In September 2005, my late father, Michael Mitchell, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. He commenced intensive radiotherapy treatment in October 2005, which continued for approximately three months. Dad was full of life; always positive and initially in good health notwithstanding the fact that he was terminally ill. In April 2006, he started complaining of back pain and our worst fears became a reality when we were informed that his cancer had progressed to his vertebrae. On the 23rd June 2006, Dr. Michael Corcoran informed us that Dad had approximately three/six months to live. I will never forget that Friday. After hearing the devastating news, I drove Dad home from the hospital to our family home in Caherlistrane. I remember travelling home that afternoon pondering on how we were going to break this news to Mammy, and I knew we would be requiring the assistance of Galway Hospice very shortly.
Prior to my Dad’s illness, I knew very little about Galway Hospice as it was a place that I never wanted to be associated with for obvious reasons. Initially, I did not want to see the Hospice Nurses, Breeda Feeney and Siobhan Young coming to visit Dad as I knew he was deteriorating. I recall Breeda Feeney and Siobhan Young calling to see Dad on a more regular basis and evaluating his situation. I also noticed that his medication was increasing to keep his pain under control and this had its own adverse implications. Consequently, Dad was becoming ill from all his medication. I remember Breeda Feeney advising Dad that he could either go to the Hospice or to UCHG, and he chose the former. My Dad made many good decisions during his 68 years, but this was the best decision he ever made for everyone’s sake. I was devastated at the fact that he was going into the Hospice, as I knew my worst fears were now becoming a reality.
I recall going to the Hospice for the first time with Dad and I began to realise very quickly that this was the best place for him. We met Dr. Ray Doyle and Dr. Helen Howley and they evaluated Daddy’s situation in a very professional and friendly way. I thought Dad was dying but within 2 to 3 days his medication was under control and he was a new man again. His medication was changed and, within 7 to 10 days, Dad was going home again. Dad was in great form for approximately 6 weeks after his initial visit to the Hospice notwithstanding the fact he was deteriorating. The Hospice was in constant contact with us via Breeda Feeney and Siobhan Young but unfortunately it was not too long before Dad had to go into the Hospice for the last time.
On his arrival at the Hospice, I noticed that the Nurses and the Consultant were shocked as to the way he had deteriorated in such a short period of time. Every individual in the Hospice looked after my Dad as if he was their own. Nothing was too much trouble. It did not matter what he asked or wanted, it was given to him. Everything was done in Dad’s best interest. I recall the week before Dad died, he asked the Consultant, Dr. Eileen Mannion, as to his prognosis and called a family meeting with Dr. Eileen on the Thursday before he died. We had the meeting in the television room quite close to his cubicle and we were all there with Dad and Dr. Eileen and she informed him that she was going to continue with his treatment and that it would benefit him. She was marvellous in the way she dealt with Dad as none of the family wanted him to know how ill he was. Notwithstanding the fact that Dad passed away the following Sunday, it gave him relief because he was so worried and scared of dying. Dr. Eileen put his mind at rest and she also put ours at rest for the last remaining 4 days of his life. I remember that Thursday evening calling in to see Dad and he had deteriorated even since the morning. We were advised that his time was short by the nurses and staff and we were invited to stay in the Hospice over the weekend. We had the facilities of the Hospice that weekend as if it was our own home and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. We slept in the Hospice and were with Dad when he passed away on Sunday, 22nd October 2006 at 5.21pm.
I would like, on behalf of the Mitchell family, to extend our sincere gratitude to the Galway Hospice Foundation for the way they looked after Dad and also to those members of staff who attended his funeral. Galway Hospice is one of those places which leaves a very positive and permanent impression on anyone who are in the unfortunate position of having to avail of their facilities. I would like to thank the Consultant, the Nurses, the Care Assistants and all those employed in the Galway Hospice Foundation for making Dad’s last months very comfortable. I remember Breeda Feeney telephoning my mother four weeks after Dad died to see how she was and to you Breeda I thank you most sincerely. I will always support the Galway Hospice Foundation so that other families and their loved ones will be treated the same as we were.
Finally, I know that if Dad was alive, he would echo the above sentiments to anyone who has any involvement, either directly or indirectly, with the Galway Hospice Foundation.
The Galway Hospice provides a comprehensive range of Palliative Care services to patients with active and progressive diseases which cannot be cured