Cancer won’t wait — funding is needed

Clinical Director for Cancer Services and Consultant Medical Oncologist at CUH, Dr Richard Bambury, appeals to the people to help fund-raise for cutting edge cancer care technology
Cancer won’t wait — funding is needed
Rugby star, Peter O'Mahony and Dr. Richard Bambury, Clinical Director for Cancer Services,on board the L.E. Eithne in Cork harbour, to kickstart urgent funding for game-changing cancer technology at Cork University Hospital. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

MOST of us have, at one stage or another throughout our lives, either sat beside a loved one fearing a cancer diagnosis, or, as is the case with cancer care professionals, steered thousands of people through their cancer journeys.

Many of these journeys can be made bearable for cancer patients by expediting results of biopsies, which, in turn, enables oncologists to identify the best targeted therapies and clinical trial options for patients earlier in the cancer cycle.

Not only that, but more in-depth knowledge of the cancer can, in some instances, negate the reliance on chemotherapy or radiotherapy, instead allowing the use of less invasive therapies that change lives for the better. Paramount to all of this is patient care and safety. If cancer cell DNA can be analysed quickly and accurately, patient outcomes are very often extremely positive for them, as they go on to live normal lives and celebrate good health in the bosom of their families.

Cancer care services in Ireland today

While Ireland’s cancer care services and the NCCP designated National Cancer Centres (of which CUH is the most comprehensive in scope) are the envy of many nations, cancer care, just like other medical specialties, is constantly evolving, and it is incumbent on all of us – man, woman and child – to be aware that we are the net beneficiaries of advances in technologies, and we must do all in our power to drive through the message that we are all responsible for our own, and future generations’ health. Governments can only do so much, particularly in these COVID-19 times, and, as technologies in the treatment of cancer are advancing daily, communities need to work together NOW to provide funding for new technologies.

Why this new diagnostic technology is needed

As Clinical Director for Cancer Services and a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Cork University Hospital, I felt it necessary to endorse the urgent call to action by CUH Charity to secure game-changing ultra-modern molecular diagnostic technology for the Histopathology Department in CUH. We need this technology now, and it will undoubtedly change lives, with staffing and laboratory facilities provided by the HSE.

The technology, Genexus Integrated Sequencer, will have immense potential to improve cancer patient quality of life and survival. CUH has seen 200 new patients starting radiotherapy and 50 patients starting chemotherapy in the last six weeks alone, demonstrating the seriousness of the situation and the necessity to provide a quick turnaround and halt progression of cancers.

This is where this vital piece of technology will enable consultants to accurately test multiple cancer genes in a single specimen (tissue or blood test). This test negates the need to rely on single- gene tests, which yield more limited information. Through the use of the new technology, clinicians can get same day results (tests are currently taking approximately two weeks to come back from referral labs in Dublin or the UK), quickly select the treatments most likely to benefit individual patients, uncover novel treatment options and identify clinical trial possibilities for those with cancer.

Crucially, it will be less likely that older forms of chemotherapy will be needed – a life-changing development for cancer patients. Saving lives is at the core of what we do, and the added advantage of valuable research gleaned through this world-class technology, working with University College Cork, will undoubtedly be hugely significant for future generations.

How the people of Munster can expedite the purchase of this technology

CUH Charity Ambassador, Peter O’Mahony, recently launched the urgent fundraising campaign for this ground-breaking technology which is supported by the Fenton family in memory of their beautiful daughter and sister Karen who died of ovarian cancer. The Charity is rolling out a social media campaign with Peter, when communities, families, companies and individuals are urged to raise the necessary funds to secure this equipment as soon as possible.

Peter is asking people to come up with creative fundraising ideas, and when they donate, they set themselves a challenge enabling friends, families, communities and companies to pull together to improve cancer services for future generations. It could be a sporting, art or household challenge (anything at all - run around your garden, a Zoom party, a 5k walk, shave your head, a virtual tractor run!) to raise awareness and fundraising for this worthy initiative.

On behalf of my colleagues in cancer care, I invite you, your families and your friends to join us on this worthy journey. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

To donate to this urgent fundraising campaign, plan and execute your challenge, tag as many friends as you like using using #PullTogetherCUHC and tagging ‘Cork University Hospital Charity’ on Facebook, @CUH.Charity on Instagram, and @CUHCharity on Twitter, and follow the idonate link at:

www.idonate.ie/CUHCCancerCampaign.

Alternatively, if you have a fundraising idea or wish to make a private donation, call 021 4234529 or email info@cuhcharity.ie;

www.cuhcharity.ie;

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