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Dealing with cancer’s aftershock



When Karen Brennan was treated for cervical cancer eleven years ago, she had no idea it would lead to a different but no less debilitating condition affecting her legs, groin and abdomen.

The Barna woman who is a senior manager in Boston Scientific was diagnosed with cancer in September 2004. A year later she underwent surgery and was discharged three weeks later. However after six months she was referred back to her surgeon, complaining of abdominal pain and discomfort with slight swelling in the groin.

She was told the problem was down to scar tissue healing.

By 2009 the problem had quite literally ballooned – her leg had swollen to such an extent she had difficulty removing jeans. She was taken into University Hospital Galway where she underwent a series of tests. She was finally diagnosed two months later with Lymphoedema.

The condition occurs when the lymphatic system fails to function causing persistent swelling and it can affect any part of the body. People can be born with lymphoedema or develop it because the lymphatic system has been damaged.  Approximately 15,000 people in Ireland are estimated to have Lymphoedema, with over 1,200 developing it each year following cancer treatment.

Karen was given physiotherapy for the condition in Galway which involves manually draining the build-up of fluid. But she came down with serious leg infections and was referred to the Földi Clinic in Germany, a specialist clinic for lymphology.

She is currently on daily antibiotics to manage the condition. Her husband was trained by the German clinic to carry out the manual lymphatic drainage.

“He does twenty minutes and I do the rest, it can take up to two hours. I apply nine bandages every night and put my right leg on eight pieces of foam to drain it for the next day.

“If I do that every day I can manage it. If not I can develop cellulitis where the limb swells up, get very hard and is extremely painful,” Karen explains.

“It’s a nightmare. It’s called cancer’s aftershock. I keep myself very physically active. I do everything in my power to manage the condition.”

The bandages alone cost €2,500 per year while maintenance Földi treatments cost a further €3,000, which she must bear herself. She has health insurance through work which covers one third of the costs.

The support group Lymphoedema Ireland has designated March Lymphoedema Awareness month.

“A lot of people out there don’t know they have Lymphoedema, they are isolated, get little or no support, they may only get to see a physio once every six weeks which doesn’t help when they need treatment every day,” explains a spokesperson.

“There are no definitive pathways to treatment, it can take ages to get diagnosed, some people get referred to a cancer specialist, others a physio, some patients are sent to a vascular person. There aren’t enough people trained in Ireland to diagnose or treat this really debilitating condition.

“More and more cases are presenting because cancer outcomes are so good. You think it’s fantastic the cancer didn’t get you but it leaves you with this debilitating condition for life.”

A HSE review last year of Lymphoedema services throughout Ireland has yet to be published.

There is no cure for Lymphoedema. However, if diagnosed and treated early by an experienced specialist, the extreme swelling can be controlled and reduced, infection prevented and the range of movement of the affected area can be improved to limit the extent of the disorder and its impact on everyday life.

Professor of Vascular Disease Mary Paula Colgan said a delay in diagnosis and treatment leads to an increase in the incidence of complications including recurrent cellulitis, immobility and ulceration.

“We have excellent Lymphoedema therapists in Ireland in both the public and private sectors.  As a clinician my greatest difficulty is accessing these services for patients as several areas of the country provide no services at all, while in other areas many of these services are unavailable for non-cancer patients.”

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Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work/live units form part of new Galway City affordable housing project



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Five ‘live/work’ units form part of the design of a new affordable and social housing development planned for Ballybane.

The mixed development unanimously approved by city councillors this week will provide 103 apartments and houses in the Coillte Mhuirlinne estate.

A total of 85 homes will be affordable, although the details of how much they will cost to purchase have yet to be decided. The remaining 20%, or 18 units, will be social housing. Some €4.6 million in Government funding has already been approved for the social housing aspect of the plan.

Included in the design of the housing development is a ‘live/work’ element.

The Council’s Acting Director of Services for Housing, Tom Prendergast, explained that the ground floor of the five live/work three-storey units would contain an office, retail or commercial unit for service providers with three-bedroom maisonettes over the next two floors.

“It would be envisioned that these five units would be small-scale businesses run by the occupants living above.

“There would be little passing trade for any commerciality of these units so we would envisage small local services similar to a hairdresser, accountant, physiotherapist would occupy these units as an extension of ‘working from home’,” the report to city councillors said.

Mr Prendergast said the concept was similar to people living over their shops in towns and city centres. A crèche will also be built close to the commercial units.

Mayor of Galway, Colette Connolly, said she hoped lessons were learned from the previous commercial property development in Ballybane where units “were empty for 15 years” and some public bodies could not afford the rents.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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