The Lord Mayor of Cork has been diagnosed with cancer.
John Buttimer, 41, a Fine Gael councillor for the city’s South West Ward, confirmed last night that he will begin treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma — a cancer of the lymphatic system — within days.
"The prognosis is good and I intend to take a very positive approach and attitude to this," he said.
"My hope is to continue to fulfil to the fullest extent possible all the functions and duties associated with the role of lord mayor over the next few months."
Mr Buttimer said he decided to go public with his illness because he expects to show physical signs associated with the intense treatment regime within a few weeks.
He broke the news to close family first, including his brother, Jerry, a Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central, and briefed political colleagues in recent days.
"But given the public role of the office of lord mayor, I decided to make a public comment on this so that people are aware of the situation," he said.
"However, I intend to carry on fulfilling the duties of the office of the lord mayor, and the medical advice is that it is appropriate that I would do so."
Mr Buttimer, a non-smoker and avid cyclist, discovered a small lump in his neck just before Christmas. Despite have no other physical symptoms and otherwise feeling very well, he decided it would be best to get it checked out.
He went to his GP earlier this month, and was referred immediately to the Bon Secours hospital in Cork for a scan.
Within days he was admitted for a biopsy and the results showed that the tumour was malignant, and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
He admitted the diagnosis came as a complete shock, but that he is coping well thanks to the support of family and friends.
This particular form of cancer attacks the lymphatic system — a series of tubes or vessels that run through your body.
They carry a clear watery fluid called lymph, which has a large number of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which help fight infection.
The cancer can start anywhere in your body, but the most common place is in the neck, armpit or chest.
Its cause is unknown, but it is more common in people who have had glandular fever — Mr Buttimer had glandular fever as a child.
He is now preparing to undergo an intense course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
"I was very fortunate that I went to the doctor early and that it was diagnosed early which means that the treatment and prognosis is much more positive," he said.
He encouraged anyone with similar symptoms or concerns to talk to their own family members, to get a good sense of their family’s medical history, and to go to their GP immediately.
"While people may be concerned about going to the GP, it is the best course of action. The earlier you get it, the better the outcome," he said." And it is important that people get regular checks and follow the health promotion guidelines around a health diet, and regular exercise.
"I am trying to keep a positive perspective on this, and maintain as normal and regular a routine as possible, within the limits of the treatment."
Hodgkin lymphoma affects both men and women. About 600 people were diagnosed with it in Ireland in 2009.
You can contact the Irish Cancer Society for help or advice, or talk to a specialist cancer nurse on Freephone 1800 200 700.
The line is open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm.