Charity patron and golf legend Padraig Harrington joined the CEO of the Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF) Carmel Doyle to launch Lollipop Day which takes place on February Friday 23 and Saturday 24.
Padraig shows his soft (and kiddie side) and calls on Dublin Gazette readers to get behind the lollies for the forthcoming fundraising campaign.
OCF volunteers will be on hand in over 20 centres throughout Dublin, as well as at 80 locations nationwide to sell lollipops on those days. The charity is urging people in Dublin, who can’t donate cash for the lollipops, to donate online at www.ocf.ie or to organise a campaign at their Dublin school, club or company this year.
Buy a lolly, lick a lolly and you will be raising vital ‘lolly’ for a very worthwhile charity.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of Oesophageal Cancer in Europe with over 500 people diagnosed each year. Oesophageal Cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide and is more common among men than among women by a ratio of three to one.
In Ireland, the progress of 9,000 at risk patients with Barrett’s Oesophagus, a pre-indicator of potential Oesophageal Cancer, is being tracked across six hospitals and OCF has been a pioneer funder of this research.
Moreso than with many other cancers, the early signs of Oesophageal Cancer are easy to overlook. Many people could be tempted to dismiss what can seem to be digestive complaints.
Early detection is vital, and OCF works to promote awareness of the signs and symptoms of the cancer. The charity is using Lollipop Day to also urge the Irish pharmaceutical sector to promote early detection by carrying bigger and better warnings on their antacid packaging and through their advertising, as they do in the US market for example.
OCF says that it is more important than ever to raise vital funds to spread awareness about Oesophageal Cancer, CEO Carmel Doyle says; “The good news is that survival rates show a 50 per cent improvement in Ireland. We need to work to improve that figure by encouraging early detection and improving the knowledge around the symptoms of Oesophageal Cancer. For that we need donations from the public”
Carmel, whose husband Gerry was diagnosed with this cancer in 2011 and has recovered very well said: “Early detection not only saves lives, but it also saves money in the Irish healthcare system. That’s why knowing the symptoms really matters and we want people to act fast. It is a very scary cancer but with more patients, like my husband, sharing their stories and driving this awareness campaign, along with our Patron Padraig Harrington, we can beat this cancer through knowledge, action and care. And, for those who are diagnosed with this cancer, they should know that they don’t walk this difficult pathway alone, and we will be there by their side, through our patient support programme.”
“Primarily, symptoms include difficulty swallowing, persistent acid indigestion, heartburn and reflux and unexplained weight loss. Unfortunately, approx 70pc of patients experience these symptoms for three months before contacting their GP – we urge people to go to their GP early. “
Padraig Harrington, Patron of the Oesophageal Cancer Fund said: “I’m delighted to support the work of the OCF and to help spread awareness through Lollipop Day about the symptoms of this terrible cancer and to encourage people to book an early GP appointment. Unfortunately, my family has experienced the devastation of this cancer, having lost my Dad to it in 2005. He had been experiencing symptoms for quite some time and an earlier diagnosis could have made a big difference. What we do know for sure is that early detection saves lives and that’s why awareness building is so important.”
To volunteer, or to make a donation, please see www.ocf.ie
Collection locations across Dublin include: North Dublin: Omni Shopping Centre, Jervis Shopping Centre, Nolan’s in Clontarf, Drumcondra, Beaumont Hospital and Centra in Malahide.
South Dublin: Grafton St, Stephen’s Green SC,St James Hospital, Baggot St, Dun Laoghaire (Bloomfield, Nutgrove SC, Blackrock, Sallynoggin, Terenure, Crumlin (Ashleaf), Tallaght (The Square), Ranelagh (Morton’s), Cornelscourt (Dunnes) and Dunnes in Saggart.
Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland