A local woman has shared her emotional and personal story in a new Macmillan Cancer Support film highlighting the importance and impact of having a Macmillan
nurse when faced with a diagnosis of cancer.
Tricia Roulston, a Coleraine mother, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2017. When she received her diagnosis, her Macmillan nurse Terry McVeigh, who treated Tricia at the Causeway Hospital within the Northern Trust, was an invaluable source of support and right there with her during her cancer journey.
Tricia is one of four people to feature in the film who share their highly personal account of how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be and says: “Being diagnosed with a malignant, incurable brain tumour at the age of 41 was a complete shock. A cancer diagnosis was completely terrifying whilst also being extremely difficult to comprehend.”
In the moving video, Tricia reads aloud a thank you letter to Terry. She says: “When I was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in January 2017 I was
terrified. After a year of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, I was exhausted. I knew that I was dying. It would have been all too easy to give up and let myself just slip away. You stood by my side. You tenaciously refused to give up on me, you knew me. Not just as a patient from reports in a folder but as a person trying desperately to hold on. Not content with saving my physical body you set to work on saving my emotional self too. You talked to me, you listened to me, you explained things and you calmed me down and you did the same for my whole family. I owe you my life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Terry.”
Tricia continues:“Macmillan helped me at the most important stages and are always there if I need advice. I think that’s an important message to share – Macmilla nurses will be there for you. Sometimes I have questions or worries that I don’t want to burden my family or friends with; I still carry a degree of guilt about what they are going through because of my cancer. Terry allowed me to offload that guilt, whilst also providing clarity and quick answers to any questions I had. Now that I’m stronger it’s important to me to try and give something back.”
Tricia has been inspired to fundraise for Macmillan and organised ‘Triciafest’, where an entire host of local bands came together to play a charity gig. Along with Tricia’s sister who asked for donations to Macmillan in lieu of wedding presents, an incredible £8,748 was raised in 2017. Last year Triciafest raised £4,655 and Tricia is in the early stages of planning for Triciafest2020.
Head of Services for Macmillan in Northern Ireland, Heather Monteverde understands all too well the impact that a Macmillan nurse can have on people affected by cancer as she was appointed as the first cancer nurse specialist in Northern Ireland in 1986 and influenced the development of similar roles across
Heather said: “Nursing is a profession that is there 24/7; through the bad times and the good times. It can be challenging, yes, but you have an opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives as our film shows so movingly.
“At Macmillan, we fund more than 100 Macmillan nurses across all of our health trusts. In 2016, we invested £7 million in the cancer nurse workforce and our most recent Cancer Patient Experience Survey clearly showed that our funding is making a difference. Macmillan nurses are the main point of contact for patients and their families, and they go above and beyond. Tricia’s letter shines a bright light on th impact that Terry’s support made at a challenging time in her life. We’re incredibly thankful to Tricia for sharing her story so openly and eloquently, and raising awareness of the important work that our Macmillan nurses do.”
To watch the film, visit the Macmillan in Northern Ireland Facebook page.
For information, support or just someone to talk to, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk