Maureen's Story

"She was made to feel at home at the Hospice, she had her own room and they did absolutely everything for her and to make us all feel comfortable"

Maureen Barr, Seana Gamble and Danny Devine lost their beloved sister Philomena in May 2012, following her brave battle with cervical cancer.

During her illness, Philomena was cared for by Northern Ireland Hospice, and since her death, her family and friends have been on a mission to raise as much money and support for the charity.

Maureen explained: "Philomena was diagnosed first of all with cervical cancer, that was a few years ago, but then she got the all clear.

"But a while after she was diagnosed with secondary cervical cancer, so it was incredibly difficult having to deal with it twice.

"It got to a point where it was suggested Philomena might be best cared for in the Hospice, and for us her family, that was maybe one of the toughest things that we could have heard.

She added: "None of us knew anything about the Hospice or had any experiences of it, and Philomena wasn't sure either, she thought automatically it was a place where older people go and die really.

"Philomena and my mum went over first to have a look at it, and then she was admitted for a period, but as soon as she was in there she just felt comfortable.

"She was made to feel at home, she had her own room and they did absolutely everything for her and to make us all feel comfortable.

"We were all able to go and visit her, there was never any restrictions about how many people could be at her bed, they couldn't do enough for us.

The year that Philomena was admitted to the Hospice was the first year of the NI Hospice Walk and she and her friends decided they would do it together.

Maureen said: "Unfortunately, Philomena wasn't fit to do it on the day but she still sent a tweet on the day wishing us luck, and since that day we all promised her that we would continue to do it every year and the group just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year.

She married her partner John Henry in December 2011 before she sadly lost her battle with the disease the following May, 2012.

"Her marriage was very short but that was her dream, her dream was to get married and have a hen party and it was lovely she was able to fulfill that before she died, that was massive for the family to share that special day with her.

Maureen was also due to get married in May 2012, but as Philomena's health deteriorated, she knew she wasn't going to make it to see her sister's big day.

"Philomena was in the Hospice beforehand, she passed away at home but she was in the hospice earlier that year and they asked her what her final wish was.

"She told them it was to be bridesmaid for me, but she told them she didn't think she would make it to May.

"The Hospice were unbelievable in helping me to bring my Wedding forward, they organised a mini hen party, they offered to try and organise a different venue but I managed to get the date changed in my own venue, so I was able to get married in April and Philomena was there at my side as bridesmaid.

Maureen said she cannot express how many times the hospice went "above and beyond" for her sister and their family.

"I honestly cannot say enough about the hospice, it was her Birthday in April as well, she turned 31 and they had a cake and invited all of us round for a barbeque.

"In February, she was also in the Hospice over Valentine's Day and they organised to have a table for her and her husband to have dinner.

"We can't thank the hospice enough. I really don't think people know enough about the work the Hospice do which is why I'm happy to speak out and do anything I can to help them.

"People do just see it as somewhere full of older people, there are so many misconceptions about it and we are a prime example of that."