Mark Dobson: I wear factor 50, renal patients are at more risk of skin cancer
In his weekly column, kidney transplant recipient Mark Dobson, the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks back at the Renal Dialysis Roadshow at his local hospital, where there was further big news
We have all been basking in a very fortunate fortnight of sweltering heat and sunshine. A rare, but none-the-less very welcome if warm June for us all.
However, when considering staying healthy in the sunshine I want to focus for a moment on its impact upon renal and transplant patients. Mum has been constantly nagging me to wear my factor 50 when I am outside, which as any renal patient will know is the essential advice we receive from our doctors because of our higher risk of developing skin cancer.
In fact, transplant patients can be up to three times more likely to get skin cancers because of the immuno-supressant drugs we all need to take.
It's something we have to live with - hence all the nagging!
Obviously the risk is always there for everyone and you don't need to be a renal patient or post-transplant to take heed of those warnings to take care in the sun.
Speaking of good health advice, there was plenty on offer last week at the Renal Dialysis Roadshow at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, which was jointly organised by the Southern Trust, Kidney Care UK and the Northern Ireland transplant charities NIKPA & NIKRF.
It was lovely to see everyone back on the ward again and also to get the chance to hear some wonderful stories of love and devotion from patients and their families.
What a lovely sight it was to get all the nurses and auxiliaries from the ward together for a photo in the main reception with the charity representatives. It was a great chance for me to once again spend some time with the wonderful professionals who looked after me during my seven months on dialysis - they really do care and mean the world to me.
I have written before about how your journeys criss-cross in hospital and it was great for mum and I to chat with people who were on dialysis, waiting on a transplant or post transplant like ourselves - we share so much on our journey with everyone.
Well done again to everyone who organised, attended and helped out at the five events across Northern Ireland - especially William Johnston for his constant hard work and dedication and to those who volunteered to be hooked up to dialysis in the units and the camper van to demonstrate the versatility of home dialysis.
It was also great news to wake up on Monday morning to see the additional investment being made available for Daisy Hill Hospital.
Those who work in it and the many patients who attend and rely on its dedicated services - not least my former fellow dialysis patients - will be absolutely delighted to hear that there is a long-term strategy for the hospital.
Personally, I have many reasons to be grateful to Daisy Hill and the role it has had and continues to play in my life and my health. None of us know when we may need to rely on the health service. I have had the fortune of seeing how well the links operate between the regional renal service in Daisy Hill and the central renal and transplant units at the Belfast City Hospital.
However, it must always be remembered that it is the dedicated professionals who make any service possible and supporting staff in their vital roles is absolutely critical to the future of our health service in Northern Ireland.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Keith and Kathryn Anderson from Portadown. Keith received a transplanted kidney from his sister Paula just a few weeks before mum and I had our transplant.
Alongside Keith's mum Anne, Aunt Noell and others, they organised a fantastic fundraising evening in the Legion in Portadown on Saturday night to raise money for Kidney Care UK and for the NI Kidney Research Fund.
I know how much hard work and effort they all put into the evening and send them my love and best wishes until we catch up again soon.
It's always lovely to hear about people going that extra mile to help support our local organ donation and kidney charities. It makes a massive difference to the lives of people living with kidney failure.