On Friday, October 18th, the Mercy University Hospital Foundation is calling on the people of Cork to channel their inner superhero for the day as part of the 2019 Mercy Heroes campaign, raising vital funds for POONS, the Paediatric Oncology Outreach Nursing Service which allows children with cancer to receive treatment from the comfort of their own home.
On hand to announce details of this year’s campaign were three of Cork’s bravest superheroes, Supergirl, Lizzie O’Shea from Castletownbere, Captain America, Callum McCarthy from Nohoval and Batman, Conor Wills from Ballincollig, all who are patients at the Mercy University Hospital.
Diagnosed with Leukemia in 2017, five year old Lizzie O’Shea from Castletownbere has benefited from the POONS service, providing at home cancer care treatment which has been a fantastic support according to her mum Fiona Kelly who said, “The POONS resource has been such a fantastic help since Lizzie became ill and we are so grateful to have this support. Being a GP in the remote Beara Peninsula, it can be very difficult for me to find locum GPs when having to make frequent hospital visits with Lizzie so having the Mercy’s POONS team come to us when they can has relieved so much pressure.”
The POONS resource is the only service of its kind in Ireland which provides at home cancer care treatment for children and covers a large geographical area from Youghal to Bantry, and Mitchelstown to Kinsale, as well as some areas in surrounding counties, so that all children have access to this service regardless of their location.
Alice McCarthy is mum to her six year old son Callum who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018. Commenting on the POONS resource, Alice said, “When Callum was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018, we spent two weeks in Crumlin which was very tough but once it was possible for Callum to be treated at the Mercy, it really highlighted how lucky we are to have a Leukemia unit at the Mercy University Hospital in Cork. The POONS resource has been such a huge support, especially with helping to normalise family life during cancer treatment for Callum.”
For the past six years the Mercy University Hospital Foundation has helped to fund this service through voluntary donations. Lorraine Wills, mum to six year old Conor Wills is encouraging everyone to get involved with 2019 Mercy Heroes, “What the Mercy’s POONS nurses Peg and Olga do is phenomenal and you can’t put a price on it. When you have a sick child, the last thing you want to do is bring them into a hospital where their already low immunity could be further compromised. Their visits also allow us parents to ask questions which offers huge reassurance. Even from a mental health perspective, their answers and reassurance are immediate and this relieves a lot of pressure. I hope as many people as possible can support the Mercy Heroes this October, allowing them to continue to support children and families affected by cancer across Cork. ”
To help raise funds for POONS, the Mercy Hospital Foundation is inviting people of all ages and from all walks of life to join in the fun on October 18th. Whether you’re planning a Dress Up/ Dress Down Day at work or school, a coffee morning at home or at your local club, or you can help out with Mercy street collections around the county, there’s a way to get involved.
To host your own Mercy Heroes event or fundraiser, simply register at www.mercyfundraising.ie and you will receive a free ‘Mercy Heroes’ pack full of information and ideas.
Cork’s 96FM and The Echo are the official media partners for ‘Mercy Heroes’ 2019, and people are encouraged to follow them for regular updates on events and activities.
If you want to know more about how funds will help, or about bringing Mercy Heroes to your work, school or home, please contact Deirdre on 021 4223135 or visit www.mercyfundraising.ie.
Photography By – John Allen