AFTER losing his beloved mother to cancer, Mark Adams is putting out an appeal to support the Mercy Hospital Foundation and its new Psycho-Oncology service that supports patients and their families.
“If you know me or if you knew my mum, it would mean a lot if you would consider this,” says Mark, who lives near Fermoy.
“This is an appeal for your support in raising awareness and funds.
“The Mercy Hospital Foundation are a non-profit charity located in Cork, supporting the people of Cork,” adds Mark, 36, who has two brothers, Andrew and Jonathan.
“The Foundation’s mission is to promote the good work of the hospital, to raise funds for vital equipment, and to develop new treatments and services for the Mercy.”
The Psycho-Oncolgy service is an important one.
“Their work grows and improves what is available for us at the hospital, what they do is important,” says Mark.
“Two years ago, the Mercy Hospital Foundation created and funded a new role at the Mercy: this person is known as a ‘Psycho-Oncologist’. This new role is the project that needs our support.
“I am asking for help in supporting this new and vital project, in memory of my mum.”
Mary Veronica Adams — her friends called her Vera — would have been 77 on August 29. Mark was 36 on August 22. “We used to celebrate our birthdays together, as one,” he says.
The family enjoyed a get-together with a Chinese meal for his birthday celebration.
“Mum was a great cook, I loved her soda bread and her scones. She made delicious dinners for all of us.”
Mary fell ill at the end of December, 2014.
“It was very sudden,” says Mark. “She had a fever, then a respiratory attack. She had been losing weight for a few months, but it coincided with advice she had taken on her diet. At first we thought it was bronchitis, something she had trouble with before.”
Nobody saw a cancer diagnosis coming down the tracks.
“We honestly did not know what was happening, we did not see it coming,” says Mark.
“She passed away on the morning of February 9, 2015, in the Mercy. Dad, Andrew, Johnny and me, were all at her bedside.”
She died too young.
“Mum was 70 when we lost her. I was 29,” says Mark.
“The Mercy took very good care of her, particularly the nurses and orderlies in Oncology,” says Mark.
“When mum was sick, I was already attending counselling separately — I had some support to help me through it. But there was no dedicated service to support mum, dad, or my siblings.
“Back then, the support the Psycho-Oncologist now offers was provided informally, by the nurses, the orderlies and by mum herself. They made a good team. They did so well.
"The work of nurses is highly skilled, hospitals are always busy, and resources always stretched. But they always made special time to care for my mum on a human level.”
Didn’t Vera try and marry off one of her sons to a warm-hearted caring nurse? Mark laughs.
“Mum kept her spirits up and her humour up always.
“These efforts by the nurses and orderlies were so important — they humanised the hospital experience for mum,” says Mark.
“On any given day, it was as though she had three or four extra people to entertain and comfort her. They talked and joked with her, making her laugh, giving compliments that made her smile, always making sure she felt safe and happy.”
The new Psycho-Oncolgy unit is an important service striving to support patients and families going through a cancer journey.
“The role recognises the unseen work of the nurses and orderlies at the Mercy, the human side of hospital care,” says Mark.
“The idea behind Psycho-Oncology is to provide a dedicated therapist to the Oncology team, a person who specifically supports the mental health of cancer patients and their families. This role is not the same as a psychiatrist assessing you in a clinical manner, prescribing strong medications — it is different.
“The lady who does this work is similar to a counsellor — her approach is humanistic, it is tailored to the individual needs of each patient.
“Nothing is forced or mandated — the Psycho-Oncologist is a human resource, her focus is talk therapy, she offers comfort and solace.”
She gives so much more.
“She supports, comforts and gives counsel to cancer patients and their families at every stage of the illness whether newly diagnosed, receiving treatment, in remission, or nearing death, she is there to look after the mental health of patients and families.
“She provides for the psychological, emotional, social and spiritual needs of every patient, she offers emotional support and counsel, group therapy and individual talk therapy.
“With permission, she will advocate and coordinate support for the patient, working with other agencies and services to make sure all needs are met.
“She supports patients who have difficulty coping with a diagnosis, with side-effects of medications and the adverse effects of treatment.
“With her help, patients and their families are better able to process grief, to express what they are feeling, to manage their emotions and to better cope with the anxiety,” says Mark.
He adds: “It is a new service, it is considered experimental — to date the HSE do not fund it. For two years the feedback has been extremely positive — this lady is making a real difference to the people of Cork.”
Mark wants to help make a difference to the people of Cork and beyond with his appeal to support the Mercy Hospital Foundation.
“All funds raised here will support the Psycho-Oncologist project, to keep it going until HSE funding is achieved,” says Mark. “Every donation will make a real difference, our contribution will count for so much.
“If you would please consider donating and helping the Mercy with this idea, it would mean the world to me,” says Mark.
“If you ever witnessed cancer burn through family or friend, if it has taken someone from you, if you knew my mum, if you experienced her kindness and enjoyed her humour, if you ever have known me, or if you or someone you love ever received care at the Mercy, please consider donating to this. Also, please consider ‘liking’ and following the Mercy Hospital Foundation on Facebook, to support their work in future.
“If you consider the role the Mercy has played in Cork and the number of people they have helped, they deserve more support than they receive,” says Mark.
He has faced his own challenges.
“I am a disabled person now. I have been experiencing mental health disability for seven years. Today I do not have many people to call on, I am not well resourced.”
But he is well placed to urge people to support the Mercy Hospital Foundation. “It has been years since I have made any sort of positive difference to another person’s life,” says Mark.
“So, if you can, please lend me your strength for this effort.
“You would be giving me great sense of purpose and feeling of community, things I lost years ago but which I strive for today. I am trying my best, but it will not count for much without your support.
“I asked my old work if they can help as well, if this effort is eligible for a charity program that they are doing. They have agreed to match our donations 1 for 1 — every euro donated will be matched by them, to a maximum of €8,500,” says Mark.
“Mum never gave up on life — she declined hospice care and fought until the very end,” says Mark, who was very proud of his late mother.
“We cried so often, in the corridors and at her bedside. Mum did not cry at all — she was far too busy being our mum. We will always love her for that, how selfless she was.”