ONE OF Ireland's favourite pop DJs, Tony Fenton, is to file for bankruptcy in the High Court tomorrow morning.
The presenter has revealed the latest devastating chapter in his personal life after a year in which he battled through two different types of cancer and also lost his beloved mother.
Fenton's mother died of cancer last October. Just four weeks later, he was diagnosed with skin cancer -- though he later received the all-clear from doctors, following treatment.
Then, within a matter of months, he was told last June that he had developed cancer of the prostate, which has now also been successfully treated.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, the Today FM presenter said: "I've lost everything financially, but my health is priceless. I'm in a hole for €750,000 and it's just too big a hole to climb out of and filing for insolvency is the only way out. I'll probably lose my house and have to move.
"The last two years have been a very stressful time. The road I'm going down now, it's not my choice, but regrettably it's the only option for me."
Fenton explained how he invested in the property market to safeguard his future -- only to lose everything in the crash.
"I am a freelancer, so I tried to make provisions for my pension. I invested in a lot of properties in Ireland and the UK and, as a result of the financial downturn, the investments I made have been obliterated."
Speaking about his day in court tomorrow, Fenton described it as "a huge relief".
"There's no doubt about it, it's a huge weight off my shoulders. It's a horrible situation to be in and it brings with it tons of stress as well, and thank God that stress will be lifted now.
"There are a lot of people in this country who have tried to make provisions for a rainy day, put things away, thinking this is a clever move, and unfortunately it hasn't worked out that way but I have to deal with it and get my head down and work hard."
Asked if he believed the immense financial pressure had contributed to his health problems, he said: "There's no doubt about it. The last two years dealing with all this have brought huge stress and I believe that contributed to the two forms of cancer I had.
"The two most common forms of cancer for men are skin cancer and prostate cancer. I've had both within six months of each other and also the loss of my mother around that time as well. It takes its toll." Describing his lowest moment, he said: "I was sitting on a hospital bed in Germany for 10 days. It was a real leveller. Money problems go away very quickly when you're sitting in a hospital bed and that was the defining moment for me. I just thought 'I can't go on dealing with these money worries; I have to find a way out'. And this is the only road I can go down, regrettably. I don't want to go down this road but it's the only option for me."
But he explained how he never allowed himself to get depressed: "I was never depressed about it in a way that you get into a big black hole and can't see a way out. I was trying to deal with the financial issues head-on and trying to work very hard to make things happen. But it never got me down.
"You hear of people committing suicide over money, but for me that was never an option. I never got to that stage. I would never do that and unfortunately quite a lot of people are doing that."
Fenton, who broadcasts his popular show from 2.30pm to 4.30pm weekdays on Today FM, gained 1,000 listeners in the latest JNLR figures and describes how his colleagues helped him through.
"The outlet for me not to think about all those problems was to come in and do a radio show every day. To come in to a great working environment, working with great people and doing my radio show is my happy time.
"Of course I worry about the future but it was a tremendous relief to get the support of my family, friends and everyone in Today FM and the CEO Willie O'Reilly was so kind to me. I can't wait to get back on the air and do what I love to do and the future will hopefully take care of itself."
Looking back on his annus horribilis, he reflected: "The most important thing when these things happen is to get through it in a positive way. I'm a healthy man at this stage, thank God. And that's the most important thing."
And his advice to people who find themselves in a similar financial situation? "Deal with it head-on, be proactive about it, don't sit with your head in the sand but try to stay positive."
Asked if he is angry at the state of the country and the way in which investors with huge sums of debt have been bailed out, he replied: "These were all my decisions and I invested in property that I thought would come good in the future and it just didn't work out that way.
"But I'm neither angry nor annoyed. It purely goes back to the health issue. Health is more important to me than anything else."