Sunday 25 February 2018

Irish Cancer Society reverses decision to axe financial support for children with cancer

Caoimhe Costigan (6) is fighting acute lymphatic leukaemia.
Caoimhe Costigan (6) is fighting acute lymphatic leukaemia. Newsdesk, Geraldine Gittens

The Irish Cancer Society has reversed its decision to cut financial support for children battling cancer and their families, which came under criticism yesterday.

The organisation yesterday announced that it was to axe the financial scheme, which helps Irish families to cope with everyday expenses while their children are undergoing medical treatment.

The decision came under huge criticism from Irish families who rely on the fund as their children undergo treatment for cancer throughout the country.

In a statement released this morning, The Irish Cancer Society has said it has reconsidered its decision to cut the scheme, which distributed €1.8m in funds to Irish families last year.

“We deeply regret and apologise for the upset which our decision has caused and we hope that this announcement that we are restoring financial support for the more than 200 children and families affected by cancer every year will ease that hurt,” the statement said.

The organisation revealed that it will need a further €200,000 to maintain the scheme but will work to find the savings necessary for the maintenance of the service.

“This fund for children will now be maintained and the financial support for families of children with cancer will now continue,” the statement said.

The decision came under huge criticism from Irish families who rely on the fund as their children undergo treatment for cancer throughout the country.

Concerned parents discussed the impact the loss of financial support from the scheme would have on their families on yesterday's Live Line on RTE Radio One.

Edel Costigan from Tipperary said she used the €1,000 hardship grant to pay for accommodation while her daughter Caoimhe (6) was receiving treatment for acute lymphatic leukaemia at Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin.

This morning, she said it was "a great day" when the Irish Cancer Society announced the u-turn.

"For every type of cancer going forward, it’s going to be a great help. I’m glad they decided to reverse the decision.”

“We do value the work they do. It is a fund that is there in crises and it would have been a shame to see it go.”

“It’s a great day.”

Yesterday, she told “Caoimhe's road is very, very complicated. She got sick quite quickly. Unfortunately she suffered life threatening infection and she spent ten months trying to fight it.”

“Our social worker at the hospital sought the grant for us. Fortunately we did [get it] because I was pregnant at the time.”

“Just from steroid treatment, it has left Caoimhe very debilitated. She can walk five or ten yards but that’s it, and she is facing numerous orthopaedic surgeries.”

To be close to Caoimhe while she was fighting the infection, Edel stayed in Ronald McDonald house in Crumlin.

"The accommodation came in at €3,500, so the €1,000 went into accommodation.”

“Everything else has to be paid, just because Caoimhe is sick, life doesn’t stop. The grant is only a drop in the ocean, but a drop in the ocean helps.”

“Just to have the ease, when you’re in the midst of a war basically, it does help. It’s called a hardship grant for a reason.”

“It’s going to be very, very tough for people [without the grant], especially if the treatment isn’t going according to plan.”

The Irish Cancer Society revealed that they are ion need of public support "now more than ever" to help the upkeep of the reinstated scheme.

"The Society has already made significant cuts in expenditure, including cutting staff costs, by over three quarters of a million. This includes not covering maternity leaves, the non-filling of a number of vacancies and a small number of staff redundancies.

"We need the public to support us now more than ever. As a charity, we are trying to do the best we can with the money which the public generously give us," the statement said.

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