Tomorrow, May 12, is International Nurses Day; the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is regarded as the founder of modern nursing.
This year more than ever, it is important to celebrate the incredible contributions that nurses make to our society.
One such individual who deserves a special mention is Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist Margaret Carlin who was named Cancer Nurse of the Year 2019 at the Royal College of Nursing Awards NI.
Margaret is from Magherafelt and is based at Antrim Area Hospital.
She has been caring for local people for almost 25 years and has just retired from her full-time post.
Margaret took up her role as a Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Mid Ulster Hospital in 1996.
“My post was created as a result of collaboration between Macmillan Cancer Support and what is now the Northern Health and Social Care Trust,” recalls Margaret.
“It was important to have a full-time nurse specialist who could provide expert advice, support and information to patients who were living with cancer or a life limiting illness.”
Following Margaret’s appointment, her sterling work in the community was well known.
Funds, however, were needed to continue to support her role and this inspired a group of individuals in the Magherafelt area to form a fundraising committee.
In their time, Magherafelt Fundraising Committee raised over £1,000,000 pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland.
“Over the years I have met and cared for many people with cancer and other life limiting conditions, often at times of great distress for them, their families and loved ones,” explains Margaret.
“They have allowed me into their lives and to be with them throughout their illness. They have shared their thoughts and feelings with me and told me about their hopes and fears for the future. We laughed together and sometimes we cried together.
“Throughout the years, I continue to meet people who I met at the time when they were diagnosed with cancer.
“I am always glad to see them and it makes me really happy to see the quality of life they continue to have. I also meet many families whose loved ones I cared for, who sadly have died, and I am always touched that they remember me and the times we spent together.
“They tell me about their lives now and changes there have been.
“They tell me how their children and grandchildren have grown up and are doing well and this reminds me that I will always be part of their memories and how privileged I am to be a Macmillan nurse.”
Margaret initially trained as a nursing student in Mid Ulster Hospital from 1980-1983 and following this worked as a staff nurse in the Mid Ulster Hospital.
It was in October 1996 that she became a Macmillan nurse, delivering chemotherapy to patients as well as helping to set up and establish palliative care services.
In 2011, Margaret moved to Antrim Area Hospital as Macmillan Lung Cancer Nurse Specialist.
“Since Margaret moved to Antrim Area Hospital, she has worked tirelessly to raise the standards of the care delivered to patients diagnosed with lung cancer,” explains Sally Convery, Macmillan Service Lead for Palliative Care.
“Margaret is passionate about caring for the individual and is very focused on ensuring patients are recognised as people and not by their diagnosis.
“She encourages them to focus on the positive aspects of life and not on their diagnosis. Margaret is an excellent role model to the other lung cancer nurses and demonstrates her passion for ensuring safe and effective care.
“She continually strives to improve the patient’s quality of life and has shown outstanding commitment to the creation and delivery of a pulmonary prehabilitation self-management programme for patients with lung cancer.
“Margaret believes it is important services are delivered with patients and relatives at the forefront and because of this she is involved in and promotes various lung cancer support groups in the area as well as co-ordinating a support group that is regularly reviewed by patients.
“As well as this, she has driven forward a campaign to increase the awareness of lung cancer symptoms and has lead a team of her colleagues to visit local shopping centres and share leaflets ensuring members of the public are aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. She is always looking at ways to get the message out there in innovative ways.”
Sally continued: “Margaret is a wonderful resource of expert knowledge and she has certainly shown outstanding leadership in cancer and palliative care for almost 25 years’ service.
“We are delighted that she has agreed to return for a short time following her retirement to ensure the service continues to deliver high quality care and we wish her the very best in her future, we will miss her.”
Margaret concluded: “Although I have officially retired from my full-time post, I will continue in my role as a Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist two days a week for another year.
“I will really miss my colleagues and all the people that I have met and cared for over the years.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.