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Living with cancer

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Helen Greally, the Director of Psychology and Support Services with Cancer Care West. “There isn’t any place in the country where you have the services of a centre like this one,” she says. Photos: Iain McDonald.

Lifestyle – Cancer Care West provides a welcoming space and homely atmosphere for cancer patients both during and after their treatment. Last year, the service supported 1,400 people who were taught not alone how to live with their diagnosis but, in most cases, how to live well with it. Judy Murphy details the positive impact of this vital service.

“We want people to take responsibility for their own lives and support them to do that,” says Helen Greally, the Director of Psychology and Support Services with Cancer Care West.

The organisation that provides free and confidential counselling and support to people with cancer and their carers, has been based in the Westside of Galway city since 2009.

It’s housed in a commercial unit where the impersonal exterior gives no indication of the homely atmosphere within. The bright, airy drop-in space has a kitchen area, complete with dresser, and a long communal table, ideal for meals and discussions. Off that room, secluded corners and cubbyholes cater for more private moments.

Across the corridor, a suite of rooms hosts meetings and events, including counselling, meditation, yoga tai-chi and art-therapy as well as play-therapy for children.

Cancer Care West is unique in that the psycho-oncology support it provides is based in the community – it works in conjunction with oncology services in local hospitals.

The Centre saw 1,400 people last year, about two-thirds of whom were patients – the rest were family members and carers. Of the 1,400, some people dropped in three or four times, giving a total of 6,500 visits.

“Some people come to yoga and tai-chi every week and that creates a bond,” says Helen Greally, pointing out that all those people have been through the experience of cancer, which helps to forge a unique fellowship of support.

Coming to these classes, which also include relaxation, art and exercise, is a very simple way of getting people back into having a structure in their lives, during and post-treatment because “the social isolation around cancer is huge”.

Other services offered include manual lymphatic drainage, reflexology and massage as well as benefits advice.

Cancer Care West is a place that doesn’t stand still and next month, a new gym will open in the building’s top floor – an acknowledgement of the role exercise plays in helping people with cancer.

The upstairs space became available earlier this year and Cancer Care West leased it, effectively doubling the 3,000 square feet the centre currently occupies.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Key moves on animal transport get the nod

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MEP Billy Kelleher: Key amendments passed.

LOCAL and national farm representatives have welcomed the adoption of amendments proposed by an Irish MEP in relation to the transportation of live animals across the EU.

The amendments proposed by Munster Fianna Fáil Munster MEP, Billy Kelleher, means less severe restrictions will apply in relation to calf and pregnant animal travel.

In 2020, the European Parliament set up an ANIT (Committee of Inquiry into Animal Transport) to investigate alleged violations of EU animal transport rules.

The Committee concluded that EU provisions in the area of animal transport were not always complied with in member states and did not fully take into account ‘the different needs of animals’.

Last week, MEPs voted by 557 to 55 (78 absentions) supporting new measures to address animal travel issues, including lack of headroom, water and food supplies, animals for travel being transported, and overcrowding.

However, a number of Irish MEPs led by Billy Kelleher proposed two amendments to the proposals, which were accepted in the overall vote in the European Parliament.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam students have warm welcome for Eddie, the Labrador who is already top of the class

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Eddie the dog, Tuam's Mercy Convent newest addition.

A North Galway school has unveiled their newest member – Eddie, the three-year-old Labrador dog.

The new canine recruit works as a therapy, or education, aid for students in Mercy Secondary School, Tuam – and he has already been a huge hit with students.

Scoil Bhride Principal Gearoid Leen has described the dog as an essential part of the learning process within the school.

The pure-bred Labrador is one of just eight community dogs that have been assigned to schools across the country.

This week, the new arrival was introduced to students and parents as part of the learning process. The presence of the dog relaxes students and, apparently, helps with their concentration.

Eddie’s fourth birthday is on March 18, the day after St Patrick’s Day – and, such is his instant popularity, the students have a special celebration in mind.

The newest addition to the secondary school has been trained by the Irish Guide Dogs Association and Eddie, along with his trained handlers Sarah Molloy and Catherine Murphy, now becomes part of the essential learning process within the school.

The Labrador and his handlers work alongside the teachers and educational staff in the school to help reduce stress and increase the learning potential of the students by goal directed interventions.

Together, Eddie and his handlers participate in classroom activities and work with individual students and groups.

Parents have responded positively to the new arriva, saying that more schools should try and apply for the scheme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Food for the soul

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Chef Martin Ruffley

Lifestyle – Friends Anna King and Martin Ruffley have joined forces to write a unique book based on Martin’s life story. Built around recipes which Martin, a chef and lecturer at GMIT, has created it covers his journey from alcoholism to sobriety and explains how cooking helps him to live in the moment. They tell JUDY MURPHY how it evolved. 

Watching chef Martin Ruffley preparing food was something that intrigued Anna King.

“When he’s cooking, he moves from this hyperactive personality to being peaceful and in the flow. He gives so much of his heart and soul when he’s cooking. It’s a mindful experience,” she says.

As someone whose background is in mindfulness and meditation, with a life-long interest in sustainable food production, Anna was intrigued by how the art of cooking transformed her friend. He agrees.

“When I’m cooking I focus completely on what I’m doing.”

The discussions they’ve had about this and about Martin’s journey from alcoholism to sobriety form the basis of a new book which they’ve co-authored.

Rekindling the Fire: Food and the Journey of Life is Martin’s story, but Anna has brought her writing skills to bear in how the narrative unfolds in this glorious publication, with photos by Julian Dunin and Professor Chaosheng Zhang,

At the heart of the book are Martin’s recipes, grouped together to create seven menus – each forming a chapter.

The first three chapters document his descent into alcoholism and the final four, his life since becoming sober at the age of 44.

But, while it’s listed under the ‘cookery’ genre by booksellers,  this book defies genres. That’s intentional, explains Anna.

“It’s a creative experience and with a view to supporting and helping communities in the way we view alcoholism. Alcoholism isn’t about an individual it’s about people and support and the lack of it.”

“We won’t make a fortune out of it and retire to Italy,” says Martin with a laugh. “That’s not why we’re doing it. If I can help one person who is suffering from addiction, I’ll be happy.”

Anna praises Martin for expressing his vulnerability in the book, while he stresses that, without his trust in her, it wouldn’t have happened.

“I felt such a connection with Martin’s story on many levels,” Anna explains.

And it’s pretty extraordinary.

Born in Bohermore 64 years ago, Martin left school at 13 and trained as a glass-blower at Galway Crystal. When he as was made redundant a few years later, due to the import of cheaper glass, he joined the Army School of Catering and trained as a chef. The Army gave him a good life and he honed his craft during the 21 years in its ranks. He also saw service overseas, with three tours of Lebanon in the 1980s and one in Bosnia in the late 1990s.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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