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Irish Cancer Society announce multi-annual funding to continue Julie Wren’s legacy

Irish Cancer Society announce multi-annual funding to continue Julie Wren’s legacy

The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service funded by the Irish Cancer Society will support over 1,000 families

This International Childhood Cancer Day, the Irish Cancer Society has announced the multi-annual funding of The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service. 

The Irish Cancer Society will invest €400,000 in the service, with the ambition to support 1,000 families with over 5,500 complementary therapy sessions over the coming years.
Each year in Ireland, around 200 children under the age of 16 and around 70 teenagers aged between 15 and 19 are diagnosed with cancer.

The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service funded by the Irish Cancer Society is a haven on St John’s Ward in Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin. This service provides complementary therapies to children and their families while receiving treatment in hospital as part of their plan of care. Complementary therapies provided include: massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, baby massage, aromatherapy, mindfulness and meditation. 

Funding by the Irish Cancer Society will continue the service in The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy room, the service will also be available in the new Children’s Hospital once it opens. The room was originally opened in 2011, pioneered by the generosity of the Wren family and the Julie Wren Trust.

Esther Wren sold their family farm, following the death of her daughter Julie (8) from cancer in 1993. Esther used these funds to help create the service, which helps children with cancer and their families manage stress, anxiety, pain, and nausea.

Amy Nolan, Director of Clinical Affairs at the Irish Cancer Society saidCancer can be devastating at any age, but for children and teenagers affected by a cancer diagnosis, the impact is particularly stark. With each year, the Irish Cancer Society continues to increase our supports for children, adolescents, and young people (CAYA) and their families.

“We are thrilled to be able to fund this incredible service, which provides solace and support at a time when families really need it most. With just 5% of our funding from the State, none of this would be possible without the generous donations and fundraising efforts of the Irish public on days such as Daffodil Day. As an organisation, we are truly honoured to play our part in continuing Julie Wren’s incredible legacy.” 

Esther Wren said “Julie was a beautiful little girl who inspired us all to live life fully. She gave generously and cared for others and demonstrated that it is possible to change the world in small, but wonderful ways.

“The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service was originally set up by me, Julie’s mother, as a way of continuing Julie’s loving, generous spirit in supporting children and parents on their most difficult journeys.

“The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service provides Complimentary therapies while our precious children are going through their cancer treatment programme. We are delighted that the Irish Cancer Society funding will continue this vital and important service, we are so grateful for the organisation’s ongoing support.”

Lorraine Sebestova, mother of Lily (9), whose family have benefited from the service, said “It’s difficult to put into words, what a difference The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service has made to both Lily and I’s experience with cancer. For Lily, she has a place to feel safe during her chemotherapy. The therapists will talk to her about her day and even make up essentials oils for her to use at home when she is away from the hospital.

“For me, it is an escape and a place to walk away from the chaos on the ward. The door is always open when a session isn’t taking place, so I sometimes take half an hour to myself before going back to reality. The atmosphere and the smells of the aromatherapy oils just lift your spirits and give you that little boost to keep going.

“None of this would be possible without the public’s generosity on days like Daffodil Day, so please, show your support this Daffodil Day, March 22nd, so every family in Ireland has access to these vitally important supports and services.”

Dr Jane Pears, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at the National Children’s Cancer Service at Children’s Health Ireland said “In the hospital, we have witnessed the very real benefits of The Julie Wren Complementary Therapy Service for children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders, as well as their family members. Complementary therapies help relieve pain levels, reduce anxiety and stress and reduce nausea. We are so grateful to the Wren family for pioneering the establishment of the complementary therapy room and to the Irish Cancer Society for now funding this incredibly worthwhile service. I know so many of our families have found it to be an invaluable support.”