Living Well with Cancer Conference 2017
September 29, 2017

Hundreds to Attend Irish Cancer Society’s National Conference on Cancer Survivorship this weekend

John Lonergan, former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, to give keynote speech on dealing with challenges in life

Cancer Week Ireland concludes this weekend as hundreds of cancer survivors, their families, friends and carers are due to travel from all over Ireland to attend the Irish Cancer Society’s annual conference on cancer survivorship. It takes place in the Aviva Stadium this Friday (29 September) and Saturday (30 September).

The conference will be formally opened by the Minister for Health Simon Harris on Friday. It will also hear from a range of speakers over the weekend, including cancer patients, and seek to understand and address not just the cancer itself but the huge range of needs that accompany a diagnosis.

Up to 150,000 people are now living with or beyond cancer in Ireland and there is a growing need to understand the life changing implications a cancer diagnosis can bring.

For the first time, as part of the overall conference, the Society will also offer a dedicated seminar aimed exclusively at those who have secondary or metastatic cancer called Living with Secondary Cancer – What Happens Now That It’s Back? This tailor-made programme will address the specific psychological and quality of life needs of those with secondary cancer as well as offering an update on treatments and an overview of clinical trials.

Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said, “Earlier this year the Government launched its new cancer strategy and we were really pleased at the time to see to that cancer survivorship is going to play a central role in the national plan. Survivorship has always been central to our work in the Society and this conference is a great opportunity to hear from cancer survivors, learn about new issues they might be experiencing and how we can support them.”

“A huge part of survivorship is dealing with the psychological effects of cancer. The Irish Cancer Society has heard over and over again from cancer patients and their families that, as soon as they hear the word ‘cancer’, it can feel that the person they were vanishes and they become a patient. All focus turns to treatment while the emotional needs of the person with cancer are often overlooked.”

“That is why I am so pleased to have John Lonergan, along with Psychotherapist Caroline Crotty, giving the keynote speech as they will talk about overcoming obstacles in our lives and how best to deal with unexpected events on a psychological and emotional level.”

John Lonergan, Public Speaker, Author and Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, added, “All our lives are unpredictable and difficult challenges are constantly thrown up in front of us, including very serious illnesses such as cancer. However, in many cases we have a choice in how we deal with these challenges and accepting our reality is a first step. Surrounding ourselves with people who make us feel good and making the best of the precious present are also central to our happiness.

“It is also helpful to set achievable targets in relation to our daily activities and to focus on solutions for the things that annoy, upset and possibly frighten us. I am humbled to share my philosophy with the attendees of the Irish Cancer Society Conference and I’m looking forward to a very insightful discussion on all of the emotional and psychological issues that cancer survivors, their carers and their families face.”

Donal Buggy concluded, “The conference has a huge range of topics to choose from so there is definitely something there to interest everyone. There is also a separate, dedicated seminar exclusively for those with a diagnosis of secondary cancer, which will offer information and support, and an opportunity to meet with others who have had similar experiences.”

“We hope all attendees this weekend will gain some more insight into cancer and get some practical advice for dealing with it on a daily basis. However, most of all, we hope that people will come away from the conference feeling supported and aware of the services that are available to them.”

The National Conference for Cancer Survivorship concludes Cancer Week, which was initiated by the Irish Cancer Society and Trinity College Dublin. Cancer Week Ireland is all about starting a national conversation about cancer and getting everyone engaged in how we can prevent it, spot it earlier, improve treatment, and survive and thrive afterwards.

This year’s Living Well with Cancer conference is kindly supported by Abbvie, Janssen and Pfizer. The Living with Secondary Cancer conference is supported by Novartis.