive Cancer Support project team, and Ulster University has underlined the importance of research informed by local people and their experiences.

“We have been inspired by the bravery of the Hive Cancer Support members. Their participation has enabled a deeper understanding of the long-term impacts of cancer surgery and treatment on mental health. Study findings highlight that mental and emotional wellbeing, potentially overlooked, now need to be recognised, prioritised and supported alongside physical recovery.”

“This groundbreaking research and the lived experience the participants shared with us will be absolutely critical in starting necessary conversations to enable holistic and person-centred healthcare delivery”.

Donal O’Doherty of Peaball street art collective interpreted the findings of the Ulster University research study guided by Hive Cancer Support. He commented: “We here at Peaball would like to thank Hive Cancer Support, Ulster University and all the participants who took part in the research for inviting us to be part of this amazing project.

“We’d also like to thank Quayside Shopping Centre for giving us permission to use the building for the mural. Street art can have the power to engage with its audience in a different way and we hope this finished piece can play a part in raising awareness of the impact cancer can have on people’s mental wellbeing.”

This mural was created using GrafClean paint by Graphenstone, which reacts with sunlight to reduce air pollution and is situated on the side wall of the ‘Turkish Restaurant’ at Quayside Shopping Centre on the Strand Road.

Maureen Collins added that the busy city centre location will help to raise public awareness 
“We want this mural and the resources to spark important conversations and lead to greater awareness around the mental impact of cancer surgery.”