Gold Ribbon Conversations, a podcast that uses the power of conversation to explore and increase awareness of childhood cancer, launches its third season today. Five new episodes delve into the experiences of families during diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and bereavement, as well as hearing from medical experts in the field. 

Gold Ribbon Conversations is an initiative of Childhood Cancer Ireland, the national parent and survivor-led charity representing the voice of children and young people with cancer, survivors and their families. The charity created the podcast in 2021 to support families and the survivors who deal with the life-long effects of their diagnosis and treatment.  

A diagnosis of childhood cancer has a devastating impact on the entire family. It brings fear, anxiety, sadness, pain and isolation. Produced and hosted by Sinead O’Moore from the No1 parenting podcast, “everymum the podcast”, Gold Ribbon Conversations aims to break through the isolation by sharing important conversations that explore the lows and highs of childhood cancer, ultimately finding the light, hope, friendships and community that also exist here. 

Sinead O’Moore, Podcast Host:
We started this podcast last year with a one-off series of six episodes and I have been delighted to be able to develop and grow the podcast in response to the demand for a sense of community and a source of support and solidarity. It is my privilege to create and share these conversations on behalf of Childhood Cancer Ireland. This is a community that nobody wants to join but each week seven families will receive this devastating diagnosis, unsure of where to turn and feeling alone and isolated. Gold Ribbon Conversations connects and supports these families. Each guest has a unique experience to share, each one can help to create awareness and understanding of the world of childhood cancer and I am deeply honoured to be involved and grateful to our guests for their strength, openness and commitment.” 

Mary-Claire Rennick, Voluntary Director of Childhood Cancer Ireland:
As a parent of a childhood cancer survivor, I know how invaluable peer support is in helping to break through the isolation and loneliness experienced during diagnosis, treatment and beyond. The outside world sees that our children are acutely ill and lose their hair but there is so much else going on inside the family – many parents struggle to cope emotionally and financially, siblings struggle to deal with the uncertainty and change and the entire family is thrown into crisis. Families and communities want to help but sometimes don’t know how. We are very proud of and grateful to our guests who trust us with their experiences and help other families and create awareness by sharing their stories so honestly and openly.” 

Each year, 358 children, adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland [1]. It is estimated that there are over 6,000 adult survivors of childhood cancer living in Ireland and thankfully, due to improved treatments, this number is growing. However, cure often comes at a cost and survivors live with long-term and late-effects due to the harsh treatments required to save their lives.  

Gold Ribbon Conversations also honours the children and young people whose lives have been tragically cut short by childhood cancer, with bereaved parents generously sharing their stories and giving us an opportunity to get to know their children.  

Gold Ribbon Conversations is available now wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Season 3 Episodes: 

Episode 1: Carly Ellis, Mum to Aoife 

Mum of four Carly Ellis takes us through the cancer journey her family have been on since her daughter Aoife was born in 2010. Born with a birth mark on her face, routine tests were a saving grace when Aoife’s optic nerve tumor was discovered at only 6 weeks old. Carly shares the impact the diagnosis had on her mental health, her career, their finances and motherhood.

Episode 2: Mark McQuillan, Dad to Aoife 

When Mark’s daughter Aoife was born prematurely weighing only 970g, he thought they had faced their toughest battle. But when Aoife became ill just after her 4th birthday, a new battle began.  

This episode is a conversation with a dad who went through it all acting brave and strong but who now understands how important it is for men to be able to talk about the stress, trauma and grief that they feel while fighting childhood cancer.  

Episode 3: Sabrina Lawless, Mum to Jack 

Jack was a happy, healthy 10-year-old boy when his dad noticed his head was tilting to one side. Something so innocent quickly became the worst diagnosis a parent can hear. This episode is an act of courage as Sabrina, Jack’s mother talks to us about their short journey and of losing Jack to a rare and ultimately terminal brain cancer.  

Episode 4: Olive O’Neill, Complementary Therapist, Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin 

Olive O’Neil is a clinical nurse specialist and Complementary Therapist with Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin. Here we talk about why her work is so valuable to the minds and physical wellbeing of her patients and parents and the story of how this essential service is being provided today on St. Johns Ward.  

Episode 5: Kyle and Leah Casey 

Kyle was diagnosed with cancer when he was 11 and Leah was nine. In this episode, the siblings explore the impact of his illness both of them individually, on their relationship and on the family as a whole. We talk about the bonds that were strengthened and the challenges that arose along the way.