The specialist care we provide to patients and their families during difficult times leaves a lasting impression. Here are some of their stories.
The McGovern Family, Ballyholland
Our mummy, Barbara McGovern spent her time raising 4 children and walking the roads of Ballyholland in Newry every day with our dog, Molly (who could arguably be described as the 5th child!) She would walk every day, talking to everyone as she went along. Mummy was the most outgoing, friendly, and bubbly person, the life and soul of every party. She was glamorous by nature and would never be seen without her lipstick and sunglasses on, regardless of the weather! She was a real people person who loved to travel the world, seeing new places, and making sure to bring her sense of humour everywhere she went.
Mummy was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of July 2017 aged just 55. She was young and healthy, so this was a huge shock for all of us as a family. The plan was to start chemotherapy but unfortunately, things progressed very quickly, and she was taken into hospital with pneumonia a few weeks later. We were told that her cancer had progressed and that the next option would be palliative care. The Hospice was offered to us on Monday 25th September and only 2 days later, we moved mummy to the Southern Area Hospice.
In the two weeks, we spent at Southern Area Hospice the care and support we all received was outstanding. During the toughest time of our lives, we took comfort in the fact that mummy was being looked after so well by such a wonderful team. We were all made to feel at home - whether it was a cup of tea in the middle of the night or a shoulder to cry on when times got tough, we were always guaranteed that someone would be there. We saw such a change in mummy from the moment she arrived, she was comfortable, content, and happy. The family room available in the Hospice was great to have as well, it gave us all a chance to take a breather from time to time, and to meet other families going through the same situation. All in all, mummy was diagnosed less than 11 weeks before she lost her battle with cancer on Wednesday 11th October 2017.
There are no words to describe how fantastic the support and care you receive from the Southern Area Hospice is. Every member of the team from the receptionists, healthcare assistants, kitchen staff, nurses, and doctors take the time to look after everyone who comes through the door. We will always attempt to give back to the Hospice by fundraising so others can avail of the services we did but we will never be able to repay the staff for what they gave us in our time of need as the services are truly invaluable. We will never forget the time we spent in the Hospice with mummy, for all the right reasons.
The Mc Caffrey Family.
Dermot had battled with cancer for roughly 4 years, when he sadly passed away on the 20th February 2019. The progression of the disease all happened very quickly and came as a huge shock to his family and friends, but in particular, myself, our 3 daughters, and his parents and siblings.
In December of 2018, Dermot presented to Craigavon Area Hospital ED with severe pain in his leg and problems with his vision. This led to him being admitted to Craigavon a couple of weeks later as his health deteriorated, and the next time Dermot would get home was for his wake.
During his prolonged stay in CAH, Dermot’s palliative care nurse Donna mentioned the Southern Area Hospice as an option for pain management and she recognised that being on an open ward was not giving us an opportunity to be with him whenever we wanted to due to restricted visiting hours. Our 3 daughters, Louise, Laura, and Ella, aged just 21, 17, and 13 at the time, so desperately wanted to spend as much time as physically possible with their daddy and so Donna reassured them that Dermot moving to the Hospice would be the best thing. Dermot was more than willing to transfer to the Hospice. He was never hesitant, anxious, or worried. He was assured that the Hospice would be able to control his pain and make him comfortable. A bed in the Hospice became available on the 8th February 2019 and Dermot was transferred over to their care.
Dermot was immediately relaxed and reassured by the staff in the Hospice, that they would do everything to make his stay as pain-free and comfortable as possible. The girls and I were able to visit Dermot at any time and we always felt welcomed. We stayed as long as we wished every day and there was never a problem. It was comforting to know the staff in the Hospice recognised how difficult this time was for us and they allowed us space and time with Dermot to make the memories that we hold dear now.
Our middle daughter turned 18 on the 19th of February and to be able to mark her birthday surrounded by all the family in the Hospice was a privilege. The staff allowed us to put up balloons and banners in Dermot’s room, we also ordered a cake and we shared it with all the Hospice staff, other patients, and their families. It was a very special day, and we have memories that will last forever.
