Friday 24 May 2019

'I’m not going to survive the Falls Road to be taken down by a tumour in my a**e' - Singer Brian Kennedy praised for honest interview

Brian Kennedy tells Ray D'Arcy about his surgery and treatment for colorectal cancer. Photo: RTE
Brian Kennedy tells Ray D'Arcy about his surgery and treatment for colorectal cancer. Photo: RTE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Singer Brian Kennedy has been praised for his honesty on RTE’s Ray D’Arcy Show last night where he discussed his diagnosis and treatment for colorectal cancer.

Kennedy (52) recently had a nine-hour operation to remove his colon, rectum and other organs in the pelvic area, and now wears a colostomy bag and a urostomy bag.

"I had got to the stage where it was surgery or, you know, nothing basically,” he said.

“They removed my rectum entirely. The legacy of the cancer that I had, meant that I had to then have two bags, I had a colostomy bag and a urostomy bag, one on each side, the twins I call them by the way.

“My prostate is gone. They did a whole pelvic evacuation so I’ve got nothing down there in terms of the pelvic region.

“[The doctor] said to me look, we could just do one bag, and have a colostomy because they were taking the colon away and all of that. But he goes, realistically, you’ll probably have to have another operation down the line, so why don’t we just do it all now? You want to do them once.”

He added: “They’re [the bags] called the twins, they’re biracial, one of them is black and one of them is white.”

When Kennedy was first diagnosed in 2016, he said he went on “a kind of herbal journey”, trying veganism, hypobaric therapy, and he met Vicky Phelan while he was getting regular vitamin C IVs.

"But then slowly but surely oncology were saying to me, come on now, you’re going to have to have this surgery and it’s not reversible; it will involve at least one colostomy bag, if not two.

“At that time I was 51 and I was thinking really, do I really have to do that? Are you kidding me? Because my granny had one. When I think of colostomy I think of much older people... what a reality check it was.

After the surgery, Brian's weight dropped to under 12 stone, and he was “a shadow” of his former self. He was also on a cocktail of drugs which caused him to have bad hallucinations, and he spent 20 days recovering in hospital.

“The doctor was very funny in the end, she was from Northern Ireland, and she said the good news Brian is, you’ll never be an addict, because you can’t cope with the drugs,” he said.

“I had to learn to walk again. I couldn’t walk at all. And then all of a sudden it was like a film, I was there with a zimmerframe and the girls were saying ‘come on Brian, you can do it’.

“I am that determined. I kept visualising myself walking again. And then when I got back [walking], oh it was extraordinary.

“I just thought to myself. Look I’m not going to be taken down by this. I’m not going to survive the Falls Road to be taken down by a tumour in my a**e, you know what I mean, it’s just not going to happen.”

Brian, who was gifted a signed guitar by Van Morrisson to help cover the cost of his £100,000 treatment, said he is now nearly half way through chemotherapy.

Some 40,000 people in Ireland have to use colostomy bags in Ireland, he said.

“The message I want to say is, it’s not the end of the world. Honestly, this isn’t just brave face here. I was devastated for a couple of weeks, very upset, all of that kind of stuff. And the first time I saw them in the mirror when I was naked getting out of the shower in the hospital, I just thought ‘oh Jesus Christ, look at my poor body’. I was really skinny and these bags were there and I had accidents with them.”

Brian who was estranged from his family for 14 years, met his parents last year, a meeting which he described as "surreal" but “magical”.

“I met them last year for the first time in 14 years. I hadn’t seen them for 14 years... it was very, very surreal because my mother unfortunately now has profound dementia and she didn’t know me at all, at all.

“My dad was sitting there and I think he was just very overwhelmed by the moment.... I remember thinking ‘they made me, this is so weird, I’m sitting beside the two people that made me’.

“I’m 52 and they don’t know me... I remember driving back home to Dublin and thinking ‘I’ve done that now, I wish them peace’.... it was a magical thing to have done.”

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