New Cancer Care Service -Summer 2003

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The new  Athenry Voluntary Cancer Care Centre, was blessed by Canon Tony King P.P., and officially opened by Tommy Gorman of RTE on Saturday, July 5th 2003.

A relaxing garden party in fine Summer weather with food and entertainment completed a memorable day.

“I’m sorry, you have cancer”

Without personal experience, it is impossible to understand the ferocity of that body-blow. Cancer has an image problem so a thousand questions, doubts and worries engulf the mind. The image of a one way street looms large. There and then, it is difficult to believe that most people cope very well with cancer, go on to live enriched lives and have new appreciation for the things in life that really

Support and healing

The Athenry Cancer Care Centre has only one agenda and that is quite simply to offer support and healing to people who have encountered any form of cancer and the people who support them. It is a step towards recognising that people with cancer diagnosis are not helpless; they can support each other, help themselves, and improve their quality of life.

Holistic approach

Increasingly, the holistic approach to cancer care is recognised as best practice. A person who is on the cancer journey is not just a body with a part in need of treatment but is a mind, body, soul and spirit, each in need of nurture.

Complementary therapies are just that, complementing the treatments designed by the oncology team and are now offered in many cancer hospitals. Multiple pieces of research show that people who take part in a support group, and combine complementary therapies with the regular cancer therapies, have less stress, reduced anxiety, better control of pain and an enhanced quality of life.

Core group

The idea for a cancer care centre predictably originated from people touched by cancer. A core group consisting of people with an interest in complementary cancer care, as a social service, came together to bring the idea to fruition. The group consisted of: Teresa Ruane, Ann Cullinane, Dr. Ann Brennan, Ann Waldron, Anne Scully, Paddy Coffey, Colm Fitzgerald, John Lenihan, Michael Crimmins, Peadar Monaghan, Dr Frances Conway-Lenihan, Margaret Lane and Nuala King. The idea was researched and it became crystal clear that we in Athenry should have access to the entire armoury that’s available to smooth the cancer journey.

Sharing and caring

Rooms were refurbished upstairs in the Social Service Centre. Care was taken to establish a space that is warm and inviting, restful and relaxing. That space is now a quiet haven for sharing and caring, and the Centre is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays with plans afoot to extend opening to a third day.

Services at the Centre

Drop-in centre for people who want a confidential chat, to unburden, in a safe and caring environment.
Relaxation therapies and strategies to reduce the harmful effects of stress are available by appointment. These therapies include Reiki healing, Aromatherapy, gentle Indian Head Massage with other therapies on the horizon. The focus is to strengthen the body through stress reduction. These are individual treatments by competent therapists
Practical information in relation to cancer services
Professional counselling this will be arranged for family members who request it)
Books are available to browse through or to borrow.

Support Group

The support group is for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. The aim of the support group meetings is to facilitate people on the cancer journey in sharing common feelings and problems. Each meeting has a strategy for stress reduction, through relaxation therapy, visualisation, prayer, colour, and art or music therapy. These meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at 7.00 p.m., and are sociable, friendly meetings and the kettle is never off the boil.

Other Services

Cancer can place a big financial strain on families. Funding will be available, in particular, to assist young families.
Bereavement counselling will be arranged by appointment.
Since this is just the beginning, it is envisaged that other support services will be developed as needs become apparent.

Personnel at the Centre

As this is a voluntary service, volunteers are vital to the Centre. Twenty four people have participated in a training programme conducted by The Institute of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Dun Laoghaire. This training, over two weekends, focussed on listening skills and confidentiality issues. Oncology nurses provided initial training and guided volunteers through the main concerns of people confronted with cancer diagnosis. Training will be on-going. Trained competent therapists provide all the therapies.


The services are provided free of charge. They are financed through voluntary fundraising efforts and individual contributions. No idea can come to fruition without support and goodwill. To the many people who supported the idea of Athenry Cancer Care, through practical fundraising ventures, our prayer for you is that you will enjoy good health with peace of mind.

With your help, the doors of Athenry Cancer Care Centre will be open when people are most in need of the light of hope.

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

Athenry Cancer Care, Social Service Centre, Athenry, Tel. No. 087 4128080

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About this record

Written by Nuala King

Published here 02 Jan 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

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