‘Mary was the bravest person I knew, braver than all of us’

Sam and Mary McCorkell.

Sam and Mary McCorkell.

Sam sat by the bed of his beautiful wife, Mary, as she slowly slipped away at the Foyle Hospice. It was her 69th birthday and exactly 46 years since the day they were married.

Mary, a mother of four, was diagnosed with lung cancer just six months before she died on August 9th, 2015.

Mary McCorkell

Mary McCorkell

“She had been ill for a long time,” said her husband Sam. “But we didn’t know what it was. In February we were told that it was lung cancer and were told from the start that it was terminal.

“It was in the Oesophagus as well.”

“Mary was the bravest person I know,” said Sam, revealing how the couple had met almost 50 years ago when they were both patients on a ward in Altnagelvin Hospital.

“She was the bravest of the whole lot of us.

“When they diagnosed her she said: ‘Well at least we have a result and we know what it is now.’

The Derry father of four revealed how Mary had lost a lot of weight before her diagnosis.

“They built her up with steroids before she could be admitted to the cancer unit in Belfast for chemotherapy,” he added. “It was an outstanding place.”

Chemo was stopped after Mary’s fifth treatment. The Derry woman’s treatment was also further complicated by Mary’s Osteoporosis and Scoliosis.

It was Rose Green of the Foyle Hospice who arranged for Mary to have some respite care to help manage her pain.

And it was fitting that Mary’s treatment would be managed by the Foyle Hospice as she had volunteered for the charity back when the facility had first opened.

In fact, Sam and Mary had both been part of the fundraising team for the Foyle Hospice collecting the copper boxes and Sam spent many Christmases dressing up as Santa raising money for the charity.

“For the first two weeks Mary was in great form,” noted Sam.

“But the doctors told us she was deteriorating.

“The hospice staff let me stay as long as I wanted each day. That first day we arrived they had tea and scones waiting for us. Then they got Mary settled and told her they would sort the pain out.

“Mary and I were able to chat for as long as we wanted. The next morning I came back at 6.30 a.m. and when I got there Mary got on to me asking who was looking after the dog!

“The staff at the hospice are second to none. They were great and consultants always told you exactly what was happening. When Mary got very sick they arranged for us to stay in apartment down there and kept looking after us with sheets and towels.

“Bishop Daly and Sister Anna came around everyday to visit. She loved receiving their visits. She also liked to see Father McCaughey and Dean Morton coming in.

“I couldn’t have looked after Mary the way the Foyle Hospice did. I just couldn’t have coped.

“Her grandsons Jack and Matthew would come and visit her in the Foyle Hospice and they’d act all silly getting into bed with her. She just loved her grandsons.”

Mary is survived by husband Sam, children Brian, Simon, Sarah and Roslyn and grandchildren Jack and Matthew.