Dolores Grace from Athboy, Co Meath, said the comments and support she has received since the post garnered almost 8,000 likes and 5,000 shares has shown her that her “experiences and opinions are not isolated”.
Dolores took to social media last weekend to urge the Irish Cancer Society to rethink its hard-hitting ‘Get Cancer’ campaign after she and her husband Jim buried their oldest son Elliot just days before Christmas.
Elliot lost his battle with an aggressive form of cancer on December 20.
The grieving motherclaims she could not get any help from the Irish Cancer Society for counselling for their other three children, Eva, 10, Amelia, 9, and Alex, 7, during this difficult time and believes the monies spent on this campaign should be instead invested in other services.
Huge crowds turned out for the funeral of the popular Clann na nGael forward, who helped his team capture the minor football league division title in 2012. The close-knit community had rallied around the family during Elliot’s illness and founded the Giving with Grace Gofundme page to provide practical support for the family since his diagnosis last July.
Dolores took to Facebook last weekend in a post which has since gone viral, after her young children expressed confusion as to why anyone would want to ‘get’ cancer.
Addressing the Irish Cancer Society, she said: “Let me tell you, in a nation as small as Ireland there is not a house, a street, a village or a town that has not ‘got’ cancer. My children at 7, 9, and 10 have just watched their brother, who ‘got’ cancer, die. They cannot understand and I must say I’m with them as to why you would place these ads on national television at the times you have.
“My seven year-old said why would anyone say they want to get cancer, it’s awful. They do not get subliminal messages and your timing of this ad is shocking in that regard.”
Dolores also claims that due to lack of resources, she received no help from the society through her ordeal, only getting solace from Arc Cancer Support.
“I wanted counselling for my young children who were dealing with an horrific situation. I wanted help for us as a family, and most of all, I wanted help for my dying son. We were given lots of shiny brochures and sent on our way.”
She said that Arc Cancer Support “opened their door and hearts to us and provided solace, treatments and counselling to us as a family in an amazing way”.
A scheduled 18 months of treatment was unfortunately cut due to Elliot’s condition and after five months, the young man was told he had weeks to live.
“All he wanted was to go home,” said his mother.
However, Elliot only spent one night at home with palliative care from the Irish Cancer Society before going to St Francis Hospice in Blanchardstown, where he passed away.
In the stark post, Dolores tells the Irish Cancer Society: “If you truly want to get cancer, walk the wards of St Vincent’s in the Mater hospital. There are plenty in there who’ve ‘got’ cancer.
“As a nation, we get cancer but I’m truly baffled as to whether you do.”
Despite a harrowing first Christmas without Elliot, the family said on Christmas Eve: “Hug your loved ones close. No-one knows what the future holds, which is just as well at times. Our door is always open to you all.”
Speaking in the wake of all the support she has received from strangers, she said: “Initially I thought I was one crazy woman on a rant but sadly the amount of likes and shares and comments show that my opinion and, indeed, my experiences are not isolated.”
The Irish Cancer Society’s controversial campaign asks people to ‘get cancer’ in a bid to raise awareness of a cancer epidemic in Ireland. The ICS said that since the campaign was launched, there has been a surge in enquiries. It said it does not comment on individual cases and will be contacting Dolores itself directly.