Galway Hospice Day Care patient Colette Grealish Keane shares her story…
My name is Colette Grealish Keane, I am originally from Mervue, I then moved to Tuam and raised three sons before moving back to Galway City to the Renmore area. I worked as a Home Help for over 30 years before I fell ill and never imagined that one day I would myself be in need of the same care.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2018 and it was a huge shock to me, my friends and my family, I was in hospital for eight weeks before finally coming home. Everything had to change from my sleeping arrangements to a long list of hospital appointments and medication. I struggled with the fact that I was so active and independent to losing my mobility nearly overnight. At the start if it wasn’t for my friends or family and my son Paul, who is also my carer now, I am not sure how I would have managed.
During one of my many GP visits she suggested that it would be of benefit to me to attend the Day Care Unit at Galway Hospice, she said it would give me a boost and the Doctors and Nurses there would be able to help with my pain management, their social workers would also be able to advise me on how and what I could get to make my day to day life a bit more bearable. Initially I said ‘no’ as I felt it wasn’t for me and I went the first day reluctantly. Instantly I was made feel welcome and they couldn’t do enough for me and I have been coming weekly for the last fifteen months.
‘It really is the highlight of my week.’
To me, when I used to hear the word Hospice it conjured up images of doom and gloom and sadness, but going through the doors the first day, I was shocked to see that it was lovely and bright and airy, people were sitting around playing games, chatting about their weeks over cups of tea and buns and the mood was very positive and upbeat. The Doctor assessed me and put me on painkillers that finally alleviated my pain from the surgery
The amount of things on offer also blew my mind, from bingo to aromatherapy to yoga and massage, flower arranging and card making. I get my hair cut and washed every week and my nails done. My personal favourite is the art classes. I had always wanted to do art but never had the time or the facilities before so I took to it like a duck to water. The teacher was lovely and patient and unknowingly I was painting feelings I didn’t know I had that needed to be processed. It became the form of therapy that suited me best.
They come for me every Wednesday morning and bring me to the Hospice on a special wheelchair accessible bus, I have made lots of new friends there and I find it very nice to listen to other peoples stories and what they went through and I enjoy sharing my story with people that can understand what I have and am continuing to go through. Every Christmas they put on a big spread for us and we gather around to light the Christmas tree, family and friends are welcome and I enjoy showing them around the place that has given me so much comfort.
Overall I don’t think I would be as far down the recovery path as I am now if it weren’t for the Doctors and Nurses and all the staff on the hospice. It has made me feel less isolated and more human, I now know that I am not going through this alone as I sometimes felt at the start when I was in the hospital room by myself. Attending has totally changed my perception and I tell everyone who will listen what the Hospice actually does as the image I had before going is still out there.