LIKE thousands of people who receive a cancer diagnosis, mother of two, Theresa Cronin, from Carrigtwohill, was left feeling scared and emotional as she faced going down a difficult road of treatment and post-treatment, wondering who she was going to call.
“The Daffodil Centre was just down the hall from the shop,” says Theresa, who underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2014 when she was 47.
She didn’t have to take her own individual cancer journey alone.
The 13 Daffodil Centres nationwide are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Thousands of people and their families, concerned or affected by cancer, have benefited from their presence both during and after a cancer diagnosis.
“The door of the Daffodil Centre was open, which was an invitation in itself,” Theresa adds.
“At the time I was having radio treatment for 25 days in Cork University Hospital, having had six months of chemotherapy in the South Infirmary.
“I made each of those 25 days count, making the day’s social occasions by meeting up with a pal for coffee or calling a friend, even though I felt awfully tired.”
The Daffodil Centre, an extension of the Irish Cancer Society’s information services, provided a valuable port of call for Theresa, who, nearing the end of her treatment journey, felt confident and ready to move on with her life.
“I found it easier to talk at the end of my chemotherapy treatment,” she says.
“The surgery was done. Every woman (and man) who has had a cancer journey will tell you that it is the most and stressful difficult time of their lives.
“My husband, Kieran, and my daughters, Amy and Rebecca, were a wonderful support to me, cooking dinners and doing practical things, even though it was hard on them. Both girls were doing exams at the time.
“My mother, who sadly passed away in 2016, was always there for me, offering solace and advice.”
She offered advice to Kieran too.
“Mam told him to sort out the washing!”
Theresa was delighted she went through the open door one day along the corridor of CUH after a radio treatment session in the hospital, seeking information and advice from the cancer nurse and numerous volunteers at the Daffodil Centre.
She found a willing listening ear was readily available for those who need it most.
“When you are going through cancer, all your hospital appointments are about treatments and medical matters,” says Theresa.
“The focus is on treating your medical condition. Your life is in the hands of the medics. Outside of that, you don’t want to ask questions.
“Then, when you feel up to it, you think; they’ve got it now; who else can I speak to?
“I was genuinely surprised with the support and new information the Daffodil Centre provided me with.
“One of the things I found out was the annual Irish Cancer Society Conference held in Dublin and Limerick. I’ve attended the conference twice and found it extremely beneficial.
“Meeting people in the same boat, you realise what you are feeling is perfectly normal.”
Theresa found the one-to-one support in the Daffodil Centre extremely beneficial.
“I sat down in a comfortable chair for an informal chat with the cancer nurse. That was priceless,” says Theresa.
“The tips and advice I got were invaluable. You are offered information on the spot. Even outside, there are pamphlets to read which are also helpful.
“Knowing that I could pop in any time, and ask anything was fantastic,” says Theresa.
“I wasn’t going down the counselling road, but talking to the people in the Daffodil Centre put things in perspective and sign-posted me to other supports available.”
Theresa is in a good place now, and she advises that the Daffodil Centre in CUH or in the Bons, Cork, is a good place for people on a cancer journey to visit.
The Daffodil Centre supports anybody affected or concerned by cancer.
“It is there for you when you are good and ready,” says Theresa.
Walking through the cancer process with an understanding, patient ear is a glimmer of hope in the midst of a dark journey.
“People find the Daffodil Centre of huge benefit at their lowest point, or when they are in recovery after cancer treatment. It is a good place.”
She knows the scary place cancer can be, from diagnosis to treatment to post-treatment to getting back on track.
“Cancer is a difficult journey for the patient and for their loved ones.
“You will find the right time to visit the Daffodil Centre like I did,” says Theresa. “You’re always welcome there.”
She is now well on her way back to normal life.
“I found great support from everyone I met at the Daffodil Centre and found it very helpful talking about the cancer journey and discussing moving forward.”
The door is always open.
“Go through the open door for reliable confidential support. You’ll be glad you did.”
ABOUT CORK’S DAFFODIL CENTRES
“We had 2,000 enquiries here at the Daffodil Centre CUH, last year alone,” says cancer nurse, Sinead Power, who is originally from Waterford, living in Cork.
“It is a very busy centre. Our role is to provide support and information to cancer patients and to their families, as well as to members of the public.”
The range of information that the specialist nurses and volunteers provide at the Daffodil Centres in CUH and in the Bons Secours, Cork, is vast and it is invaluable.
“Health promotion and cancer prevention information is available here,” says Sinead.
“For instance, if somebody is trying to give up cigarettes, we can help support them, sign-posting them in the right direction for help.
“Often, people are concerned about palliative and end-of-life care, bringing home a loved one to die. If anyone is worried, we can discuss plans and options; what may be involved for family members. A night-nurse service provided by the Irish Cancer Society is available to families.
“People can be worried waiting while cancer investigation is being carried out and about the process.
“We offer information on the chemotherapy programme, what to expect prior to treatment and how to manage it.”
Having cancer can prove emotional. Things go topsy-turvy when you embark on a journey into the unknown.
“Often, people are not aware what is involved from start to finish, from diagnosis to post- treatment to follow-up.
“Talking with, and offering support to people concerned or affected by cancer, is vital,” says Sinead, who job-shares with her colleague, Colette Grant.
Cancer throws up a lot of questions requiring answers to get on with everyday life.
“Financial issues and benefits available often crop up for discussion,” says Sinead.
“People voice their concerns; some may need home-help. Transport can be a problem for people attending regular appointments.
“Cork University Hospital has a huge catchment area. Our volunteer drivers provide a brilliant service.
“We work closely with dieticians and physio-therapists as well as with Citizens Advice.”
Sinead, as an Irish citizen, knows her job is of utmost importance to people at a vulnerable period in their lives.
“We are very accessible, in a good location here in CUH,” says Sinead.
Other citizens do their bit.
“Our volunteers are absolutely brilliant,” says Sinead.
“They meet and greet and make everyone feel welcome.”
The Daffodil Centre is a go-to centre.
“Drop in anytime. We are here to help.”
The first Daffodil Centre was set up as a pilot collaboration with University Hospital Galway in 2009. The main objective was to provide information, care and support for the cancer patient and their families from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up.
300,000 people have visited the Daffodil Centres in the last 10 years.
Daffodil Centre Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork. Phone:021-423-4536.
Daffodil Centre Bons Secours Hospital, College Road, Cork. Phone: 021-494 1941. Centres are open 9.am-5.pm Monday to Friday.