Helping hand

May Ryan has survived three brushes with cancer, and will once again be at the head of the queue today to volunteer for Daffodil Day, writes Rachel Borrill

Helping  hand

TODAY is the Irish Cancer Society’s National Daffodil Day, and May Ryan, 73, will once again be volunteering, just as she has done for the past 26 years.

“I have been involved right from the Irish Cancer’s Society’s very first Daffodil Day all those years ago,’’ she says.

“I used to help with the fund raising but now I help to do the flowers for the press launch, which is a huge event, and to decorate the churches around Dublin.

“Daffodil Day is very important in helping raising money and awareness. The Irish Cancer Society is so important, they certainly helped me to deal with my own cancer, they supported me and my family.’’

Ryan, a retired teacher and dressmaker, from Templeogue, Co Dublin, has had to beat cancer several times. In 1985, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, then in 2004 she was treated for colon cancer and she has recently been given the all-clear after treatment for liver and bowel cancer.

“I am still around,’’ she says, laughing loudly. “Somebody up there must really be looking after me. I feel fine now and fortunately have no problems at the moment. But I have been very lucky to get prompt and good medical attention. There is no doubt about it, I would not be here without that.’’

May also believes positive thinking is vital in the battle against cancer. After all her years volunteering for the Irish Cancer Society and meeting so many cancer patients in hospital, she believes it to be crucial.

“The one thing that has stood out over all these years of volunteering is that the people who seemed determined to beat their cancer, to fight it, did so much better, than those who saw their cancer as a death sentence,’’ she says.

This year the Irish Cancer Society hopes that today’s Daffodil Day will raise over €3.4m which will help continue to provide support and care to cancer sufferers and their families. The money will also be used to expand the society’s Cancer Information service, which should make it easier for people to access it.

Last year more than 200,000 people used the society’s free and confidential service, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their medical treatment and offering vital support to their families.

Dell Ireland, which has been the Irish Cancer’s Society lead partner for Daffodil Day since 2010, has also helped to create a special Daffodil Day smartphone app that can be downloaded for free and offers advice on how to volunteer, how to donate and up-to-date information on the events that are happening around the country.

“All our employees are heavily involved in Daffodil Day,” says Sinead Gorby, Dell’s site programme manager.

“One of the figures that really stood out for us is that, in Ireland, one person in four will be directly or indirectly affected by cancer.

“This figure meant that a quarter of our workforce could actually be affected by cancer. This really resonated with people and immediately they all volunteered to help.’’

After this year’s Daffodil Day, Ryan will spend sometime with her family and friends relaxing, and then will contact the Irish Cancer Society again to see what they would like her to do for Daffodil Day 2014.

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