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Kay McKeon - Patterns Design + Research

Kay McKeon

Kay McKeon


Name: Kay McKeon

Job Title: Research Assistant 

Organisation: University College Dublin 

Contact: (opens in a new window)kay.mckeon@ucd.ie

Work Experience:

I have amassed over 18 years’ graphic design experience working for design studios, as a freelancer and sole trader. I have worked on both sides of the design business – creative and client facing. My career path has been varied and non-linear. I am a life learner who is constantly evolving and diversifying my skill set and have pivoted my design experience to include the world of research.

Interrupted by Breast Cancer:

In 2017 at the age of 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was living in New Zealand at the time. The diagnosis came as a complete shock. After surgeries, I returned to live in Ireland in November 2017 and continued my adjuvant therapy here. I found the transition difficult. As a person affected by BC, I have lived experience of the information deficit in the Irish healthcare system.

Turning Experiences into Wisdom:

I am a patient advocate for the Irish Cancer Society, Breakthrough Cancer Research, PVCR and the PPI (Patient + Public Involvement) Champion for the Irish Association for Cancer Research. In 2022, I became a research assistant in UCD; a role funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research that allows me to continue my MA Design for Change study.

Research Outline 

Project Title: An Investigation into the Information Deficit Experienced by Breast Cancer Patients in Ireland. 


The information deficit is one of the top five unmet needs facing people affected by cancer in Ireland today. Currently 200,000 people in Ireland are living with or after a cancer diagnosis, which equates to 1 in every 25 of the population. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland predicts that this number will double by 2045.


The study focuses on the specific information deficits experienced by participants and aims to highlight the issues that contribute to these gaps.

Research Design + Methodology:

This mixed method exploratory research explores the main aspects of this under-researched problem by using qualitative and quantitative methods. Data was collected through ten semi-structured interviews and three workshops which employed a Design Thinking approach and used Design Research tools.


  • Create a design report which presents the gathered data from desktop research, interviews, and workshops.
  • Create visual artefacts to reflect findings in the design report; a map of the identified national services, support and resources and a patient journey map detailing the information gaps and how people affected by breast cancer acquired information.
  • Publish the findings as a peer reviewed publication.

You can learn more about my previous research by watching this (opens in a new window)interview