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Two Marys get a warm welcome at BCR lunch

February 24th, 2023 7:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

Two Marys get a warm welcome at BCR lunch Image
Orla Dolan, chief executive, Breakthrough Cancer Research, with guest speakers Mary Black and Mary Kennedy at the lunch. (Photos: Anne Minihane)

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BREAKTHROUGH Cancer Research (BCR), a charity with very close links to West Cork, hosted a fundraising lunch last weekend at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen to help raise funds for researchers to tackle the most difficult-to-cure cancers. 

‘Breakthrough Cancer Research has already and is continuing to make a huge difference,’ said community and events manager Mary Morrish. ‘More and more people are now surviving cancer than ever before. Yet, sadly, there are still some cancers that have not seen such advances and the long term survival rates remain tragically low. We’re on a mission to change this. We want to disrupt cancer’s future and save lives, one breakthrough at a time.’

Breakthrough was founded by Caheragh native, the late Prof Gerry O’Sullivan, and its chief executive is his daughter, Orla Dolan.

Caheragh ladies with county mayor Danny Collins at the launch: Aíne Hallihan, Claire O’Neill, Mary Hodnett,
Catherine Kingston, Ber Daly and Majella O’Shea.

‘Since our inception we continue to focus our research on developing treatments for poor prognosis and incurable cancers, and over the last number of years we have brought eight cancer treatments from the laboratory to clinical trial,’ explained Mary. ‘This includes the recently opened trial for patients with chemo resistant oesophageal cancer, the ongoing trial for patients with basal cell carcinomas and recent trials for colorectal cancer and malignant melanoma. These investigator led trials are examples of how incredible public support can help translate ideas in the lab directly to patients in the clinic.’

Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland each year, including 12,600 cases of skin cancer, 3,900 of prostate cancer and 3,400 of breast cancer. And there are, sadly, almost 10,000 deaths annually in Ireland.

TD Holly Cairns, who attended the lunch, said there isn’t a family in West Cork that hasn’t been touched by cancer. ‘But there are incredible advances and supports available, made possible by support for organisations like Breakthrough Cancer Research.’

Deputy Cairns said there was a great atmosphere at the lunch and guests Mary Black and Mary Kennedy were wonderful speakers. ‘Although it was for a very serious cause, we were still able to have a really enjoyable afternoon.’

But she added that there is a pressing need for local cancer services. ‘Cork Arc house in Bantry provides an incredible range of support and care for people diagnosed with cancer and their families in West Cork. In 2021, Cork Arc had more than 1,500 active users, up from 1,200 in 2020, and it provided more than 10,000 services. However, they only receive €45,000 annually in HSE funding. That represents just 5% of its overall income, the remainder of which is fundraised.’

She said Bantry Arc is an invaluable  service that makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families during and after treatment. 

‘I am strongly supporting their call for an increase in funding to ensure its services can expand and continue to meet the ever-increasing demand,’ she added.

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