Donal, Billy, Kevin and Denis – their stories

Karen: Well I think when people hear the words palliative care they automatically associate it with the end of life, and actually what palliative care is really about, and what we really strive to achieve, is to try and keep people living to the very end and really enjoying their life and having good quality of life right until the end of their journey.

Donal: My name is Donal Crowley and I have been diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer. Now my prognosis at the very beginning was very, very good but then that changed around pretty quickly to a very bad, negative situation, and that’s where the palliative care people were involved when I was diagnosed with stage 4. I have had nothing but good experiences since being involved with them.

Billy: I’m Billy Coleman. I’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer last July and I’m 77 years of age. When I heard the diagnosis, to look at the most positive aspect I could and, as I saw it, the best way of treating this was to get help, and palliative help was what I recognised. And the help that I have received as a person has been tremendous, with the help of the staff and particularly in relation to the physio end of it.

Kevin: Hello, I’m Kevin. The condition I have got is that I have a tumour in my brain that’s inoperable. It’s like most things in life; you have to give it a chance. Taking time away from home as well is a big help, because you can take yourself away from everything that’s going through your system and you’re with other people who are in a similar position. So that’s a big plus. I suppose without people’s help, I don’t know where I’d be.

Denis: I have a new cancer and I’m inoperable so I’m on palliative care at the moment. I think it’s excellent. The fact that the people talk to you and listen to you. And I know they can’t understand what you are going through but they are very close to it.

Billy: When you have a problem, you seek out the people that will help you. And when you have cancer, obviously palliative care is the top of the list in my opinion. Specialist doctors, nurses, the whole works. They are living on the basis of making your life as good as you can make it. That’s the way I treat it and I accept it and I don’t be looking at the dark side of it at all. There is plenty of help there and it is foolish not to avail of it.

Donal: So the old conceptions are that you go in the door, you don’t come out. Forget about that. Come in, use the facilities. It will give you a better quality of life, but I think it will also extend your life in a better way.

Karen: Palliative care is really for anyone who has a life-limiting illness or needs specialist symptom control and I think that’s what the doctors and the team in palliative care do really well. They manage people’s symptoms so that they can live their life to the best of their ability.