'Most people become an Irish Cancer Society Volunteer Driver after they survive cancer. I did it the other way around.' - Lymphoma survivor Paul
Paul Markey from Leopardstown, Co Dublin could tell something wasn’t quite right in July 2020, when he was out gardening and felt an intense pain in his back.
“I wasn’t sure if it occurred because I had been bending down working on the flower beds, but the pain wouldn’t go away even after the doctor gave me injections into the area. Besides the back pain, I felt totally fine but the doctor sent me for an MRI just to get checked out,” Paul states.
The MRI showed up an abnormality on Paul’s spine, so in early August he was for sent further tests including a biopsy at Blackrock Clinic.
“I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Follicular Lymphoma on my spleen, spine and gullet. After that, I spent three days in hospital. It was actually meant to be my son’s wedding in Marbella at the time. It had to be cancelled anyway due to the pandemic but still, I didn’t think I would be spending that time in hospital. There were no visitors allowed, so it was tough,” he notes.
On hearing the news he had cancer Paul recalls, “I always thought, these things apply to other people, but not to me. Those other people could get cancer, but I won’t. I won’t get sick.”
Paul’s treatment included six sessions of chemotherapy, every three weeks. Each session lasted six hours, as the hospital had also discovered Paul had a slower than normal heartbeat. Paul then had two sessions of Rituxan, a type of antibody therapy that can be used alone or alongside chemotherapy.
Paul acknowledges it was hard going to treatment and having hospital stays alone during the pandemic, but he likes to look at it in a positive light also.
“I had cancer and was recovering and getting better, but I wasn’t missing any holidays or rugby matches with friends. No one else was doing anything fun anyway!” he laughs.
Paul has been a Volunteer Driver for the Irish Cancer Society for five years, providing free transport for cancer patients to and from their hospital chemotherapy treatments.
“Most people become an Irish Cancer Society Volunteer Driver after they survive cancer. I did it the other way around. During my treatment I had to pause my volunteering, but a month ago I got the all clear to get back out there in my local area.”
“One thing I would like to highlight is that men in particular, go get yourself checked out. Sometimes we men can be a bit macho about the whole thing. At a certain age of your life you should be getting your bloods done regularly and be looking after yourself. If you notice anything strange happening to your body, listen to what your body is telling you. Early detection gives you a better chance.”
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