THE Irish Cancer Society has expressed its delight with the response in the Mid-West to a new scheme where volunteers drive cancer patients to chemotherapy sessions at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.
One hundred people from Limerick, Clare and Tipperary have signed up and attended a recent induction day at the Cancer Information and Support Centre in Dooradoyle.
The Care to Drive scheme has been run by the ICS and St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin since 2008 but the support of Tesco staff - who have named it their charity of the year for two years running - sees the programme being rolled out nationwide.
With chemotherapy consolidated in the regional centres of excellence, travel to and from sessions can be a trial for sick cancer patients. But the scheme is not just of value for patients in remote, rural locations in the Mid-West and people living in urban areas will also benefit as the scheme takes off in the Mid-West in the coming weeks, explained Gail Flinter, ICS.
“Patients with aggressive cancers can have very busy treatment schedules and they are often advised not to drive. And it is often inadvisable to get on public transport where people have compromised immune systems,” Ms Flinter said.
“Another issue, especially in the current economic climate, is where relatives simply can’t take time off work any more. You can imagine going to your employer and asking for a day off once in a fortnight or however often it may be.”
Ms Flinter said the charity was “delighted to see such a great response with 100 people recruited and inducted in Tipperary, Clare and Limerick”.
William Sheahan, Woodview Park, told the Limerick Leader that he became aware of Care to Drive when he saw a flyer at mass at St Munchin’s.
“I’m 66 and I’m retired now do I have the time to do it,” said the former employee of Tyco in Shannon.
“As you get on in life, your priorities change and your outlook changes. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have been married to Breda for 45 years and two children (Padraig and Sharon) raised so life has been good to me in so many ways.”
“I believe that at the end of the day, you only feel good about yourself when you are giving and not taking. When you do something for others, you start to feel better about yourself so my reasons are selfish in many ways.”
Mr Sheahan has volunteered to drive cancer patients right through the week.
“They say that they have so many applications that we might only be called on once a week but I’m making myself available Monday to Friday, It’s no skin off my nose, I have plenty of time on my hands. In helping somebody, you are helping society as a whole and it helps me feel good about myself too,” he explained.
The HSE said that all volunteer drivers are trained, vetted by the gardai and have appropriate insurance. Others interested in supporting the ICS and cancer patients in Limerick are encouraged to apply through the medical social worker at the Mid-Western Cancer Centre on 061 482896.