The Southern Area Hospice holds a special place in the heart of our family. Every single member of staff went above and beyond to care for Dermot in the 2 weeks he spent there. They are a special group of people who make such a difficult time that bit easier. They support the patient as well as their family and recognise that time is so precious. No family ever expects to need the Hospice and so we will always support them as much as we can, as we have the lived experience as a testament to their dedication and commitment to helping the most in need at the time they need it. As a family, we will never be able to express our gratitude towards them enough. We are extremely lucky to have such an amazing place available.
Deirdre, Caitlin, Alana and Sienna Grant
“Hospice was like nothing we had ever imagined.” Raymond Grant's Family share their hospice stor
This story is told by Deirdre Grant, Raymond (Nippy) Grants wife.
Raymond, our three girls and I were leading a normal, busy family life and we were so happy without even realising it. Then one day in early November 2017 Raymond noticed that he was having a few problems swallowing food, when he choked while eating a sandwich, we sought out the advice of our GP. It was Raymond’s 43rd birthday that day. Tests soon confirmed our worst fears, Raymond had a tumour blocking his oesophagus and on the 22nd December we learned that is was advanced oesophageal cancer. We were absolutely devastated but determined not to spoil Christmas for our children and our families, hiding our tears, putting on a brave face, until on Boxing Day we sat our girls down and explained what was happening to them.
Raymond’s cancer was more advanced than we had thought and 2018 passed in a blur of chemo, hospital visits and very little good news. In June of that year the two of us went to Tenerife, we talked about our 23 happy years together, but it was obvious that Raymond was deteriorating, so we created a bucket list of things he could fulfil in the short time left. One last family holiday all together was top of his list and so soon after we all headed back to Tenerife, unfortunately Raymond was very unwell when we arrived and had to be content watching the girls play in the pool from the window of our apartment.
From July to December 2018 Raymond was taken to A &E 37 times and while the staff in Daisy Hill Hospital were incredible, we all knew Raymond needed more specialised care. On several occasions the palliative care team talked to him about going to the Hospice, but Raymond was adamant he would not go. His only wish left was to die at home with us.
Another Christmas passed and in January of last year Raymond decided “to give the Hospice a go”. We were all a little nervous, but we need not have been. We discussed Raymond’s wishes to die at home and the staff promised him that he could go home whenever he wanted. Raymond was more content and settled into their care.
“Hospice was nothing like either of us had imagined”, Raymond was amazed by his beautiful private room and his comfortable bed looking out over Newry City. He enjoyed the home cooked food which was prepared to suit his soft food diet. But above all else the staff, so friendly so supportive and kind to all of us. The care they provide is so specialised and they did everything they could to make things a little easier for us. As a family we were trying to continue with some resemblance of a normal life for the girls as they were still going to school and studying for GCSE’s. There are no visiting hours in Hospice so it meant that we could visit Raymond at any time of the day or night. For months, the girls went straight from school to Hospice and that became our new normal life.
Raymond was admitted to Hospice on five different occasions, and each time the staff got his symptoms back under control and delivered their promise of letting him go back home. He was in Hospice on St Patrick’s day last year and he wanted to do something normal, to come out with me and the girls to see the festivities and to have a glass of Guinness with his friends one last time. So that is exactly what we did and when we took him back to Hospice that night he was so happy and content. Looking back now I am so happy that we were able to do that.
Raymond passed away peacefully, at home as promised on Tuesday 26th March 2019 aged just 44 with our daughters Caitlin, Alana and Sienna and I at his side.
This is our story of how the Hospice helped us and we are indebted to them and the people who fundraise and donate to the Hospice. It is the kind and generous donations made to the hospice that allowed us the opportunity to avail of this invaluable service.
I have shared our story with you so that you can see the difference your donations have made to families like ours. Hospice take the donations you make and turn them into the care people like us receive. So, at a time when our hospice needs donations more than ever before, I ask you to please donate today so that together we can ensure Hospice care is there for the next family like ours who need it.
Thank you all so much.