Something To Sing About for cancer survivors

A Galway medical specialist is spearheading a global initiative aimed at aiding people’s recovery from cancer.

Dr Paul Donnellan, a consultant medical oncologist at University Hospital Galway and the Galway Clinic, is setting up a worldwide choir of cancer survivors called Something to Sing About (STSA ).

Recognising that cancer survivors continue to need support and that music therapy is increasingly recognised as an important part of the recovery process, he decided to bring cancer survivors throughout the world together to sing songs and give free concerts.

Addressing the first national conference on research and auditing in palliative care in the west of Ireland, entitled Cuisle Beatha (the pulse of life ) at the Galway Clinic recently, he outlined that four separate support centres are rehearsing regularly and Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin Park] will begin practising this week.

He will officially launch the website within the coming weeks and hopes to have this worldwide choir up and running for its first concert by Christmas. Anyone interested in joining the choir should contact Dr Donnellan via the website He went on to discuss a new groundbreaking treatment called chemo saturation for cancerous tumours which have spread to the liver from somewhere else in the body. This is a high-tech procedure where chemotherapy is targeted to the liver thus sparing the patient generalised side-effects.

The Chemo-Sat procedure requires balloon catheters and chemotherapy filters manufactured by a US company (Delcath ) which has recently set up base in Galway. GUH established links with Delcath through Dr Gerry O’Sullivan, a consultant interventional radiologist at GUH and the procedure was performed by his colleague Dr Ian Davidson. This is the first time this procedure has been done in Ireland. The patient of Dr Donnellan’s, who has malignant melanoma, is currently doing very well, the conference was told.

Palliative care consultant Dr Dympna Waldron traced 25 years of a new speciality of palliative medicine/ nursing and highlighted the enormous number of questions which require good research to answer. She said these questions can now be addressed because funding has been made available for this area.

Based on a decade of research by Dr Waldron and Dr Eileen Mannion, Veronica Mc Inerney a clinical research manager at UHG, will carry out research for a Phd in Quality of Life and Symptom Control. This will focus on patients’ perspectives rather than those of the medical profession.

The conference was told that this in turn will have national if not international implications because hospitals hope to closely mirror patients’ wishes in a more effective manner.

The event emphasised the need for collaborative research throughout the west of Ireland in areas such as gastric dysmotility in patients with both malignant and benign conditions. This is an extremely distressing condition with symptoms including nausea and vomiting.

Thanks to Dr Dympna Waldron a successful treatment was highlighted. Alyson Banks, a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care at the Galway Clinic, presented a retrospective audit supporting its effectiveness and explained that the process has already begun.

The Cuisle Beatha conference takes place in the Radisson Hotel every second year. This year clinical nurse specialist at the Galway Clinic Alyson Banks had the novel idea of using this intermittent year to host the first national meeting of “Cuisle Beatha” from a research and audit perspective.


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