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02 Oct 2022

'The fallout from Covid will be huge' - Laois Cúisle Centre manager

The Cuisle Centre Portlaoise

The impact on Laois people with cancer in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be "huge", the manager of a Laois cancer care centre predicts.

Mary Ruddy is the manager of the Cuisle Cancer Care Centre in Portlaoise.

The centre has so far managed to stay open right throughout the pandemic supporting patients and their families at no charge, backed by strong community support.

"We are still offering all of our services, following very strict Covid-19 guidelines. We really didn't close with Covid. Our counselling went remote but it is now back all face-to-face, and our one to one therapies are back. We got through it well," Mary told the Leinster Express.

However she said the pandemic has caused untold extra hardship on people with cancer.

"People are feeling very alone, because their family members cannot go into hospital with them for treatments. It is having a huge impact. It is very lonely for them going through chemotherapy. 

"People were very eager to come to our centre and engage with others face to face because of that huge isolation. 

"There is a lot of anxiety around the case numbers. They are afraid to come out, it is very difficult for them.

"The fallout from it all will be huge, the anxiety levels and we are hearing of later diagnoses. It is having a whole knock-on effect," she said. 

She urges people not to delay getting medical checkups if they have any concerns about cancer.

"If you have any concerns, go straight to your doctor, don't hesitate. The Breastcheck programme is still operating in Laois so if people get appointments, avail of them," the Cuisle Centre manager said.

Community support has remained strong to fundraise for the charity's work. 

Recently they received €10,000 from the Fisherman's Tractor and Truck Run committee, fundraised by the group despite not being able to hold their annual run last summer.  Courtwood man John Corcoran went a step further and grew a massive beard for a year and had it shaved off for the centre, raising over €8,800. 

Mountmellick Macra held their first Christmas Truck and Tractor Run last week also in aid of the Cuisle Centre, while Portlaoise Athletic Club will hold their annual St Stephen's Day run again, which is always in aid of the charity.

"We thank them all for their support, and everybody who donated, we really appreciate it. People have been so good to us, I think because very few families have never had a brush with cancer, and because this centre is so close to people's hearts. There has been more awareness of giving to local charities I think since the pandemic, they see what we do," Mary said.

The Cuisle Centre for Cancer Care will close over Christmas, reopening on January 4. See www.cuislecancersupport.com 

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