Aisling Keavey

My name is Aisling and I’m 47, I’m a mother of one and this is my husband Peter.

Peter: Hello there

Aisling: In 2019 I went into hospital with back pain and was diagnosed then with stage 4 breast cancer which had progressed to my spine, so I now have bone cancer as well as breast cancer.

Peter: We felt lost in the beginning.

Aisling: we were devastated, we were completely devastated, our world was upside down.

Aisling:  I had just got my dream job, I was actually going for a fitting for the uniform for it and I came out and I said, I’ll just go into hospital and find out what this pain is in my back, I’ll just get it sorted before I start this job once and for all and that was it, that was the last time I got to try on that uniform.  We had like so many plans that year we had said that 2019 was going to be our year.

Peter: Was going to be our year and as I say going between that feeling of helplessness going from I suppose feeling that we were totally in control of our lives, Aisling: We sat down, we discussed everything.  Until we knew what we were dealing with we didn’t discuss it with Thelma Louise, our daughter but soon as we knew it was serious we took her aside and had a conversation with her.  She took it quite well considering she was only 14 at the time.  We constantly talk to each other.  We communicated with each other.

Peter:  We took a little bit of time initially, because obviously there was upset there and then we had to gather ourselves and say right where do we go from here, how do we manage this and we kinda started our own road to planning and how we were going to deal with this, how we were going to live with it and then all of a sudden there was a helping hand there, things became, it gave us a lot clearer, there was a lot more clarity in terms of how to approach things,

Aisling:  We get great help from the hospital and from St Francis.  When they came out and they explained what they did and the more time went on and the more phone calls we had I was able to go over to St Francis and see what it was all about there and I was able to get therapy over there as well.   When COVID hit, they kept in contact by phone and by zoom call and did the Peer Group course for me as well, which was a great help.

Occupational Therapist:  The PEER Programme which stands for Palliative Enablement Exercise and Rehabilitation is a joint initiative that was set up between Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy in St Francis Hospice Dublin to provide palliative rehabilitation to patients in their home.    It is a goal based programme and consists of exercise which is completed by the physiotherapy education which is completed by the occupational therapist.

Physiotherapist:  It focuses very much on self management and the idea is, is that we give people the tools on how to move their bodies, how to exercise.  For a lot of patients they might be a little bit nervous about moving or exercising because they are afraid they are going to make their illness worse or they are going to hurt themselves.  So our job is very much about identifying the appropriate exercise for the people we have on front of us. 

Occupational Therapist:   what Aisling has benefited from is that PEER support from other patients online.  The encouragement of patients to reengage in activities and also benefitting from connecting with patients who are also on a similar journey to them.

Aisling:  It was nice as well to do it with other people who were in a similar situation.  Everyone too it not to seriously but seriously enough.  Well everyone turned up every week and we all did it with a light heart because it was a nice part of the week that I looked forward to on a Monday morning and on a Wednesday.   In St Francis, you never feel like a burden, you are the main priority for them no matter what you are going through. Even if you are having a great day, they still take the time to ask you about every aspect that wasn’t great last week for you, to make sure you are ok, and you are over that, you know do you need help with that still or can I do anything for you.

Peter:  Its an incredibly effective form of assistance from both advice point of view to the physical support as well  It’s an invaluable support and nobody should be overwhelmed by it in any shape or form.

Aisling:  And everyone should take up on it given the opportunity. Everybody should take the opportunity with both hands because it really will make your life so much easier.