The Marie Keating Cancer Awareness Programme aims to promote awareness among students at post-primary level about various forms of cancer and to help them understand the importance of detecting cancer at an early stage. By making cancer ‘less frightening by enlightening’ for students, the programme endeavors to engage students with age-appropriate, interactive and informative material.
Interview with Minister Frances Fitzgerald
How did you get involved with the Marie Keating Foundation?
As a former Chairperson of the National Women’s Council, Vice Chair of the European Breast Cancer awareness campaign, and a board member of the Breast Research Unit in St. Vincent’s Hospital, I have been a consistent advocate and campaigner on matters relating to breast cancer. I am delighted to now be involved with the Marie Keating Foundation.
I have lobbied for improved awareness and education services which are critical in supporting early detection. I have also worked for enhanced care for cancer sufferers and for increased funding for cancer research.
I have been a vocal and passionate supporter of the extension of Breast Check to women between 65- 69 years of age since my days in the Seanad. When I was elected to the Dáil to represent Dublin Mid-West in 2011, I succeeded in getting a commitment in the Programme for Government for the extension of BreastCheck.
I recent years I have been delighted to work closely with Marie Keating Foundation to raise cancer awareness and supporting fundraising in Dublin Mid West.
How do you think this Schools Cancer Awareness Programme will help students?
Early detection is critical to battling cancer; and awareness and education is critical to early detection. I fully support the Schools Cancer Awareness Programme. Starting early, by informing our youngest citizens, is a sure way of building up the public’s understanding and appreciation of cancer and the signs to watch out for.
As this October is Sleep Pink month, focusing on the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, tell us how you find the right work/rest balance?
As a busy TD and Government Minister, I must admit that balancing work and rest is a massive challenge. However, I appreciate that in my life, it is vitally-important to make space and time, to clear the mind, get some fresh air and make some quiet time, particularly before a night’s sleep. Rest is important, not just for rest’s sake but to help our broader wellbeing. You can’t work at your best unless you can also find that space for rest.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is a stressful worrying time for the diagnosed person and family and friends. The Foundation manages a national Comfort Fund for people experiencing financial difficulty as a result of a cancer diagnosis. The healthcare professional directly involved in the patient’s care can apply for grant assistance on behalf of the patient and the assistance, if granted, is provided in a confidential and discreet way.
‘We make applications to the Comfort Fund on behalf of people from all walks of life, who are coping with the impact of a cancer diagnosis. Although one person receives the diagnosis, the whole family is affected by its impact and financial burdens arising from the illness can add further strain to their situation.
The Comfort Fund often grants financial support to individuals who may not be eligible for financial support from other avenues. In my experience applications are responded to in a way that recognises the unique circumstances of the individual and their family. Through the provision of a one-off grant the Comfort Fund can alleviate stress and worry in relation to coping with particular costs such as, an expensive heating bill or paying for increased childcare while a parent undergoes treatment.
People generally respond with great gratitude and relief when they learn that they have been granted financial assistance from the Marie Keating Comfort Fund. They are not only grateful for the actual financial assistance but also for how efficient and non- intrusive the application process has been.
The Comfort Fund undoubtedly plays an important role in helping families to cope with extra expenses and can alleviate a lot of stress about managing these expenses. The provision of financial support is a significant practical support for individuals who are coping with the impact of a serious illness.’
Rachel Millar, Senior Medical Social Worker, Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services, Harold’s Cross.
Survive & Thrive
The Marie Keating Foundation’s Survive and Thrive workshops are designed to help men and women who have finished cancer treatment deal with changes such as tiredness and new nutritional needs. The Survive and Thrive Fashion is an annual event where women who have, or who have had, breast cancer, are invited to be supermodels for the night and to strut their stuff on the catwalk in celebration of survivorship.
Roisin Dunne, a cancer survivor who attended a Marie Keating Foundation Survive and Thrive course earlier this year, said, “I found the Survive and Thrive workshop to be hugely helpful. It was great to know that I wasn’t alone through meeting other survivors and hear that they were going through similar experiences. The expert advice was something that is badly needed and, in my opinion, a really necessary part of the healing process. It’s important to not only survive, but thrive, after cancer, but we need to help and support each other through this.”
Click here to find out more about the work that the Marie Keating Foundation do.