Lifestyle Health

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Irish mother facing mounting debt and fighting terminal cancer tells all on TV documentary tonight

Published 13/05/2014 | 13:40

Jackie Crowe
'Jackie's Story: My Life, My Legacy will air on TV3 tonight at 9pm'
Jackie Crowe 'Jackie's Story: My Life, My Legacy will air on TV3 tonight at 9pm'
Jackie Crowe 'Jackie's Story: My Life, My Legacy will air on TV3 tonight at 9pm'
Rebecca, daughter of Jackie Crowe 'Jackie's Story: My Life, My Legacy will air on TV3 tonight at 9pm'

A mother has opened up about her battle with terminal cancer and the strain of affording treatment and medication on her limited resources.

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Mum-of-two Jackie Crowe (49), from Tralee, Co Kerry, was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine tumours – which she describes as “a rare form of cancer that affects a few hundred people in Ireland”- in July of last year.

She was given just a year to live following her diagnosis.

Jackie’s courageous fight is the subject of a TV3 documentary entitled ‘Jackie’s Story: My Life, My Legacy’.

The moving documentary follows Jackie and her family as they come to terms with her illness and make provisions for their future without her.

In early 2013, Jackie was made redundant.

“I was struggling with my mortgage, and to pay the mortgage I stopped paying my life assurance,” she said.

She was subsequently informed that her life assurance policy could not be re-instated after her diagnosis.


Jackie Crowe in a scene from TV3 documentary

Jackie is determined to warn others about the serious impact of neglecting their life assurance policies and has lobbied her healthcare provider for an adequate solution.

After losing her job, Jackie struggled to make ends meet.

“I couldn’t get a job...I applied in McDonalds, I would have cleaned toilets for a few bob.”

With costs for her treatment and medication mounting and her youngest daughter Rebecca sitting her Leaving Certificate, Jackie had to decide between “buying fuel to get to her appointments or buying food for her daughter.”

Jackie is worried her son and daughter will face large expenses after she passes away.

“I went to a funeral home and it’s €4,000...where can you get that kind of money when you don’t have enough for daily living,” she explained. 

Jackie tells viewers that at one stage, she could not afford to buy her medication. Staff at her local pharmacy stepped and the paid the rest of the bill.

“Thank god for those fabulous people working in the pharmacy who paid for the rest of it for me.”

She is also trying to keep her daughter enrolled in a hairdressing course in Limerick.

“I’m trying to keep her employable. I don’t want her at home looking at me sick every day.”

Jackie pays for her daughter’s rent, food and bus fare. Jackie’s income is a weekly social welfare payment of €188.


Jackie Crowe in a scene from TV3 documentary

Jackie’s mother Bridie also battled with cancer for two years and was primarily cared for by Jackie. This explains her selfless attitude in the face of tragedy. “I’ve always been the helper, I just don’t know how to be the person getting help,” she said.

Bridie was treated for cancer within five days. Jackie was forced to wait seven weeks for chemotherapy. While she waited for action from the HSE, her health deteriorated and more tumours developed.

Jackie is adamant that HSE funding cuts are to blame for the severity of her plight. She said: “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 is frustrated at the lack of compassion and personal care offered to cancer patients.

“When you’re diagnosed with cancer they should have someone sitting there to give you your options, tell you what’s out there. They don’t give you any of that information.”


Rebecca, daughter of Jackie Crowe, in a scene from tonight's documentary

Jackie first gained attention through her anonymous online blog, ‘What Will Be My Legacy?’ which aims to “provide a voice to the voiceless”.

Her story came to the attention of Tralee reporter Francis Fitzgibbon who gave her a platform to have her voice heard.

• Jackie’s Story: My Life, My Legacy will air on TV3 tonight at 9pm.

Irish Independent

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