Sunday 21 January 2018

'I've started a journey with cancer', says Brian as he tells of his illness

Singer Brian Kennedy said he found out his brother also has cancer Picture: Dave Meehan
Singer Brian Kennedy said he found out his brother also has cancer Picture: Dave Meehan

Singer Brian Kennedy has bravely revealed he has rectal cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy to fight it.

The Belfast man has been given a positive prognosis from doctors who are confident he will make a full recovery, however.

Speaking of his diagnosis, Kennedy said he was shocked when he learned he had cancer.

"I have just started a journey with cancer, I'm afraid to say. A huge shock of course and weirdly enough today is my second week of treatment. It's a milestone already even though it's only two weeks," he said.


"The treatment is very promising and they're expecting me to do well."

The former Eurovision star was surprised to be diagnosed, given his healthy lifestyle and regular workouts.

"I thought I was doing everything right. Actually, I am doing all the right things. Something was up," he told Today FM's Last Word with Matt Cooper.

After an initial exam Kennedy was given the all clear, but he said he felt sure something was wrong.

"He [the doctor] said, 'You're absolutely fine' and I said, 'Something's out of kilter with me.'

"The doctor booked me a colonoscopy ... The surgeon said to me, 'I'm sure it'll all be fine, don't worry about it.' He gave me some sedation and next thing I know I'm coming around on the bed and he says to me, 'Brian, you've got a tumour in your rectum'. He told me immediately," he said.

"I nearly died. I was lying on that bed coming around thinking, huh? What? I have a tumour?"

Kennedy started treatment immediately after the diagnosis and is receiving a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

The singer is not the only member of his family facing a battle with the disease. His brother Bap is fighting pancreatic cancer. The pair had been estranged for several years but were reunited recently when Kennedy visited his brother at his home near Belfast.

"It's incredibly sad really because I think about some big families and they work really well.

"It just didn't happen with us. I'm one of six kids and I'm the only gay child, all that stuff," he said.

"He was first diagnosed when he was in crippling pain and they opened his stomach and found a terrible amount of cancer. Cancer puts manners on people. The minute I heard how sick he is, I wondered would my presence be welcome. His wife got the email and they were delighted to hear from me.

"I was there for about an hour-and-a-half in his house outside Belfast. I gave him a little hug and he was very shaky and very weak. I would like to see him again but he's very sick at the moment so we will see how that goes."

The former Voice of Ireland coach revealed he would not lose his hair as a result of the chemo.

"I haven't lost a hair and I'm incredibly lucky. There are little mercies within it," he said.

The singer has admitted the first week of chemotherapy has already taken its toll.


"The first week it's like very heavy jet lag. One minute you're kind of okay, the next you're wobbly," he said.

"In the last two weeks I've just been having radiation everyday. It takes about 10 minutes but you do not feel a thing."

Kennedy is urging people, particularly men, to forget about their embarrassment and get checked.

"It's embarrassing for a moment when the doctor puts his finger up your bum - get over it," he said.

"If the universe was giving anybody the ability to talk about having cancer up your bum, you chose well universe because I'm Brian Kennedy and I'm not afraid to talk about this stuff."

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