Eddie’s story – ‘I want to encourage men not to be scared’
A sore throat after calling ‘balcony bingo’ at the height of lockdown last year was the first warning sign for Eddie McGuinness that something was amiss.
“I was doing the balcony bingo for Iveagh Trust Kevin St, and every time I did it I ended up with a sore throat which I thought was tonsillitis, until in November 2020 I ended up getting a lump on my neck with the sore throat. That’s when I knew something was wrong,” recalls Eddie.
The 52-year-old events professional is known to many as ‘Mr Pride’ due to his integral role in the annual Dublin Pride Festival. Although used to taking on big tasks, the news Eddie was about to hear represented something of a different order altogether:
“I ended up being diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer. We got it in time thankfully so they were able to throw the kitchen sink at me with high-dose chemotherapy and radiation.”
During his experience Eddie says he has discovered some unlikely upsides to the experience as well as hearing some surprising reactions:
"It was Panti Bliss who said to me after I had finished treatment that ‘we’re all absolutely delighted that Eddie has come back, but my god the Dundalk accent came back stronger than ever!’”
All joking aside, Eddie has taken some important insights from the experience that he is keen to share with others.
“I want to encourage men not to be scared, because for me it was a scary experience mentally, physically and inwardly as well – that soul-searching does happen, and that’s something we need to talk about: it’s not something to be afraid of.
Your body gives you hints of what’s going on, and if you don’t pay attention it will keep giving you hints until it gets too late.
“I know of a friend who didn’t pay attention to it who unfortunately is no longer here with us,” adds Eddie, whose own story has encouraged others he knows to go and get themselves checked out for health concerns.
Eddie’s diagnosis of throat cancer came about as a result of HPV infection, and he is a firm advocate of families taking the step of protecting their children and affording both boys and girls the benefit of HPV vaccinations that are freely available in schools at this time of year.
“If we can get to 90% coverage for Covid vaccinations we should be doing that for all other preventable illnesses as well and we should all embrace it, and as parents and guardians going forward we need to look out for the next generation.”
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