At the Mater Foundation, we see the human side of the Mater Hospital every day.
The patients receiving exceptional care while going through their treatment, with their families by their side, have truly amazing stories to tell that highlight not only their bravery in times of difficulty, but also the wonderful care of the doctors and nurses that helped them through it.
Take a look at their special stories, in their own words.
“When I came back from holidays last year I couldn’t even lie down. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t eat. So they kept me in and I was put on the heart transplant list. I stayed in the Mater for the whole time and two months later I got my transplant. I went walking in Howth recently. At one stage I turned around and I was like oh my God… I’ve just climbed all that way. A year ago I couldn’t walk a flight of stairs and look what I’ve just done.”
Ciara Craig, Dublin
“I was pretty much living on St Vincent’s Ward and I don’t know what to say about the girls working there. They were the most honest, loving, caring people you’ll ever come across. They treated me like family, not as a young girl with cancer, who had to postpone her wedding. They kept me going in difficult times. They made it special to be on the ward.”
Aisling McStay, Malahide
“Aengus was playing indoor soccer in Sligo, when he banged his head on a wall. He had a spinal injury and was sent to the Mater. It was a life-shattering experience, for him and for us. I asked a nurse about hotels nearby and she got us a room in the Mater hostel. We ended up staying there for two years. It was great to be near him, you know, to keep him occupied and read him the newspapers. And it’s a lovely facility. We could do our own cooking and became friends with other people in similar circumstances. It was just great to be able to have a cup of tea and a chat, we were a support to each other. I can’t speak highly enough of the hostel and how important it is for people at a time like that. It’s invaluable.”
Kay Lyons, Aengus’ mother
“It’s a one in a million chance that you’ll get this cancer in your spine. It was a benign tumour, but I started to lose power in my arms and ended up in hospital for 3 months. I’d so much radiotherapy, they didn’t think I’d be able to have kids… but I got great support from everybody in the Mater. And on Valentine’s Day this year, my baby was born!”
Ciara Ebbs, Dunboyne
“I was diagnosed on a Monday and started chemo on the Wednesday. The next day I shaved my head. I found losing my hair harder than the treatment itself. The tumor was taken out but there were still some cancer cells left. In the 6 week-break before the radiation, I did my leaving cert. I passed and am studying to be a nurse… being in the Mater gave me such admiration for them. I got such a good feeling I realised I wanted to do nursing and help other people.”
Sarah O’Neill, Drogheda.
“They broke it to me that a heart transplant was a way out and it was just the same as if you’d hit me with a sledge, because like, my sister went through it and didn’t come out the other side of it. I had to weigh it up, I mean, three young kids… so anyway, 15th February 2012 I went on the list. The night it went ahead, there was tears in everyone’s eyes, it wasn’t just me and my family. But things worked out brilliantly. I’m forever grateful. I go hillwalking, climbing, cycling… I’m back doing all the stuff I did before and a lot more!”
Shane O’Connell, Kerry.
“It was 5 years ago today I received the gift of life through a heart transplant. I’m forever grateful to my donor and their family for giving me that gift so that I can go on and live life to the full now. Who knows what would have happened if a suitable donor had not come up.”
Sarah Jordan, Cork.
“It’s been 22 years since I was diagnosed with cancer and it’s so important to have hope that you’ll get better. After all has been done for me, the Mater Hospital has been very, very good. I was with Professor Carney in Oncology all the way through and it was every three months for nine to 10 years I would go to the Mater, and then it was every six months, and now it’s once per year I come back. Every year is a bonus, to come and know I’m good again. After 22 years I’m happy to do it, and now am thankful to fundraise. It’s raising awareness for other people who are just beginning their journey as I did all those years ago. We have done a coffee day for the last 15 years. It started small and we came together in the local area. There’s great local support up in Monaghan, and they are always happy to help the Mater Hospital.”
Madge Murphy, Monaghan.
“I was never a day sick in my life. And I was never inside the door of a hospital, except to visit friends. It happened when my wife and I were in the States visiting Mark, our son. One day I was playing golf with Mark and a friend, who was an orthopaedic surgeon. I’d noticed a bump, on the site on my arm where a mole had been, so I showed it to him. Later, a surgeon removed it and some lymph nodes. A week later I learned the lump was a malignant melanoma and I was told to investigate it further. Eventually I had a treatment whereby I had to inject myself in the stomach five times a week. That continued for a year and in July 2013 I was given the all-clear. But two months later another bump appeared and the consultant told me ‘Tom there is no easy way to tell you this, but the melanoma is back’. The tumour on my arm had returned and I developed signs of cancer in my lungs, and things were looking pretty bleak. My consultant told me about clinical trials and two very specific drugs in tackling melanomas. In October 2013, I began an intensive course of treatment that lasted for six weeks. Afterwards the scans showed the lump had melted away and my lungs were clear. This treatment saved my life, there is no doubt about that. Melanoma is a very rapid cancer, so this breakthrough is far beyond anything they, or I, had hoped for. To have come through this, is a miracle of science.”
Tom Murphy, Kerry.