RTÉ broadcaster, psychoanalyst and author, Michael Murphy has lent his support to the Mercy Hospital Foundation’s latest campaign to raise awareness for Bowel Cancer, having himself been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007.
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland for both men and women, and shockingly, people in Cork are more likely to develop the disease than in any other county in Ireland. Over 50% of people are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage, leaving them with a poorer chance of survival; however, if detected early, it can be treated successfully in 90% of cases.
Unfortunately, awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer is relatively low when compared with other common cancers, but there are some signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for, and which if you notice, should have checked by your GP:
- Change in bowel habits, including diarrhoea or constipation
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stools
- Persistent cramps, gas or pain in the abdomen (stomach)
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness/ unexplained weight loss
In an effort to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, The Mercy Hospital Foundation recently shared a bowel cancer patient’s story with its donors all across the Munster region. In the letter to the donors, the patient urges men and women of all ages to look out for the signs and to take action if they notice any of these.
The Mercy University Hospital is the Regional Centre for Gastroenterology because of its specialist expertise in the early detection and treatment of early oesophageal, stomach and bowel cancers throughout the Munster region; and has also been identified as one of the 15 hospitals in Ireland accredited to carry out screening for colorectal (bowel) cancer, as part of the National Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer Screening Programme.
Funds are now required to purchase a Fluoroscopy X-ray Unit for the Regional Centre for Gastroenterology, which will assist doctors in staging and treating patients with tumours in their oesophagus, stomach, bowel, pancreas and liver, allows local endoscopic pain relief procedures in patients with advanced cancer, and will cost €500,000. Fluoroscopy is the method that provides real-time X-ray imaging that is especially useful for guiding a variety of diagnostic and interventional procedures.
Dr Martin Buckley, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Mercy University Hospital said “There is an urgency and a demand for the new Centre for Gastroenterology to accommodate an increased volume of patients. Donations to fund the Fluoroscopy X-ray Unit will help to reduce waiting times for people requiring treatment. Currently many patients have to travel to Dublin for these procedures as the necessary endoscopy equipment is not available here. While we have the skills and the expertise to perform this treatment at The Mercy, we need critical investment for this equipment which will make a significant impact on the cancer journey for those affected all over Munster.”
Dr Buckley continued “When a patient’s tumour is obstructing the bowel this causes severe discomfort and vomiting for the patient and can be extremely dangerous. The Fluoroscopy machine will allow us to fix the blockage by inserting a stent, which acts like a little passageway to allow the organ to function properly again. This means patients are better prepared and able for surgery later on to remove the tumour. For patients receiving palliative care for their cancer, this simple procedure can replace surgery altogether, avoiding surgery and a bag, and allowing the patient more time at home with friends and family.”
Michael Murphy lends his support to the campaign having gone through his own cancer journey and having lost his youngest brother Kieran to cancer at 42. Speaking about life since then and his support for this campaign, Michael said “My brother Kieran left me with the sacred words ‘Enjoy your life, Mike’ and since then I’ve felt an obligation to do just that so that nothing is wasted, not the pain or the suffering or the hopelessness. There is a before and after cancer. You’ve been struck essentially by death. You face it and come out the other side. I’m proud to support the work the Mercy Hospital Foundation is doing to raise awareness for Bowel Cancer, and even if this campaign helps one family avoid the heartbreak of finding out too late, it’s worth it.”
Urging the public to be Bowel Cancer Aware, and if possible to donate to the Fluoroscopy Unit, Micheál Sheridan, CEO, the Mercy Hospital Foundation said “Our mission is to inspire people to support advancements in research, diagnosis, treatments and care of patients at The Mercy University Hospital, the People’s Hospital. It’s not often we get to take a life-saving action… an action that will impact and directly improve your life or the life of another. But today you can. You can donate to our campaign to provide the Centre for Gastroenterology with a life-saving piece of equipment. This action could save a life.”
For more information on Bowel Cancer Awareness and the work of the Mercy Hospital Foundation, call (021) 4274076 orvisit www.mercyfundraising.ie.