New 'luxury' bus to take cancer patients for treatment
A PURPOSE-built bus to transport seriously ill cancer patients between Sligo and Galway for radiotherapy treatment has finally arrived.
Cancer survivors Catriona McGoldrick and Valerie Finan from Sligo spearheaded the campaign for a replacement service after enduring hellish conditions on the 360-kilometre daily round trip during their treatment for breast cancer.
Yesterday, an emotional Miss Finan described the new 28-seater Mercedes coach, funded by the Friends of Sligo General Hospital, as "pure luxury".
"We hope never to have to use it again but I have a brother who will be using it in the next two months and I am thinking of him," she said.
"The seats are really comfortable and there will be space between passengers. There is air conditioning. The toilet has a rail to hold on to.
"This bus just gives a wee bit of comfort to people who are at a very low ebb in their lives," she said.
Both women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and began radiotherapy treatment at University Hospital Galway in spring 2008.
"A lot of people on the [old] bus had undergone chemotherapy and had surgery. They were still quite tender from surgery and their immune systems were low. Some would have had burns from the radiotherapy.
"You would just be afraid to go asleep in case you would fall over on the person beside you and hurt them. I used the toilet on the bus once in 13 weeks because I was thrown up against the wall (when I used it)," recalled Ms McGoldrick.
But the two Sligo women, who are members of the Save Our Cancer Services campaign group, insisted the campaign for the restoration of breast cancer services at Sligo General Hospital will continue.
"In an ideal world we should not have to travel to Galway for radiotherapy but at least now we can do so with dignity," said Ms McGoldrick.
The group is holding the government to a promise that services will be restored within 100 days in office.