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Campaigners "overjoyed" as major cancer unit opens 29.11.16

CO-OPERATING for Cancer Care NorthWest, CCC(NW), has said it is "absolutely delighted and overjoyed" that the cross border, North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital began taking its first patients yesterday.
CCC(NW) spokesperson Noelle Duddy said: “Members of CCC(NW) have long waited for this day. We were always confident and optimistic that this Centre would be built and opened. Radiotherapy treatments are starting, they’re happening, this is a great achievement for all involved and it’s brilliant news for people living in Donegal and the North West Region. As we know, until today, the North West was the only region on this island without reasonable access to radiotherapy services. This new unit will treat approximately 1,100 cancer patients from the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT) and part of the NHSCT and 400 cancer patients from Donegal each year. By itself, Donegal and its environs did not have a large enough population to safely sustain a radiotherapy unit and neither did the WHSCT. However, as a region, the North West’s population exceeds 500,000 and by joining together the populations on either side of the Border, the ‘critical mass’ required to safely provide a radiotherapy service has been achieved.”
“For us, in CCC(NW), it is a day to celebrate, our work is done. CCC(NW), a small Donegal cancer campaign group made up of cancer patients and family members, have been lobbying for this unit for over eleven years. We all have personal experience of cancer and of having to travel to Dublin for treatment. Back all those years ago we recognised the absolute need for the provision of radiotherapy services for future cancer patients in the Donegal/North West Region and we set about trying and achieve this.”
CCC(NW) members at the launch of plans for thr North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.
“Our goal was to turn the possibility of a radiotherapy unit in the North West into a reality. We campaigned the length and breadth of this island, we lobbied in Leinster House and Stormont Castle, in Council Chambers, on the streets of Dublin, Derry and Letterkenny, we lobbied politicians and health officials from both sides of the border and we brought our campaign into the homes of every town and townland in Donegal. Our message was simple and easy to understand - the people of Donegal and the North West Region need a radiotherapy unit in either Letterkenny University or Altnagelvin Hospital to treat cancer patients locally and we need to work together, speaking with one united voice to achieve this goal.”
“Today is a very fine example of cross border co-operation working well for cancer patients on either side of the border. When this unit becomes fully operational by mid 2017, the majority of cancer patients in Donegal/NW requiring radiotherapy will be able to receive their treatment near to home, families and friends. Patients, especially those requiring palliative radiotherapy, who currently may have to refuse treatment because they are unable to travel to Dublin, Galway or Belfast, will now be able to accept and avail of treatment. Travelling distressing hundreds of miles for radiotherapy treatment will be a thing of the past. This decision has made the future ‘brighter’ for local cancer patients.”
“The North West is often referred to as a Unique Region with unique needs. CCC(NW) recognises the uniqueness of this cross border Project and of how it will address the very human needs of its cancer patient population. We urge and encourage both jurisdictions, North and South to build on this project's success and continue to work together in partnership, across communities, across parties and across borders, collaborating to further develop cross border, world class cancer services. In the North West Region of this Island we still do not have a fully designated Cancer Centre serving its 500,000 plus population. CCC(NW) encourage both jurisdictions to remain proactive and provide the North West Region with a fully designated cross border Cancer Centre with Letterkenny University and Altnagelvin Hospitals working together in partnership serving the entire population of the North West Region. The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin provides a strong and positive template to develop further partnerships/collaborations in cross border healthcare provision into the future. It serves as an excellent beginning. There is much more work to be done.”
Finally, every person who played a role in enabling this centre to become a reality are part of this successful achievement and ought to be very proud of themselves. CCC(NW) would like to applaud all our fellow campaigners, followers and politicians from either side of the border who have also supported the development of this service. We would like to thank all members of the Radiotherapy Project Team, for their hard work, commitment and determination to ensure that the centre is opening today. We sincerely wish all those patients and their families who need treatment within the walls of this centre, peace and comfort."
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