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Irish Cancer Society commemorates 9,000 lives lost this year with 9,000 lights

Irish Cancer Society commemorates 9,000 lives lost this year with 9,000 lights

Robert Kinsella's grandson, Aaron Dolan, pictured at the Irish Cancer Society's ceremony

This Christmas, the Irish Cancer Society is urging people to remember and pay tribute to those affected by cancer in 2020, including the 9,000 people who lost their lives.

On Tuesday night, the Society lit up 9,000 lights on its Christmas tree to commemorate all those who passed away, and to show support for the 44,000 people who received a cancer diagnosis in 2020.

In a moving closed ceremony, the lights were turned on by the Kinsella family whose father Robert died from oesophageal cancer in August.  Sandra Kinsella spoke of the incredible support her family received from the Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing service during her father’s final days.

“When Annemarie, our Night Nurse, knocked on the front door of our family home that dark night, everything quickly changed for the better. After almost four months of caring for our Dad at home, both day and night, my mam, sister and I were pretty much burnt out,” she said.

“What Annemarie created – despite the sadness – was a special and reassuring place, somewhere you knew everything would be okay and it made us so incredibly happy to watch Annemarie treat our Dad with so much dignity. 

“When our beautiful, charming dad passed away, it was a truly heart-breaking experience. But it was something that brought a lot of comfort too, because he died peacefully, in his own bed, surrounded by 11 members of his adoring family.  His dying wish was to spend his final days in his beloved home of 80 years.  A wish that came true, thanks to the support of the Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing service.”

The Night Nursing service provides end-of-life care for cancer patients, allowing patients to remain at home for the last days of their lives surrounded by their loved ones.  The service offers up to 10 nights of care for each patient, free of charge. 

Conor King, Irish Cancer Society’s Acting CEO said, “As 2020 draws to a close, we reflect on what has been an extremely difficult year for cancer patients and their families. It has been a year where cancer patients were forced to stay apart from friends and family when they badly needed emotional support, where treatment plans were changed and patients attended appointments alone. 

“We remember the 9,000 people, that’s 25 people every day, who died from cancer, and pay tribute to all those who heard the words ‘you have cancer’ this year.

"Although this has been an unprecedented year for the cancer community in Ireland, with thanks to the continued generosity of the Irish public, we have been able to continue to provide vital services to cancer patients, when they need it most.  Ensuring that nobody in Ireland has to face cancer alone.”

The Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line is available to help anyone affected by or with a concern about cancer. You can contact the Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700 or email supportline@irishcancer. ie. To learn more about how you can support cancer patients across Ireland, visit

Radio stations across the country will be hosting ‘Wear to Care’ in aid of the Irish Cancer Society this festive season.  On Friday, December 18th they are urging the public to get involved, by dressing up in their favourite festive outfits and making a donation to the Irish Cancer Society at 

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