Amy's Story

"Anytime we went in, the staff were remarkable, mum described them as angels"

Mum-of-four, Dr Carole Adair, (64) passed away in January 2017 after a short battle with kidney cancer.

Amy Adair McCourt, Carole's daughter, says she has "no words" fitting enough to describe the fantastic care her mum received in the Hospice.

"Mum was an extremely fit, healthy woman, always out walking, then out of the blue she got a twinge in her back, she thought it was muscle pain, and even went to the doctors who thought it was just muscles.

"But it got worse, she knew something wasn't right so she went for a MRI and got the news that she had a tumour on her spine that had already spread from her kidney".

The 32-year-old from Jordanstown said her mum's deterioration was very sudden.

"From there it just got progressively worse, and she had to get spinal surgery which was horrific.

"She actually recovered pretty well from that, she was able to stand up and walk, but she got a horrible infection and she deteriorated very rapidly. The doctors were in shock at how fast the tumour had spread within two weeks, it basically went everywhere.

Amy said when her mum was told her prognosis was terminal there was only one place she wanted to spend her final weeks  and that was Northern Ireland Hospice.

"My grandad had kidney cancer so mum would have been in and out of the Hospice with him. She always said they were fantastic.

Amy continued: "From the moment we stepped through the door the support was there for all of us. Anytime we went in, the staff were remarkable, mum described them as angels. It's such a difficult job I don't know how they do it but they're incredible.

"One thing that really stood out for me was how they treated mum with dignity and respect, like a normal person, not a terminally ill patient, which she would have hated. 

"On Christmas Day, mum didn't want to leave the Hospice and they accommodated all of us, providing Christmas dinner for wives, husbands, partners and kids, about 13 of us in total.They set out tables and tried to make it as normal as possible for us. Mum was just so grateful.

"Even with my baby daughter, I couldn't bring her into the hospital with me but when mum was in the Hospice I would have arrived and staff would have taken her off me and looked after her and changed her nappy so I could spend some quality time with mum, just wee things like that helped a lot."

Amy is thankful that her mother got to meet her daughter, Zoe, before she passed. Asked what values instilled by her mother that she hopes to pass on to her own daughter, Amy focuses on four specific qualities.

"Independence, a zest for life, family and openness," she concludes.

"My mum was an incredibly strong, independent woman and that was a trait that I hugely admired in her. She worked hard but knew how to enjoy life.

"Family was her world and I was never scared to talk to her about anything. I hope I'm able to have the same connection with Zoe in the years ahead."