Sisters, Dearbhail Moloney and Grainne Hopkins holding a picture of their late mam, Picture: Aishling Conway
Just two days before her death, Evelyn McKee was keen to get to the Little Way Cancer Centre with her daughter Dearbhail.
Even in her final days, the Carbury woman was determined the centre would remain in operation — a source of hope and support for countless families affected by cancer across Kildare.
“The centre was in her mind to the very end,” said Dearbhail.
“It is her legacy and we are proud to continue that legacy. We are so grateful for all the kind words and support we received after mammy died.”
Her sisters Grainne and Máire are also involved in running the charity with Aideen chipping in from the UK. Grainne said working at the centre gives her great comfort and she is hugely proud of what her mother has achieved.
The next chapter of the centre, which was founded by Evelyn 18 years ago, has begun with services re-opening. Following their mam’s death last March, the sisters have rallied together with the support of their brothers Anton and Fearghal to ensure the future of the Clane service.
“We are back up and running since the middle of June. We have been building up our services in terms of what we can do post Covid,” explained Dearbhail.
“We are offering 30 hours of one-on-one counseling and holistic therapies a week and there has been huge demand. They are 90% booked up. All our services are free of charge.”
Holistic therapy sessions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays while the counseling is run on Tuesdays. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm. At present there are no walk-in services due to Covid restrictions and clients must book an appointment. Plans to get the Cancer Support Group and Cancer Bereavement Group sessions are underway for autumn.
“Some people might be comfortable with a one-on-one session while others might find a support group suits them. They might like to talk to other people who have had a cancer diagnosis, they might be able to give them tips on how to cope — they learn from each other. Everybody is different and everybody has their own needs and we can tailor the services to suit them,” said Dearbhail.
“Obviously the person who has got the cancer diagnosis is very important but we also support family members too.”
Dearbhail pointed out the centre is also looking at expanding the holistic therapies on offer.
The centre covers a large catchment area with people traveling from all over the county and parts of Offaly. As restrictions ease, she also hopes to have a drop-in support service one day a week.
The centre also recently launched a volunteer recruitment drive. Interested parties can get involved in the fundraising end of things, client support services or admin duties.
Dearbhail is keen to point out that training is provided and the centre is flexible in terms of the hours.
Such was the drive shown by Evelyn and her team of volunteers over the years, that the charity owns the building — funded purely by fundraising.
“I want to thank the public for their support over the last 18 years. We are very thankful and grateful that they have been there for us. ”
There are no paid staff, the centre is run on a voluntary basis but bills still need to be paid to keep it open. The recent Drive-In Ceili was a huge success and other events are planned. A website revamp is also on the agenda.
The annual Little Way mass takes place in the parish church in Clane on October 3 at 11.30am.
“Like everyone else, we have to cope with the post Covid world and come up with new innovative ways of doing things,” said Dearbhail. For further info call 045 902996.
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