Give a medical card to every child with cancer, says children's charity
A CHILDREN'S cancer charity has called on the Government to "automatically" issue medical cards to youngsters once they are diagnosed with the killer disease, as families of seriously-ill kids are facing colossal medical bills.
The Childhood Cancer Foundation, which represents hundreds of Irish parents with cancer-stricken children, said one of its main concerns is that children who are diagnosed with cancer are often denied medical cards, leaving their families with huge expenses they have to cover.
The charity's spokeswoman Gillian Smith said: "The costs are crippling for parents of children with cancer and runs into tens of thousands of euros a year.
"It's often a case that one of the parents will have to give up work, then there's hospital charges, parking costs at the hospital and huge petrol costs to get there over periods of three to four months. And there's a lot of anti-sickness drugs to pay for children with cancer, as well as special equipment that's needed.
Ms Smith, from Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare, is one of many parents of cancer-stricken youngsters who are behind a charity initiative which gets underway from tomorrow to turn landmarks in every county on the island of Ireland gold throughout September - which is internationally recognised as childhood cancer awareness month.
The Light It Up Gold campaign is already on course to dwarf last year's successful inaugural event in Ireland. Organisers have so far secured commitments for at least 100 famous landmarks and buildings - more than double the number in last year's campaign - to be lit up across 29 of the island of Ireland's 32 counties.
But Ms Smith said it's vital that the campaign is as far-reaching and pervasive as possible to inform parents of children with cancer that they are not alone.
Ms Smith, whose now cancer-free 12-year-old son Dylan received life-saving surgery in the US two years ago when a tumour was successfully removed from his brain, said: "Over 200 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in Ireland. That's four families each week who hear the devastating news. But many still feel isolated, alone and don't know where to turn to for help and support."
'Light It Up Gold', which will run in at least 15 other countries across the globe throughout September, was started in America two years ago by American father Tony Stoddard, after his twin son, Cole, died from cancer. Initially aiming to get friends and family to wear gold, the colour that symbolises childhood cancer awareness, to recognise his son's courageous battle against the killer disease, his dream has now grown into a worldwide ambition to see gold shining everywhere.
The Irish campaign will also include three candle-lit walks running simultaneously in Dublin, Cork and Galway on September 6. Some of the structures that will be shining gold throughout September include The Mansion House in Dublin, Belfast City Hall, Cork Opera House, Eyre Square in Galway and the Dunbrody famine ship in Waterford.
For more information, see www.childhoodcancer.ie.