In June 2016, Liam Byrne’s wife Sandra was diagnosed with colon cancer. Following a number of operations and chemotherapy, Sandra was given the all-clear and told to return for check-ups every six months.
At the end of 2017, Sandra started to feel unwell once again and went back into hospital that December. In January, tests showed that the cancer had returned and was unfortunately incurable.
Liam recalls when he first learnt about the Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing Service. “By September of that year I was told Sandy now only had a number of weeks left, even a few days.
I wanted to know if Sandy was able to come home and spend that time with her family. Initially they said this wouldn’t be possible. Then the palliative care team in Tallaght Hospital reached out and said it actually might be possible with the Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing service. I hadn’t heard of the Night Nurses before, we were lucky that no close relatives had been in the position to require the service.”
The Byrne family believed they would have a few days at home with Sandra, but Liam states it was her “fighting spirit” that allowed them to spend three weeks at home together.
“Without the Night Nursing Service, Sandra wouldn’t have been able to spend those last few days at home. Even though we knew what was coming, it was so wonderful to have her at home, in the comfort of her own home.
Immediate family and close friends were able to visit. We were able to comfort each other, to comfort Sandy also. It meant the world to us, it was the greatest gift anyone could have ever given us.” The Laois local says.
“It meant the world to us, it was the greatest gift anyone could have ever given us.”
When Sandra first came home, Liam notes that he struggled with what was about to happen “At night, I sat with our Night Nurse Geraldine. Sometimes with a family or friend, they are also grieving so it can be difficult to talk about everything. However Geraldine was so comforting, she was like a counselor, friend and a nurse all rolled into one.
The nurses are amazing people. It is a vocation, those who take on that role are so well suited to the job.”
When Sandra passed away, Liam linked in with a counsellor in the Cuisle Cancer Support Centre, which is supported by Irish Cancer Society funding. Liam is a big believer in counselling and says it “really helped the whole family.”
This year, Liam and Sandra’s children Timmy and Audrey Byrne held a ‘Move of Groove’ fundraiser, including a bake sale outside their home. In total, the Byrne family raised over €10,000 for the Irish Cancer Society Night Nursing service. The family say it was their way of showing their gratitude to the Night Nurses who looked after their mum so well.
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information
1800 200 700