Barry Hession

I started my career in technology and that was at a time when no one knew anything about technology. So I was kind of at the forefront, if I can be so bold, of things like computer programming and so on. So I had a very very interesting job. I travelled a lot of Eastern Europe and North America and it was all cut short when I was 50 when I had two massive heart attacks and I was no longer able to work. So it was a great career and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which was at the time, the prognosis was terminal and I was referred to a Professor Joe O’Sullivan in the City Hospital and he said “I’ll fix you”. And of course having been given a fairly bleak prognosis by one esteemed medic to be told by another he will fix you I was less than confident that he would. But Joe did fix me and in November of 2019 he gave me the all clear. My prostate cancer was clear. It was a fairly horrid procedure to get me through to where I was, but worth every moment.

I had a pain in my shoulder which I thought was as a result of a fall I took in Hillsborough Forest Park. And I had an x-ray or a CT scan, to see if it was indeed, but the CT scan showed up this terminal lung cancer and this time it is terminal. You know there’s advantages of dying of cancer. It gives you the time to maybe do what I am doing now, in trying to give something back. It gives you the time to build bridges and mend fences in your own personal life.

A hospice means, meant you’re in God’s waiting room, you know, that this was the end of the line. It had terribly negative connotations for me, I was getting so much pressure from my family and from Kathleen, my hospice nurse, that to keep them quiet I thought I’d go in and just, you know, get a bit of peace. The connotations of hospice to me was very very negative.

I went in and first of all I was very surprised at the level of accommodation. It had all the facilities I could wish for, a lovely big room, a beautiful bathroom, a wet room and, more important than that, a little patio where I could go out and sit and drink my beer. And there was no problem with drinking beer. The fridge which is provided in the room was provided for my use and I filled it full of Hop House 13 and no one seemed to object to that. The nursing staff there, I don’t know what skills they have but they are very caring people. There’s a lot of love, without getting too emotional, there’s a lot of love in the place. During the few days I was with the hospice I developed a real rapport with the nursing staff to the point I was sad saying goodbye to them when I was leaving and that was quite a turn around to my mind-set when I arrived thinking that was a place you go and die. It was anything other than that, it was a place to go and live. It was a very very positive experience. I have no fear of returning to the hospice when my time comes. I look forward to seeing the girls again and having a bit of craic and a beer.