A CANCER survivor was so impressed with the care she received at a Southside hospital that she has decided to undertake a famous pilgrimage walk in northern Spain to raise funds for the staff.
Marie Malee (49), is originally from Normandy in France but she has lived in Ireland for 28 years and settled in Blackrock.
She quickly recovered from cervical cancer after she was treated at St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar last year.
The hospital has been widely lauded by cancer patients for its excellence of care and friendly environment.
Marie began her treatment for cancer at St Luke’s last May and made a speedy recovery within three months.
As a show of her deep gratitude to the staff she has decided to undertake the entire 780 kilometre route of the old Santiago De Compstella pilgrimage walk, known as the ‘Camino’, from May 19 to June 27.
The walk begins in southern France and snakes its way through northern Spain and ends in the famous cathedral town of Santiago De Compostela. The pilgrimage route has been travelled by Christian devotees for centuries.
Marie said she was overwhelmed by the excellence of the care she received and the personal warmth shown to her by all the staff at St Luke’s.
“The two first weeks I was there they told me I should stay in the hospital,” she recalled. “I was scared the first two days but the environment was amazing and I couldn’t believe how friendly all the nurses were.
“After two days the doctors and the nurses all knew my name. The nurses were like mother hens. They watched me like a hawk as well because when you get the treatment you can react to it badly at first.
“You kind of forget they are nurses. They suddenly became friends. I don’t know how to explain it but after two days the treatment was working and I felt so good.”
In addition, she said the hospital and its gardens were the perfect environment for the treatment of cancer patients.
“When I started the treatment I was in a wheelchair and very weak. I was afraid but a doctor told me to go for a walk. I am a country person at heart and to me it was very beautiful. So every day after that I would go for a walk in the garden.”
To celebrate her first year of being clear of cancer she decided she would do something to show her gratitude to the staff at St Luke’s.
“My parents did a bit of the Santiago di Compostella walk last year and I decided that this would be a fantastic way to say thank you to St Luke’s Hospital.
“I am taking 39 days to do the walk itself. I intend to do 20 kilometres a day.”
Marie was also keen to point that she will pay for all the costs of the trip herself and that the donations she receives will go to St Luke’s Hospital.
Anyone who would like to donate to Marie’s fundraising walk on behalf of the ‘Friend’s of St Luke’s’ fundraising campaign can lodge cash to the Ulster Bank account, sort code 985330; Acc No 10575457.