The smallest things can bring you the most comfort.
That was the message from cancer survivor Nuala O’Brien last night at the launch of a video promoting the Cork Cancer Care Centre’s Blankets of Hope programme.
Ms O’Brien is one of an estimated 15,000 cancer patients to receive a colourful blanket, made by the charity’s huge network of volunteer knitters, designed to keep them warm during chemotherapy.
She described the cold during her treatment as like a ping pong ball in her bones, bouncing to get out. Her blanket was made by 16 schoolchildren, each of whom knitted a patch, which was then stitched together.
“They don’t know me, I don’t know them,” said Ms O’Brien. “I’m never going to be able to say thank you to them. They went out of their way to put time and effort in just to make me feel better.
“Even though I’m better now, I still have my blanket. I think I’ll have it forever. It doesn’t remind me of being sick though.
“It reminds me that there are such lovely people out there and that the smallest things can bring you the most comfort.”
The video, produced by Aperture Media free of charge, arose out of a project undertaken by CIT digital marketing masters students Keith Brown, Emma Gannon, and Anna Horan.
Mr Brown said the brief was to highlight the work of the cancer charity and they felt the best way to do that was to focus on the Blankets of Hope programme.
The care centre was founded by the late Ann Dowley-Spillane, who introduced the blankets idea following a trip to Boston, where she saw friends knitting blankets for residents of a retirement home.
CCCC manager Linda Goggin-James said they have distributed 15,000 blankets in the last four years, 430 alone in December.
She said the fact that a complete stranger takes the time to knit a blanket and add a personalised message is a massive boost to someone who may be feeling low in hospital.
“It becomes your security blanket, a comfort. It’s a nice touch to know that someone is thinking about you,” said Ms Goggin-James.
“There is no shortage of blanket donations but it can be challenging to cover the distribution costs to the hospitals.
“We really appreciate the efforts of our blanket donors, and want to ensure that we can continue to fund their distribution, and the other activities of the centre, which are only possible through the generosity of others.”
CCCC offers a safe space where cancer patients and their families can support each other with ideas and advice. It provides counselling and psychotherapy to at least 40 people each week. It also offers a range of holistic therapies free of charge.
Volunteer knitters gather at the centre every Monday and Thursday, from 11am to 1pm, and on Wednesdays from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.