Breffni McCabe

Cancer survivor Breffni

‘I was amazed with the care I got’

Cancer survivor Breffni – ‘I was amazed with the care I got’

Breffni McCabe had heard all the ‘scare stories’ before his cancer treatment journey began, but the Carlingford local’s experience of care ended up being a lot more positive than what he was led to expect.

Originally a native of Bray but Louthman since 2015, Breffni had received the tough news in August 2021 that he had oesophageal cancer following early warning signs that he was able to pick up on.

“I had been suffering from a little bit of difficulty swallowing. Eventually my doctor sent me for further investigation, but my first Covid vaccination appointment happened to coincide with my hospital appointment, delaying testing for a few weeks,” says Breffni.

After his vaccination Breffni went for a scope a number of weeks later and had a biopsy taken. Within a week he had news of his life-changing diagnosis, and was told that he would be starting chemotherapy that October.

While he approached his treatment with some trepidation, Breffni was pleasantly surprised by how the reality contrasted with his worst fears.

Round trip

“Everyone told me that the chemotherapy was going to be very difficult, but happily I had few issues with it along the way. It was completely different from what I might have expected, thanks mainly to the staff of the Oncology and Radiology departments in Beaumont Hospital. The worst part was the 200km round trip to the hospital, Monday to Friday for six weeks.”

Travel is often one of the most expensive aspects of care for patients, and so after Breffni had commenced his treatments he was relieved to learn of financial assistance available to him.

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I spoke to the staff in the Daffodil Centre in Beaumont who were extremely helpful, and gave me details of various helpful resources I could use.

Then one of the nurses from radiotherapy asked me about my daily drive to treatment, and told me about the Travel2Care grant available through the Irish Cancer Society. The generous grant I subsequently received went a long way to helping with petrol costs.

“Luckily enough, I ended up collecting a similar amount of money on the Daffodil Day just gone, so what goes around comes around.”


Surgery followed for Breffni that December, only for him to become one of many caught up in a Covid wave that swept the country at the time.

“The hardest part of it all was not being able to have visitors after the surgery. I was there for over six weeks, including over Christmas and the New Year. I actually ended up getting Covid while in hospital which delayed me getting home, but I recovered from the infection thankfully.”

Although he was on a feeding tube for a while after leaving hospital, Breffni is now back on regular foods and eating normally again. His recovery since then is proof there is life for men beyond a cancer diagnosis, once an issue can be picked up and resolved in good time.

“From the start I was told that unlike long waiting lists for a minor procedure, when it’s something serious they do pull out all the stops, and that was my experience the whole way through. I was absolutely amazed with the care I got. The consultant in Beaumont and his staff, the surgical team, nursing staff, dieticians and support staff were all brilliant.  I can’t praise them highly enough.


“On the recovery front, I am slowly but surely getting back into the rhythm of things. As my strength improves I’m back doing things like driving, shopping, socialising with friends and family, cutting the grass, and even managing to play golf in Greenore three days last week so it’s going well for me now thankfully.

“I am so glad that I went to see my doctor early on and consequently got tested and treated in good time. I would urge everyone, especially men, to seek medical help for unexplained or worrying symptoms, and not say ‘sure I’ll be grand in a few days’.”

Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.

Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm

Roz, Cancer Nurseline

For more information

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