John Murray (61) is now cancer-free for eight years
'I'm cancer-free eight years and doctors say my chances of getting it are no greater than anybody else'
Published 11/05/2014 | 02:30
'In November 2005, I was reading an article about bowel cancer in the newspaper when I realised I had one of the symptoms. I rang my brother, who's a GP, who urged me to get it checked out.
On the day of the colonoscopy, there were five or six other men there getting the same procedure done. One by one, the doctor sent them all home. So when he swished the curtain around my bed, I knew there was something wrong.
I couldn't understand how I could feel so well and have cancer.
Waiting for a bed was the worst part; you understand that there's something profoundly wrong with you, yet nobody seems to be doing anything about it.
Finally, I just packed my bag and went to Tallaght Hospital. They assured me there were no beds; I assured them I was going nowhere.
Once you get on the conveyor belt, everything works smoothly.
Between chemotherapy, surgery and radiation [therapy], the whole thing took about a year.
When you're fighting cancer, the mental side can be just as challenging as the physical one.
For me, coming to terms with the colostomy bag was a particularly low point.
To help, I kept a diary of how I was feeling, walked the dogs by the lakes of Westmeath and took my sister's advice to live in the now.
As time moves on, it gets a bit better.
In 2003, my eldest son Michael died of testicular cancer at 25.
It's said that stress can bring on cancer, so while [medically] his cancer wasn't connected to mine, I do believe there was a connection there.
Despite's Michael's result, I was always confident I was going to come out the other side.
Ironically, I got fitter recovering from cancer than ever before.
Although I wouldn't recommend getting cancer in order to enjoy life more, having availed of early retirement, that's exactly what I do now.
I also volunteer for the Irish Cancer Society's Care to Drive service, driving people who are getting chemo to and from hospital.
Once you've had cancer, it never leaves you.
At the back of your mind, you're always conscious of the possibility of it coming back.
But I'm cancer-free eight years this year, and doctors say my chances of getting it are no greater than anybody else who's never had it before.
My advice to anybody who's worried is to go and get yourself checked.
It costs less than a service on your car, and if it's bad news, the earlier you retaliate the better.
While there's life, there's hope."
ANYBODY WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT CANCER CAN CONTACT THE IRISH CANCER SOCIETY'S NATIONAL CANCER HELPLINE FREEFONE 1800 200 700 TO SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST CANCER NURSE