Over 350 cancer patients and their families have travelled on the new new Mayo Cancer Care West bus which commenced service in March of this year.
The bus transports cancer patients from all over Mayo to Inis Aoibhinn, Cancer Care West’s residential facility on the grounds of University Hospital Galway on a Monday and home again on the Friday after their week’s treatment. The Charity purchased a new 29-seater bus in late 2018, costing €150,000, after being awarded a grant of €100,000 under Measure 4 of the CLÁR Programme, which was established to fund cancer transport support initiatives. The bus has travelled over 20,000 kilometers since March of this year transporting patients to and from their homes all over Mayo.
Every year hundreds of people from Mayo have to travel to University Hospital Galway to receive Radiotherapy treatment. Radiotherapy treatment is generally six to eight weeks duration with one treatment per day. Cancer Care West runs its own 33-bedroom residential service, Inis Aoibhinn, on the grounds of UHG, which provides accommodation, Monday to Friday, for radiotherapy patients who travel long distances from home for their treatment.
Prior to the purchase of the bus, patients from Mayo needed to organise their own transport to and from Galway during their treatment. Since this much-needed service was announced earlier this year, several Mayo businesses and organisations came on board to support the project. In addition, a number of personal donations from individuals and groups who were keen to support the initiative were received. The charity is hoping that other individuals and organisations will come on board next year.
Commenting on the service, Richard Flaherty CEO of Cancer Care West, stated: "We are delighted with the numbers availing of this new service. A cancer diagnosis is a very difficult time for cancer patients and their families and from the feedback from passengers using the bus, we are confident that this new service has greatly helped alleviate some of the stress of travel for many patients.
"Like all of our services the bus is offered free of charge to all who need it but the costs of this new service will be approximately €200,000 over the next three years and we are appealing for support to help us fund this vital service for Mayo patients staying with us at Inis Aoibhinn. We are hoping that individuals and businesses from Mayo will continue to support this project.”
The first person to avail of the Mayo Cancer Bus was PJ Togher from Belmullet. PJ explained the difference the bus made, saying: "I started my treatment in January before the bus service began so it meant that I relied on family and friends to bring me to Galway each Monday and home again on a Friday. It’s a tough two and half hour drive from Belmullet to Galway, on bad roads, on top of everything that I was going through; it was additional stress I didn’t need. Luckily I was able to avail of the bus for the final three weeks of my treatment. It made such a difference not having to trouble someone to bring me to Galway and home again each week. It allowed me to focus on my recovery. The bus is a great service provided by Cancer Care West that is making a huge difference to cancer patients in Mayo."
To find out more about this service and how you can help please visit: www.cancercarewest.ie or call (091 ) 545000.