Cancer Fund for Children and the Katie Nugent Fund announce new Cancer Community Support Service for families impacted by childhood cancer across Ireland
Cancer Fund for Children and the Katie Nugent Fund have joined forces to launch a new cancer community support service for children across Ireland diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Support will be provided to young people aged 0-24 diagnosed with cancer of which there are an average of 340-360 each year.
The partnership between our two charities will see the roll out of four new Cancer Support Specialist roles nationally to provide social and emotional support to families across the island of Ireland impacted by a childhood cancer diagnosis. Support will be available to all young people who are diagnosed with cancer, regardless of where they live.
We have been working with the Katie Nugent Fund for over two years to plan for and develop this new service.
In April this year we recruited our first Cancer Support Specialist based in the National Children’s Cancer Service in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin to provide informal emotional and social support to children under 16 years old diagnosed with cancer and their parents. The impact of this work is being independently evaluated by Trinity College Dublin. In addition to this, another role will be recruited to provide support to older young people who are in-patients, recognising the unique set of needs that this age range has.
We have over 40 years’ experience delivering this model of support to children diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland where we have an established team based in hospitals, in the community and at our therapeutic short break centre, Daisy Lodge in Newcastle Co. Down. Both Cancer Fund for Children and the Katie Nugent Fund are committed to ensuring that every child impacted by cancer on the island of Ireland has equitable access to services.
“Charities coming together to work in partnership to support children, young people and their families is the only way to make this happen, it is a much needed and exciting venture.
A cancer diagnosis affects the whole family and we understand that beyond the excellent care provided in hospital wards, the need for ongoing emotional support for the whole family is significant. Together with the Katie Nugent Fund we are committed to providing flexible, relational and needs led support. The fact that the needs of siblings and the wider families can now be met by a team working in the community goes a long way towards our ambition to ensure that no family should face childhood cancer alone.”
Neil Symington, Director of Services at Cancer Fund For Children.
“The ambitions of the Katie Nugent Fund are closely aligned to those of Cancer Fund For Children and these community appointments have been made possible by the time, effort and money of many different people. Having seen the benefits that the service already provides within the National Children’s Cancer Service at CHI at Crumlin, I am excited to roll-out the four community specialists nationally. All of this will hopefully prove of immeasurable benefit to many families for years to come,”
Alice Nugent, Founder of the Katie Nugent Fund
The community-based staff will work with diagnosed children aged 0-24, their siblings and wider families through informal therapeutic social and emotional support, in their own homes, communities and shared care centres.
“This new cancer community support service across Ireland will have a major positive impact on young persons diagnosed with cancer in Ireland and their families. I am personally very excited that this service is being developed and am extremely grateful to the Katie Nugent Fund and the Cancer Fund for Children for developing this service that is desperately needed.”
Dr Cormac Owens, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at the National Children’s Cancer Service and Board member of Cancer Fund for Children.
The introduction of these new community-based staff will provide direct support to young people like Penny O’Brien (8) from Co. Tipperary who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a bone cancer) in 2020.
“Penny’s diagnosis definitely affected her sisters more than her. She was so young. I feel her diagnosis has had more of an impact on Emma and Abigail because her treatment was so intense. It was a three-week cycle. We would go into hospital on a Sunday night and you might get home on Thursday. Then your back up at the hospital again the following Sunday night, then out again on Thursday. We would then get two weeks off, but those two weeks were tough – it’s the temperatures, the nose bleeds, then rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night. Penny would always have either Kevin or me with her. I always felt this was harder on her sisters”.
Sinead O'Brien, penny's mum