Purple House Cancer Support Centre; one of Ireland’s leading cancer charities has warned of the increasing risk of poverty for cancer patients on foot of a major spike in calls to their helpline seeking food parcels during Covid19. The charity has already provided 1,600 meals to cancer patients and has answered almost 3,000* calls since March 2020 and expects these figures to continue to rise as Christmas approaches.
The charity has advised that a cancer diagnosis can have a negative impact on a patient’s finances at any time but layered with the impact of Covid19 it can have a devastating effect on the financial wellbeing of the patient and their immediate family. Their helpline has become a lifeline during these unusual times.
In order to continue to fund the vital work of the Purple House helpline in the run up to the busy Christmas period, and as many fundraising efforts have been cancelled; the charity has produced a book called The Music of What Happens published by New Island books as part of their Christmas appeal. It features a wide range of stories and poems from many Irish writers including a previously unpublished story by the late author Emma Hannigan who passed away in 2018. Alongside the published authors, are stories written by Cancer survivors and participants of the Purple House Creative writing class. All proceeds from the book will go towards keeping the phone lines open in Purple house, funding food parcels for cancer patients as well as helping to keep the rest of their cancer support services going.
The current pandemic has also added to the anxiety a cancer patient may suffer and Purple House has also experienced a significant increase in callers seeking mental health support services such as counselling to deal with the anxiety associated with Covid19, delayed cancer treatment, loss of employment and the fear of contracting Covid19 in public places like supermarkets and shops.
‘When Covid19 arrived on our shores, we immediately went into crisis mode to ensure that Cancer patients were supported. However, there are many aspects, the hidden risks of cancer during a pandemic that have been truly harrowing. Basic survival fears for people who are sick; the fear of the risk of going to the supermarket to feed your family; the increase in anxiety over delayed appointments when time is vital and the worries of children who are living with Cancer. All of these issues paired with the fear of poverty added to the increase in demand on our services such as counselling, mental health support programmes, hospital transport, services for children and more’ commented Veronica O’Leary founder & Director of Purple House says
The 30th Anniversary Anthology published by New Island books called The Music of What Happens is available in all good book stores and on purplehouse.ie. So valued are the services of the charity and so ubiquitous are the effects of cancer that nearly 50 Irish writers have contributed a story, essay or poem to this anthology.
It features a wide range of stories and poems from many Irish writers including a previously unpublished story by the late author Emma Hannigan who passed away in 2018. Alongside the published authors, are stories written by Cancer survivors and participants of the Purple House Creative writing class. One such contributor is Katie Boylan, who was diagnosed with Colon Cancer in 2017 aged 35.
Katie says: ‘I still remember the first time I rang the Purple House; I was crying so much I couldn’t get the words out. The girl on the end of the phone was so lovely and caring and encouraged me to call in one morning to meet the counsellor Eimear and I could learn more about the services they offer. From the minute I walked through the door I was met with empathy and understanding but also everyone was so warm and friendly. Everyone has been touched by cancer in Purple House so they understand what it’s like. Since that first phone call to Purple House I have had counselling, acupuncture, reiki and attended their relaxation classes, all of which helped me immensely during and after treatment. I also joined the creative writing group in 2019 and have loved every minute of each class. I found it helped as a distraction from any on going health anxiety problems I’ve had since being diagnosed but also, I have really enjoyed writing and sharing stories with the rest of the group. The class have moved online now but we still have a lot of fun and it’s a great distraction from everything going on around us with Covid 19.’