Sunday, June 16, 2024


A NEWCASTLE man, who is
receiving palliative care as
he bravely deals with stage 4
cancer, has thanked the
professionals who have been
by his side since his
diagnosis last autumn.
This week, Gerry McNally spoke
courageously and candidly about how
the past few months have been for
He said he wanted to publicly praise
the medical personnel who have been
so supportive in recent weeks and
wishes to highlight the exceptional
care he has received, both via the
NHS and a local hospice.
The former Newcastle taxi driver
said the staff who work in the Downe
Hospital, as well as the NI Hospice’s
specialist community palliative care
team, “deserve an award” for the
work they do.
Last September he received the
news no-one wants. He was told he
had terminal cancer.
However, as he, his wife Janet, and
their children, came to terms with the
news, he set himself several goals –
including seeing his son and
grandchildren return for a muchanticipated trip from their adopted
home in the US.
Gerry (67) says those who are
supporting him, and his wife of 47
years, deserve the utmost praise and
that if he could nominate them for an
honour, he would.
“They deserve an award or
recognition for their hard work and
professionalism; especially at a time
when the NHS is on its knees with the
funding crisis and being shortstaffed,” he said.
Speaking from his home of 20 years,
Gerry, who previously lived in Belfast,
said his heartfelt desire – of getting to
spend time at home with his loved
ones over the recent holiday period –
had been realised.
This is something, he adds, that he
will be “forever grateful” for.
Gerry said that following his
diagnosis he was visited by Oliver
Mallon, from the community palliative
care team, and received invaluable
He is very appreciative of all the
care he has been given.
“I would like to nominate these men
and women for an award, or
recognition at the very least, for every
single thing they do,” he added.
Gerry, who was first diagnosed with
throat cancer in 2018, said not long
after last September’s distressing
news, that the condition had spread to
his lungs, he developed an infection.
However, thanks to Oliver Mallon, a
nurse specialist with the hospice,
medication was quickly sourced.
Then, on a visit to his home in
December, Gerry – who throughout his
life has put his family first – said his
very welcome visitor quickly realised
that the situation had deteriorated.
“I had got worse,” he explained.
“My wife was at her wits’ end,
watching the man she has been with
for 52 years slowly dying in front of her
eyes. Oliver advised me that I needed
to go to the Downe Hospital.
“At that point I had two goals, which
I shared with him.
“I know you can’t choose when we
die, but I had my daughter coming
home from Portugal for Christmas
and wanted to be there, and also my
son, who lives in America, had just
been home for a family wedding with
his wife and three children, and I
didn’t want to spoil his Christmas and
New Year plans.”
The following day, on 13 December,
Gerry was admitted to the hospital in
Downpatrick, after being assessed by
a Rapid Access Centre Consultant and
Martina Burke, a palliative care nurse
specialist at the Downe.
The next few days were a blur for
the McNallys, and in particular for
“I don’t remember being there, but
after five days I started to come
“Day by day, I started to improve
and, thanks to the care of everyone, I
got those two wishes granted.”
On 23 December Gerry was allowed
out for a few hours, so he could
accompany his little granddaughter
Juniper, who was visiting from
Portugal, to the amusements in
Newcastle, followed by a tasty icecream.
He returned to the hospital that
evening but was then again allowed
out to spend some special time with
his loved ones on Christmas Day. He
was then discharged on 4 January.
He said he and his family cannot put
into words how appreciative they are
of the care and support which has
been given, or continues to be
provided, by Oliver Mallon, alongside
medical consultant Dr Dominic Hart,
Dr Ciara Greer, Dr Kiran Kaur, the
Palliative Consultant who covers the
Downe and Ulster hospitals, and
Martina Burke, who Oliver and his
Hospice team would co-ordinate and
collaborate with.
Gerry concluded by expressing his
gratitude for the care which is being
provided by the Hospice’s Community
Team and the Downe Hospital, adding
that his spirits and quality of life have
been much improved.
“I’m settled on living as well as I
can for as long as I can, and with the
help of the hospice and the hospital
that is happening,” he said

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