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Heartbroken family indebted to Hospice after shock of losing devoted father

Dermot McCaffrey Edendork

The family of a man who lost his four-year battle with cancer, after a quick and sudden deterioration, have paid tribute to the Southern Area Hospice for their care in the final weeks of his life.

Dermot McCaffrey from Edendork, Co. Tyrone, had battled with cancer for roughly four years, when he sadly passed away on February 20, 2019.

The family have decided to tell their story as part of the Light Up A Life this Christmas campaign – which is aimed at helping people understand how important it is for us to take time to remember.

“The progression of the disease all happened very quickly and came as a huge shock to his family and friends, but in particular, myself, our three daughters and his parents and siblings,” said the family.

“In December of 2018, Dermot presented to Craigavon Area Hospital ED with severe pain in his leg and problems with his vision. This led to him being admitted to Craigavon a couple of weeks later as his health deteriorated, and the next time Dermot would get home was for his wake.

“During his prolonged stay in Craigavon, Dermot’s palliative care nurse Donna, mentioned the Southern Area Hospice as an option for pain management and she recognised that being on an open ward was not giving us an opportunity to be with him whenever we wanted to due to restricted visiting hours.

“Our three daughters, Louise, Laura and Ella, aged just 21, 17, and 13 at the time, so desperately wanted to spend as much time as physically possible with their daddy and so Donna reassured them that Dermot moving to the Hospice would be the best thing.

“Dermot was more than willing to transfer to the Hospice. He was never hesitant, anxious, or worried. He was assured that the Hospice would be able to control his pain and make him comfortable. A bed in the Hospice became available on the 8th February 2019 and Dermot was transferred over to their care.

“Dermot was immediately relaxed and reassured by the staff in the Hospice, that they would do everything to make his stay as pain free and comfortable as possible.

“The girls and I were able to visit Dermot at any time and we always felt welcomed. We stayed as long as we wished every day and there was never a problem.

“It was comforting to know the staff in the Hospice recognised how difficult this time was for us and they allowed us the space and time with Dermot to make the memories that we hold dear now.

“Our middle daughter turned 18 on the 19th February and to be able to mark her birthday surrounded by all the family in the Hospice was a privilege.

“The staff allowed us to put up balloons and banners in Dermot’s room, we also ordered a cake and we shared it with all the Hospice staff, other patients, and their families. It was a very special day, and we have memories that will last forever.

“The Southern Area Hospice holds a special place in the heart of our family. Every single member of staff went above and beyond to care for Dermot in the two weeks he spent there. They are a special group of people who make such a difficult time that bit easier.

“They support the patient as well as their family and recognise that time is so precious. No family ever expects to need the Hospice and so we will always support them as much as we can, as we have the lived experience as testament to their dedication and commitment to helping the most in need at the time they need it.

“As a family, we will never be able to express our gratitude towards them enough. We are extremely lucky to have such an amazing place available.”

Unfortunately, Southern Area Hospice Services cannot have their usual Christmas illumination ceremonies this year, instead they have a very special online ceremony planned, including the switch on of the beautiful Christmas tree, this will stream on Facebook at 7pm on Thursday, December 10.

Southern Area Hospice would love it if you could hold this night special and join them virtually, perhaps light your own candles and be with them as they switch on their tree and remember loved ones this Christmas.

You can dedicate a light on the Light Up A Life tree by visiting our website or by calling us on 028 3026 7711 to donate by phone.

By dedicating a light on the Southern Area Hospice Christmas tree, you are helping the Hospice to continue providing essential care to their patients and support to families not just at Christmas but every day of the year.

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