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30% rise in demand for Cancer Society transport service

The Irish Cancer Society has said it saw a 30% increase in demand for its transport service last year, during which it brought over 2,200 patients to and from chemotherapy treatments.

Figures released by the charity also showed demand for other services grew, with a 31% year-on-year increase in demand for information and advice from cancer specialist nurses either over the phone, on a free support line, or from people calling in to talk to nurses in a ‘Daffodil Centre’.

The amount of Night Nursing nights, which allow cancer patients to die at home surrounded by their loved ones, also rose slightly in 2023.

Its Chief Executive Averil Power has called on people to “go all in” against cancer ahead of its annual Daffodil Day fundraiser this Friday.

Averil Power also said a backlog remains of delayed cancer cases due to Covid-19 (file)

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Power said that the charity’s transportation service was “more than just a lift, it’s peace of mind”.

She explained that the drivers volunteer their time, and the costs are covered by the Irish Cancer Society.

“Transport is always a huge issue for people with cancer. But I think the particular increase that we saw last year, 30% increase, is definitely related to the increasing financial and practical burden that people are under,” Ms Power said.

“It’s one less thing to have to worry about and it’s a listening ear”

She said that the increased costs of fuel, heating and other essentials have been felt by everyone, but for people with cancer, that really has “pushed many of them over the edge financially”.

She added: “They’re off work because of their cancer, and also have to meet all these increasing costs. So, the financial part is definitely a significant part of it.

“Having somebody bring you to hospital, who cares, who is taking the time off, who can take the time off to look after you, to pick you up at the house to bring to the hospital, wait and bring you home.

“So, it’s more than just a lift, it’s peace of mind. It’s one less thing to have to worry about and it’s a listening ear.”

Ms Power said while the HSE could provide some of the services, the Irish Cancer Society has “a very special personal touch”.

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“There’s something in volunteers, many of whom have had cancer themselves, giving their time and volunteering to bring you to and from the hospital, being that listening ear, understanding what you’re going through,” she said.

She added: “So, I do feel that with some of our services, certainly they could and perhaps should be provided by the HSE, but there are others where we bring something special that nobody else could really bring.

“But all of that is dependent on funds”.

She added that undoubtedly some cancers were missed during the pandemic, and some people are having later diagnoses as a result of a drop-off in screening and testing during the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen is, because of Covid disruptions to every part of cancer from screening right through treatment surgery, there was a big backlog we’re seeing that that’s still being cleared in many cases right now.

“It has resulted in people being diagnosed later than they ordinarily would be, and with more advanced cancers, that unfortunately are harder to treat.

“So, we see that as well reflected in the distress of people who are calling us and in a greater need for counselling and for advice and support than we would have seen before.

“We want to be there for everybody. We really want to make sure that no adult or child in Ireland has to go through cancer alone but to do that we need to raise the funds that we can this Friday on Daffodil Day.”

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