Ireland and Breast Cancer Treatment

May 22nd, by roos

Today, the Health Supplement of the Irish Times has the News story that Barbara Clark, the English woman who had to go to court for the right to get Herceptin treatment, praises Ireland for its good breast cancer treatment.

“Ireland leads Europe in fight against cancer, claims activist.” is the title of the article.”You’ve got so much going for your health service [in Ireland] that although it doesn’t always work, it’s still working well for breast cancer,” Ms Clark said.

I am very grateful for the treatment I got over here, I got the Herceptin, without a problem, as did every woman who needed it in Ireland. But let’s look at a few other points.

First of all, Europe is much bigger than the UK and Ireland. I wonder if the Irish Times and Ms Clark realise that. For as far as I know, nobody in Europe has had to go to court for the right to get the right treatment, because these issues are not decided by politicians. The UK has a bad record for treating people. Apart from refusing Herceptin ( which they don’t any more) they also refuse to fund hemo dialysis for people over 65,and I am sure other treatments are hard to get as well, it is because the NHS is organised and politicised in such a way, that these things are allowed to happen. They are shocking facts to most other Europeans.
Let’s look at Ireland now. The treatment is great if you live near a big city.

For people who don’t, it is a totally different story. Although the treatment is there, the way to get at it is a form of torture . When I was going through the radiation therapy, I met a woman with breast cancer who lives in Charleville. Her treatment hospital was in Limerick, but because Limerick doesn’t have the radiation therapy unit, she had to come to Cork for that.
There were days that she had chemo therapy in the morning in Limerick,( 1 hour drive away) and then a few hours later, she had to be in Cork for her radiation therapy.( 2 hour drive away from Limerick)
She was completely exhausted. Would you call that a good treatment? What about the women in the West, who choose a mastectomy, rather than having to go through treatment, because of the distances involved.

The psychological services, like the Ark cancer support house are excellent, but impossible for most of us to reach!

What about screening? It is now clear that women who have had breast cancer in one breast, should have the opposite breast screened with MRI, because it shows the starting cancer much sooner. I can’t get the MRI screening here, my sister has had it for the past two years in Belgium.

In places like Belgium, you would be treated by a breast surgeon, who is highly specialised, followed by a breast-ocnologist in a breast-ward.

I think the Irish Times should have considered their article, or at least the tiltle a little better. Could this have anything to do with the elections?

Another report from the last few days is the pole that shows that the majority of people would agree wit the proposal of Mary Harney to build private hospitals next to public hospitals to provide public beds if needed.

Why do people agree? Because they don’t know the better way forward, and why do they not know? Because the politicians don’t, and why don’t they? Because they are politicians, and haven’t got a clue what goes on in hospitals, what is needed and how the health system should be organised.

Although you can get all the treatment you need over here,which is commendable, the health system is so badly organised , that it borders on the ridiculous to claim that Ireland leads Europe in cancer treatment.