THE Taoiseach has paid tribute to the work done at Cork ARC Cancer Support House, a charity based in Cork city and Bantry that provides support to cancer patients and their families.
On a visit to the centre, the Taoiseach heard about the crucial services provided by Cork ARC throughout the county and beyond, and the demand for support in the wake of Covid-19.
He was also reminded of his instrumental role in the founding of Cork ARC Cancer Support House – and how it was his support that granted their charity their original premises, ‘Cliffdale’, in the city centre where they operated for almost 20 years.
‘I want to pay tribute to the work of Cork ARC, which for more than two decades has provided such as essential service for the community, offering a wide range of care from counselling, to family support, information and health programmes.
‘Cork ARC has such a positive impact on the lives of so many people on a daily basis, and has been a pillar of support for the city and the entire region since my time as Minister for Health.’
During Covid lockdowns, the charity pivoted their services to an online format to ensure that this essential support was not missed. In 2020 alone, there were 741 new contacts to the showing the heightened impact of a diagnosis in isolation.
Professor Seamus O’Reilly, consultant medical oncologist and co-chairperson of Cork ARC said: ‘When we think of cancer in medicine we think of a physical thing.
‘But for patients with cancer and their families, it is very much a psychological stress. That is why the emotional support on offer here is so essential - sharing in those feelings can reduce the sense of isolation ... the impact of the illness.’
General manager Catriona O’Mahony, a native of Clonakilty, explained: ‘What we offer is a safe haven for cancer patients and their families, and at the core of what we do is ensuring that those impacted by cancer are not alone. But we also offer services like reflexology, pilates and acupuncture, all free of charge, and with their own individual benefits. It could be a gentle acupuncture session – so different from the many medical appointments, tests and treatments – or pilates for women after breast cancer, helping them to work through a new range of movement after treatment. Everything we offer complements the medical model, so no matter what stage of the cancer journey someone is on, we are here to help.’
It was highlighted that in pandemic times, the charity has seen a devastating impact on fundraising, with almost all regular fundraising events cancelled or curtailed, meaning a significant drop in funding to provide support for patients and their families.