herald

Monday 26 September 2016

Heartbroken mum had three-day hotel wait for bone cancer treatment

Ausra Matharu, who has bone cancer, with husband Bobby
Ausra Matharu, who has bone cancer, with husband Bobby

A mother-of-three with terminal cancer was left heartbroken after she had to spend three days in a hotel while awaiting a hospital bed for life-prolonging treatment.

Ausra Matharu (32), from Mogeely, Cork, claimed she only received a hospital bed when, out of frustration, she rang a Cork radio station in tears to highlight her plight.

Ausra has terminal bone marrow cancer.

Her prognosis is five to seven years, provided she gets the correct life-prolonging treatment.

The Lithuanian national and her husband, Bobby, are self-employed and had to close their business to travel to Galway for the scheduled appointment.

Both were deeply upset at the delay Ausra experienced in receiving treatment in Galway.

Frustrated

Ausra was so frustrated by the continued delay she rang Cork radio station RedFM.

"It is not like a human being: 'Oh, I am so sorry' or 'You must be very angry. It is just 'We have no beds.' That is it. 'There is nothing more we can do.' You can explain as much as you want that there was a bed booked," she said.

"Nothing is organised. You feel like you are just a number. I am just heartbroken.

"I want to see my kids graduate. I want to see my kids make their Holy Communion. I feel like I have wasted three whole days of my life.

"I would rather have spent it with the kids. Every minute is important to me. Everything I am going through I am doing for my kids," she said.

Ausra said she was told that if she presented herself to the emergency department she could wait for a bed like any other patient.

The young mother said she was astonished but overjoyed when, a short time after she told her story live on radio, she was contacted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to say a bed would shortly be available. A HSE statement on the matter is now expected.

Ausra travelled to Galway because the life-prolonging treatment she requires is not available at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

"This is one of the most important things for me. To get my (stem cell) transplant. My life depends on this," she said.

Ausra's three children range in age from two to 12 years.

The young mother underwent stem cell collection treatment in Galway about a month ago and the cells were scheduled to be frozen and transferred back to her on Monday.

The procedure will now take place today.

She was diagnosed seven months ago after being admitted to hospital with fractured bones and back pain.

Brittle

Doctors found two fractures in her lower back.

Tests determined that bone marrow cancer was causing her bones to become brittle and break.

She started chemotherapy at CUH last October.

"The prognosis is five to seven years with multiple myeloma. We need to buy time. You never know what can happen. I am really a positive person. I am trying to keep that positivity. Medication is moving so fast. I am taking it day by day."

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a cancer arising from plasma cells, a type of cell made in the bone marrow that forms part of the immune system.

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