Saturday 26 May 2018

Barry McGuigan: 'My dad was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, he died nine weeks later'

Boxing legend Barry McGuigan Picture: Naoise Culhane
Boxing legend Barry McGuigan Picture: Naoise Culhane Newsdesk Newsdesk

Boxing legend Barry McGuigan has spoken for the first time of his shock at his father's death from cancer 30 years ago.

"My father, Pat McGuigan, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer, at the age of 52. He underwent surgery in hospital, but sadly died nine weeks later. My family and I were shocked and devastated," said McGuigan.

"In 1987 we were unaware of blood cancer or what it meant in terms of prognosis, treatment and survival. Today, however, there is renewed hope. There is a drive for more public awareness and education, and survival rates and quality of life for many blood cancer patients has significantly improved thanks to early diagnosis and better treatment options.

"Recognising the subtle signs of blood cancer is key, so take the time to educate yourself and visit your doctor if you notice anything strange".

Worryingly, almost a quarter of the Irish public say they do not know any common symptoms of blood cancer, while 36pc believe that bruising and bleeding easily and a lack of energy are the most common symptoms of blood cancer.

Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway and Blood Cancer Network Ireland Director said: "Over the past few decades, science has advanced quickly and opened doors for more precise treatment, and we have seen exciting progress in our understanding and ability to treat blood cancers."

He explained that survival rates reflect our "remarkable progress in diagnosis and treatment".

According to Dr O'Dwyer in Ireland, the five-year net survival for someone diagnosed with multiple myeloma has nearly doubled in the period from 1994-2013, and "continues to improve".

"Despite this progress, the need is still great for continued investment in clinical research and innovation in this field, but also for patients to recognise their symptoms earlier."

Dr Leisha Daly, Country Director, Janssen Ireland, said "This month, through the Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign, we will work in close collaboration with our healthcare partners to ensure that the low incidence and awareness rates of blood cancer in Ireland do not determine the level of response we have to the disease in terms of ready access to services, supports and treatments for these patients and their families.

"Helping them, and those who support them, to overcome the challenges they face with hope in their hearts is both our mission and our privilege.”

Barry McGuigan was speaking at the launch of Blood Cancer Awareness Month with the Irish Cancer Society, Multiple Myeloma Ireland and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Ireland, in partnership with Janssen.

The Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign will host a free patient information event for people living with blood cancer on Wednesday, September 27 at 6.30pm in the Davenport Hotel on Merrion Street Lower, Dublin 2. For all campaign information visit here

Irish Independent

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