My name is Marian Barnes, for many years the Breast and Stoma Care Nurse in Kerry General Hospital. I began as a nurse and subsequently qualified in Breast Care at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and Stoma Care in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia. In the course of my work I looked after and supported patients, mainly women, dealing with Breast Cancer plus Bowel Cancer patient who needed a Stoma. Wishing to keep up-to-date, to have the best available knowledge of prevention, diagnosis and treatment I often went to talks and seminars all around the country. At one of these, in Dublin, I heard Dr. Carney ( the Medical Oncologist at the Mater Hospital Dublin ) speak on the reasons for setting up ARC House in Eccles Street in 1996. He had realized that there was a lack of professional support for patients once they had departed from the Medical model of diagnosis and treatment. They were left, often worried and alone, to get on with the rest of their lives. I totally agreed. Deidre McCloskey, the first Oncology Nurse in Kerry General Hospital, and I had many discussions on how to achieve this for our patients in the county.
In 2008, when the Breast Cancer services were transferred to Cork, an opportunity arose to acquire funds which had been donated by the generous people of Kerry to be used within the county. In early 2009 the plans started in earnest. A committee was formed, a premises was purchased and by November we had registered the charity. FAS came aboard and transformed it into a wonderful tranquil place for welcoming and helping our Visitors, to allow them to regain control of their lives. After much work, and several fabulous fundraising events, which included what would become the first of an annual dance at the Earl of Desmond Hotel and the wonderful Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle, we were officially opened on the 3rd September 2010 by our Patron Mr Dick Spring to support all those dealing with Cancer diagnosis. We are also there for any close family members or carers in need of some support.
With the full support and guidance of the Irish Cancer Society we have flourished. My hope is that this much needed service will continue into the future, supporting the people of Kerry. Also that the message of what we have to offer is spread far and wide so that all those that would benefit from our support are aware that it is there for them, this oasis of calm in the troubled sea of their lives.