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Let’s Talk About Fertility

Roses and Rainbows

New Donegal group raising awareness about the importance of providing local support for people facing fertility challenges.

This month a new Facebook group was created entitled “Roses and Rainbows” it started with a post about one Donegal couples experience of going through IVF and their recent loss through miscarriage. As part of this month’s Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices, the founder of the group shares her voice and lived experience around the issue of fertility.

 


Myself and my partner have been trying to conceive for the past three and a half years, we went through a number of tests which resulted in us being referred for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) in the form of ICSI, which we have been doing for the past few years.

 

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This month on the 6th August 2019, after our second frozen embryo transfer, we suffered a miscarriage. Our heartbreak and loss moved us to tell our story and set up the group “Rose’s and Rainbows” both as a way of helping us heal and deal with what we have been through but to also help others who may be going through similar fertility challenges and experiences.

 

The issue of infertility is still a very sensitive subject and I believe we are very under educated as a society about how to deal with fertility issues and miscarriage, it is still very much the elephant in the room. We need to change this.

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The Rose’s and Rainbows name came about as we both have a love of Rose’s and I guess we are looking for the rainbow in our storm, as are many. The page itself is a personal blog of what we have been through so far and continue to deal with, this includes our highs and lows, the financial cost of IVF, the emotional side of infertility and the heart break of a miscarriage.

 

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Followers are free to message in privately with their stories if they feel they would like to share them with us, and if they would like we can publish them in the hope of helping others. (this of course would be done privately with no names attached to the stories).

Since setting up we have received offers by some amazing professions who will be writing blogs on fitness and health tailored towards fertility and during and after IVF and miscarriage.

Our experience over these past few years has highlighted that there is a lack of a local support network here in Letterkenny and Donegal on infertility, IVF journeys and miscarriage.

As Roses and Rainbows we are delighted to say we have now set up a monthly met-up, the first one on Sunday 25th August with a meditation session also taking place on Monday 7th October, 7-8.30pm. We believe in respecting the privacy of individuals who are going through this sensitive matter and recognise that some people would like to keep their private life’s private, as such all locations for these meetings will be given by private message)

Our motto is “you are not alone even if you decide to go through any of these journeys without telling your family or friends, because there is a local network of support in place to listen and help”.

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Supports Going Forward

We would love to see annual information events held here in the North West from the likes of the miscarriage association of Ireland etc. While it would also be amazing if a fertility clinic and counselling service that were linked were based here in the North West.

It is hugely important that the promised funding from government is soon put into places, because at the moment all couples receive is tax back. The financial struggles going through treatment is very stressful added on top of everything else.

 


A Human Rights Issue

The right to a family life is a Human Right, yet in Ireland the right to this basic human right comes at a high price if you are a person experiencing fertility issues.

The cost of fertility treatment is high, IVF treats cost from around €4,600 upwards and this does not include other related treatments and medical supports  involved in the process. People do not receive funding supports, their only opinions is to claim tax back. Which is the last thing the State should except a person/s going through this experience in the hope of building their family to have to do. In 2018 the government announced that €1m would go to IVF treatment for couples unable to conceive, yet a year on this funding has not been released.[1]

 


National Support Advise

For more information on IVF Treatments and the process please visit here. National support advise services can also be found with the following organisations

We thank the founder of the Roses and Rainbow group for sharing with us her story and ongoing journey. You can find and LIKE the group on Facebook here.

 

[1] Reported in the Irish Examiner, https://amp.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/concern-as-ivf-funding-still-not-in-place-922418.html


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

The Other Side Of The Screen

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This feature is part of the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network, ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Anne McLaughlin, who reflects on some of the pressures young women in Donegal face today. 

Most of you reading this will be wondering why I chose this title. I chose this title for one simple reason and that is to portray women’s future prospects within Irish society. Although it is a very gender biased society we live in, women are coming into equal power to men very slowly. We are progressing as the years go on and well if you think about it, it took one woman to make a change for many women, which was a major breakthrough in the more traditional society we still live in today. For example the beloved Susan B.Anthony was the first woman to revolutionise the Irish Constitution for women’s rights to vote. This created an extraordinary chain of inspiration within the Irish community.

Within the modern world we encounter more social related issues rather than demographic for the modern day women. As a young woman it is extremely difficult to become independent as we are frowned upon for being “alone”. Even to be seen alone would be considered a problem. On a more controversial note, I grew up with with siblings nearly twice my age, they taught me mannerisms that most people my age and below lack in this modern society. From a very young age I was taught respect and appreciation and I am glad to say I have carried that through and will continue to do so.

The biggest problem facing a young woman today is the influence of social media and its impact on our self-esteem, confidence and competing against one another. Social media has brought on unachievable high standards and expectations in terms of career prospects and quality of life. Social media teaches young girls that provocation is a trend and should be taken part in rather than a bad trait. If you take Instagram for example, 90% of their influencers are encouraging plastic surgery, mountains of makeup, unrealistic body transformations and the most self indulgent topic of the lot, materialism.

