Nov 08 2023 Posted: 09:00 GMT

RTÉ will broadcast a special documentary shinning a light on the lived experience of cancer patients, their contribution to research and the ongoing work of research centres that will shape how cancer will be treated in the future.

‘The People There to Catch Us’ tells the story of Tom Hope and Rachel O’Mahony, two cancer patients who work alongside researchers at CÚRAM, SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at University of Galway and Precision Oncology Ireland, led from University College Dublin, to help improve the lives of others living with the disease.

The documentary, facilitated by Ardán, produced by Ronan Cassidy of Carbonated Comet and directed by Luke Brabazon, will be screened at 8pm on Monday November 13 on RTÉ 1. 

Professor William Gallagher, Precision Oncology Ireland Deputy Director and Co-Lead of the All-Island Cancer Research Institute, whose own personal experience with cancer in his family continues to shape and motivate his approach to cancer research, said: “Precision Oncology Ireland researchers are working on developing a variety of targeted approaches to diagnose and more accurately treat cancer patients based on the exact type of disease they have and their own personal biology. In the past, cancer patients were only offered generalised approaches, such as chemotherapy, to tackle their disease, often leading to significant side effects. Our team is working hard to find unique characteristics of certain cancers that can be used to improve patient outcomes while lessening the challenge of side effects.”

Tom Hope explains his role as a patient partner and steering committee member of the Patient Voice in Cancer Research: “I am involved as a patient on a number of committees with oncologists, radiologists, urologists and scientists. Sharing my personal experiences, I have found that most medics don’t understand the anxiety that diagnosis and treatment can cause a patient and their family. In addition to occasionally discussing research with scientists and giving them the benefit of my lived experience of cancer, I have had the great pleasure of acting as a peer-to-peer volunteer and sharing my personal experience with men diagnosed with prostate cancer. In this way, I hope that I am giving them comfort that their experience is not unique, with supports being there to get through their treatment and live a normal life. A few comforting words telling you that you can get through this, can make all the difference.”

Dr Róisín Dwyer, CÚRAM and Precision Oncology Ireland Investigator, University of Galway, who features in the film, said: “I’m delighted that this film will reach a national audience, to show them the research that is happening here in Ireland on their own doorstep. Our research is patient-focused and we are privileged to work so closely with patient partners like Rachel who has contributed to our research at University of Galway over several years. This film is a celebration of the power of collaboration, highlighting that we can achieve so much more when we all work together.”  

Ardán CEO, Alan Duggan said: “Ardán has been proud to co-facilitate the Science on Screen programme with CÚRAM for the last eight years. This initiative affords filmmakers the opportunity to develop their creative skills as they produce important content on STEM subjects, while also providing a key educational and promotional resource for the science research community and the professionals involved. This month, alongside CÚRAM and the National Talent Academy Animation, we open the next round of the Science on Screen animation. We look forward to continuing this programme with our partners to promote science through the creative industries.”

This is the seventh documentary produced through the CÚRAM-Ardán Science on Screen initiative, which aims to facilitate, promote and increase the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) content in Irish film and TV production. 

‘The People There to Catch Us’ was produced in collaboration with Precision Oncology Ireland and the Patient Voice in Cancer Research and funded by CÚRAM, the All-Island Cancer Research Institute, the UCD-Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund and the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.

Along with Dr Dwyer, the documentary also features Professor William Gallagher, Precision Oncology Ireland Deputy Director, UCD Conway Institute and Co-Lead, All-Island Cancer Research Institute; and Professor Walter Kolch, Precision Oncology Ireland Director, and Director of Systems Biology Ireland, UCD, all of whom are focused on personalised cancer research at Precision Oncology Ireland.

Science on Screen began in 2016 with CÚRAM funding documentary filmmaking through Ardán as facilitators and providing access to leading scientists and laboratories within CÚRAM to explore methods of scientific ‘storytelling’ and to produce short films that incorporate current research at CÚRAM and its partners. These documentaries are available for community and educational screenings nationwide. Find out more on the CÚRAM website



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