I discovered I had acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia one day in May 1995
To say the least, my whole world was torn apart. I was a young mother with 3 young children. Up to then we were a very normal happy family. I was not even fully aware that leukaemia was a form of cancer or that the oncology unit was were people with cancer were treated. Well I learned fairly quickly hands-on kinda say!.
I had the first part of my treatment in university college hospital Galway. I was lucky in that my home was near the hospital so my family was near by and my husband could visit easily and often. I spent the summer of 1995 in isolation in UCHG, in a small room, looking out every morning at the rising of yet another beautiful day. Only my husband, Jimmy, and my father were allowed to visit me. But they were great and I am sure played a big part in my recovery. The staff in the hospital were absolutely wonderful. Everyone from Dr. Margaret Murry to all the nurses and the tea ladies became my family for that summer, with a special mention for Breda the nurse who came and helped me through the many procedures I had to undergo and Pauline the cancer care nurse who sat with me and helped me get my head around things.
After weeks of intensive treatment and many ups and downs I was told I was in remission, only people who have heard these words know what that truly means.
A few days later I was told I was not noutropenic, which meant I was less open to infection and could have more visitors, but to me it only meant 1 thing, I could see my children. On that day we made a plan to start saving for a big holiday for when mammy was better, we would go to France. The savings box was put on top of the tv at home.
Well that was phase one of my treatment for leukaemia.
Phase 2 came when i was told I would need a bone marrow transplant. Again I was lucky I had a family member who was a suitable donor, my brother Joseph.
The transplant was to take place in St James’s Hospital Dublin. I can remember the day we set of for St. James’s as clear as if it was yesterday. I was so scared I was sick.
We got there and I braved it and went to the nurse in reception area of what was then hospital one. I said “hello my name is Mrs. Eillen Hoare and I am here about a transplant”!!! The nurse said “ah Eileen we’ve been expecting you” and straight away I felt I was going to be in good hands. The transplant was to take place on the 25th November 1995 and it would take 4 to 6 weeks to see that it was a success and for my recovery.
Not being a medical person it is hard to explain the level of expertise and care I received while i was in hospital 1, of St. James’s Hospital, but from a patients point of view I knew I was receiving amazing care, and I was being given the best chance I could to be cured from my illness.
I had the best and most up to date medical kowledge and expertise coming together to give me my best chance. I had the best care and understanding helping me through this very difficult time. Also I had the best cup of tea! Given to me every morning, with a smile and good cheer, very important.
I had my bone marrow transplant on the 25th November 1995 and it seemed to be a success, I just had to wait and see that I did not reject it, and to recover.
It was a difficult few weeks but day by day I grew stronger and by December 21st I was ok to come out of isolation. That was a momentous occasion. However I was not fit to go home I needed further care, near the hospital. It was also Christmas time and Santa was due any day now. This is where the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust, yet again played their part. I was provided with an apartment to stay in near the hospital
I could celerbrate christmas with my family and was near to the hospital to continue my care. The apartment was great, with only one small issue, my youngest son Dermot just could not understand how Santa was going to get down the chimney as there was none!! Never the less we had a great and greatfull Christmas in that apartment, one we will never forget. Maybe 2 weeks later I was allowed home to restart my life. People ask dose this experience change you and of course it does, but mostly in small ways, and mostly in being more greatfull and content with ordinary and wonderful day to day life
So I will finish my story by giving my most sincere and continued thanks to the many many dedicated and brilliant people who came to work 1995 and made it their mission to make me better!
Eileen Hoare, Galway