Sunday 25 September 2016

Heartbroken parents who lost son to cancer donate vital equipment to Beaumont Hospital's oncology ward

When Sandra and Don Nugent lost their son Ross (18) to cancer, they vowed to make life a little bit easier for patients of Beaumont.

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

RTÉ broadcaster Marty Whelan with Sandra and Don Nugent in The Glade, a new chill-out room for patients on the oncology wards of Beaumont Hospital and their families
RTÉ broadcaster Marty Whelan with Sandra and Don Nugent in The Glade, a new chill-out room for patients on the oncology wards of Beaumont Hospital and their families

It started with a faulty blood pressure unit with a cuff that kept slipping off his arm.

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Exasperated, Ross Nugent (18) vowed to his mother that when he had beaten the aggressive, rare cancer that had attacked his system, he would work towards raising enough money to buy a new one for Beaumont Hospital.

But the fun-loving young man from Malahide, Co Dublin, who was a skilled artist and whose real talent lay in quietly helping people, died in May 2010.

Only four months before, he had been diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a primary bone cancer that affects mainly children and adolescents.

Ross Nugent
Ross Nugent

For two months, his devastated parents Sandra and Don and sister Emma thought about how they could come up with a fitting memorial for their loved one. And then they remembered his promise.

The first thing the family donated to the hospital was a blood pressure unit. They also contacted the Ed Hardy design company in San Francisco - a favourite of Ross's - which agreed to have the unit decorated with a Hardy design.

From there it snowballed, after Don and Sandra realised the massive need for the most basic equipment such as comfortable chairs for people to sit on while having chemotherapy.

Fast-forward five years, and thanks to money raised through the Ross Nugent Foundation, 150 individual items of equipment have been donated to Beaumont Hospital's oncology wards.

Each thing they buy is intended to make life more comfortable both for patients and for staff, said Don.

"We told the hospital that we wanted to do this and said, 'Tell us what you want and we'll get it'," he said.

"We wanted to be sure the money was going to where we wanted it to go."

Now a fully-equipped, architecturally designed chill-out room called The Glade has officially been opened at Beaumont, and it is changing the lives of cancer patients by allowing them to sit and relax in a calming "non-hospital" environment.

The flooring looks like grass, artworks give a forest-like atmosphere and patients can sit in leather armchairs while watching a movie or listening to music.

Delighted patients have told the foundation they are "in love" with the room.

Don said the drive had helped his family a lot with their grieving process.

They all still wear wristbands that read "What would Ross Do?" and get emotional at the thought that they have managed to help the lives of others through their pain.

Meanwhile, they have identified 22 other items of equipment needed by Beaumont before they spread the generosity to other hospitals.

"We'll keep going as long as there's a need," said Don.

Irish Independent

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