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Cancer survivors thrive through dedicated programme

 Five women and one man looking at the camera and smiling.


“Coming out of the course I am finally thinking about myself and what is and isn’t good for me going forward. I am now ready to thrive,” according to a participant from a recent HSE led Cancer Thriving and Surviving (CTS) programme.  They added: “I found the brainstorming exercises very beneficial. The programme gave us the opportunity to not only share our experiences but learn from others also. It benefited me greatly and helped me make a decision on whether I was ready to return to work.”

With more than 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland currently, a key goal of survivorship care is to optimise patients’ quality of life after a cancer diagnosis. CTS, led by the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is designed to empower participants to achieve their best possible health outcome.

According to Louise Mullen, National Lead for Cancer Survivorship, HSE NCCP,  “the Cancer Thriving and Surviving Programme supports all cancer survivors with their post-treatment recovery. We’ve seen demand for the programme grow over the last few years, as cancer survivorship rates increase. This is thanks to better outcomes, earlier detection and treatments for cancer patients, in line with the implementation of the National Cancer Strategy.

“The HSE NCCP provides funds for the delivery of survivorship programmes across the country, done in collaboration with cancer centres, community cancer support centres and national charity organisations. The programme focuses on self-management, with participants attending weekly workshops over a 6-week period. The programme supports patients as they finish their treatment and transition to the survivorship period. The CTS programme is free to all cancer patients regardless of where they live, and can be delivered in person or online.”

Bernie O’Loughlin, Programme Coordinator, HSE NCCP, adds that it can be adifficult time for some people as they adjust to a changed self, so we aim to empower people to regain their self-confidence and promote recovery and wellbeing. The programme provides information and advice on healthy lifestyle and nutrition, disease prevention and the long-term consequences of treatment. We also provide psycho-social support and techniques for managing relationships.”

There are over 100 programme leaders across Ireland, including 7 Master Trainers. The programme is delivered in 29 centres nationwide, in both acute hospital and community settings, and over 1,000 cancer survivors have participated to date. Cancer survivors who co-lead the programmes have taken part in the programme themselves and received special training in order to support participants.

Dorothy Thomas, Patient Engagement Manager, HSE NCCP, explains that they have “received such positive feedback from people who have participated in the programme. The workshops are delivered in a relaxed, friendly environment, where participants set their own goals. The workshops are led not only by health professionals, but also cancer survivors who have themselves gone through what the participants are experiencing. Because of the increased demand for the programme, we are recruiting cancer survivors to become programme leaders.”

Cancer survivors who want to join the Cancer Survivorship and Thrive Programme, as participants or to become leaders, can get in touch at