Doors are open at Cork Arc Bantry to help those on a cancer journey

November 12th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Cork Arc House Bantry manager, Grainne Prendergast, is ready to welcome back people to the centre which offers a range of free services. (Photo: Tony McElhinney)

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NO matter what stage of the cancer journey you are on, our message is simple: you are not alone.

So says Grainne Prendergast, West Cork community cancer support nurse who runs Cork Arc Bantry.

The house provides a safe confidential space for cancer patients and their families to go to when they need support on their cancer journey and the services they offer includes information, counselling and complementary therapies.

They are all provided by a team of oncology nurses and trained volunteers and they are all free charge.

Grainne has over 20 years nursing experience working in oncology and palliative care in both the acute and community settings, and she wants people to know that their doors  at Goureebeg, near Bantry are very much wide open once again.

‘I believe in supporting, advocating and empowering cancer patients and their families throughout all the stages of their cancer journey,’ she said.

‘Cork Arc was established in 2001. In April 2015, we opened Cork Arc Bantry, through which we have brought our services to the people of West Cork. Since the start of the year we have supported 172 people.The people of West Cork have to travel long distances for cancer treatment. It is important that they have the support services that they and their families need locally, to avoid another long journey.’

Grainne and her team are now safely welcoming back cancer patients and their families Tuesdays and Thursdays for in-house appointments.

‘We have also developed a range of new remote services throughout the Covid pandemic where people can access support from the comfort and safety of their own homes,’ she said.

A user summed the space up perfectly when she said: ‘The minute I walked in the door of Cork Arc Bantry, I felt a peace come over me, the house gave me a place where I could feel supported and safe.’

Services include:

• Practical information:  webinars which are recorded on their website; wig services and counselling.

• Relaxation and meditation: ‘An Hour of Calm’ online takes place each Monday evening at 9.30pm and Wednesday morning at 11.30 am. It’s a group session, led by experienced facilitators offering techniques of progressive relaxation, breath work, meditation, visualisation and mindfulness.

•Survivorship groups: a ‘thrive and survive programme’ offers a sense of confidence and a chance to learn self-management skills when moving on from your cancer treatment.

• Exercise groups: walking, yoga and ‘Walk with Us’, which is a walking group available to anyone affected by cancer. It caters for all abilities and walking pace.

Complementary therapies: the aim is to provide therapies that complement the medical model and adhere to best practice, to make a difference to the lives of those affected by cancer.

• Bereavement information and support: group and one- on-one support.

• Support for relatives, friends, loved ones: A six-week self compassion programme for relatives and friends of those with cancer.

• Support for children whose parents have cancer:  Climb (children’s lives include moments of bravery) is a six week programme designed to support children between the ages of six-11 whose parents or a significant other adult have a cancer diagnosis. The aim of the programme is to build a child’s strengths and to enhance their abilities to cope with their feelings when cancer happens to their mom or dad. Through fun, art and play, children learn about cancer, express their feelings about it and make new friends.

• Support for those with advanced cancer: Cork Arc offers a mindfulness based stress reduction programme for those living with metastatic cancer, providing them with the support needed while dealing with treatment, fatigue and pain.

Grainne added: ‘We have had great support from our friends in the Bantry Hospice, Cancer Connect and the wider community.

‘We would also always ask that people might make room for Arc in their lives and support cancer patients in West Cork’.

• For more information contact Cork Arc Bantry on 027 53891 or  083 198 8580; email [email protected], or drop in by appointment  to  ‘The Bungalow’, Goureebeg near Bantry (P75 PK25).

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