“We prayed for a miracle — and we got it.”
Those were the words of Glanmire man Denis O’Callaghan today as he reflected on his battle against a rare cancerous tumour that looked like costing him his life.
Now firmly on the road to recovery, it has been a remarkable turnaround for the Glanmire man, his wife Julie and their children Deon and Julianna. Just one year ago, the situation looked hopeless for Denis as he battled a rare aggressive, cancerous tumour on his windpipe.
The plan originally was that he would be treated by the only doctor capable of removing the tumour, based in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Following a massive fund-raising effort by the people of Glanmire and the county, Denis set off for Boston. However, his hope turned to despair when, after being assessed there, he was told the surgery was too risky. It seemed like the end of the road for Denis.
“It was a huge blow. But it set in motion what would happen next, a journey which saved my life,” he said.
Prof Fred Vernimmen at Cork University Hospital recommended specialised radiation therapy in Cape Town, South Africa, one of only three centres in the world which performed it.
With funds left over from the Boston trip, Denis had treatment for six weeks in Cape Town last November. Six weeks ago, he learned the tumour had already shrunk by 40% and was shrinking more by the day.
“Without a shadow of a doubt it is a miracle. I hug my wife and children tighter than ever today. It is because of the love and goodwill I received from the people of Glanmire, Cork and beyond that I am here. The power of prayer cannot be underestimated.”
Now Denis wants to give something back to the community. He has joined forces with the Glanmire Flood Relief Fund to organise a gala concert in the Vienna Woods Hotel on August 2.
“All the money in the world could not pay back the goodwill and generosity. I just hope it will go some way.”