A new cancer support service, which aims to help people come to terms with the mental and emotional impact of the disease, has opened in Dublin.
The ARC Cancer Support Centre is located in Dublin 4. It joins two other ARC centres in Dublin 7 and Dublin 8. All provide psychological, emotional, educational and practical support to people with cancer, as well as their families, friends and carers.
Over 2,300 people attended ARC centres last year - an increase of 27% since 2014. All services provided by the centres are free of charge.
"We support people to come to terms with the illness and to enhance their coping skills and quality of life. So, whether it's dropping by for a cup of tea and a confidential chat with one of our trained volunteers or staff members, meeting with one of our professional psychotherapists, or availing of a complementary therapy, ARC is here for you.
"I'd encourage people with cancer and their loved ones to drop by, say hello, and see if the service would benefit you. There is always a warm welcome at ARC," explained ARC chief executive, Deirdre Grant.
She pointed out that over 40,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Ireland every year and "it can be hard to know where to turn or who to talk to".
"The good news is that more people are surviving cancer than ever before and ARC is here to support people in doing just that. At ARC we recognise that people's mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as dealing with the physical aspects of a diagnosis," Ms Grant said.
The new centre was officially opened recently by Aslan's frontman, Christy Dignam, TV and radio star, Mairead Ronan and Dublin GAA All-Ireland winning footballer, Brian Fenton.
"When I was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed to me that people were more troubled about it than I was. I just had to accept it, but the people around me were feeling upset for me. That was when ARC came into my life thanks to my oncology nurse. ARC is different. It not only helps the person with cancer, but their families too, and it's free," explained Christy Dignam, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.
According to Mairead Ronan, ARC was a big support to her late mother, Maureen, when she was diagnosed with cancer. It also offered support to her and her father.
"My mum sadly passed away in 2001. ARC was very good not only to my mum during her illness, but also to my dad in supporting him to take care of himself as well as mum.
"ARC was there too for me, offering me complementary therapies, and helping to take away some of the scariness at what was a very emotional and turbulent time," she explained.
She said that she feels that hospitals are mainly focused on treating the physical side of cancer, whereas ARC treats "the real human side".
"It's all about you, the person that's been diagnosed with cancer, along with your family and friends, and helping you to get through it. ARC is like a home from home," she noted.
Meanwhile, Brian Fenton said that his late mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, "benefitted greatly from the services provided by ARC".
"She would always speak so highly of the staff and for her it gave her such a supportive outlet during the struggles of cancer and its treatment. ARC was somewhere that she could go to talk about what she was going through and we as a family are forever grateful for the support it provided to us all during such a difficult time. It really is an amazing place," he explained.
The new centre is located at Lowell House, 23 Herbert Avenue, Dublin 4. It joins the support centres at Eccles Street in Dublin 7 and South Circular Road in Dublin 8.
For more information on the ARC centres, click here.
*Pictured at the recent opening of the latest ARC Cancer Support Centre were Christy Dignam, Brian Fenton and Mairead Ronan.
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