John Greene of the Sunday Independent and RTE news anchor Eileen Dunne with Coast2Coast cyclist Brian Mabee, event PRO Claire Mc Cormack, and event organiser Frank Dillon in Malahide Photo: D. Conachy
Thirty cyclists will embark on a novel 270km trip from the Wild Atlantic Way to the capital's coastline in aid of cancer support for the midlands this weekend.
The ‘Coast2Coast Cycle for Cancer Care’ participants will dip their back wheels in Oranmore, Galway on Saturday morning and their front wheels in Malahide, Dublin on Sunday afternoon.
The event, launched by Sunday Independent Sports Editor and Longford native John Greene and RTE news anchor Eileen Dunne, will raise vital funds for an MRI scanner at Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar and LARCC Cancer Support Sanctuary, Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath – Ireland’s only cancer support centre.
Event co-ordinator Frank Dillon says the MRI scanner would be a "major breakthrough" in diagnostic procedures for Westmeath, Longford and the greater midlands region.
“Presently adults seeking a non-emergency scan must wait up to one year, while children must wait up to two years.
“When the machine is in place it will have the most up-to-date equipment and facilities.
“This will make life much easier for many with various serious illnesses currently travelling long distances for treatment,” he says.
John Greene says Mullingar hospital is “vital” to the well-being of people in Longford.
“For most of the county it is the closest hospital in the case of an emergency, acute injury or serious illness.
“Any event aimed at increasing diagnostic services and boosting the provision of care is welcome,” he says.
The target for the MRI project is €950,000.
The ‘Friends of Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar’ committee say they are “very pleased” with fundraising to date and are optimistic the project will be complete in the near future.
The cycle challenge also aims to highlight the psychological, emotional and social challenges faced by all those living with cancer - including family members.
There are eight HSE designated cancer centres nationwide, however just two centres have a psycho-oncology department to manage the distress caused post diagnosis. Both centres are based in Dublin.
This means much of the psycho-social care needs for cancer patients and their families fall on the community and voluntary sector to deliver.
LARCC Cancer Support Sanctuary offers a wide range of supports for almost 500 cancer patients and their families, with up to 150 new clients every year.
The centre offers one-to-one counselling, complementary therapies, breast care services, residential programmes, nurse support, children’s therapy, relaxation through art, gentle yoga, meditation and mindfulness and bereavement services.
In 2016 it cost €230,000 to provide these services – 80pc was generated from fundraising efforts.
Bernie McHugh, managing director at LARCC said these supports are “almost equally as important” as physical treatment.
“Sometimes when routine clinical treatment stops patients and families feel a real sense of loss and that’s where LARCC is instrumental every week in offering vital holistic support.
“It’s about getting the patient’s confidence back after diagnosis, a lot of people struggle with trauma and families go through equal trauma,” she says.
As survivor outcomes continue to improve, LARCC is set to play a bigger role in aiding people to live well after cancer.
At the launch Frank expressed his “deep gratitude” to all that have generously sponsored and donated to event.
He emphasised that all contributions “will make such a valuable difference to so many at such a critical time in their lives”.
For further details contact Frank Dillon on 087-6443742, PRO Claire Mc Cormack on 087-1245347, check out 'Coast2Coast Cycle for Cancer Care' on Facebook, or follow ‘@Coast2Coast___’ on Twitter.