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Northern Ireland woman leaves family to isolate alongside cancer-stricken mum

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Marlyn Boal (right) and her daughter Jodie

Marlyn Boal (right) and her daughter Jodie

Marlyn Boal (right) and her daughter Jodie

A Co Down woman is missing home after leaving her partner and young daughter behind to go into isolation with her mother, who is undergoing treatment for cancer at the Marie Curie Hospice.

Marlyn Boal (68) from Newtownards has been shielding from coronavirus at the Belfast facility since mid-April, while receiving treatment for stage four pancreatic, spleen and liver cancer.

While Marlyn receives significant levels of care from staff at the hospice - and has done since her diagnosis in November 2018 - during these challenging times she also has daughter Jodie (45) alongside her each day.

For Jodie, taking the decision to stay with her mother for support was one she felt she had to do.

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However, the coronavirus restrictions have meant staying away from her 13-year-old daughter and fiance at home.

"There's no way I wouldn't be there and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be with her," said Jodie. "I am treated just as well as she is. Everyone has been so attentive to the whole family.

"Of course, I miss home and miss my daughter, but I wouldn't be anywhere else.

"My family totally understand that I'm better by mum's side and we can keep in touch in other ways. As long as they know mum's good, they're good."

For Marlyn, having Jodie around with her has been "a beautiful journey" as she fights cancer, with the pair trying to keep as busy and connected with family as possible.

Marlyn explained that her time in the hospice has been a "home from home", praising the "wonderful" care she has received from the nurses.

However, she worries about the impact of her daughter being kept apart from the other members of her family.

"I am in no big hurry to go home," said Marlyn.

"I am loving it - I love everything. There's not one thing you could fault. I'd never been to the hospice before and I didn't think it would be like this at all.

"The only thing that would sway me is Jodie's situation. She has a daughter who needs her.

"We've always been close, so I know how important that mother-daughter relationship is. I feel Jodie needs a few nights in her own home, but you wouldn't beat her away. She's always been there for me - we've always been that way."

Jodie, however, said she would not have the situation any other way. Despite some challenges during this time, she has been working hard to stay positive for the sake of Marlyn.

"Mum has always had a great attitude and faces things head on. I think that's where we have all now got our strength from," added Jodie.

"The days do fly in and there's always lots of laughter in our room. Mummy constantly keeps her mind ticking and could do crosswords all day long.

"I haven't kissed my mum since all of this, which has been difficult as we would be an affectionate family.

"From when this all started, we were knocking elbows - we're being so careful and doing damage limitation. It's hard not to give Mum a kiss and a hug, but we know it's the right thing to do."

Belfast Telegraph


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