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Our Stories

Patients & Families: Mary Murray

Mary Murray

“When Sheila passed, she took my heart with her.”

What was childhood like with your sister?
My mother passed away when I was 5H and my sister was 4. Our father couldn’t take care of us, so we lived with my mom’s sister’s family. We lived in Manhattan but moved to Rockaway Beach after we were adopted.

When did you become closer as sisters?
Sheila married her first husband in 1965, divorced, remarried in 1983, then divorced again in 1995. Wherever she lived, Brooklyn, Port Chester, or Rye, we saw each other every weekend. She was very independent but still very close to me.

When did Sheila get sick?
In 2010, after I quit my job, Sheila suggested that we move in together. We were both getting older and we could take care of each other. It was hard for both of us in the beginning because we were used to having our own space.

One night when Sheila came home from work, she told me that the doctor found a spot on her lungs – ground glass (Ground-glass opacities). It seemed manageable for a while. But then Sheila began to have back pain, lose weight, and complain about very sore arms.

Sheila decided to go to urgent care where the attending doctor told her she had cancer. Then her pulmonary doctor confirmed stage-four lung cancer. When she told me that night, I made a commitment to direct all of my energy towards her care.

When did she go to Calvary Hospital?
Sheila had several surgeries and also received radiation. At one point, her oncologist said he did not see any new cancer cells. However, it became more difficult for Sheila to walk, and she got worse. She was in and out of the hospital.

On August 3, 2017, she was discharged from the hospital again and her attending doctor said there was nothing else he could do for her. He told her she was dying.

At first, I tried to care for her at home with help from VNS, but it became more complicated. At one point, they suggested that I take her to Calvary Hospital.

Sheila was admitted to Calvary Hospital on August 11, 2017. Sheila was cared for at Calvary for over 11 weeks and there were times she wanted to go home. I wished I could have kept her at home. Even if I was provided with nurses 24 hours a day, it wouldn’t have mattered. I couldn’t provide the same care she received at Calvary.

When she was still lucid, Sheila said to me,“Everyone at Calvary treats me so well.” I was so happy Sheila knew she was well taken care of.

Mary Murray