The Irish Cancer Society report into counselling service highlights long term cancer survivorship needs ahead of Daffodil Day as 1,000 people use service per year.
The counselling service is available locally in Cois Nore Cancer Support Centre Kilkenny, which is affiliated with the Irish Cancer Society. Ahead of Daffodil Day which takes place on Friday, the Society is highlighting the emotional impact of a diagnosis as one of the long term survivorship needs of cancer survivors.
“Counselling provides emotional and practical support to cancer survivors and their families” said Dorothy Thomas, Community Support Network Coordinator at the Irish Cancer Society. “Coping with cancer can be difficult and families may experience many emotions such as anxiety, fear and sadness. It can be valuable to speak to a counsellor who can provide support in adapting to life after cancer and in finding a new ‘normal’.
“The report shows that cancer patients who attended for counselling make up 58 per cent of clients, 14 per cent were children, siblings or friends and 12 per cent were a partner or spouse, with a further 16 per cent requiring support following the death of a loved one. This further demonstrates the true impact of a cancer diagnosis on all of the family.”
A network of community based cancer support services, affiliated to the Society, play a vital role in providing psychosocial care for cancer patients and their families in their own communities .The Irish Cancer Society granted €299,520 to support centres across the country in 2014 to provide a counselling service, free of charge to cancer patients and their families. Over 1,000 cancer patients, survivors and their families, accessed the service availing of 6,086 individual counselling sessions.
This counselling service fills a support gap for cancer patients who often report that while they are undergoing cancer treatment, the focus is on the treatment plan with support from the hospital team and other patients. It is only after the treatment is complete that they realise how much cancer has changed their lives. The emotional effects of cancer may not be felt until weeks, months or years after the initial diagnosis.
People of all ages affected by cancer require emotional support. The majority of those attending the service were between the ages of 45-64 (52%) while 25% of clients were between the ages of 18 and 44 with this age group experiencing significant issues such as relationships, fertility and careers, all impacted on a cancer journey. Women were much more likely to attend for counselling with 76 per cent of clients female and 24 per cent male, in line with the uptake of counselling generally. Clients under 18 made up 5 per cent of clients, almost all of these children were struggling with the diagnosis of a sibling or a significant adult in their life. As a charity, it relies on the generosity of the public.