Sunday 18 August 2019

RTE’s Tommie Gorman: ‘Cancer has given me perspective and I’ve had 21 years since I was diagnosed’

RTE News journalist Tommie Gorman
RTE News journalist Tommie Gorman
RTE’s Tommie Gorman reporting on the State visit of President Michael D Higgins to England.

RTE journalist Tommie Gorman has opened up about his cancer fight and revealed how he considers each year he has lived with it as “a blessing”.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke, the RTE News Northern Editor has been suffering from metastatic pancreas neuroendocrine tumour - a relative of the rare form of carcinoid cancer that he was first diagnosed with in 1994.

“I was based in Brussels at the time and I went in for what was an emergency appendix operation. But they discovered a primary tumour in my mid-gut and lots and lots of tumours on my liver.”

Tommie said his form of cancer is not curable. In Ireland, there are around 300 new cases of the slow-growing tumours -- which usually strike in the gastrointestinal tract -- each year.

“This type of cancer doesn’t get cured. The language is different with this one. You often hear from people with cancer that they ‘face a challenge’ and the challenge is getting an all clear. This is different and the treatment is different. It is a bit like sleeping dogs – when they get angry, you have to calm them again.”

Tommie, who had previously chronicled his attempts to halt the spread of the tumours in his body in the documentary Europe, Cancer and Me, said living with the disease has given him perspective. 

“You live with it. The first thing it does to you is to give you a perspective. I’ve lived with it for 21 years and I’m still here. I’ve had a good run. I’ve lots and lots of tumours and a dodgy liver, so in some respects I consider it a blessing because it makes you conscious of your mortality and makes you very, very grateful.

“I am more conscious of my mortality and I treasure every moment now.”

He said that he has had many treatments since the initial diagnosis.

“I’ve had surgery and I get a monthly injection now. I’ve had my live scoured and I’ve had tumours burnt off. They’re reached deeper into the closet each time. But the great thing for people like me is that they have gathered new methodology as time goes. Treatments are developing all the time.”

Although he was first treated in Sweden, Tommie has been receiving treatment from Dr Dermott O’Toole in St Vincent’s. He describes the medical team as “building something really special for patients”.

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