LIKE hundreds of thousands of people in the Cork region and beyond, Glanmire man Pat Stacey is a loyal supporter of Marymount Hospice.
“I’m like the thousands of people who, just at the mention of Marymount, are always delighted to support the hospice and the wonderful work that they do,” says Pat.
Marymount Hospice is hosting its inaugural Marymount Race Day this Saturday, August 17. The event promises to be a stylish, fun-filled day with a stacked race card, live music, an afternoon of tea and champagne, with incredible prizes on offer for the most sartorially savvy lady and gent. It is taking place at Cork Racecourse in Mallow with all proceeds on the day going to Marymount.
“I would ask the people of Cork to support Marymount Hospice whenever they can,” says Pat.
“The upcoming Race Day at Cork Racecourse is one way people can help Marymount reach their fundraising target. They need to raise €3.5 million annually just to maintain current services and are hugely reliable on the generosity of the people of Cork to do so.”
Pat’s family, like so many others, has been scarred by the scourge of cancer. And, like so many other families, the Staceys sought the solace and comfort of Marymount in their time of need.
“I lost my dear wife, Christine, Chris, as she was known, to breast cancer in 2014,” says Pat.
“It was a very frightening dark journey for us and for our three girls, Katie, Jenna, and Ciara, made more bearable by the help of our good friends from our caring community and by the fantastic support that Marymount Hospice offered us that is still continuing to this day,” says Pat.
“Marymount treats the person as a full person; not just as a cancer patient. Five years on, I still like going there. Marymount was a jewel amidst the sorrow and the heartache.”
Pat’s contribution to Marymount involves tins of biscuits, chocolates and pancakes. He explains: “Chris used to love finding jobs for me and she liked keeping me busy!
“So whenever the gang of girls were taking off for The Echo mini- marathon in aid of Marymount I’d make a huge batch of pancakes.”
“The mini-marathon gang piled into our house for a feed of pancakes for breakfast before the mini-marathon — it was a great send off!”
Pat often leaves a tin of biscuits or a box of chocolates on the seat in the family room for a family to find. A family just like his who realise they are not alone on their sad journey.
“I often think about all the families who go to Marymount, knowing they are going through what we went through,” says Pat.
“I like to leave a tin of biscuits or a box of chocolates for them, just to show them they are not alone.
“It is good to know you are not in it alone and that others who understand are there to support you.”
When Pat quietly slips into the family room at Marymount, he often thinks about the beautiful girl that he fell in love with many years ago in London, who wanted to settle down in Cork.
“We met in London,” says Pat. “Christine loved Ireland. I’m from Waterford but she loved Cork.”
He often wonders about the staff of Marymount.
“I think the people who go to work in Marymount should put on wings,” says Pat.
“They are all angels who treat everyone with the same dignity and respect. From the cleaner to the chef, to the man in the shop, to the man at reception; these people have such caring nature beyond that of the average human being.”
Pat knows his late wife was an angel too.
“You know, Chris was so caring and understanding of other people, she always made you think positively about others.”
She deserved only the best.
“And at Marymount she got the best care and support anyone could ask for.
“Chris was an acupuncturist and a Chinese herbalist. And she knew what was coming. She knew all about health and was very health-conscious. But it didn’t matter. Cancer has no values where it hits.
“Chris used to say to try and keep healthy. Then if disease did hit you during your life, you’d be better equipped with dealing with it.”
The family knew that they were well equipped with the best medical care and therapies provided by Marymount.
“The professional medical staff talked to us constantly,” says Pat.
“They kept us fully informed, encompassing the whole family. When we first met the doctor at Marymount, he sat us down and said to Chris ‘Now tell me your story’. We both broke down. It was all about us, not about the cancer.
“In a heart-rending, difficult situation we were treated as whole people, not as patients. Knowing we had the best treatment, the best facilities and the best medical care possible was a source of great comfort. We realised there is a light there,” says Pat.
“Chris was in and out of Marymount after her breast cancer diagnosis, from August, 2013 until she passed away in January, 2014,” says Pat.
“One of her favourite things was going to the art classes in Marymount. She loved her art.
“She always got her hair and nails done, then she’d have a long soak in the jacuzzi!”
Chris was surrounded by her loved ones, who were beside her always, for better or worse.
Pat says: “I worked abroad in Brussels during the early stages of Chris’s illness.
“The realities of life still have to be dealt with. The bills and mortgage still had to be paid. When the doctors contacted me in August, that it was time to come home, I decided to give up my job and stay at home to support my wife and my girls. We stayed in Marymount with Chris.”
Pat got another job.
“The girls used to ask me; what was I?,” says Pat, laughing. “I told them I was a home-maker!”
“The girls are doing great,” he adds.
“They were very young and very vulnerable losing their mother, age 12, 15, and 16.
“Ciara, the youngest, is a talented musician and she’s doing her Leaving Cert next year. The other two are doing well, studying and in their jobs. Amanda, the counsellor in Marymount, is always there for them, offering a listening ear.”
Pat, who was always encouraged by his wife to keep busy, is very active in the community.
“I do a lot of volunteer work. You can often see me picking up the litter and cutting grass around Glanmire. I get great satisfaction from giving back to the community, who gave us such great support when we needed it.
“You know after everything; people move on with life,” says Pat. “Marymount is constant though. It is always there. It remains solid.”
Marymount Hospice Charity Race Day takes place at Cork Racecourse on Saturday August 17. Doors open at noon, with the first race set for 1.25pm and the last race going to post at 4.55pm.
Tickets are available to book at corkracecourse.ie. The Combo Ticket, €30 includes a return train ticket and general admission. Corporate, €100 person/€1,000 a table. Tickets from Marymount fundraising office, 021-4501 201 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org