The saddest thing about this is most young girls don’t realise the internal damage they are doing to their young lives before it’s even begun because it’s the only way of living they have ever known. From my observations of working with young girls in a youth club, they seem to have grown up much too quickly. They are spoilt with choice and opportunity without realising how lucky they are to have some of the things they possess. Children as young as 11 are being introduced to the world of social media through Iphones or any other brand of smartphone you can think of. This brings on more issues than resolutions, as they hold the key to a world of revolutionising information but yet they also hold the key to ruin their lives over the silliest of things like “looking good”. The unfortunate reality is that this can drive a young girl to have suicidal thoughts for those irrelevant reasons.

As a young woman living in a rural Ireland, social pressure has a massive influence on the mental wellbeing of our young people in this country. Young people are taught to follow rather than lead. This creates a trend, a trend only lasts for a short space of time and something not worth noting within society and Irish culture. It must be said that the novelty of the online world is slowly declining. This will bring on new developments within education and the way people communicate. This will also introduce a higher level of social awareness. On a more positive note, the opportunities are limitless and most of the future jobs aren’t even created yet for our young people. “Your big opportunity might be where you are right now”, Napoleon Hill.

By Anne McLaughlin.

NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

 

‘SORT OUR SMEARS’ CAMPAIGN

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network are inviting you to participant in the ‘SORT Our Smears’ CAMPAIGN, a community ‘art in activism’ project by visual artist Barbara O’Meara in collaboration with Karen Ward of Moon Mna Women’s Celtic Circles supported by the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Network’s (NCCWN)

The project is in response to the ongoing ‘Cervical Check’ Smear Test Scandal which broke last year. This ongoing scandal is affecting thousands of women across Ireland, threatening women’s health and wellbeing, and already resulted in the loss of 22 women’s lives in Ireland.

This month it was reported[1] there remains a backlog of 80,000 tests and delays of up to 33 weeks for a result. This situation is unacceptable and action is required from the government to address this situation now.

The ’Sort Our Smears’ Campaign was launched on 8th March for International Women’s Day and grassroot community workshops are currently being run to give women the opportunity through the use of art to express how you feel about the ongoing cervical smear test scandal which is impacting women’s healthcare in Ireland.

The project aim is to bring all the pieces created by women from across Ireland together to be put on Exhibition Nationally in Autumn 2019.

NCCWN Donegal are pleased to be a part of this project and will be running a number of art activism sessions in Donegal for women to participant in to express how they feel about the ‘Cervical Check’ Smear Test Scandal.

Confirmed dates include

8th May, Donegal Women’s Network, 6 Tír Chonaill Street Donegal Town; 10am-12.30pm,

9th May, Central Library Letterkenny, St Oliver Plunkett Road, 10.30am-1pm

27th May, Greencastle Community Centre, 12.00-2.30pm

Should you be a group interested in participating in a session please get in contact with us to discuss if we can facilitate one in your area too!

Places are limited so please sign up by filling in our online form here, we can also be contacted on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or 074 9722790

 

To find out more about the campaign  ‘Sort Our Smears’ Campaign please see here.

For information for people concerned about Cervical Check please visit the HSE information page which can be found here.

[1] https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/harris-to-stand-over-free-tests-decision-amid-80000-backlog-37991909.html

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Some the SORT OUR SMEARS art pieces already created by women in Ireland

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Donegal Public Consultation for National Cancer Strategy

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Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) has been invited by the National Cancer Strategy Steering Group, as part of the development of a new strategy, to seek out the opinions of people who access our services and their loved ones as to how cancer services could be better organised in Ireland. With this in mind DACC are doing what they can within its role to ensure as far as possible that Donegal people are aware of this opportunity.

They are therefore asking:

  1. Have you had direct experiences of cancer services in this country?
  2. What was that like? Are there things that you think work really well?
  3. Are there things that could be improved?
  4. For people diagnosed with cancer in future, what would your one wish be for them in making life that little bit easier?

DACC will be making its own submission and we have identified the following four key priorities:

  • the need for provision of, timely access to, and appropriate funding of psycho-social services for all people with cancer and their families countrywide
  • the need for psycho-social services to be included as a key element of the clinical care pathway and for training to be provided to health care staff in signposting patients to these services
  • the need for equality of access to early diagnosis and treatment of cancer for all patients irrespective of means and travel difficulties for patient who have to travel long journeys for treatment
  • the need to increase the numbers of oncology nurse staff in our hospitals, significantly impacted as a result of the previous moratorium on the recruitment of the staff in the public sector

However, we very much believe that there is strength in numbers and would strongly encourage you to share your experiences of cancer services also. You can answer as little or as much as you wish. You may want to comment on one aspect of the cancer journey, or all of it. The choice is yours. The closing date for completion of submissions is Friday July 24 at 5pm. These can be made by email to cancerconsultation@health.gov.ie or by post to Cancer Strategy Public Consultation, Department of Health, Hawkins House, Hawkins Street, Dublin 2. To download the question form (in word-document) please click  Cancer Strategy Public Consultation Document (Final)-6 DACC believe it is really important that you have your say in the development of the new National Cancer Strategy 2016-2025. For further information you can contact DACC at: Moneygreggan, Newtowncunningham, Lifford, Co. Donegal,  Tel: 087 2905 946