Lily Mae on Hand to open child cancer centre
RYAN Tubridy and Tiny Dancer Lily Mae Morrison teamed up to open the country's first childhood cancer support centre for families.
The Hand in Hand charity opened the doors of its first centre in Oranmore, Co Galway.
It offers practical support to families who have a child with cancer.
Six-year-old Lily Mae was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just four.
Her mum, Judith, who is on the board of the charity, told the Herald that while there is "no glamour" in the support services that Hand in Hand offers such as cleaning, meal-provision and laundry, it is an invaluable resource for families in need.
"What Hand in Hand does is buy you time with your child. When you have a child with a serious illness there is nothing more precious than time," she said.
"Who wants to be scrubbing a floor when you want to cuddle up with your very sick child? Yet you have to keep the house spotless because of the risk of infection.
"We're not Make a Wish. There are no big Disney trips. We're not glamorous, but I think anybody would be able to understand the importance of spending time with your child and having someone helping out with the day-to-day things."
The peer support services that will be available at the new centre will answer a desperate need among families who are battling every parent's worst nightmare.
Bereavement sessions and support for the siblings of a child being treated for cancer are also offered at the new centre.
Hand in Hand currently works in 15 counties throughout Ireland and relies solely on donations as it gets no state funding.