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Cancer diagnosis 'a gift' that gives me empathy with sufferers - Fr Brian

One of the country's best-known priests has spoken of his battle with prostate cancer.

Fr Brian D'Arcy said that being diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease has given him a "more holistic view of life" and he views it as a "gift".

The 69-year-old told how the cancer was only discovered by specialists three weeks after he had an operation on his prostate.

"I had the one you don't want to hear," he said. "I suppose because I was having difficulties with other health issues they were doing general tests and looking after me.

"They picked up that there was something quite wrong with the prostate and they felt that it wasn't cancerous but it could be if I didn't look after it so they did the operation which itself was difficult."

Broadcaster Fr D'Arcy said specialists discovered in the post-operation analysis that there had been cancer in the prostate and they had to remove it.

"It was a shock to them too. They didn't expect that and it was certainly a shock to me," he said. "They're treating it on an ongoing basis and I'm leading a normal life now and I'm in a lot less pain than I used to be."

Fr D'Arcy told RTE's John Murray how, prior to his cancer diagnosis, he had experienced problems with his heart and had to have a urinary operation, so he was in general ill-health at the time.

He said it was "very painful" for him after the prostate operation.

"That was a bigger fright to all of us, but they've given preventative treatment and also ongoing biopsies and I'll have them for as long as I'm around to make sure it doesn't spread," he said.

"It's the kind of cancer that's usually curable, but if it spreads it can be difficult.

"But that doesn't mean you stop living. You become more aware that every day is a greater gift to you."

Fr D'Arcy said his brush with cancer has changed his life for the better.


"It's been a good warning to me. It's not something I would chose to have, but you can have a more empathetic view of life with people who are suffering, so it adds to the pastoral role that I have," he said.

"I'm not some super person that never gets anything wrong with them. It gives me a great sense of humility, and not being well is part of the human journey.

"You have to realise you're a human being trying to struggle with humanity like everyone else, and brokenness is a gift in itself."

Fr D'Arcy said he is now taking each day as it comes.