Ukraine support

Ukraine colours with daffodil

Who we are

The Irish Cancer Society is the national cancer charity in Ireland. We are a trusted and reliable source of cancer information and support. We work closely with the Irish healthcare service and we are here to help you.

We share in the world’s heartbreak at what is unfolding in Ukraine, and we want to be there for you if you are seeking refuge in Ireland and are affected by cancer. Perhaps you are a cancer patient, a carer or you are worried about cancer. Whoever you are, we are here to help you the same way we help our own citizens.

This page provides information on support services available from the Irish Cancer Society and directs you to other sources of support in Ireland.

If you wish to get information about Government and other supports in Ireland please visit Citizen's Information.

For general information about the Irish Health Service go to www.HSE.ie

More information will be added to this page as it becomes available.

Cancer and distress

While the Irish Cancer Society’s services are always available to everyone affected by cancer in Ireland, we are conscious that Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes in such tragic circumstances have particular needs at this time. We want to ensure language difficulties or other challenges do not stop you accessing the care and support you need here.

Whether you are a cancer patient or a loved one, being affected by cancer is incredibly distressing. It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions including shock, anger, sadness, sorrow, denial, guilt and anxiety. Reactions often differ from person to person and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Sometimes a cancer diagnosis can bring great distress and can cause anxiety and depression.

It is important to remember that these reactions are normal but that if you are reading this, you have most likely had to leave your home in incredibly difficult circumstances and come to Ireland because of the war in Ukraine. We recognise that this is exceptionally distressing and will no doubt add to the stress of having cancer. Remember, you are not alone, there are others like you arriving in Ireland every day and we are here to help.

Cancer and Covid-19

In Ireland, every adult has been advised to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including cancer patients. As of December 2021, the vast majority (over 90%) of the adult population (people over 16 years of age) of Ireland is fully vaccinated.

You will routinely be asked in healthcare settings if you have had your vaccines. We understand that this may be different from the advice you received in Ukraine and may be confusing.

On this page, we summarise the advice that has been given to the public in Ireland, but if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare team here.

Are people with a cancer diagnosis more at risk from Covid 19?

People having cancer treatment

Some active treatments for cancer, particularly chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system during therapy and for a time afterwards normally lasting a number of weeks.

Some types of cancer can also have an impact on the immune system, such as blood cancers that affect bone marrow.

If your immune system is weakened from cancer or cancer treatment, the consequences of infections such as the common cold, vomiting bugs and flu, as well as coronavirus can be more severe.

 

People who have finished their treatment

Those who are no longer being actively treated for cancer may be at a small increased risk of developing more severe symptoms of infections such as coronavirus compared to the general population.

 

The advice in Ireland is that patients with cancer should get the Covid‐19 vaccine as soon as it is offered to them, unless advised otherwise by your medical team in your hospital.

You can find out where to get your free vaccine here: https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/get-the-vaccine/booking/

People at higher risk from Covid 19

The HSE has published information on people at higher risk from Covid 19.

The list includes the following groups specific to cancer:

  • People over the age of 60
  • People with cancer who are being treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies (other than hormone therapy).
  • People who have lung or head and neck cancer and are having radical surgery or radiotherapy.
  • People having certain complex cancer surgery, for example surgery for lung cancer, head and neck cancer or oesophageal cancer.
  • People who have advanced cancer or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
  • People who have had a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant in the last 12 months, or are waiting for a transplant. This also includes those who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
  • People having other targeted cancer treatments, which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had treatment in the past 5 years for a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.

This list is a guide. Your individual risk depends on your cancer type, your treatment, your age and your general health. If you are worried, the best thing to do is ask your cancer doctor or oncology nurses who know your medical history.

 

Covid-19 vaccinations

The advice in Ireland is that patients with cancer should get the Covid‐19 vaccine as soon as it is offered to them, unless advised otherwise by your medical team in your hospital. 

As of December 2021, the vast majority (over 90%) of the adult population (people over 16 years of age) of Ireland is fully vaccinated.

You can find out where to get your free vaccine here: https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/get-the-vaccine/booking/

Covid-19 vaccine booster

A booster vaccine is recommended for the whole population.

People aged 16 and older can get their COVID-19 vaccine booster dose now. This includes people who have a weak immune system. To book an appointment or find a clinic near you, visit hse.ie  

You need to wait at least 3 months (90 days) after your vaccine course before you can get a booster dose. If you have had COVID-19 since you were vaccinated you should get your booster dose at least 3 months after your positive result.

Additional booster vaccine doses

Three groups of people are now being advised to get an additional vaccine (4th) dose:
1.    People aged 65 years and over 
2.    Those with a weak immune system aged 12
3.    People who have a weak immune system, also called immunocompromised

People who have a weak immune system (immunocompromised)
People in this group were offered a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last year, and can now get an additional booster dose if it has been 3 months since their first booster dose.

If you have a weak immune system due to your cancer or cancer treatment, it is strongly recommended that you get an additional booster vaccine, as well as your initial booster vaccine.

Steps to protect yourself from infection

If you are in the very high risk or high-risk group, you should take the following steps:

  • Get a Covid-19 vaccine, including your booster dose, as long as there is no medical reason why you should not have it.
  • Be alert for symptoms of Covid 19. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms. These symptoms can include a high temperature, dry cough and fatigue.
  • Regular and thorough hand washing with common soap and warm water or hand sanitiser especially:
    - when in contact with other people
    - before eating or touching your face
    - after using the bathroom
    - upon entering the home 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, as this can transfer the virus from surfaces. 
  • Face coverings should be worn when in busy enclosed public spaces such as shops and public transport, and in crowded outdoor spaces. People should continue to work from home where possible.
  • Ventilate your home well by opening windows and doors, especially when you have visitors, if possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles and cups.
  • Follow the latest government guidance.

