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28 Nov 2021

Foyle Hospice launches 'Lights Of Love' Christmas appeal

Foyle Hospice launches 'Lights Of Love' Christmas appeal

Foyle Hospice staff with the Christmas tree adorned with 'Lights Of Love' tags. The hospice invites the public to dedicate a light by returning a Lights of Love tag or sponsor a light on the tree

Foyle Hospice has launched their annual Lights of Love Christmas appeal which will see hundreds of twinkling lights shine brightly on a tree on hospice grounds in memory of loved ones.

Every Yuletide, Foyle Hospice invites the community to get together with a local family to switch on the Christmas tree lights.

This year however, they are asking their supporters to send their love from their homes as they launch their annual Lights of Love Christmas Tree campaign.

You can dedicate a light by returning a Lights of Love tag or sponsor a light on the Christmas Tree in the grounds.

Tree tags are available for you to write a personal message in honour or remembrance of a loved one, or it might be one of support for their patients and staff.

You can post this tag back to Foyle Hospice along with your donation, where it will be placed on the hospice tree, as a token of love and remembrance.

Christmas is a festive time filled with activities and laughter. But for people living with a terminal or life-limiting illness, it can be a time of profound fear and isolation.

Foyle Hospice strives to make the holiday period bright and special for those in their care.

Donall Henderson, CEO of the Foyle Hospice said: “With another year of restrictions and limitations it is safe to say that 2021 like 2020, has been a challenging year for all of us.

“Foyle Hospice is heavily reliant on the support of the community – more than 65 per cent of our funding comes from our generous donors and for the last thirty-five years, that kindness has enabled us to care for more than 18,000 patients and their families.

“No-one should have to face a terminal or life-limiting illness alone especially during Christmas and with your help, they won’t have to. I want to thank our supporters for their continued and for your continued and tireless support – particularly over the past 18 months.”

Michael Lyttle and his family will be switching on the lights this year. His wife, Mandy, was in the care of the Hospice after receiving a late-stage cancer diagnosis. She died aged 59. Michael and his two sons – Michael and Shane – shared their family’s experience of the support and care provided by Foyle Hospice.

Michael said: “Mandy and I grew up locally and our family which included our two sons and grandchildren were the centre of our lives.

“When we were able to go on holidays together Mandy especially loved going to Spain where she could read a book and spend time relaxing in the sun by the pool. Dinner and a glass of wine were the perfect ending to the day.

“Mandy also loved fashion and her friends and family know that shopping for clothes was definitely something she enjoyed tremendously.

“She hadn’t been feeling too well and after searching for a diagnosis for two years Mandy was given the devastating diagnosis of Stage IV bowel cancer. She started chemotherapy in February 2019 and continued it through to September.

“Unfortunately, by October after undergoing further tests we received the news that cancer had spread to her liver.

“Mandy was approved for a procedure to target her liver and in December 2019 was sent to Belfast where she was treated and recovered well enough to go home the Friday before Christmas. She was delighted to be able to be with her grandchildren for Christmas and spend the holidays at home with family where she was happiest.

“In January 2020 during a routine appointment, we were delighted to hear the news that her liver was showing signs of responding to the treatment.

“At this time Mandy had mentioned that she was having pain in her back from what she thought was arthritis. The doctor ordered an MRI and it was then that they discovered that the cancer had spread to her spine.

“Mandy started a round of radiotherapy and relied on a syringe driver to help relieve the immense pain. When her pain did not subside and she was urged to go to into Foyle Hospice to help get it under control. At this point Mandy did not want to go into Foyle Hospice because she feared that she would not be able to go home again.

“By February 2020 Mandy had lost a lot of weight and her pain was unbearable, she had a very high threshold for pain but it got to the point where it was excruciating.

“The healthcare worker told us that she had contacted Foyle Hospice because they specialise in helping regulate pain. I heard that it may be two weeks before a room was available but luckily, they called me a few days later saying we could come in the morning.

“Mandy still had to be convinced that she was only going in for a brief period in order to help with the pain. Fortunately, she finally agreed to go to the Hospice as an inpatient.

“The staff were amazing, not only did they care for Mandy, they supported all of us. And it wasn’t only the medical team, we met the cleaning staff, administration team and Bill and Lisa from the kitchen. They all made sure that we had everything we needed.

“Her doctor Karen Harkin, even brought her dogs in to visit the patients. Mandy’s nurses were very reassuring and I knew that I could go home at night and that Mandy would be well cared for.

“While she was there Mandy enjoyed visits from her family and friends and because of the care she was receiving at the Hospice she felt well enough to enjoy spending time with them.

“Everyone at Foyle Hospice always had a smile and were there to make sure all of our needs were more than met. There was nothing that they wouldn’t do to make sure that Mandy was comfortable.

“After several weeks Mandy was sitting up in bed and Dr Karen told us that she could go home.

“People don’t realise that hospice is not always about end of life, it is about getting pain under control and getting well enough to go home.

“She would not have had the last eight weeks with us if it weren’t for Foyle Hospice, I could not have coped having her at home with all the pain she had been in.

“The staff were great with Mandy and always there for me with a smile, kind word and even a laugh.

“We had no idea the journey that we would be on with Mandy’s illness, I don’t know what we would have done without the support of Foyle Hospice.”

In March 2020 Mandy died peacefully at home where she wanted to be. Foyle Hospice is honoured that her family has agreed to light the Lights of Love Christmas Tree this year, in memory of Mandy.

Hospice care is more than end of life or palliative care, it offers families a support circle to help them through a devastating and challenging time. Community commitment to keeping Foyle Hospice running is the reason this family and so many families like the Lyttle’s have had the support and care they need in unimaginable circumstances.

If you wish to donate to the Lights of Love appeal, go to: https://foylehospice.com/get-involved/lights-of-love/ or https://foylehospice.com/donate/

You can also donate via Foyle Hospice's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/foyle.hospice/ or by calling fundraising on: 02871359888.

If you would like to know more about Foyle Hospice, including its services and support please call 028 715351010.

If you would like to share a fundraising idea, please telephone 028 71359888.

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