Northern Ireland news

Tributes to west Belfast nurse who died just eight weeks after cancer diagnosis

Orla MacManus, who worked in the Clinical Assessment Unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital, died in the early hours of Thursday
Marie Louise McConville

THE family of a west Belfast nurse have told of their devastation following her death just eight weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Orla MacManus, who worked in the Clinical Assessment Unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital, died in the early hours of Thursday.

The 49-year-old, who had one daughter and four grandchildren, was told just eight weeks ago that she had stage 4 lung cancer with secondary tumours in her lymph nodes, liver and kidneys.

She had experienced no symptoms and was in work when she felt unwell and was assessed by her colleagues.

Following an x-ray, it was discovered that she had fluid around her heart and she was told cancerous cells had been found.

It was arranged for Ms MacManus, who lived at Tullymore Gardens off Shaw's Road and had also worked as a specialist stroke nurse and substance misuse nurse, to have a course of immunotherapy to help fight the cancer.

However, her lungs filled with fluid which meant she was no longer a candidate for the treatment.

Earlier this month, the 49-year-old was moved into the Marie Curie Hospital, where she died surrounded by her family last week.

Speaking to The Irish News, her sister Paula said the family had been left devastated.

She said her sister had been in good health and had enjoying walking with her partner and had taken a trip to Prague just days before her diagnosis.

"It was a very fast decline, " she said.

"She didn't really have time to adapt but she was very stoic throughout. She was very strong for everybody else."

Paula described her sister, who died just over a year after she lost her father Pat, as somebody who was "vivacious" and "loved the craic".

"You always knew she was in the room. She had a big, big personality. She was very witty and had a big laugh."

She added: "We are devastated.

"It is just very hard to take in because it was such a short period of time. Somebody so full of life taken from us far too soon.

"It is just surreal. You keep expecting to see her".

Angela Trainor, who was close friends with Ms MacManus and had also worked with her, said she went "above and beyond for people in her job and as a friend as well".

She said colleagues would form a guard of honour at today's funeral.

"From the hospital perspective, it is a big blow to the wards she worked in, for her colleagues and doctors," she said.

"She was great craic. It would have made it easier I think if she would have had more time just to spend with everyone she cared about. She cared about everyone she came in contact with.

"She gave everything 100 per cent".

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