Infections of all kinds are easier to transmit from person to person in the home, so practising these steps in the home of someone being treated for cancer can help protect them from many different diseases.

If you develop signs of an infection and are being treated for cancer

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the common cold or flu. As with any infection, coronavirus is more likely to progress at a greater speed in a cancer patient. It is important to seek the expert opinion of a cancer doctor at an early stage.

A sudden fever (feeling very hot, or very chilly and sweating) can be a sign of many different types of infection and requires medical advice. Infections during cancer treatment are unfortunately common and may not necessarily be caused by coronavirus. All infections in cancer patients must be thoroughly investigated due to the risk that they may become more serious.

If a patient who is being actively treated for cancer develops signs of infection, for example high temperature (fever), coughing or shortness of breath, they should urgently make contact with their oncology unit through the liaison phone number they have been given. The nurse or doctor will advise on measures that need to be taken and what this means for your treatment.

Patients who have not recently received treatment for cancer and show signs of infection should follow the usual advice of making contact with their healthcare provider, GP or out-of-hours service. 

Anyone in this category who potentially has symptoms of coronavirus (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should:

  • Self isolate. This means going into a different, well-ventilated room, with a phone and completely avoid contact with other people. 
  • Get tested. Follow this link to see what type of test you should do.
  • Phone their GP for advice if feeling unwell. Your GP may also be able to advise / arrange a Covid 19 test.
  • In a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Patients may also become a close contact of Covid-19

Being a close contact means you have been in contact with a positive case either:

  • In your household ( also called a ‘household close contact’)
  • Outside your household (known as ‘non-household close contact’ or ‘community close contact’)

The advice of what to do if you are a close contact depends on your situation. See current advice here.

Irish Cancer Society Services

You may be on this page because you or a family member is diagnosed with cancer and is getting cancer treatment in Ireland or is looking to get access to cancer treatment in Ireland.

If you or your loved one has already been diagnosed with cancer we can help.

All the services listed below are also free of change but not all may apply to you. 

You are welcome to use them more than once - we are here to support you throughout your cancer diagnosis, treatment and life after cancer.

Support Line

We have a free telephone number 1800 200 700 which is open from 9am to 5pm.

If you call this number you can talk to one of our cancer nurses for confidential advice, support and information. You can call on behalf of another family member.

Our nurses are not fluent in Ukrainian, however you can book a free call with a cancer nurse and a Ukrainian interpreter. You can arrange someone to call us with your name and phone number or you can email these details to supportline@cancer.ie and we will call you back with the interpreter.

We have a lot of information provided in English on our website which may be helpful.

Daffodil Centres

In many of our main hospitals in Ireland we have information hubs which we call Daffodil Centres. These centres are staffed by cancer nurses and trained volunteers who provide free, confidential advice, support and information to anyone affected by cancer.

You do not need an appointment to call into one of the Daffodil Centres listed here.

Our cancer nurse will do their best to manage any requests you may have and can schedule access to a translator if this is needed.

We have Daffodil Centres at the following hospitals.

Patient travel and financial supports

We can provide practical and financial support for some of our patients undergoing cancer treatments who find themselves in need.

Below are some of the supports available:

  1. Irish Cancer Society Volunteer Driver Service

This service is available for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments in our partner hospitals who need help getting to and from their appointments.

  1. Travel to Care

This is a fund for patients who are having difficulty getting to and from their treatments while attending one of the national cancer treatment centres.

  1. Financial Support programme

Financial support is available to families where a child is undergoing cancer treatments in Ireland.

To find out more and access these supports please contact our Support Line 1800 200 700.

Please know that if we in the Irish Cancer Society cannot help you directly we will do our utmost to point you to the relevant teams or organisations who can.

Videos - Our supports and services

We have videos with information on our supports and services: Ukraine - YouTube

 As more supports become available we will add details to this page.

Health and cancer services in Ireland 

We understand that you may have recently come to Ireland and might need to know more about our health system and cancer services.

How we do things here might be different from what you are used to in Ukraine. Do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand medical advice or instructions or are unsure what the next steps are.

We are working with Ukrainian medical professionals to learn more every day about how best to improve our supports to meet your needs. This page will be updated regularly as things change.

About health and cancer services

In Ireland our hospitals are run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) who are responsible for the medical care and treatment of cancer.

The HSE has a National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) team dedicated to managing cancer care. Cancer services in Ireland are delivered through hospitals in larger towns and cities.

The Irish Cancer Society work alongside the HSE and the NCCP to support you as patients.

You can access cancer care and other healthcare in Ireland.

A may be entitled to a Medical Card which will give you to access healthcare services for free and to medicines for a significantly reduced price.

If you have not been diagnosed with cancer but you are worried about a cancer symptom you need to start with a visit to a doctor in Ireland, which is called a ‘GP’ or general practitioner.

Follow the link here to find out how to get a doctor appointment. The doctor is the first place to contact for health concerns and for non-cancer related medical issues.

To find a doctor in Ireland please visit https://www2.hse.ie/services/find-a-gp/

If you have a medical emergency or require immediate medical care you will need to attend an emergency department. Most public hospitals have an emergency department.

If you need an ambulance or another emergency service phone 999 or 112.

My Health My Language videos

For information in Ukrainian on the Irish health system and other health topics, you can watch the My Health My Language Videos from the HSE.

View the videos here

Cancer information in Ukrainian

This page has factsheets in Ukrainian and English on some common topics

For more information

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Phone

1800 200 700 

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Email