Adrian's Story

“My extra life, this borrowed time, every minute, hour, day, week and month has happened because of the Hospice and our angel Ursula and the team".

In 2016, 47-year-old Adrian Mc Aleese was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer.

He wants no pity, no encouraging words to fight harder and no more suggestions of miracle cures.

But Adrian does have has one last wish, a final plan yet to be executed which he says involves you.

“I have my affairs in order. I’ve said everything I want and need to say. I have made peace both within myself and with my loved ones and I have accepted that I’m dying from this horrible cancer.

“But I want to tell people about my dying wish and I don’t want them to forget because what’s happening to me could happen to anyone in a heartbeat.

“I had no symptoms until I felt a burning sensation in my chest in 2016 but it turned out to be lung cancer and by the time it was uncovered, cancer was lurking in my lymph nodes and my bones, I was riddled with it and went from feeling a bit tired to having a death sentence.

“I want people to understand about Northern Ireland Hospice and the team there who’ve given me all that I’ve needed and wanted as I’ve faced into this reality.

“I’ve known I’ve been dying for months although the lung cancer that’ll kill me was probably hanging about for a while before anyone realised.

“When I was diagnosed I was given just six months to live and sent home from hospital without treatment or hope.

“My lung cancer had spread and my bones and lymph nodes had been utterly invaded. It has also spread to my liver and a tumour in the C2 vertebrae in my neck. The neck tumour is the most worrying and dangerous because a fall or an accidental knock could fracture my neck which would be fatal and so I live with that fear every day.

“There was no coming back from this sudden diagnosis so the advice was to go home and enjoy the rest of my life with my partner Tim - just as simple as that.

“So I went home with Tim but the idea of enjoying the rest of my life was swamped by feelings of fear and grief and sadness. I wondered what the hell I’d do for the six months until I died.

“After a few days my head started to clear and knowing that my mother Anne had died very suddenly months earlier, I thought that at least I had a little time to get my affairs in order.

“So I decided that if I was going to die then I wanted at least to organise my funeral and wake - the events manager in me sort of took over.

“But when that was done I realised I’d nothing left to do except live but I didn’t know how to do that given I was now living under death sentence - and that’s where the hospice team turned my world around.

“I was referred to the Hospice because my diagnosis was terminal and it was the once piece of luck I needed. The hospice team very calmly walked into our lives in the shape of our nurse Ursula and life changed for the better.

“One moment I’d been in pain and fear and waiting to die and the next, with the specialist help of the hospice team, my symptoms and pain were brought under control, my fears were dispelled and I was living again.

“My Hospice Nurse Specialist Ursula has been our absolute star. When she walked into our home I was afraid and broken both physically and emotionally and my partner Tim was just devastated and lost. We really were in a mess. All our future plans died the moment I was told my diagnosis and we were grieving for all sorts of things, filled with dread and panic, not knowing where to turn.

“Yes I am dying, yes this disease is a nasty brutal, horrific thing but I’m not dead yet - I’m living and loving and experiencing a wonderful life and Tim and I are busy ticking off wishes on our list and building memories.

“Before Ursula came into our world all my thoughts about the hospice were about death.

“But the service, the care provided by Ursula, the entire community nursing service which linked in to the Inpatient Unit at Somerton Road Hospice, changed the thoughts about death into thoughts about living as best as possible.

“My extra life, this borrowed time, every minute, hour, day, week and month has happened because of the hospice and our angel Ursula and the team.

“I had a real fear of going into the hospice and never coming out again. I thought it would be a one way journey.

“But I’ve been in and out plenty of times for symptom management and every time I come out I am happier, more in control, less anxious and feeling better.

“My last wish is to let you know about these incredible people, my last hope is that you will never have to meet them but my belief is if you do, they will help you feel safe, calm and happy no matter how hard your journey.”

If you would like to donate to the Northern Ireland Hospice on Adrian's JustGiving page, click here.