Health Board: Upcoming conferences, talks, campaigns and events

1) October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Irish Cancer Society is keen for women to discuss any breast abnormalities with their doctors early. Joan Kelly, cancer support manager at the society, says that "being breast aware means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, talk to your doctor without delay. If cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful." Being a healthy weight, being active for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, reducing alcohol consumption, breastfeeding your baby, not smoking and attending Breastcheck when called are all ways to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.

2) A six-week course on prostate cancer starts on Wednesday, October 17th, at the ARC Cancer Support Centre in Eccles Street, Dublin 1. Topics include managing the anxiety and fear around a cancer diagnosis, relationship issues and physical issues. The course offers men an opportunity to meet and get support from other men with a similar diagnosis. Booking on Tel: 01 8307333 or email

3) OCD Ireland, the support group for people with obsessive compulsive disorders, hosts a free series of talks on the third Wednesday of each month in St Patrick's University Hospital, Dublin. Psychologist Fionnula MacLiam will speak about body dysmorphic disorder (when someone believes a part of their body is severely flawed and needs to be hidden or fixed) at the next talk on October 17th at 7pm.

4) The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland will hold a public talk on mental and physical wellbeing on Thursday, October 18th, at 6pm as part of the annual St Luke's Symposium. Mental health advocate Brent Pope will speak about men's mental health – drawing from his personal experience with anxiety and his advocacy work. Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, from Safefood, will discuss the links between appetite, mood, physical activity, food culture and our genes. Dr Anne-Marie Tobin, consultant dermatologist, will speak about protecting skin and spotting the signs of skin damage. Admission free but advanced booking on


5) When Someone You Care About is Dying in Hospital – What to Expect is the title of a new booklet produced by the Irish Hospice Foundation and the HSE. The aim of the booklet is to support patients and families at this emotional and challenging time. It offers practical advice on coping with changes in the person who is dying, talking about feelings, what to do if someone dies while you are with them, looking after yourself etc. About 43 per cent of people die in hospitals every year. The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme wants end-of-life, palliative and bereavement care to be central to the everyday business of hospitals across Ireland. The booklet can be downloaded on

6) The HSE, Safefood and Healthy Ireland are encouraging parents to reduce the amount of screen time their children have so that they can become more active. The START campaign encourages families to make a "play pact" by committing as a family to pause for play and spend less time on their screens. Sarah O'Brien, HSE national lead on the START campaign, says: "Ideally, under-twos should have no screen time, while under-fives should have no more than an hour a day. For older children, it's important to agree set limits that suit your family and to stick to them. Children love to copy what others do so if they see parents on a smartphone, chances are they'll want to do the same. Having wind-down time with no screens before bedtime and enjoying more screen-free meals together are two good places where parents can start." The website has simple ideas on getting active in and around the home.

7) Skin specialists and patient advocates will offer free advice and answer questions about living with psoriasis at the third annual "psoriasis shout out" in Dundrum Town Centre on Saturday, October 13th, from 9.30am-5.30pm.

8) Alpha-1 is a genetic condition that can cause lung, liver and skin disease.  There are over 600 people diagnosed with severe Alpha-1 in Ireland but many thousands more are affected.    The annual Alpha-1 Conference is on Friday October 12 from 9.30am in the Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.  Guest speakers include Dr Avril Kennan, CEO of the Medical Research Charities Group, Prof Gerry McElvaney, Alpha-1 Specialist at Beaumont Hospital, and Prof Gianpiero Cavalleri, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.  For more details, email or Tel:01-8093871.

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, heritage and the environment