Plant a Daff

March 10, 2009

Over 25, 000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Ireland this year. There is virtually no family in the country which has not been touched by cancer. The Irish Cancer Society depends on voluntary contributions to help provide free nationwide patient care and support. Daffodil Day is a chance for everyone in Ireland to make the biggest difference to the lives of those affected by cancer. Please buy a silk daffodil pin on Friday 20th March, and wear your daffodil to show your support.

This year, the Irish Cancer Society will be planting the Garden of Hope, a beautiful garden of daffodils at Ashtown Castle in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. This garden will mark a new era for Ireland and each daffodil will symbolise the brave Irish people who have stood up in the fight against cancer.

In the last week, every house in the country should have received a letter with your own Garden of Hope daffodil. You are asked to use it to celebrate a loved one, who has fought or is fighting cancer.  All you need to do is write your message, or simply a name or two on the back of your ‘press-out’ daffodil and send it with a donation to the Irish Cancer Society by Saturday 14th March.

daffodilsAlternatively, you can plant a virtual daffodil in the Garden of Hope to symbolise a loved one and show your support by donating online.

Visit Plant your own Daff and write a message to accompany your daffodil in the Garden. You can then email your ‘Daff’ to friends and encourage them to plant their own daffodils.

You can make your online donation here to support the Irish Cancer Society and help them reach their Daffodil Day fund-raising goal of €4.25 million this year.

I planted a virtual daffodil last night in memory of my brother and made an online donation. It couldn’t be easier so get planting now.

Breast Cancer Alert

January 11, 2009

I received an email from Grannymar yesterday asking me to forward a message which she had received, to as many people as possible.

“Women, PLEASE be alert to anything that is not normal and be persistent in getting help as soon as possible. Paget’s Disease: This is a rare form of breast cancer and is on the outside of the breast on the nipple and areola.  It appeared as a rash which later became a lesion with a crusty outer edge.  I would never have suspected it to be breast cancer but it was. If this had been diagnosed as breast cancer in the beginning, perhaps it would not have spread… “

The person who left this message wanted it to be delivered to women everywhere. This lady developed a rash on her breast similar to that of young mothers who are nursing. Because her mammogram had been clear, the doctor treated her with antibiotics for infections. She subsequently died from this rare form of breast cancer.


Paget’s Disease of the breast is an uncommon form of breast cancer which first shows as nipple changes. This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and the areola (the dark circle around the nipple).  It occurs in around 1% of all women with breast cancer. Men can also get Paget’s disease but this is very rare.

The symptoms of Paget’s disease look like other skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. However, there are differences.  For example, Paget’s disease affects the nipple from the start while eczema affects the areola region first and only rarely affects the nipple.  Paget’s disease usually occurs in one breast, while other skin conditions usually affect both breasts.  Approximately half of patients with Paget’s disease will also have an underlying lump. Because Paget’s disease can look like other skin conditions, it can be difficult to make a diagnosis.

One of the biggest problems with Paget’s disease of the nipple is that the symptoms appear to be harmless. It is frequently thought to be a skin inflammation or infection, leading to unfortunate delays in detection and care.

“What are the symptoms?

1.  A persistent redness, oozing and crusting of the nipple causing it to itch and burn.

2.  A sore on the nipple that will not heal.

3.  Usually only one nipple is affected.

Many women are not aware of Paget’s disease. If by passing this message around, we can make others aware of it and it’s potential danger, we are helping women everywhere. This message should be taken seriously and passed on to as many of your relatives and friends as possible; it could save someone’s life.”

Information Source:  Action Breast Cancer, a programme of the Irish Cancer Society.

Time For Change

November 17, 2008


I’m sure most people reading this will remember the tragic case of Susie Long from Kilkenny, who died from bowel cancer last year. Susie made headlines when she went public to highlight how she had to wait seven months for a test to her diagnose her illness because she was a public patient. Susie was 41 when she died and her death was directly attributable to a long delay on a waiting list. Shortly afterwards, our Minister for Health admitted that the health service had failed Susie. So why, a year after Susie’s death, do new figures show that patients still have to wait up to nine months for crucial tests to determine if they have bowel cancer?

“The figures released by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) yesterday indicate patients can be waiting up to nine months for colonoscopies at Dublin’s Mater hospital, up to eight months at Cork University Hospital, and up to seven months at Sligo and Letterkenny general hospitals.

The data is based on returns provided by the hospitals to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which now manages waiting lists.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in Ireland after lung cancer. There were 2,184 new cases diagnosed and 924 deaths from the disease in 2005.

The Irish Cancer Society expressed serious concern at the waiting times. It said patients should have a colonoscopy within six weeks of being referred by their GP.

The full Irish Times article can be found here.

Susie Long did her utmost to bring about change.  She bravely used her own personal tragedy to highlight the inequities in the system and her courage was not in vain. A trust fund, called the Susie Long Hospice Fund, has been set up to raise funds to build a hospice in Kilkenny. The trust aims to help as many people as possible to have a calm, peaceful and supportive environment at the end of their lives.  Here’s how you can help.

These latest figures on the waiting lists for colonoscopies, show that little has changed since Susie’s death. People’s lives are still being put at risk by long delays in treatment. Our health service is in disarray and we need agreement on a plan to put it right. It’s time we had a proper debate on the way forward.