Limerick Cancer Information and Support Centre Manager Maria Keane who has just won an award with Richard Lynch from ILoveLimerick.com. Picture: Michelle Hogan/ilovelimerick.
The Limerick Cancer Information and Support Centre based at the University Hospital Limerick provide amazing services to people going through cancer treatment and their families.
Maria Keane, the manager of the centre has just won an award for “Best Patient Experience” in the Staff Recognition Awards – run internally by the HSE, which took place in the Strand Hotel and she was presented with a trophy and a plaque for her office. “Maria is an absolute lady. She is so helpful and always smiling and nothing is ever too much trouble. She is the glue that keeps all of us cancer patients from falling apart,” Vicky Phelan, a client of the centre tells me.
I spoke to Maria who is thrilled with winning her award and she explains, “We are based in the University Hospital Limerick grounds; we are funded primarily by the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation. We provide emotional, psychological and practical support for cancer patients and their families.”
“We have a counsellor and psychologist services for patients and their families. We provide complementary therapies like Rakhi, reflexology, massage, Indian head massage. We also have a social worker on site for the practical end of things. When people are going through their cancer treatment; there is more to their recovery than just have chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We like to adopt the holistic principal in that people come and have their treatment but then we try to provide them with a recovery mechanism.”
“When people have a cancer diagnosis it affects the patient and their family. We invite people in to our centre, we have a welcoming sign inviting people in for a coffee and when they come in for the coffee we let them know that we also provide all of these other services.”
Maria explains some of the extracurricular activities held in the centre for cancer patients and their families: “We have support groups that aren’t like support groups they are more like extracurricular activities. On Mondays we have a relaxation class which is run by a clinical psychologist. It is just to help people relax because when people lie down at night all of their fears and anxiety can start going around their head. We help them to relax.
On Tuesdays we have craft and afternoon tea but it is more than the craft, it is about having the cup of tea and the chat, it is about the social side.
On Wednesdays we have started the Strides for Life programme which is about getting people off the couch and exercising while socialising.
There is also a choir with 35 members on a Wednesday night and two Tai Chi classes on Thursday both beginners and advanced.
All of these things bring people together who are on the same journey and they get to support each other in a friendly and informal environment.”
“We keep our environment completely separate from the hospital in that we burn nice candles, we play nice soft music and we don’t have any news on the radio!”
Maria explains that while the centre is busy, the waiting lists are never too long and they love to see new faces coming through the doors: “People do come in to chill out for a few minutes, they take time out before and/or after their treatment and also family members who are supporting someone going through treatment can come over to us and take some time out. We are very busy, we could have between 30 and 50 people in every day for a coffee and a chat.”
The Cancer Information and Support Centre is owned and run by the HSE but The Mid-Western Cancer Foundation fund the tea and the coffee, the oils for therapies, the mats for the Tai Chi and that is why it is so important to support them.
These services are all critical to the people of the Mid West but need to be updated and expanded to accommodate the growing population and increasing number of patients with cancer in the region. The money raised by the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation is used to enhance the Cancer Centre facilities and to make sure that the best treatment, services and cutting edge technology is available to people with cancer in the Mid West.
Support the Mid West Cancer Foundation here.
Read more about the Mid West Cancer Foundation here.
Follow the Mid Western Cancer Foundation on Facebook here.
One of the biggest fundraiser events on the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation calendar is the annual Butterfly Ball. See all of the photos from the 2015 ball below:
Photos by Jonathan Baynes for I Love Limerick, All Rights Reserved.