Earlier last year, Cancer Care West, the West of Ireland cancer charity, launched a new bus service for Mayo Cancer patients, who must travel to University Hospital Galway (UHG ) to receive treatment for cancer.
The service transports patients to Inis Aoibhinn, Cancer Care West’s residential facility, on a Monday and back home again on the Friday, after their week’s treatment. This vital service has proven to be extremely important for Mayo patients and their families with up to ten people availing of the service on a weekly basis.
The long-term future of the service, which is offered free of charge to patients and their families, is no longer secure however, as the fundraising efforts, which up to now have supported the costs involved, have recently declined.
Commenting on the service, Richard Flaherty, CEO of Cancer Care West, stated: "The cost of running this service is approximately €40,000 per year. As we look to 2021, it is clear fundraising efforts have been impacted severely over the past six months and this will have a knock-on effect on our ability to keep the service going. Our appeal is for any community, business or individual to please consider supporting this vital service, whether through fundraising or via donations, to ensure the service continues into the future."
He continued: "A cancer diagnosis is always a shock and the treatments are often long and difficult. Services that help reduce a patient’s stress during such a tough time are imperative."
User of the service, P J Kenny from Ballina, said: "As a cancer sufferer I had to go to Galway every week for my radiotherapy sessions. The availability of the bus meant that I could go to and from Inis Aoibhinn every week without having to drive or rely on someone to take me.
"And of course the Mayo bus also gave me an opportunity to meet others in my situation and the resulting chats always made my journey easier. I know from personal experience how much the service users value this bus run and I would like to thank everyone who makes it possible."
Each year the Inis Aoibhinn lodge provides over 3,200 bed nights to over 100 cancer patients from Mayo who are receiving radiotherapy treatment at UHG. Since 2018 several leading Mayo businesses and clubs have supported the weekly bus service along with individual fundraisers and donators. The charity is encouraging anyone who is in a position to help now to contact them on (091 ) 545000 or to donate directly on www.cancercarewest.ie/donate