The Pink Ladies have invited local organisations working with those affected by cancer to come along to a major event they are hosting in Derry this Friday to mark World Cancer Day.
Experts in cancer research and treatment will be among the speakers at the event, which is taking place at the City Hotel from 11.00 a.m.
Pink Ladies’ Development Worker, Michelle McLaren, said the focus will be on ‘life after cancer.’ “It’s about that transition of coming out after being diagnosed and going through treatment; what is available and what treatment is out there,” she said.
“We will also be focusing on what is happening locally. We have Andrew Reilly, who is head of Physics at the North West Radiotherapy Centre which recently just opened in November.
“Now because the Centre is now up and running Andrew is going to be coming along and telling us how things are going; how it has progressed and what are the next stages. We know at present they are only treating certain cancers so this is a chance for people who are providing support services and people who are supporting anybody affected by cancer to come along and get information on what we, the Pink Ladies, as an organisation, can deliver.
“The meeting will apply to anyone affected by cancer and also allows them to be able to engage with the speakers on the day.”
The main guest speaker at the event will be Francesco Florindi, Public Affairs Co-ordinator with the European Cancer Patient Coalition based in Brussels.
The Pink Ladies met with Mr. Florindi after visiting the EU last year as part of a delegation of 20 groups from across Ireland at the invitation of local MEP, Martina Anderson.
Fellow Pink Ladies Development Worker Maureen Collin, commented: “We were so interested and impressed by the research he has done in relation to cancer survivorship and rehabilitation.”
Ms. Collins said that one of the most relevant parts of that research involved access to cancer treatments and the disparity depending on postcodes.
She said that cancer patients in Northern Ireland were at present faced with a postcode lottery and the Pink Ladies were hoping to meet with the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill and officials to raise this issue.
“For us we have campaigned very, very heavily for better services. The biggest one was the Radiotherapy Unit, which we were successful in overturning.
“We were very much to the forefront and we continue to work in partnership with the Radiotherapy Unit. Then you have got the fact that the Radiotherapy Unit is part of the gruelling treatment for a cancer sufferer, but there’s the post-medication that can save people’s lives that isn’t accessible here because of where we live.
“So why should Mary in a wee street in London get cancer treatment than wee Mary from the Lecky Road? That’s what we would say all the time.”
Michelle added many of the drugs accessible elsewhere were actually trialled in Northern Ireland , but were not then rolled out to patients here.
The Pink Ladies said there were people with many other conditions outside of cancer affected by the same issue.
Among those also taking part in the World Cancer Day event on Friday will be the Pink Ladies’ cancer survivor Jacqui Loughrey, who has looked at preventative measures people could take themselves to reduce the risk of cancer returning and will be making a presentation based on her research at the event.
Donal Henderson , Chief Executive at the Foyle Hospice will also be speaking.
The Pink Ladies said there is so much good work going on at the Hospice to help families cope with a cancer diagnosis , or loss and bereavement through cancer.
There will also be a representatives from the Cancer Patient Client Steering Advisory Group, a group of men and women who have come together to conduct research and provide advice on preventing cancer and measures that can be taken after to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Pink Ladies offer complementary therapy and counselling for anybody affected y cancer and also their family.
The event at the City Hotel is for other organisations, statutory and community, to come in and hear from experts the Pink Ladies have identified and are working with.
Places are limited and to register for the event contact Michelle or Maureen on 028 71414004 or 07710025494.