Cancer survivors came together for a unique project, organised by Breakthrough Cancer Research (BCR) in Temple Bar to help fund cancer research.
The charity partnered with The Library Project to open up a ‘Pop-up Shop’ for the week around World Cancer Day – ‘The Shop that Nearly Wasn’t’, which showcased the many and varied creative contributions those who have survived, or are living with cancer, make to society.
Its name reflects the fact that these achievements have only been made possible due to the result of ground-breaking cancer research.
Art, photography, books, crafts, clothing and protective sports gear, made by cancer survivors of all ages, from all over the island of Ireland; were among the items in stock.
“We are a research charity, and there’s a lot of emphasis on what hasn’t happened, because of World Cancer Day we decided we wanted to remind people of the distance we have travelled in terms of research,” BCR CEO Orla Dolan told Dublin Gazette.
“In Ireland there’s 190,000 survivors of cancer, which is 4% of the population. They are here because we have made all of this progress.
“There are some cancers like breast, testicular and prostrate which have survival rates in the upper 80’s and early 90’s now.
“That’s because medical advances have meant the treatments are better, and even the protocols for the treatments are better.
“There are other cancers like pancreatic which has a survival rate of 9% for 50 years, so what we wanted to do was make the point that we have made massive progress and lets celebrate that, and then let’s redouble our efforts so that we can work on the other cancers as well.”
Glasnevin native Leonie Fanning came along to volunteer at the shop, after seeing it on RTÉ News on opening day. She says it’s a brilliant idea.
“I literally saw this on the news and I came in,” she told Dublin Gazette.
“As soon as I came into the shop, I just felt ‘oh my Goodness’. Everything was lively and smiley and bright – everything was just fabulous, and then talking to Eoghan (O’Sullivan) and Orla and hearing about what’s happening in the background all the time is just incredible.
“I have to say I just admire them so much, because it is amazing work!”
For Leonie it was her first time to hear about the work of Breakthrough Cancer Research.
“I hadn’t known much about them because I had breast cancer, so I was dealing more with organisations such as Breast Cancer Ireland.
“When I came across this and they explained about what they do helping to find cures for cancers that have only a 20% chance of survival like pancreatic, it’s just absolutely fantastic.”
Leonie says there’s been a huge buzz in the shop since its opening.
“It’s been fantastic. Everyone here has been fantastic. Everyone who comes in has been supportive in helping, and it’s lovely to see it. It has been a really nice experience.
“Everybody that comes through the door has a story. A lady came in earlier and she worked for CanTeen- teenagers with cancer.
“Just to hear her stories was great, but there were positives as well. We are inclined to touch on negatives as Irish people, but everyone has certainly been touched by cancer haven’t they?”
While the shop has now closed at its temporary location of 4 Temple Bar, those involved are keen to reopen a physical presence shortly in the capital, and have issued a call-out to those who may be able to help them secure a more permanent location.
“We got our temporary location from The Library Project, who are doing it in partnership with us,” Dolan said.
“In Temple Bar there’s a lot of people going by all the time, and it’s a great place to be.”
The Shop That Nearly Wasn’t continues online, where a wide variety of items can be purchased at www.shopthatnearlywasnt.ie.
You can get further information and details about the work of Breakthrough Cancer Research at www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie