Sunday 11 December 2016

'I was told I was going to die twice' - Irishman opens up about experimental cancer treatment

Published 28/11/2016 | 07:58

Finnian Kenny speaks with Ray D'Arcy
Finnian Kenny speaks with Ray D'Arcy

The first Irish person to receive an experimental cancer treatment was shocked and delighted to hear that his prognosis had dramatically improved.

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Finnian Kenny (46), a builder from Offaly, has lived in Australia for the past 30 years with his wife and two children, now 17 and 19.

He was diagnosed with ‘double hit’ lymphoma in January 2015 and given 18 months to live.

“I was told I was going to die twice. They [doctors] didn’t expect me to be here," he said.

Mr Kenny’s tumour was “about the size of a football” before treatment and chemotherapy failed to shrink it below a size that would allow for a longer life.

In April, Mr Kenny was admitted to a clinical trial of a new treatment called ‘Car T-Cell Therapy’.

The patient has some blood removed and ‘engineered’ to recognise cancer cells; the blood is then re-infused into the patient and uses their own immune system to fight the cancer.

“You have to actually fail everything to get onto to the trial. We had about five different treatments and failed all of them,” Mr Kenny told Ray D'Arcy on RTE Radio One.

The treatment is experimental but has shown very promising results in his case.

“Because it’s your own cells doing it, they’re more efficient and there’s less side effects. It’s a good disease attacking a bad disease," Mr Kenny continued.

“Now I look at it and it’s unbelievable. My wife has been my rock, my support; and my family too, people over here and there in Australia. Everyone has been a support.

“I have a follow-up for 15 years. Myself and my wife jumped around the airport when we came out with the piece of paper that said we had 15 years.”

Mr Kenny had arrived in Ireland last week to visit his parents.

“I say to people, I’ll take 15 good years over 30 years procrastinating,” he said.

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