Scottish fashion designer reveals inspiration behind life-saving check print.
The young Glasgow designer behind a check being used to remind people in Scotland of the benefits of finding cancer early met with Health Minister Shona Robison today (05 October 2015), to unveil her design.
Rachel McMillan's intricate check print, which is inspired by images and collages of the human body and cancer-free scans, is emblazoned across the Scottish Government and Cancer Research UK's new #GetChecked campaign - part of Scotland's effort to turn the Big C into the wee c and increase cancer survival rates in Scotland.
Around 1,000 deaths could be avoided each year in Scotland if cancer survival matched the best in Europe1. Early detection is key as the earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.
#GetChecked aims to make checked patterns synonymous with early detection, so that every time someone sees a check they think about getting checked if they have a worry or concern and attend screening when invited.
The 24-year old Scottish Fashion Awards nominee launched the check at the Cancer Research UK shop in Glasgow's Queen Street, wearing a dress created in the unique check print to help raise awareness of the benefits of early detection.
Organisations including M&Co and Morrison Construction have already shown their support for #GetChecked, decking their workplaces and shop windows in checks whilst educating staff and customers on the importance of finding cancer early.
Five limited edition scarves in the bespoke #GetChecked print will be placed in Cancer Research UK stores across Scotland for shoppers to get their hands on, and to help support the charity's life-saving research work.
Rachel McMillan, who runs her business from her studio in Govan, said:
"I immediately loved the concept behind this campaign. I wanted to help get such an important message out there in a bold, visual and creative way and am really proud to be unveiling – and wearing - my design today.
"The check was inspired by pictures and collages of the body. I wanted it to be a reflection of the beauty yet fragility of the human body. The check on the final print is made up of rib cages and skeletal bones; it takes on an almost mechanical structure reminding us that our bodies are fragile and need looking after.
"My textile designs always originate from drawings or collages and are then digitally manipulated to create the overall patterns. This design took many hours of experimenting, but hopefully its intricate detail and layers will draw people in.
"Cancer is something that touches the lives of so many, me included. A close family member has had breast cancer twice, which was also the motivation behind me getting involved. I hope the check acts as a reminder to people to look more closely at their bodies and take time out of their busy lives to get checked if they have any concerns."
Statistics show that the likelihood of surviving breast cancer is five times higher if detected at an early stage compared to a late stage2, 14 times higher for bowel cancer3 and 20 times higher for lung cancer4.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
"Rachel's undeniable skill and talent has given this important cancer awareness campaign a bold and recognisable identity and I'd like to thank her for her contribution.
"More people are surviving cancer than ever before but finding it early can make a real difference to your chance of survival. This campaign check, or any check, will hopefully prompt those with concerns to visit their GP or attend screening when invited. The earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.
"A host of organisations and people have already backed the campaign by proudly displaying their colourful checks - I'm joining them today in doing so and hope others will follow. Together, we can bring cancer down to size."
Ben Dale, the manager at Cancer Research UK's Glasgow Queen Street shop, said:
"Our staff are really behind the drive and we've made sure every checked item that has come into the store has told the #GetChecked story.
"The campaign is a fun way of getting across an important message, and we have the bright campaign check on display on our shop window to help raise awareness. The more we can do to encourage people to get potential signs and symptoms checked out at the earliest stage, the better."
For more information visit theweec.org/getchecked
About the designer:
After graduating from Heriot-Watt University's School of Textile and Design in 2012, Rachel McMillan launched her own company and opened her own studio. Within six months Rachel was featured in Vogue Italia, exhibited her label at London Fashion Week and was nominated for Young Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards in 2014. This year, the designer is shortlisted for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and the IPSE best Freelancer Award.
Her label is growing in popularity and her streetwear designs are currently stocked in Wear Eponymous, Wolf&Badger.com and online retailer ASOS Marketplace.
Although her brand is set to expand into international markets Rachel is passionate about creating jobs in Scotland so talented up and coming designers have opportunities on home soil.
For further information, visit www.rachel-mcmillan.com
The wee c
The wee c is a new initiative which is focused on reducing fear around cancer in Scotland in a bid to help boost survival rates – for more information visit theweec.org/getchecked
1 Source: Eurocare study (based on the fact that 10,000 would survive in Britain as a whole)
2 Source: Scottish Cancer Registry, ISD. Data extracted: May 2015. Women diagnosed between 2005-2009. 91.5% survival for those diagnosed at Stage 1, compared to 19.1% at Stage 4.
3 Source: Scottish Cancer Registry, ISD. Data extracted: May 2015. Men and women diagnosed between 2005-2009. 80.6% survival for those diagnosed at Stage 1, compared to 5.9% at Stage 4
4 Source: The five year survival rate for those diagnosed at an early stage (1 and 2) is almost 20 times higher than for those diagnosed at a late stage (4). Reference: Scottish Cancer Registry, ISD, extracted September 2014, based on patients diagnosed in 2005-2007.