Broadcaster helps cancer group set up

RTÉ journalist Tommie Gorman has played a leading role in establishing a support group for people with a rare cancer that he has been dealing with for almost 20 years.

Mr Gorman, the broadcaster’s Northern editor, was treated for an advanced carcinoid tumour in the late 1990s.

Last November Mr Gorman spoke to cancer survivors about the scientific advances that have kept him alive.

The cancer seminar in University College Cork last year led to a group of patients setting up their own support group and holding information seminars.

Speakers at the UCC event included a number of leading international authorities on the disease.

The launch of the patients’ support group — Network — takes place in the Long Hub in Trinity College Dublin on Saturday, Nov 10, and the director of the National Cancer Control Programme, Dr Susan O’Reilly, has agreed to open the event.

A centrepiece of the Trinity event will be a question and answer session about the disease, featuring Irish and international experts.

Carcinoid cancer patient Terry O’Neill, one of about 100 people with the condition in Ireland, said the Cork event last year led those dealing with the condition to set up their own patients network.

“After all, we are the people who are coping with the disease and we really do believe that we will be able to make a positive contribution to the development of services for people with our challenge,” he said.

Mr Gorman, meanwhile, said he now had so much faith in the Irish health service that he was putting his own life on the line by reverting from his 14-year practice of having the Swedes keep him alive.

Mr Gorman had travelled to Sweden to be treated for cancer after discovering that he was entitled to do so as an EU citizen because the treatment was not available in Ireland.

He said the complicated public/private health model in Ireland did not exist to the same extent in either Sweden or Britain. “It is uniquely Irish,” he said.

“From this month I will go into the Irish system for my plugs and points checks and change of oil in the hope that when the dogs start barking again — and they will, and they can’t keep me above ground — that they will send me to Sweden for the action I need.

“I think services in Ireland have advanced and become sufficiently organised that, for a lot of individuals like me, they will be able to do a lot of the routine monitoring work.”

Carcinoid cancer involves hormone-producing tumours. It affects around one in 100,000 to 150,000 people.

Apple founder Steve Jobs had a carcinoid or neuroendocrine primary in his pancreas and lost his battle against an aggressive form of the illness.

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