Saturday 16 December 2017

'I know what Gay is going through. His cancer fight is a wake-up call to men'

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne shocked listeners when he said he was going for tests. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne shocked listeners when he said he was going for tests. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A Dubliner who survived cancer has said brave broadcaster Gay Byrne has "triggered" a conversation by revealing his fears.

The veteran broadcaster shocked Lyric FM listeners on Sunday, saying he would be absent from his show this week as he will be in hospital.

Doctors had discovered what they suspected could be prostate cancer, which may have spread to his back, he told listeners.

Brian Herman (77) from Tyrrellstown, west Dublin, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and, after gruelling treatment, got the all clear. He thinks Mr Byrne (82) has done a great service by speaking frankly about his health problems.

"I think Gay Byrne has trigged something, he has triggered a lot of interest," he said.

Mr Herman was diagnosed in 2006 after a PSA test - a blood test that detects levels of a protein produced in the prostate gland. His was at 71, when the normal level is under 4.

Brian Herman
Brian Herman

He had radiotherapy and hormone therapy, which he believes he was left on for too long. He said he noticed changes to his mood and his sleep while on hormone therapy over a prolonged period.

Read more: 'Gay is a fighter, a trooper, a survivor' - Ryan Tubridy wishes Gay Byrne well after he reveals cancer fears

Read more: Prostate cancer: 'Men are still afraid of going to the doctor in case they hear something they don't want to know'

"The cancer was inoperable because it had spread a little bit too far to operate," he said. "I don't want to be scaremongering. My energy levels dropped by about 20pc during radiotherapy but some people react more negatively. I was lucky."

Mr Herman said he found the Irish Cancer Society enormously helpful and supportive throughout his treatment. He has fully recovered and is examined twice a year to ensure the cancer hasn't returned.

Now he is hoping to encourage men, especially older men, to be mindful. "I would certainly say to all men, particularly men over 50, to get the PSA test every year. It's just a normal blood test. They stick a needle into your arm and take a bit of blood."

The Marie Keating Foundation said staff were fielding more questions about prostate cancer this week.

"Obviously with Gay Byrne who speaks to all of us, it's really hit home with a lot of people to be aware of the symptoms of the disease and to be proactive about speaking to their GP," said a spokeswoman.

Irish Independent

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