Mike Kelly doesn’t need to be told about his good fortune at having caught his own cancer early, after he tragically experienced the other side of the story when he lost his partner Barnes to leukaemia in 2006.
“I was diagnosed right in the middle of lockdown,” recalls Dublin-based audio producer Mike, after early warning signs in January 2020 eventually resulted in a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
There followed bouts of hormone therapy and radiotherapy up until March of last year, and while Mike still goes for check-ups every few months he feels that thankfully “things are going in the right direction, despite a few blips along the way”.
He has a keen appreciation of how different it all could have been given his own painful personal experience, however:
When Barnes passed away I saw it all up close at that time, and being diagnosed myself brought back memories of when he was going through it. It was difficult.
“It was quite a hard thing to watch and see, which is why I felt incredibly blessed that when I got my own diagnosis, it was so early that everybody assured me it wouldn’t kill me and that we’re not at that point, so it was in very stark contrast to his story.”
Cancer is a disease that takes so much from so many people, and a day that was famously a celebration for many was tinged with sadness for Mike in his partner’s absence:
“The Marriage Equality referendum in 2015 was a bittersweet day. I was surrounded by friends watching the result on the TV and boy did we cheer when it was made official, but there was a sadness I kept very much to myself.
“Barnes and I both wanted nothing more than to just have our own relationship recognised by the State the same as any other. Through my own diagnosis I realised that cancer had not just taken marriage from me but it took having a loving partner by my side to help me through it,” reflects Mike.
A common thread between Mike and Barnes’ stories was support received through the Irish Cancer Society, whose Survivor Support programme proved helpful to him during his own journey.
“When I was diagnosed I rang the Support Line and spoke with a nurse there, who put me in contact with a previous patient who had prostate cancer. It was great because like me he had been self-employed so he understood where I was coming from, because you can’t just stop the whole thing for eight weeks when you’re in treatment.
“I’m a great believer in people helping each other, and peer support is hugely important. In Ireland that comes naturally to us, I think, in empathising with people. I found it a great comfort.”
Mike’s audio production company Silvertung which he founded with his late partner is a huge part of his life, so he was relieved to be able to keep this going in spite of all the challenges he faced:
“The benefit of being self-employed meant I could tailor my working patterns around when I was feeling well during my treatment, so that was a big positive.”
Cancer takes so much from so many, this Daffodil Day we are taking back from cancer.
You make that happen.
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
For more information
1800 200 700