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October 31, 2018

Irish Cancer Society statement about €6 million bequest

We are deeply grateful to Mrs Elizabeth O’Kelly for generously remembering people with cancer in her will and bequeathing €6 million to the Irish Cancer Society. Her generosity will provide hope to so many people affected by cancer and deliver improvements in cancer care that would have been impossible otherwise.

Mrs O’Kelly, who most recently lived in Stradbally, Co. Laois, was known for displaying great kindness towards her friends and being charitable in supporting those in need. This tremendous kindness and generosity is reflected in her decision to leave equal amounts in her will to five charities.

Mrs. O’Kelly successfully battled cancer in the 1980s. She knew first-hand the challenges cancer patients face and the positive difference the Irish Cancer Society makes to them in their time of need.

In the 1980s, when Mrs O’Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, only three out of ten Irish cancer patients survived. Today, six out of ten do. This is thanks in no small part to the generosity of the Irish public in supporting the Irish Cancer Society’s lifesaving research, advocacy and patient support services.

Working in partnership with patients, medics and successive governments, we have helped deliver major improvements in cancer care in Ireland. However, there is still much more to be done to make Ireland’s public cancer services truly world-class. While Irish cancer services have improved significantly in recent years, they still lag behind other countries in many areas. Issues such as delayed diagnoses and inadequate access to new treatments are costing too many lives.

The Irish Cancer Society won’t give up until Ireland’s cancer services are truly world-class and every patient has the best possible chance of surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis. We won’t settle for anything less and we know Mrs O’Kelly would not want us to.

As a charity, we receive only 2 per cent of our income from the State. With the number of cancer patients at an all-time high, we have been experiencing unprecedented requests for help from cancer patients and their families in recent years.

Prioritising day-to-day services has enabled us to meet this demand. However, we cannot deliver truly world-class cancer services in Ireland without far greater investment in research and transformational projects. The scale of the challenge in cancer prevention, treatment and support is simply too great.

Mrs O’Kelly’s gift will be the seed for this investment. It will therefore enable us to deliver the kind of transformational change that would have been impossible otherwise. On behalf of people affected by cancer all across Ireland, our supporters and volunteers, we are deeply grateful to her for making this possible.