Tuesday 30 May 2017

Gay Byrne on cancer fight: 'I'm hoping it will be okay... others are far worse off'

Broadcaster faces wait to learn extent of disease as he undergoes tests next week

Legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne Photo: Mark Condren
Legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne Photo: Mark Condren

Eimear Rabbitt and Gráinne Loughran

Gay Byrne has vowed to stay positive after he revealed he must undergo tests to determine if prostate cancer has spread to his lower back.

The legendary broadcaster (82) broke the news of his ordeal on his Lyric FM show yesterday afternoon.

Gay Byrne with his wife Kathleen Watkins and grandchildren Sadhbh, Saoirse, Kate, Harry and Cian at a recent book launch. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Gay Byrne with his wife Kathleen Watkins and grandchildren Sadhbh, Saoirse, Kate, Harry and Cian at a recent book launch. Picture: Brian McEvoy

The former 'Late Late Show' host stunned listeners when he revealed he will not be on air next week, as he is going into hospital.

"I shall not be with our listeners on this day next week. Have to go to hospital this week. They think they may have discovered a bit of cancer in the prostate and they think it may have moved up into my back," he said.

"I've had the most wonderful, fantastic, robust, good health all my broadcasting life.

"It's my turn now...Many, many people much worse off. Thank you for your good wishes."

Gay Byrne with Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Gay Byrne with Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Byrne revealed that he would know more in the coming days and that his outlook remained positive.

"I was stating it to my listeners to avoid any rumours or talk," he said.

"I said [on my show] that I have to go into hospital for more tests - I could have a touch of prostate cancer.

"Nothing has been confirmed, I will know more at the end of the week. I don't know anything further at the moment, that's the extent of it. I am hoping it will be ok."

Gay Byrne in RTÉ in 1967
Gay Byrne in RTÉ in 1967

Following his retirement, Mr Byrne continued to broadcast on radio with a weekly Lyric FM show and on television with his interview series 'The Meaning of Life'.

"All of Gay's friends and colleagues in RTÉ wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back in the coming weeks," a spokesperson for RTÉ said.

"I was very shocked to hear the news about Gay - I wish him the speediest recovery," broadcasting colleague Miriam O'Callaghan said.

"Gay is the absolute role model for every broadcaster - but much more importantly he is the absolute role model for the most wonderful human being. He is surrounded by his family and will hopefully make a full recovery very soon."

Friend and colleague Pat Kenny said he had spoken to Mr Byrne and wished him a speedy recovery.

"I've already spoken to him and he's in great form," Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

"This is not to be treated like something terribly critical. He's going in for tests and he'll be fine.

"The treatment should be advanced fairly quickly and he's not expecting terribly disastrous news, so I don't think you should be mourning him in advance. He's not unduly concerned. I wished him well.

"Lots of people heard him make the announcement on his radio programme and he was delighted to get so many listening to him on the radio on Lyric.

"He felt he should say it before the rumour mill got going and it's a serious thing, but it's not life-threatening at the moment."

The broadcaster suffered a heart attack last December.

He was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital after taking ill.

Mr Byrne made a speedy recovery though and returned to work just weeks afterwards.

Singer Brian Kennedy tweeted that he was "sending all my love and support to Gay Byrne after hearing about his cancer".

Country star Nathan Carter also tweeted a message, which read: "I'd like to wish Gay Byrne a speedy recovery."

Irish Independent

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