Dundrum local’s legacy at hospital

by Gazette Reporter
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THE family of James Gill, the Dundrum man who lost his battle with firolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma in May 2013, presented a cheque for €30,000 to St Vincent’s Hospital last week.
A new chill-out room has also been opened at the hospital in the 20-year-old’s honour.
James’s parents, Geraldine and Declan Gill, presented the money for 18 televisions at the hospital’s day care centre for cancer patients. It was in St Vincent’s that James had 65% of his liver removed.
The James Gill Chill Out Room was opened in St Anne’s ward in the Nutley Wing at the hospital on June 4.
Speaking to The Gazette, James’s mother, Geraldine, said: “James was the first in Ireland to get firolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.
“It’s so rare [there are only 200 sufferers worldwide] and I’m trying to let people know it is another kind of cancer.
“James was diagnosed in 2011, and he fought his battle, and last year we had to try and raise money – € 80,000 – to get him to the States [for treatment].
“We got the money for him but, sadly, as I was going to the mortuary, America was ringing me up, saying: ‘We’re ready for him’,” she said.
“James always said how lucky he was to have friends and family to visit him [in hospital], but some days he could only walk the corridor, as there was nothing else to do.
“So, he said to me: ‘When I get to the States, and if I have any money left over, is it possible we could do a little chill-out room with a few games and books in it?’, that teenagers and older children can come to because when you hit 16, there is nothing for that age group at all.”
On how James dealt with his illness, Geraldine said: “He’d never say he had cancer – he never spoke about it from 2011 until the day he died, and we weren’t allowed to speak about it either.
“One doctor said to him in February 2011, when he was only 18: ‘You will never see school again’, and James said: ‘I will prove you wrong’.
“By March, he’d arrived back in school and went on to do the Leaving Cert through his pains, and then did a nursing course in Dundrum College.
“I remember one day I dropped him off to college and he could hardly walk. I deliberately waited in the car park and saw him going behind a prefab, and I could see he was doubled over in pain and getting sick, but he didn’t want me to see him.
“All he ever told me was: ‘Mum, just smile and wave’, and that was his motto, and it’s now up in Vincent’s Hospital on his plaque,” she said.
“When he passed, I had five minutes alone with him, and I lay on his chest, and said: ‘James, with all our power, we will do this room for you, if it takes us until the end of time, your room will be done.’
“I feel I haven’t actually lost him, he’s with me all the time – he’s just ‘emigrated to Australia’. That’s how I got through the last year.
“He had 1,000 people at his funeral in Ballinteer, and a guard of honour. I always said he was like a little hero and he had a hero’s farewell.”
Geraldine and Declan Gill plan to continue fundraising for cancer sufferers and hope to install more chill-out rooms in hospitals all around the country.

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