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Moments shared

Patients, family and supporters share their experiences of our care and their support


Gerard Murphy Hospice at Home patient

04 March 2014

This story is written by Deirdre and is about the journey Deirdre and her brother Gerard Murphy travelled for almost three years. The picture shows Gerard at his happiest, when on stage!

Firstly to say that Gerard and I have been close brother and sister all our lives. We have a respect and a deep love of one another. So in March 2011 when I was diagnosed with Lymphoma (a blood cancer), Gerard was devastated. He was on tour and was distraught that he could not come to the hospital with me for that final diagnosis. He had been side by side with me for all tests prior to that final judgement. We cried on the phone and his words were ‘Be brave, we will fight this together’.

As it was near my birthday and my chemotherapy would start that day (7th April), I decided to have a big birthday party. Gerard hadn’t been feeling well, his back was causing him pain and distress, but he continued working and he said would I mind if he didn’t come. Well of course he did, looking exhausted and his face was bruised.

The next day I urged him to go to the doctor. Pleaded with him – always the one to heal himself. Well he went and had blood tests, etc. Within 12 hours he was told he would be admitted to hospital for further tests. Within days the situation looked grim. Lymphoma, leukaemia were words used, until finally my brother had advanced prostate cancer, which had metastasised into his bones and it was terminal. Within weeks of my diagnosis, Gerard had cancer also, but terminal.

I visited Gerard every day, wearing a mask to protect me as I had started chemotherapy. He had several blood transfusions and after almost one month was sent home with little hope. Gerard became determined to live and over the weeks and months became stronger. He did some radio jobs. We laughed, talked, cried but supported each other. Gerard would say, ‘We both have cancer but mine is the superior version, its terminal’.

Soon Gerard was back on the stage where he started his wonderful career, at the Citizens’ Glasgow doing the one man show ‘Krapp’s last tape’. It received rave reviews and indeed he was nominated ‘Best Actor’ at the Cats awards.

Amazing – I was in remission and Gerard had terminal cancer but was fighting with every ounce of determination he had. We had several stints in hospital with cellulitis, spinal chord compressions and pneumonia, but each time he fought and fought.

In July 2013 we decided to go on holiday for a few days by the sea, luxury hotel and all the works. We were both so excited. We left for Aldeburgh and had a wonderful day. Gerard was obviously in pain so we used the wheelchair. Then the following day Gerard couldn’t move, his legs had seized up. He was taken to hospital. Over days we both knew this was a battle he was not going to win. We had talked about death and what he wanted me to do. We talked about this in hospital. He knew that I knew there was no coming out of this episode. Gerard talked about a big party when he got home, going through his diary to decide who to invite, almost everyone. He was planning his funeral and we both knew that.

I got Gerard home after a lot of pushing, shoving and cutting down trees. He was helped tremendously by MacMillan nurses in the hospital and at home by the Arthur Rank Hospice at Home team. Gerard was delighted to be home, listening to his wonderful Amanda McBroom and visited by close friends, singing and retelling stories of the theatre.

Gerard died peacefully on Monday 26th August 2013.

I miss my brother every day but his strength lives on in me.

We did our Music Marathon last year. My brother came and wrote Red Velvet, our band, a card saying how much he admired us for doing the Marathon. He told his friends and asked them to support us. 

This year he was not here to support us, but I know he would be saying ‘Well done’.

To find out more about the Music Marathon which was organised, please click HERE for more details.

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity were privileged to care for Gerard Murphy over a period of four nights. Care began on the first night Gerard was discharged from hospital as it was known Gerard was very near to end of life. Gerard needed medical support whilst his family required significant psychological and emotional support. As a very close family and with Deirdre fighting her own battle, we made Gerard as comfortable as possible and ensured the family were prepared as best as they could be for the time ahead. On the final night, our Hospice at Home team were called to the house as we were advised Gerard was in some distress. Our nurse was able to support Deirdre and arranged for additional medication to be prescribed by the out of hours doctor. Gerard became more calm and Deirdre more relaxed, knowing Gerard’s pain and anxiety were being effectively managed. This was the last night we cared for Gerard as he sadly passed away the following day.




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