By supporting Q Radiothon you will be making a real difference to the lives of families affected by cancer and terminal illness across Northern Ireland. When Kathy lost three of her family members to cancer, her life changed forever. This is Kathy’s story:
My brother, Joseph
“Growing up my siblings Joseph, Paul, Jim and Ann, were my best friends. My big brother Joseph was the oldest and was always there for me – loving and protective, he was the peacekeeper if any of us fell out. “I have so many fond memories of him, but unfortunately the one that sticks out is the awful day he told me he had cancer. It was June 2006 and he had slipped whilst doing DIY.
He took painkillers for backache and saw a physio but when the pain didn’t go away it was clear it was something else. He had a scan and found out he had lung cancer. He tried chemotherapy, but was too weak. He had several weeks of care at his home before moving to a hospice in Cork where he passed away on November 20th.
My mother, Annie
“Living without him was a struggle because the family had not experienced losing someone so close before. Little by little we began to heal, however life then decided to deal us another cruel blow in July 2007 when our mother, Annie then fell ill when we were on holiday in Donegal. She was admitted to hospital with a chest infection and when we got home she told us the news that she was terminally ill with lung cancer and had four to six months to live.
“Mum had never got over Josephs death and after seeing how it had been for him, she decided not to have treatment. She remained at home and received palliative care from Marie Curie nurses. They also gave advice and support to my dad and the family as Mum’s illness progressed. Mum always stayed strong which gave me the courage to be strong too.
My sister, Ann
“Just as we were coming to terms with Mum’s diagnosis, my younger sister, Ann, started complaining about a backache. Although she was a smoker, like my mum and brother, we never thought it could be cancer again. She was summoned for tests and was diagnosed with a non-small cell cancer related to lung cancer. The tumours were everywhere and it was aggressive like my brothers had been.
“Ann couldn’t face telling my parents so it was my job to break the news which was horrendous. After my sisters diagnosis Marie Curie nurses gave support to her at home until she became too ill that she had to be hospitalised. Unfortunately her cancer couldn’t be treated because she wasn’t strong enough. When Ann went back into hospital, my mum went into Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast.
“Sadly Ann deteriorated rapidly and died five months after her diagnosis. We then lost mum the day after Ann’s funeral. They were buried side by side.
“It’s hard to describe the pain of losing half my family so quickly – it took a long time to come to terms with our loss. One of the hardest things was watching my father as he had lost a son, daughter and his wife – he was devastated. “I had young children so I lived for them and we got through the first year together. The doctors said the cancer was hereditary, just incredibly unfortunate.
“I reached out to Marie Curie because I wanted to do something to repay them for the care and compassion they showed my family. I did some fundraising, starting with a walk that raised £9,000. After this, we did a fashion show, coffee morning and tea party. We then set up a small fundraising committee and organised zip wire across the Lagan, mud runs and a half marathon. It was a wonderful feeling to be doing something so beneficial.
“All of my family helped and over dinner one night we decided to set ourselves a target of raising £100,000 each year for Marie Curie. I have taken on many challenges including trekking to Everest Base Camp and Machu Picchu. “It’s a wonderful feeling to give back and help other families. I have learnt so much; not least that life does go on and from a very bad situation, good can happen.”
Q Radiothon is committed to supporting families like Kathy’s by raising vital funds to support our fantastic charity partners. If you would like to help us make a difference, you can take part in our Big Brunch, hold your own event or make a donation.