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Friday 29 August 2014

Aslan’s Christy Dignam set to play the 02 at Christmas as he fights cancer

Fionnuala McCarthy

Published 27/09/2013 | 10:52

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Niall Breslin aka Bressie and his winning protege from The Voice, Pat Byrne at the Ray Darcy Show at Today FM. Also at the studios was Christy Dignam for the Tom Dunne Show on Newstalk, Dublin, Ireland - 30.04.12. Pictures: VIPIRELAND.COM *** Local Caption *** Christy Dignam
Christy Dignam is over his chemotherapy treatment
Christy Dignam is back rehearsing with his Aslan bandmates
Christy Dignam, Singer with Aslan, was at Vicar St. to announce details of their endorsment of FIT (Fast Track to IT)  training schedule which plans to train 1,200 unemployed people this year.
 Photo: Tony Gavin 22/8/00
The singer has said he feels happy and lucky to be alive.

The 53-year-old frontman who has been fighting cancer since March this year wants to end the year on a high.

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Dignam has said he is over his chemotherapy treatment and now is focused on getting back on stage.

“I am trying to see what my voice is like and how my stamina levels are, to see if I can last for two hours,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE radio this morning.

“We are hoping to do the O2 at Christmas. We normally do Vicar Street on December 27th, but we will try to do the O2 this year."

The Crazy World singer said: “I feel that I am coming back but it is only when I get into rehearsals that I can build up my stamina and see how I do.”

The lead singer was admitted to hospital in March this year, after he attended his doctor with a chest infection which progressed into pneumonia. A biopsy revealed he had two rare forms of blood cancer.

He immediately underwent a six hour operation to insert a pacemaker, followed by intensive chemotherapy sessions.  

“The chemo was very gruelling; you are really tired all the time. The fatigue it gives you, at times you can’t even get your head off the pillow,” he said. 

After the initial diagnosis, Dignam said he went into total denial for a few days, after which he became very angry. 

“I never suspected I had cancer, I thought this happens to other people, it doesn’t happen to me.  But I never got sad. You need anger to fight it, if you get sad it just brings you down a negative road.”

At one stage the singer’s heart stopped beating while in hospital, and he describes his near-death experience:

“When I was flatlining, I was probably at my weakest moment. I prayed to God and said ‘If this is my time, I am ready to go’.

“You know the clichés where you see lights? My heart wasn’t beating for 40 seconds, I could see what was happening to me, and I could see the light and I had this terrible fear that I wasn’t going to come back.”

Dignam admitted that the experience has totally changed his perspective and outlook:

“The near death experience has changed my whole perspective.

“You get caught up with the crap in life - nice car, mortgage, nice extension, conservatory  - it really means nothing.

“I remember thinking family and friends are the only thing. You appreciate every minute and the time you have on earth now. “

Christy attended a benefit concert in his honour in June this year organised by fellow musicians including Christy Moore, Gavin Friday and Shane MacGowan, who all performed Aslan songs. 

He watched from the audience and said: “I was never at an Aslan gig, it was really strange.  I remember thinking Jaysis they are not bad old songs.”

The cancer treatment left him weak and unable to walk, but he set himself the goal of walking his daughter Keira (26) down the aisle for her summer wedding to partner Darren.

“I could not walk as I was so weak, but I wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle and that gave me the focus.”

Keira is now pregnant with his grandchild, and he says that along with the forthcoming gig has given his a new focus.

"Now I am focused on rehearsing and this gig in the future.

“I am at a stage in my life now where I am more content than I have ever been and to be alive, I feel happy and I feel lucky.”

 

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