SHOW OF SUPPORT Trisha Greavy gets huge fulfilment from helping those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Name: Trisha Greavy
Occupation: General Manager at Mayo Cancer Support
I live in Bonniconlon, a beautiful place and usually my day starts at half seven when my alarm goes off. Hopefully, I’ve had at least eight hours sleep, otherwise I’d be a bit grumpy because I’m not a great morning person.
I always have to dress the bed immediately – I’m like that – if I don’t follow the same routine every morning, I’m not happy. Breakfast then is probably cereal or porridge. My mother had me sickened with porridge during lockdown, so I might give that a miss for a while!
I leave Bonniconlon before half eight and almost every morning there are people out keeping the village looking so well. They’re just brilliant and help make it a great place to live.
I get to the office in Rock Rose House in Castlebar before half nine and get the therapy rooms open. All therapists like to set the rooms up in their own way, but I get the candles going and the CD player on before they arrive.
Then it’s emails and the post, but unless I have meetings scheduled, the day can turn out in any number of ways. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s definitely true to say every single day here is different.
The phone could ring and it could be someone really upset after getting a cancer diagnosis; it could be a nurse in oncology wanting to send someone over here; it could be someone asking about fundraising; it could be absolutely anything. No day ever follows a pattern, especially when our drop-in service is open.
Often people come in the door and they’re in floods of tears, almost inconsolable and they’re coming here desperately seeking some kind of comfort. I’m amazed by the people who come in here. I don’t know how some of them get out of the bed in the morning, so we do everything humanly possible to help them and that’s the only way I can operate. There’s huge fulfilment from helping people; it’s as if they’re doing us a favour.
At the moment because of the Covid, our drop-in service isn’t open – everything is by appointment only, and during lockdown we only had a phone service, which was hard.
Working from home was very difficult. I’m usually very good at separating work from home life, so being at home was muddling that a bit. Eventually, my car became my office. I’d drive to a lake near our house or to Enniscrone just down the road. I’d find a quiet spot where I could be fully present and give my all to the client.
On the road
Now, that the travel restrictions have been lifted there are many days when I’m on the road.
I could be in Tuam or Portlaoise at meetings of cancer support networks and before Covid I could be found anywhere throughout the county speaking in schools, accepting cheques, attending fundraisers or getting pictures taken of presentations.
As I said, every day is different and we have seen it all here when it comes to cancer, but you still never think it’s going to happen in your own family. I was wrong. Two years ago, my sister Michelle was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. They told her it was stage three or four and we were all devastated.
My mother, who’s an amazing woman, was cradling her in her arms like a baby and we were all over the place, but thankfully things weren’t as bad as first thought. They biopsied it and found out it was only stage two, so that was a huge relief. They treated it and she’s now doing so well. She’s a massive inspiration to me. I look at her sometimes and wonder how she does it, but she has truly taught me to live for today.
I felt very privileged because I could help her with things I do here every day in work such as filling out a medical card application and showing her the supports available and I feel very privileged to work for Mayo Cancer Support.
I worked in Sligo with the Traveller Support Group and loved it, but one day I was coming out of the hospital here in Castlebar and looked over at Rock Rose House and said ‘I would truly love to work there and help people with cancer.’ I never dreamt I’d end up working here but luckily for me, that’s what happened.
As I said, every day is different and this morning is taken up with thinking about fundraising. It’s always very challenging, but even more so now and we’re wracking our brains to see what we can do. We have to raise €200,000 a year to run here, our outreach service in Ballina and our new service in Achill - and that’s just the overheads.
As I said, I try and separate work and home life. When I get home in the evening I love to walk or swim or go to the gym, but motorsport is my number one hobby. I have my own rally car, which I built myself. I’ve taken a break since Michelle’s diagnosis, but I miss it sometimes because it was a great release valve. As Ayrton Senna once said, ‘The helmet hides feelings which cannot be understood.’
I love my cars but can’t stand any bad driving or messing on the road. I lost a great friend a few years ago in a car accident and the difference between motorsport and boy racers is two ends of the spectrum. The safety aspect of motorsport is hugely important to me.
So, as you can see, my days are very varied. I love helping people with their cancer journey and feel privileged to get that opportunity here with our small and wonderful team. It makes me cherish each day and that’s a really good thing.
in conversation with Michael Gallagher
If money was no object, what would you do every day?
Look after everyone in my family; help charities like Mayo Cancer Support; go on holiday to The Maldives; build a big house with a race track behind it; buy a mk2 Escort and a WRC car and invite friends round
Tell us something about you we don’t know?
I’m terrified of goldfish. I can’t even look at them in fish tanks
Most unusual thing you have eaten?
It’s not very exciting – blue steak
Favourite place in the world?
I love Ireland and little cottages and Donegal and all that, but Enniscrone is special. I absolutely love it
What makes you angry?
My alarm clock every morning
Who are your heroes?
My mother. She always puts other people first and did everything humanly possible for us over the years. And of course my sister Michelle. She’s truly amazing
What makes you nervous?
I’m very self-critical, so getting pictures taken is a big challenge for me
Favourite TV show?
I don’t have time to watch TV and if I ever do, I just fall asleep
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Santa and The Tooth Fairy and having no worries or responsibilities
Best advice you ever got?
My father always told me to put my best foot forward and that has stood to me well over the years
Three things always in your fridge?
Milk, eggs and all kinds of vegetables
Most prized possession?
My rally car – a Honda Civic I built myself
Describe yourself in three words
Shy, honest, reliable
How do you unwind?
I love to walk – and of course, rallying. There’s nothing like it