Over a third (36 per cent) of Donegal cancer patients who availed of the service sought counselling less than one year after a cancer diagnosis.
Another 36 per cent of clients required counselling within two years of diagnosis, highlighting the need for emotional support following the completion of treatment.
The figures come from an Irish Cancer Society report on community based counselling service which highlights the need for emotional support following cancer diagnosis.
The report focuses on the Irish Cancer Society’s affiliation programme which granted funds to seventeen affiliated community based cancer support services across the country to provide professional counselling in 2012. In total, the Society gave €219,840 in grants to affiliated support centres last year. The Society supported 207 counselling sessions for Donegal cancer patients in 2012.
This latest report demonstrates the extent of emotional issues which cancer patients are presenting with during and in the aftermath of their illness. The counselling service, which is available to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis, saw a third (33 per cent) of Donegal clients presenting with concerns such as anxiety, fear and stress following the trauma of their illness and 23 per cent who needed help adjusting to life after cancer and learning new coping skills.
The effect of cancer is wider than the immediate person diagnosed with 18 per cent of Donegal clients attending as relatives of a cancer patient, usually an adult child of the diagnosed person. Another 7 per cent of the clients who used the counselling service were also bereaved due to cancer, highlighting the need for support the in the months and years after the immediate impact of the illness.
Females are also more likely to attend for professional counselling than males with 73 per cent of female Donegal clients attending in 2012 compared to 27 per cent of males. Almost half (48 per cent) of those who used the service were between the ages of 41 and 60.
Cancer patients and their families may experience anxiety, anger, sadness and depression. Cancer patients and their relatives can find their nearest affiliate support centre providing this service by logging on to www.cancer.ie/how-we-can-help/support or call the Irish Cancer Society Freefone Helpline on 1800 200 700. To support the Irish Cancer Society, please contact the Fundraising Team on Callsave 1850 60 60 or visit www.cancer.ie to make a donation.