Tuesday 24 October 2017

‘I thought my odds of surviving beyond 30 were fairly slim. Last week I turned 42’ – Dad vows to keep fighting brain tumour

David Doran
David Doran
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A man who has suffered from a brain tumour for the last 14 years has vowed to continue fighting the illness and making his family proud.

Back in 2002, when he was 28 years of age, David Doran suffered his first seizure.  A successful businessman, he had co-founded recruitment agency, Eden Recruitment.

“Out of the blue, I took my first seizure. My wife – she was my fiancée at the time – rang for an ambulance. I was brought to Beaumont and they found that I had a brain tumour. I was 28 at the time.”

Prior to his diagnosis, David had completed a soccer scholarship in the United States and had founded a recruitment agency in Dublin. He was engaged to be married.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One this morning, David said that upon hearing his diagnosis, he thought his life was over.

Doctors put a plan in place but a hammer-low came when his neurosurgeon said he couldn’t operate.

“So I thought my odds of surviving beyond 30 were fairly slim. I thought my fate was sealed.

“Unbeknownst to me, my wife had asked in terms of survival time. She was told the average was about seven years. So I am in extra time.”

Married now to Ann with a daughter, Amy (9), David said his motivation is ensuring his family are proud of him. His daughter is becoming more aware of his illness but he wants to protect her for as long as possible.

“The hair loss comes with radiotherapy. It is tough on my daughter when I come home with scars and hair loss. A few years ago, she came in after playing with her friends and said – “my friends say you have a brain tumour, what’s a brain tumour?” She was about seven at the time.

“So I said ‘Daddy gets headaches sometimes” But she has seen me getting headaches and lose my balance, so we have subsequently told her more. There will come a time when a more serious conversation has to be had."

Despite his own illness, David said he has learnt much about himself in hospital.

“You learn a lot about humility in hospitals. There are people in worse scenarios than me. You see young children with cancer and that makes light of my plight. I am very grateful for the life I have and the life I continue to have.”

Humour has been an essential component in tackling the illness.

“In May I got the news, it had become a grade three tumour. Despite that news, my wife and I were laughing on the car on the way home. In the early days we used to laugh at it and say – sure we will worry about it when it becomes a high grade tumour. So on the drive home, I turned to Ann and I said: ‘I think it’s time to start worrying’.

“I’m also a huge fan of puns. It all started when I started radiotherapy for the first time and I said to my parents that ‘I had brains to burn’. And my love of puns grew legs from there.”

His main motivator is treasuring every moment he has with his family.

“I worry about how long I have and making the most of what I have. Life is about making memories for my wife and my family – just trying to do them proud. Hopefully they won’t remember me as the guy with the brain tumour, they will remember me as a good dad, a good husband, a good son and a good brother.”

One of the hardest things he has had to do is write his father of the bride speech for his daughter.

“I wrote my father of the bride speech one dark night and although it was hard, I felt it was the right thing to do. In the speech, I told her I was proud and no matter what happens, her daddy will always be with her to see her life unfold. I also mentioned that if she married a Manchester United fan, I’d come back and haunt her!

“There are times when I hold her hand when she is asleep and I hope I have many nights with her.”

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