'This is urgent' - Doctor who spotted Xpose star Aisling's partner's leukaemia during baby's check-up
'It presented itself initially as a cold. Nick couldn't lift our son and he couldn't go for a walk' - Xpose's Aisling O'Loughlin
"This is urgent". These were the words of the Xpose star Aisling O'Loughlin's doctor when she spotted something was wrong with her partner during a routine check-up for their new baby.
Aisling's partner photographer Nick MacInnes had brought their six-week-old baby Louis to Dr Barbara Bonnar at the Bray Medical Centre when she noticed Nick did not look well.
“Nick appeared unwell that day and I felt he needed an urgent assessment," she told independent.ie
“I’ve been a GP for nine years now and our training and experience teaches us to pick up on things.
"Nick went to hospital straightaway and was diagnosed with leukaemia.
"There are lots of reasons that someone might feel tired and are pale and leukaemia is a rare reason. I see up to five or six people a day that are fatigued. Stress is the most common reason for tiredness," she continued.
“But if you are suffering from extreme tiredness, unusual infections or if you have breathlessness, I do think it is reasonable to go to a GP and discuss it with them.
A simple blood test will let you know if there is something wrong. Like I said, leukaemia is a rare reason, but it is important to check it out.
"An early diagnosis is the most important thing, the earlier the better when it comes to a cancer diagnosis," she added.
Just two weeks ago, doctors at St Vincent’s diagnosed Nick (47) with acute myeloid leukaemia – a cancer of the blood cells.
"It's where the white blood cells crowd out the red blood cells and the platelets, and it causes a lack of breath and low energy," Aisling O'Loughlin told independent.ie.
"He has to be kept in his own room. We've been so heartened by the care that he's getting."
"He started chemo the next day. I got a shock but then the staff informed me that this is the way it's done. They blast it with chemo for ten days."
Mother-of-two Aisling said their family doctor would have seen Nick before.
"She's seen Nick before and we were all there together - Patrick and the whole family. She would have seen Nick before and she noticed that he was a greeny grey colour. She said 'this is urgent'," Aisling said.
"He literally went to Loughlinstown and was transferred then by ambulance to Vincent's."
Nick will more than likely undergo two rounds of chemotherapy, and possibly even one more if the cancer is not found to be in remission.
"It's a long road ahead. He's keeping exceptionally well. We've got great friends and family, and thankfully he's not in excrutiating pain."
Looking back, Aisling said she noticed Nick had grown very pale, but the thought of cancer never crossed her mind.
"I thought he needed iron. I thought he was just low in iron, because everyone was sick over Christmas."
"It presented itself initially as a cold. He couldn't lift Patrick and he couldn't go for a walk. We knew something was up but didn't know it could be this."
"Thank God, we've a fighting chance. It's times like this that you get on with it. There's fun as well. You must get on with it. You have to laugh."
The Xpose star says the fact that Nick cannot see his two little boys while he receives treatment makes the situation difficult.
"They're so close. That's the hard part. Nick has minded Patrick from day one and children are not allowed into the wards because they're germ carriers."
To prepare for the possibility that he might lose his hair as a side effect to chemotherapy, Nick has already shaved it off.
"He's being a very good patient and he's thrown the cigarettes in the bin. He was a desperate smoker and he couldn't knock it on the head. We're never going to know what caused it but it could have been the smoking."
Aisling is currently on maternity leave from TV3 and will return to her presenting role on Xpose in May.
She thanked the staff at St Vincent's Hospital for their unrelenting kindness and support.
"I'm blown away by the information and standard of care he's getting at Vincent's. They sat us down from day one and explained everything. And I think once you're informed, you're more prepared for the day ahead."
"Nick has his bad days, but he's coping very well."
"We're taking it one day at a time," she said.
Geraldine Gittens, Denise Calnan