Former Eurovision star Joe McCaul has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
The 25-year-old singer spoke of receiving the shock diagnosis last month.
"My world crumbled around me. I was crying and the doctors just left me be," he said.
Joe and his sister Donna had shot to stardom in 2005 when they were chosen to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. And while Donna has been busy pursuing her singing career in Los Angeles, Joe has been working in musicals and gigging around the country from his home in Athlone.
But he began to feel unwell last year and noticed that he had an occasional numbness in his feet and a tingling in his hands.
He woke up on November 1 and found that he had lost power from his waist down. He was taken to hospital in Tullamore and later transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
A series of tests were carried out before he was once more transferred – this time to St James's Hospital in Dublin.
"I was initially diagnosed with Transverse Mylitis, which is an inflammation of the spinal cord. But then there were more tests in St James before I was sent home in December.
"When I was at home I got a call from my neurologist's secretary to come back up to St James's and I was a bit suspicious, because I had already got an appointment for next May.
"I got into the room and there were three doctors there and my doctor started talking in a general way about MS. I asked straight out 'have I got MS' and they said yes", Joe recalled.
He admitted to being devastated at the news and found it impossible to reconcile the reality of MS and the fact that he was only 25. But he has since learnt that the disease is not confined to people in the second part of their lives – teenagers have also been diagnosed with MS in Ireland.
"When I got the news, nothing made any sense. I couldn't see a life for myself. When I think MS I only see a wheelchair. I'm still coming to terms with it," he said.
Joe had already battled through depression and anxiety in his earlier life and overcame those problems to carve out a career for himself in the entertainment business.
With the support of his mother, Helen he has been battling his way through his latest and biggest battle to date.