#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 9°C Friday 25 June 2021

Column: Being told it was my last chemo treatment was one of the best things I’ve ever heard

When Gavin O’Donovan was just six, a normal childhood accident brought him to hospital. It was there that he found out, by accident, that he had stage four cancer.

Gavin O’Donovan

WHEN I PIN my Daffodil on this Friday, it will remind how far I have come in my own cancer journey. In July 1998 I was admitted to hospital after breaking a tooth in a typical childhood accident while eating cereal. Even though I was just six at the time I can remember the period very clearly. I was brought to the local dentist but refused to sit in the chair as I was so scared of needles so off I was brought to Bon Secours Hospital in Cork city.

The day ward happened to be full at the time so I was admitted; it was then that a doctor discovered I had a tumour in my kidney. Once the doctor discovered the tumour I was sent straight up to Dublin for treatment in Crumlin Children’s hospital. I had no previous symptoms and even my mum, who was a nurse, didn’t notice that there was anything wrong with me. As it turned out I was diagnosed with Wilms Tumour. We were told that it was at stage four and if it had been left another few weeks I may not have survived. I was admitted to St John’s Ward in Crumlin Children’s Hospital where I first had 12 weeks of chemotherapy, after which my kidney was removed.

It was hard being apart from my family

For the best part of the next year I was in Crumlin and had nine months of chemotherapy there, during which time I lost my hair and weighed below 2 stone. The people in Crumlin hospital were great and they really couldn’t do enough for you, spending such a long time there you really get to know staff pretty well. I come from a large family, I have four brothers and two sisters so it was hard being apart from them for so long but they would visit with my dad as often as possible. My mum or aunt would stay with me in the hospital, we were lucky as my aunt lived down the road from the hospital, so she was always close and there was somewhere for my family to stay when they visited.

Looking back now I can remember my last chemotherapy treatment vividly. Being told it was my last was one of the best things I’ve ever been told. I was brought to a Liverpool match to celebrate the end of my chemotherapy treatment. When I was about 11 is when things started to get back to normal for me and I was able to get physically involved in sport again, and it was only when I was about 17 that I was given the all-clear – even after I left Crumlin I had to go back there for regular check-ups. I was discharged from Crumlin to Mercy University Hospital and in 2011 I got the all-clear.

I want to give back

Throughout the years I’ve seen the importance of the work the Irish Cancer Society do. From the support given to people diagnosed with cancer along with their families, to the many people involved in cancer research. Because of this and the support I received through my treatment I like to give back, I set up a support group for other young people diagnosed with cancer and I’ve been involved with Daffodil Day and fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society for a good few years now – you’ll see me standing outside one of the Cobh supermarkets rain or shine this Daffodil Day selling the Daffodil silks.

I’d consider myself pretty health-conscious and fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society actually got me into marathon running when I did ‘The Great Ireland 10’ road race in aid of the Irish Cancer Society a few years ago. Since then I’ve done a few marathons and one of my biggest achievements is completing the Dingle 50 mile road race, what is known as an ‘ultra-marathon’.

Daffodil Day is the biggest and longest running fundraising day for the Irish Cancer Society, Ireland’s national cancer charity. On Daffodil Day thousands of volunteers around Ireland sell daffodil pins and flowers (on streets, in businesses, homes and shopping centres) to raise money for the Society’s free, nationwide services for those with, and affected by, cancer in Ireland. The Society’s 27th Daffodil Day is on Friday 28 March 2014. On Daffodil Day we won’t give up until cancer does.

• Make a donation by phone, CallSave 1850 60 60 60
• Text Daff to 50300 to donate €4 now! (100 per cent of your €4 goes to the Irish Cancer Society across most networks. Some providers apply Vat where a minimum of €3.26 cent will go to the Society. Service provided by LikeCharity (01-4433890).)
• Make a secure donation online, go to www.cancer.ie
• Buy a daffodil or Daffodil Day merchandise on Daffodil Day or in our online shop www.cancer.ie/shop

Read: #NoMakeUpSelfie donations hit €1 million

About the author:

Gavin O’Donovan

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel