Patient Story

Battling Cancer Hand in Hand, Heart in Heart

Matthew and Eilis McLoughlin

Born and raised in Ireland, Matthew and Eilis McLoughlin touched down in the United States just two days after saying “I do.” Now more than 50 years later, their spirit of love and adventure remains strong even through hard times.

This devotion was essential for the couple, especially when cancer, or as their family calls it, “the Big C”, entered their lives. Eilis was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, then Matthew with pancreatic cancer in 2004. They remained hand-in-hand throughout their chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and radiation at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. It was a partnership that was hard to miss.

Cancer struck again in 2010 when Matthew’s pancreatic cancer reappeared. Eilis stayed at his side for round two of chemotherapy and another surgery. They became known as “the chemo couple” by the staff, a cancer-fighting power couple with unwavering support for each other.

It would be needed again. After years of routine breast exams with no signs of the “Big C’s” return, Eilis was tired of the poking and prodding. But Matthew insisted she go one more time. It was that 2015 appointment where she learned it had returned. This time, Matthew became her supporter through another cycle of radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Northside Hospital.

But just after she won her breast cancer fight, both Eilis and Matthew experienced yet another unfortunate relapse – each were diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With 55 years of marriage and four cancer treatments behind them together, the “chemo couple” returned to Northside Hospital Cancer Institute ready to fight “the Big C” hand-in-hand once more.

Today, Eilis is in remission and Matthew is finishing his treatments.

While cancer to most is scary, daunting and unpredictable, Matthew and Eilis approached the uncertainty with a positive attitude and an appreciation for their partnership. Their support of one another through treatment and life has touched the hearts of many, especially their care team at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.

When asked to give advice on how she and Matthew made it through all these years, Eilis only praised the “wonderful staff” at Northside’s Cancer Center. She is so grateful to have exceptional nurses and doctors, “so supportive with cheerful treatment and support.”

*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.

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