Barrowford mum praises Pendleside Hospice as she’s given ‘all-clear’ after 19 years
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Darina Eyre, 62, of Barrowford, has survived liver, bowel and lung cancer. Now she says she’s been blessed and is a much stronger person than when her journey began and is an inspiration to others who fear what cancer might mean to them.
Darina was 48 and running a foreign tour operator business when she was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in 2004 which was treated by surgery. And while she appeared to be recovering well a year later her bowels collapsed.
Although it wasn’t a return of the cancer she had to undergo a 12-hour operation.
Darina, who was born in the Czech Republic, has two married children – her daughter also called Darina and son Igor – and a granddaughter Olivia, 14. Igor is a European security specialist with the European Parliament.
In November, 2008 – having recovered from her serious bowel issues – Darina collapsed at a tourism promotion at the Slovakian embassy in the London and when she visited hospital back home was diagnosed with liver cancer and it was so advanced she was told she may only have three to six months to live.
She said: “I was absolutely heartbroken. My daughter Darina was pregnant and when I looked at my children I thought I can’t do this to them. I am a very strong person."
First, she was treated with chemo which was followed later by surgery when half of her liver was taken away. This was followed by more chemo.
“It was at this time I met a Macmillan nurse who told me about Pendleside Hospice,” said Darina.
“The nurse said Pendleside would provide me with complementary therapy. Just the thought of going to a hospice worried me. But I remember the first time I went it was a beautiful spring day and I walked all the way from Barrowford to Reedley.
“When I got there I was shown around and given a cup of coffee and then I had a massage. On later visits I talked to other patients who were all in the same boat as me and it made me feel so relaxed and confident about the future.”
She added: “When you have cancer it can be such a lonely place. Even though you have family around you, you try to protect them and don’t really tell them how you are feeling. But at the hospice I felt free to talk. So, I loved going there.”
However, there was more sadness on the horizon when later in the year doctors found a cancerous lump in her lung which meant more surgery this time at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
During her recovery Darina returned to Pendleside for more complementary therapy and support.
She said: “It was at this point that I realised the hospice was funded mainly by donations and that they carried out fundraising and that as a charity they needed money. So, I started doing the Pendleside lottery and got all my friends and neighbours to join too!”
But Darina’s anguish wasn’t finished there because two years later she had to have further liver surgery because the first operation hadn’t managed to clear all the danger.
She said: “It might have been my fifth major surgery but by recovering from them all I feel I have been blessed.”
Darina switched her business prowess to importing paprika and selling it to the hospitality sector as well as visiting farmers’ markets and giving cookery demonstrations.
But her medical past made carrying boxes and the heavy workload difficult so she decided to switch roles and became a meet-and-greet person at Boundary Mill, where she now works in the office.
She operates a very controlled diet of mainly fish and vegetables. She stopped taking sugar, carbohydrates and dairy products apart from well-fermented cheese and makes her own sourdough bread to a special recipe and blends her own almond milk.
Darina is about to publish a cookery book ‘In The Footsteps Of Austro-Hungarian Cuisine’ which celebrates spring in the Czech Republic, summer in Slovakia, autumn in Hungary, and winter in Austria.
And for Pendleside she acts as a hub in Barrowford for people who want to donate goods to the hospice.
She said: “Pendleside is such a wonderful place. I don’t want anyone to be scared of going there. The therapies you get there are amazing and it helps you psychologically so much.”