Saturday 24 February 2018

Fans boost star in cancer battle

DON LAVERY

LEGENDARY GAA star and journalist Liam Hayes said yesterday he had a positive and amazing reaction from all over the country to his courageous decision to talk about his cancer on television.

Mr Hayes, who has admitted that it could take him two years to get back to full health after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, said: "People from all over the country have been in contact, including a lot of cancer sufferers, which is good and makes me happy."

He added: "Christ almighty, I've only had it a few weeks. There are people suffering from cancer for years and may be more aware of the whole illness then I am. I am a novice."

Mr Hayes, 48, known for his extraordinary footballing skills with the Meath team in 1987 and 1988, and as a pundit and publisher, has displayed rare fortitude in speaking openly about his cancer and how he plans to beat it.

In an interview on RTE's Late Late Show on Friday night, he told bluntly how a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was found to be growing under his jaw last month.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, and the Irish Cancer Society said treatment for lymphoma, even when it has spread from the original site, can be very successful.

Many people are cured, or have their disease controlled for many years.

The football legend was on the show to promote his book, Out of our Skins, which marked the 20th anniversary of its publication with a new introduction and an extended epilogue, bringing readers through events in his life over the last 20 years -- events including his retirement as a county footballer, his period as a county football manager and how he has lived with the death by suicide of his only brother.

In his TV interview, Mr Hayes described how he observed the suspected tumour each morning as he shaved. "I discovered on September 9 that I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and I was in chemotherapy by September 27, so you can say what you like about the HSE but I had an 18-day turnaround," he said.

He was told that the form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is high-grade and seriously aggressive.

But the determined former Gaelic football player said that he will beat the cancer.

Mr Hayes won championship medals for Meath in 1987 and 1988 and is now an expert analyst on TV3.

Sunday Independent

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