Monday 27 January 2020

How a dying mum touched Graham Norton's heart

Anne Herlihy enjoying life
Anne Herlihy enjoying life

Patricia Murphy

BBC chat show king Graham Norton has described an interview featuring terminally ill Cork woman Anne Herlihy as "one of the most life-enhancing and profound pieces of radio".

The mother of two, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, phoned Joe Duffy's 'Liveline' radio show to speak about the difficulty she faced trying to secure holiday insurance as a person living with stage-four terminal cancer.

Anne Herlihy, who refuses to let her cancer get her down, with Sabina Higgins
Anne Herlihy, who refuses to let her cancer get her down, with Sabina Higgins

However, the interview turned into an inspirational chat about her bravery, her love of life and her appreciation of 1970s favourites Abba. "I've always been as optimistic as I can be. Whether the glass is full or empty, I've always said you just have to fill it up," she said.

Clearly moved, Norton praised the emotive piece of radio on Twitter and thanked Anne for sharing her story.

Read more: Terminally ill Irish woman who inspired Graham Norton: ‘I’d love to invite Graham for a coffee in Charleville to tell him how much I appreciated his comment’

When she learned of Norton's kind words, Anne was delighted. "When I heard Graham Norton had commented on it, I thought 'Oh My God! I didn't think I came across well at all on the radio," she said.

"I would love to meet him for a coffee down in the local. If he's ever in Charleville, we're going down to Geary's bar, sitting out the back and having a coffee just to say how much I appreciated his comments."

Since she was diagnosed, Anne has been working her way through her bucket list. Last year, she renewed her wedding vows with husband PJ. "There's a few things on my bucket list now," she said. "I'm trying to learn the words to 'Both Sides Now'. I always wanted to sing it properly. I'd love to get a flying lesson... It would be great to get a nice family portrait too."

"Sometimes I get upset thinking, 'Oh God, will I be around here on Inch beach next summer?' But then I give myself a talking to. You have to grab the moments you have."

In June, Minister Simon Harris was forced to apologise to Anne for a letter sent in his name that wrongly suggested she had praised her care at Cork University Hospital.

Anne had written a sarcastic email to the Minister expressing her "gratitude to have the privilege of sitting on a hard chair" in a hospital corridor.

Irish Independent

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