Humans of the Mater

Gemma’s Story

Gemma was a busy, working mam of four when her life changed on hearing the word cancer. Today, she shares her journey…

“Life can throw up many difficulties and challenges – cancer has been a hard pill to swallow. On the 6th June 2019 my life changed upon hearing that word. Like most patients it’s a surreal feeling, the mind goes into overdrive, and you are in a whirlwind of different emotions – disbelief, denial, pity, jealousy, anger, resentment and then eventually acceptance, gratitude and being thankful.

“I was diagnosed with tumours in both breasts. The best option for me was a double mastectomy. Just two weeks later I had left work and was in the Mater Hospital ready to start my cancer journey.

“Ignorance is bliss especially when it comes to treatment. I had four surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, pneumonia and blood clots. I spent the next two years of my life in and out of the hospital – my second home, my safe place. Throughout that time, I depended on my family and friends for care and support, which I will never be able to repay in my lifetime.

“I am four years now down the road and still attend the Mater Hospital. I can honestly say I would not be alive today without the treatment care and compassion I received from the staff in the hospital. They cared for me when I was unable to care for myself. I was overwhelmed with the kindness and care from the staff. They have an understanding that extends beyond caring or a job, it’s a vocation for them. Nurses were even checking in with me to see how I was recovering while at home.

“Today I live one day at a time, I enjoy every day and appreciate the simple things in life. This year I walked the last 100K of the Camino Sarria to Santiago del Compostela with my best friend, fundraising for breast cancer research and cancer care at the Mater. It was a promise I made to myself at a difficult time in hospital.

“I’m in awe of the fantastic work they do every day, supporting patients when we are at our most vulnerable, helping us getting through our cancer journey. Turning the lights on so we can see the end of the tunnel. When I think of the staff that cared for me at the Mater, this quote always comes to mind:

“There are people you meet who become impossible to forget, they were not sent to you by accident, but instead destined to open a doorway to a different version of your life.” – Erin Matlock

“Go raibh míle maith agaibh, to my parents Helen and Billy, my sisters Paula and Nicola extended family and friends. Thank you for the constant love and support. To my children Claire, Ciara, Conor and Mark, supporting and caring for me, walking every step with me on my cancer journey – I now understand a new meaning of unconditional love.

“I also know that those who fundraise for, and support, the Mater Hospital Foundation make a huge impact on patient care. It’s what inspired me to take on the Camino so, if you can, I’d encourage you to support the Foundation by making a donation, taking on a challenge, starting a fundraiser or getting involved in some way. The research and care provided is improving the outcome of cancer diagnoses and has given me a second chance at life; one I am extremely grateful for.” – Gemma Murray, Dublin

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Tell us a little about your healthcare journey from the beginning, and about the care you or a loved one received in the Mater Hospital. Your story won't be used without your consent and we will be back in touch very soon.

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