Sunday 25 February 2018

Graham Norton praises Joe Duffy's Liveline: 'One of the most profound pieces of radio I've ever heard'

Joe Duffy
Joe Duffy
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

BBC chat show host Graham Norton has described one of RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy’s interviews yesterday as “one of the most life enhancing and profound pieces of radio” he’s ever heard.

The Irish funnyman, who hosts the Graham Norton Show every Friday night, thanked Liveline for the ten-minute phone interview with Anne Herlihy, who has been diagnosed with stage-four terminal ovarian cancer.

Anne proved an inspiration to Norton as she told the nation how she has been making the most of her life since she was diagnosed.

Because her illness is incurable, and she is now on palliative care, she grabs the moments she can to do something with her husband and family, she said.

“About four months after I was told I just said 'I need to know what stage cancer I’m at, what’s the prognosis, can it be cured'?”

“The specialist said 'you’re stage four advanced, three out of ten people survive to five years. It’s incurable and inoperable'.”

“I wanted to know what I was fighting. I didn’t want to lie back and say ‘woe is me’, so I’m really enjoying my life since I was diagnosed.”

“About two weeks ago I had an Abba 70s fundraising night for Overcare Ireland in our local in Charleville, and we made €2,510 on the night, and we all dressed up as Abba and hippies and we had the night of our lives,” she said.

Anne and her husband renewed their wedding vows with a Humanist ceremony last year, where she banned all guests from shedding tears.

“We renewed our wedding vows last year. I used the cancer card,” she joked.

“All along he used to say, Jesus once was enough to marry you, I wouldn’t go through it again, but on Christmas Day I said to him, oh come on look I’m after being diagnosed with this illness, will you please just... I want the fairytale, so he did.”

“I think at this stage now he’s saying, 'Jesus, will you ever die or what'? He’s afraid of his life of what I’m going to come out with every week,” she laughed.

“We had a beautiful Humanist ceremony in Ballyseede Castle in Tralee surrounded by our family, our grandchildren and our friends, and it was just one beautiful day.”

“I wouldn’t allow it (tears). That was one of my things at the start of the ceremony. They said this was a day going to be filled with love, laughter and fun, and my song for going down the aisle when we were coming out was Queen.”

Next up, Anne says she will take a flying lesson and a driving lesson, and she will also learn to sing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.

“I want to do something within what I can do, because I’ve cancer in so many places that I can only do what my body enables me to do.”

“I want to have one flying lesson, one driving lesson because I passed my theory test two weeks before I was diagnosed so I’d like to hit that on the head, and I want to learn how to sing ‘Both Sides Now’ properly.”

“We grab moments, Joe," she told the Liveline host. "So I grabbed him this morning and said to him this is one of those moments, let’s go down to Inch beach, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Joe played Abba’s Dancing Queen before the interview was complete and Anne, enthralled, proceeded to sing.

“I’m here, my legs are beating to the time, Joe,” she said.

Iniitally, Anne rang Liveline to tell how she was quoted €810, and €1200, for travel insurance for a four-day holiday to Malaga, which she wanted to take while she still could. She needed the travel insurance for peace of mind for her husband, she said.

The insurance companies wanted to know how long she had left to live, she said.

“You have to put in [on the form for a quotation] you’ve ovarian cancer, then they’ll ask have you meds, I had to put in ‘yes’, is it terminal, ‘yes’.”

“They want to know between three and 12 months, how long do you have to live?”

“My oncologist said that my EI11 card would cover me basically in the public hospital in Spain, but if something were to happen to me, how would I afford an air ambulance home because they’re between €60,000 and €70,000.”

“I was told 'look just go for the few days in the sun because later on you mightn’t be able to with this new treatment'.”

“I don’t blame people for not disclosing that you have a terminal illness,” she said.

Exasperated, Joe asked her ‘who can answer that question?’

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