If my story stops just one other person dropping their life assurance or highlights just how cutbacks are affecting our health service, then I’ll be happy if that’s part of the legacy I leave behind.
JACKIE CROWE IS a 49-year-old mother of two from Kerry who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).
Her story of battling the disease as well as financial worries will feature in a new documentary to air tonight on TV3. She has gone public with her experiences in Jackie’s Story: My Life, My Legacy in order to help others.
The documentary will show how Jackie was diagnosed with terminal cancer just five months after she fell behind on her mortgage payments and life assurance policy due to financial struggles.
She is still struggling with money woes after being told that her life assurance policy could not be re-instated. She knows that her funeral alone will cost €4,000.
Crowe is opening up to TV3 about her story in an effort to warn others of the seriousness of falling into arrears on your life assurance policy. The total arrears in her case were €244.
Also being highlighted in the documentary is how Crowe believes that worsening economic conditions have led to a lack of proper care in Ireland’s health service in Ireland.
Of the moment she was first told about the cancer, she said:
The day I was diagnosed, the doctor came in and told me I had three tumours… he could have been a dentist telling me I needed three fillings.
She also compares the standards in Ireland to better standards in Australia.
When they diagnose you with cancer, they should have somebody sitting there, to give you your options, tell you what’s out there. In Australia they have a cancer coordinator.
Crowe said she was not told that there were specialists in Ireland in the type of cancer she has, “never mind a specialised unit in StVincent’s”. “I still can’t understand not being given this information and that I was never referred to the special unit,” she said.
Crowe said she “worries constantly” about how her children will cope after she’s gone. Her 19-year-old daughter who lives in Ireland relies on her mother to help her with the cost of a hairdressing course.
Crowe had to wait seven weeks from the initial diagnosis before she began chemotherapy.
Describing the long wait, her brother Declan said:
It’s shameful. It’s shameful, for everyone. It’s not only Jackie; everyone is going to be getting the same wait. It’s just gone. The treatment is not the same.
Jackie describes how she found herself pulling back from those nearest and dearest to her, “partly because the hurt in their eyes reminds me that I’m dying”.
She said that she is “mainly I’m doing it because they have been through so much, too much, this last few years”.
Her distraught siblings Declan and Marian also reveal their pain at having to watch their sister suffer. Marian said that “you get sick with shock”, shock which lasted for weeks.
I didn’t believe she had it [cancer] actually. I thought the doctors were wrong, I thought Jackie had it wrong. I didn’t believe anyone for weeks.
‘Jackie’s Story: My Life, My Legacy’ airs tonight at 9pm on TV3.