A harrowing film will air on TV this week about the lives of Donegal people who travel together on the Good & New Cancer Bus to Galway.

Good & New Cancer Bus

Turas na hAilse – The Cancer Journey airs this Wednesday, 19th April at 8.30pm on TG4. The documentary follows a group of people from Donegal who have been brought together by difficult – but unifying – circumstances.

Twice a week cancer patients from Donegal board a bus and travel five hours and 200 kilometres to receive radiotherapy in University Hospital Galway, their nearest treatment centre. When in Galway they take residence in Inis Aoibhinn for the week, a haven away from the hospital where people help each other and rejuvenate as a group.

Without the charity funded bus and without Inis Aoibhann ran by the Cancer Care West charity, the film shows how to people of Donegal would be isolated and left in the dark. 

Tréasa Ní Ghallachóir with staff member at Inis Aoibhann

Donegal woman Tréasa Ní Ghallachóir is one of the patients featured in Turas na hAilse. Tréasa is originally from An Bhealtaine , Gortahoirce, Co. Dhún na nGall but lived in the townland of Glasserchoo,in the parish of Cloughaneely, Co. Donegal when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

To receive radiotherapy treatment Tréasa had to travel five hours to Galway on Bus Feda, without which she would be stranded. On her return to Donegal, Tréasa would utilize the Good & New Cancer Bus; she would travel back every Friday for four weeks.

James McConn a farmer from Three Trees, Quigley’s Point, Co. Donegal who had to travel 290km to Galway to receive radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

At 72 years of age James had to wake at 4am on a Monday morning, make his own way 45km to Letterkenny, and board the Good & New Cancer Bus to Inis Aoibhinn in Galway where he would take residence whilst receiving radiotherapy.

On Friday James would return to Donegal on the Good & New Cancer Bus embarking on another 290km journey, he would do this for seven weeks in total in order to receive the treatment he needed.

Galway-based Hawkeye Films and Phantom Limb Productions combined forces to capture the reality of life for cancer patients in the Northwest of Ireland. The programme shows how they are supported and strengthened by each other at the staff of Inis Aoibhinn to display resilience, generosity and spirit.

“It takes the pressure off everybody, your family and everything. It’s a big asset for the Donegal people to have this bus,” said Nuala Boyle.

“Its such a whirlwind, if you knew what was ahead you’d run a mile if you could, but you just get through it,” said Ann McLoughlin.

Watch “Turas na hAilse – The Cancer Journey” on Wednesday 19th April 2017 at 8.30pm on TG4.