Supporting Local News

Free bus service offers comfort and support to cancer patients on their radiotheraphy journey

Perhaps even more so with illness, having a sense of humour can be a lifesaver – and that shows in the name given by a group of cancer patients to a new bus service that provides transport for them to get to their radiotherapy sessions.

Because the East Galway and Midlands Cancer Support Centre last week unveiled the Radium Gaga bus – and a host of Connacht Rugby stars, who also happen to be Ballinasloe natives, joined them for the launch.

Funded in part by Clár and Aidan Sheridan, who accomplished the remarkable feat of swimming the length of the Shannon, the “Radium Gaga” bus is a beacon of hope for individuals battling cancer across the region.

And named by the patients it serves, this bus symbolises not only transportation, but also compassion, resilience, and community support.

Rugby stars Matthew Devine, John Devine, Oisin McCormack, Shane Jennings and Colm O’Reilly – unwavering in their support for the Support Centre – turned out to see the bus for themselves, and they heard uplifting stories from some of those who will use it.

Because the logistical challenges of daily hospital visits, especially in weakened states, can be overwhelming.

As one patient shared: “Radiotherapy is relentless and exhausting… driving is tough, it creates extra demands on very depleted energy reserves.”

For many patients, the journey – metaphorical and literal – through cancer treatment is gruelling, marked by relentless radiotherapy sessions, often following surgery and chemotherapy.

But Radium Gaga offers a warm, supportive environment from doorstep to hospital and back – providing not only transportation but also a sense of comfort and belonging.

As one patient put it: “From the moment I stepped on the bus, I felt cared for… The bus took a huge mental and emotional load off my shoulders.”

In addition to the transport service itself, Support Centre volunteers also ensure that patients are dropped off at the hospital, collected after treatment, and greeted with a warm meal upon return to the centre.

As another user said: “It wasn’t necessary to ask family and friends to take time off work… The bus saved me a lot of money in fuel and tolls”.

The close collaboration between EGM and Portiuncula Hospital ensures that patients from all areas, including Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, and Westmeath, have access to this vital service.

Free of charge and fully funded by generous donors and staffed by dedicated volunteers, the Radium Gaga bus embodies the spirit of solidarity and support that has come to define the EGM Support Centre.

Pictured: Connacht Rugby stars and Ballinasloe natives (from left) Oisin McCormack, Shane Jennings, John Devine (seated) Matthew Devine and Colm O’Reilly with East Galway and Midlands Cancer Support Centre’s Jacqueline Daly (behind the wheel), board member Paul Doherty, chairman Brian Eccles and board member Helen Clinton at the launch of the Radium Gags bus. Photo: Gerry Stronge.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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