A once derelict building has become a place of hope for those with cancer and it’s survivors.
26 St. Pauls avenue a former recycling plant, located off Paul’s Street Cork where women worked in harsh conditions is now a haven of peace and tranquillity combined with friendship.
Ann Dowley Spillane founder of the girls club is breathing new life and positive energy back into this space of bygone hardship and toil.
When Ann was diagnosed with inoperable cervical cancer in 2010, while going through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she went in search of a support group she felt at home in and at the same time help her to reclaim control over her life.
The Glanmire woman quickly realised there was a major gap in supports available.
Determined to create a support centre dedicated to creating fun and a positive outlook on life she went in search of a suitable building.
In 2012 Ann opened the Cork Girls club along with Linda Cronin and Martha Dennehy-Torpey.
You need a tremendous amount of support when going through difficult cancer treatments, it’s easy to forget, that support is still needed when those treatments are over.
“The minute you go to the doctor you are on death row and then you come out you are paroled again and then you have to go in and get your pet scan done you’re on death row again, and then you are paroled again. This is what our lives are about. This is why we need centres like this, it’s posttraumatic stress. It’s not when you get cancer it’s two or three years down the line you’re still psychologically damaged” Anne explains.
Now 5 years cancer free the East Cork woman and her group are encouraging many of the county’s cancer victims and their families to ‘stand up to cancer’.
Run on a voluntary basis the girls club offer everything from a chat, support from counselling psychologists, a wig and scarf bank to a variety of alternative therapies, like Reiki, reflexology, emotional freedom technique (touch therapy) and integrated energy therapy.
Trina has been using the centre since her husband Mark was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Sometimes we get very relaxed and we think two years down the line everything is grand and you go for a scan and you are waiting on results. You are up to 90 and it brings you back. I think for the family to come in here is good. In coming in here it changed my outlook on life. I met the most amazing friends. I had friends for years that when Mark got sick didn’t see him, but the friends I have now I know I’ll have for life.”
When you walk into the building today you automatically get a feeling of welcome and homeliness a stark difference from when the group took over the lease 3 years ago.
Anne Dowley-Spillane told the East Cork Journal “the hurt that cancer dose to those, and you are meant to get on with your life, all the other places don’t think about the neighbours and the friends and families. We do in here. Cancer has a ripple effect it affects so many people the way things are at the moment where are you going to get €80 for a counselling.”
“It’s all about giving someone a hug and letting them know they are not on their own, and being non-judgmental. The only good thing about cancer is that it doesn’t discriminate it treats everybody equal” she added.
The group are now looking for knitted blankets for their blankets of hope campaign.
The initiative is designed to support patients that undergo chemotherapy. The treatment comes with a variety of side effects that can make the treatment very unpleasant for the patient. The blanket of hope project provides common comforts to help ease the side effects, such as a warm blanket, snacks and lip balm.
Blankets can be dropped to the groups support centre between 10:00am and 5:00pm Monday – Friday.
Further information can be found at:
Irish cancer society telephone: 1800 200 700