Lifestyle – The Daffodil Centre at UHG which is celebrating its 10th anniversary has given practical and moral support to thousands of cancer patients and their family members since the Irish Cancer Society set it up as a pilot project. DENISE MCNAMARA hears one man’s story of its role in his recovery.
When Alan Rushe began to feel cramps in his stomach, he did not hesitate in attending his local doctor.
His GP asked if he had ever suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As he had been diagnosed with the condition when he was younger, he was prescribed tablets for that and told to see how they worked.
Six days later, Alan’s condition hadn’t improved so his GP referred him for a colonoscopy. When the invasive test revealed he had colon cancer he was operated on within ten days. Two months later he was started on six months of chemotherapy, getting treatment once every fortnight.
When he was coming to the end of the treatment, Alan found himself in a bind.
He wanted reassurance about what to expect as the chemicals left his body but the doctors and nurses in the oncology ward were far too busy to give him the time he needed to sit and chat.
“One of the things about having cancer, your whole life becomes obsessed with your problem and how you’re dealing with it,” Alan reflects.
“Suddenly you’re coming to the end of chemo and you find yourself in a very strange place; you are in a vacuum. You might be told things by different doctors and nurses but you haven’t taken it in.
“You can’t just drop back into the ward, yet you want to talk to people who know all there is to know about your type of cancer.”
He was advised to go to the Daffodil Centre in University Hospital Galway (UHG), which is run by the Irish Cancer Society to seek further information.
There he found oncology nurse Fionnuala Creighton who manages the Galway Daffodil Centre. She sat down with Alan and gave him the time to answer the myriad of questions that were swirling around his mind.
“She gave me all this information about what to expect when chemo is leaving the body, how it would affect me. She gave me information leaflets and told me about services that are available, such as exercise classes in Cancer Care West,” he explains.
The Daffodil Centre at UHG began as a pilot project for the Irish Cancer Society a decade ago this month.
Aileen McHale, who is now Cancer Information Services Manager with the Irish Cancer Society, was the first nurse to work there.
“We wanted to set up a designated cancer centre in a hospital to provide information to the patient, relatives and general public at the point of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up,” she explains. “I was involved in the setting up and running it and, from the beginning one of my roles was recruiting and training a group of volunteers who would help me in the running of the centre.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Future of beef industry in doubt
STARK warnings have been issued this week that ongoing protests outside meat plants by one splinter farming organisation could jeopardise the whole future of the Irish cattle and beef industry.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, in an open letter to farmer protesters, said that over recent weeks their message had been heard loud and clear, leading to the agreement that was hammered out after 36 hours of talks last weekend.
“Over the weekend, huge efforts were made to reach an agreement, to signal to you, that not only have your voices been heard – but that things are going to change. That is why the leaders of the IFA, Macra na Feirme, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA and the Beef Plan Movement backed the agreement.
“That is why the representatives of the Independent Farmers of Ireland said that they agreed to recommend the deal to those of you at the factory gates who sent them. All of these people who represent the vast majority of farmers in Ireland believed that this was a decent start on a way forward,” said Minister Creed.
He pleaded with farmers still protesting (the Independent Farmers of Ireland) not to be responsible for the destruction of the Irish beef industry. “Those of you who are minded to continue the protest must now be fully aware of your responsibilities. The future of the Irish beef sector is in your hands . . . the futures of your fellow farmers are in your hands,” said Minister Creed.
Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said that the time was right to ‘give the agreement a chance’ as many beef farmers were coming under the most extreme financial pressure. “We need to get cattle moving again. The message has been delivered as regards the plight of beef farmers. An agreement has been reached – we have to give it a chance,” she said.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Portumna seeks slice of Downton Abbey action!
The release of its first silver screen drama has seen the spread of Downton Abbey fever all over again – and one local Junior Minister wants to see Galway cash in on its new connection.
Because, according to Ciaran Cannon, the appearance in the movie of Princess Mary – a visitor to the fictional Crawley family seat – creates a direct Downton link to Portumna Castle.
And the Minister for the Diaspora and International Development is urging the tourism sector in Portumna to make use of the town`s connection to boost visitor numbers.
“Fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ will be flocking to movie theatres in droves to see the hit drama revived for the big-screen and interestingly, from the point of view of East Galway`s history, the movie version features the real-life character of Princess Mary,” he said.
Because the real-life character of Princess Mary visited Portumna in 1928; her husband was the last owner of Portumna Castle prior to it being acquired by the State.
The new cinematic outing for Downton Abbey sees the servants and aristocrats of the famous house receive a visit from King George V and his wife Queen Mary, prompting much panic and excitement.
One of the most prominent royals featured in the film is that of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood – played by Peaky Blinders actress Kate Phillips.
The real Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and his wife Queen Mary. She had two older brothers – the future kings Edward VIII and George VI, the latter being the father of Queen Elizabeth II.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway mum on signs of heart valve disease – and how to get back to full life
Una Fahey had spent two days in bed floored by a vicious ‘flu – or so she thought. Her youngest son Enda was to play in the Galway County Minor Hurling Quarter-Final that day in 2017 but she was unable to focus on the match, she so ill with a high temperature and sore bones.
“I wouldn’t be one to go to the doctor with the ‘flu because you could spread germs – I don’t know what made me go but I didn’t want to be in bed anymore and wanted to get better quicker,” she reflects from her home in Kilbeacanty, outside Gort.
She attended her local GP clinic which was staffed by a doctor on call that Saturday. Her condition was so serious that an ambulance was called and she was dispatched to University Hospital Galway.
Tests revealed she had bacterial endocarditis – or heart valve disease. Within 48 hours she had both her mitral and aortic valves replaced with mechanical valves.
Her illness came as a complete shock. She was 57, healthy, and looking forward to some free time as the last of her five boys was leaving home to go to college.
“I had no warning really. I’m still not 100%. I get very tired – tiredness is actually the worst thing about it,” Una reveals.
Croí, the Heart Disease and Stroke Charity, is urging people aged 65 and over not to mistake the symptoms of Heart Valve Disease for old age during European Heart Valve Disease Awareness week.
Read full interview and advice in this week’s Connacht Tribune.