Prostate cancer survivors help launch exhibition to raise awareness

Pictured are Gerry Bruen, Michael Daly, Willie Devlin, Kevin Flynn.

Pictured are Gerry Bruen, Michael Daly, Willie Devlin, Kevin Flynn.

Three West of Ireland men are among those who joined with Meath GAA legend Sean Boylan, former Irish rugby international Tony Ward, former RTE broadcaster and Castlebar-native Michael Murphy and nine other prostate cancer survivors today to help the Marie Keating Foundation launch a new exhibition which aims to give hope and support to men affected by prostate cancer.

Through ‘Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival,’ West of Ireland men Michael Daly, Gerry Bruen and Willie Devlin each shared the story of their diagnoses, treatment and survival for a disease which over 3,400 men are diagnosed with each year in Ireland.

The Marie Keating Foundation developed the exhibition of real-life stories and photographs with the support of Astellas Oncology to highlight that while being diagnosed with prostate cancer will change your life, there is life after prostate cancer. ‘Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival’ will be on display in Connolly Station and Houston Station in Dublin until the end of January 2017. The exhibition will be then tour sporting and hospital venues nationwide throughout 2017. ‘Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival’ is also available to view online at www.mariekeating.ie/heroes-of-hope

Speaking at the launch of Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival,’, Liz Yeates, CEO, the Marie Keating Foundation, said, “While coping with cancer can be difficult, the Marie Keating Foundation is shining a light on these stories of cancer survival to give hope that you can not only survive but thrive after a prostate cancer diagnosis. There are over 26,000 prostate cancer survivors in Ireland. The exhibition tells the stories of 15 of them, from different counties, doing different jobs, and who are of all ages. Each are living proof that early diagnosis, advances in treatment and the strength of the human spirit are making a real difference in our fight against cancer.”

Ms Yeates added, “I would like to express our deepest gratitude and respect for the 15 men who have shared their stories with us. While other health battles are often talked about publically, these issues can sometimes be left in the dark. We are indebted to them for helping to open up the conversation around prostate cancer and its impact.”

Gerry Bruen said, “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2014 after having my bloods taken when I went to the GP with a chest infection. I had brachytherapy, a type of internal radiotherapy, in early 2015. I am an insurance broker and was back in work four days after my procedure.

"Once the doctor mentioned the word ‘cancer’ I completely zoned out and couldn’t take anything in. It’s not a nice word. But then I realised I was extremely lucky as it was caught so early. What I would say to someone who has just received a cancer diagnosis that they shouldn’t let their cancer define them. You are still you.”

Michael Daly, who started the East Galway and Midlands Cancer Support Centre with his family, said, “When you are going through cancer, talking to your partner is key because the side effects also affect them. What I have learned is that you really find out who your friends are. There are people you may not have thought you were that good friends with, but they were the ones who would give you a call to see how you were doing.”

Fellow Galwayman Willie Devlin said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015.

"My brother had been diagnosed with the same disease a few years ago. I was someone who didn’t pay much attention to my health before that happened. However, between my brother’s diagnosis and losing my father suddenly to bowel cancer, I knew that I had to start keeping on top of my own health. The good news was that I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or a big operation.

"I had brachytherapy, a type of internal radiation, which I found fine. I had that done last July. By February, my wife and I were visiting my sons in Australia and New Zealand. That’s how quickly I was back to myself.

Also speaking at the launch was Dr Martina Dempsey, Astellas Oncology, who said “We are delighted to support the Marie Keating Foundation with this powerful initiative. Prostate cancer has one of the best survival rates of all cancers and we hope this exhibition offers hope and comfort to men and their families as they go through diagnosis and treatment.”

The striking photography for Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival was taken by acclaimed photographer Gerry Andrews who is currently undergoing treatment for a rare blood cancer. Each survivor’s story is told in their own words and were compiled after conversation with health writer Danielle Barron.

The Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival exhibition will be on display in Houston and Connolly Station Dublin until mid-January 2017. The exhibition will be then tour sporting and hospital venues nationwide throughout 2017. ‘Heroes of Hope: Stories of prostate cancer survival’ is also available to view online at www.mariekeating.ie/heroes-of-hope

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