Treatment 'day after awful day' but now condition has stabilised
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan had to endure "day after awful day" of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, his aunt Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke said last night.
The Longford-Westmeath TD and former minister told of the relaxing summer holidays the minister spent with his family after completing intensive treatment for pancreatic cancer in June.
"Day after awful day of radiotherapy and chemotherapy together didn't dissipate it or send it away," Ms O'Rourke said when describing the six months' treatment Mr Lenihan underwent.
Her comments came after he yesterday revealed that various tests had concluded his cancer condition had stabilised.
"It [the condition] has improved somewhat. Of course, like all cancers, it's still there. It hasn't gone away. It's there. It is a danger but it's not an immediate or clear or present danger to me," he said.
Cancer patients, he pointed out, were always at risk but his condition had now "stabilised".
"My energy levels, I have to say, are much better. I'm in a good position to get on with the important decisions that have to be taken."
And he said he did not envisage further treatment this year, but this would be a matter for his doctors.
Last December, tests revealed the minister had a blockage at the entrance to his pancreas and cancerous tissue had been identified.
During his intensive treatment, he cut back on public engagements, but continued to attend the Dail, work from the department and join Taoiseach Brian Cowen for major government events.
It also emerged yesterday that Mr Lenihan had enjoyed an active family holiday.
He spent the August Bank Holiday weekend in Athlone where he launched a boat given to the local yacht club by his grandfather.
Mr Lenihan stayed at a local hotel with his wife Patricia and his son and daughter.
"My son and his family came down from Dublin to stay with me so I had to book Brian and his family into the Hudson Bay hotel," Ms O'Rourke said. "My dad (a former Fianna Fail TD) was a sailor, and when he died he left his boat to the yacht club for young people to be trained in seafaring."
Mr Lenihan and his family visited friends locally.
"Brian said he hadn't spoken to any TDs on his holiday in his interview with Sean O'Rourke but he certainly talked to me," Ms O'Rourke joked, in reference to speculation he had been sounding out TDs on a leadership move.
Mr Lenihan also visited Youghal in Co Cork.
And he climbed Mount Leinster, the highest peak in the province, near Bunclody in Co Wexford.
"He phoned me from the top of Mount Leinster," said Ms O'Rourke. "He goes mountain climbing with two friends."