A Sense Of Tumor..........

My name is Paudy Byrne. Im 24 and from Ireland. Below is a story I wrote for a Canteen Ireland newsletter............

Top of Form Lucky Man
As far as I can remember it all began when I started secondary school back in in 1999. I was a carefree 13 yr old but suddenly one day I began vomiting for no reason. This started the ball rolling for other symptoms such as massive headaches, extreme weight loss, forgetfulness, blurred vision and severe depression to name but a few. Over the following year my health and vision really deteriorated. They thought a strain on my eyes was causing the headaches and I was prescribed glasses. I weighed 6 stone, my head felt like it would explode etc and yet doctors could find nothing medically wrong with me. They thought it was psychological. In July 2001, I collapsed in my aunts in Ennis. The local GP diagnosed me as having depression but this was just a symptom of the illness. It was a very surreal time as I only remember a few minutes of the next couple of weeks. Family were afraid to leave me alone because of the depression. On the 18th August 2001 I collapsed again at home. It was only my mother and me at home and she was very scared and called my grandparents and Dad. One image that will stay with me forever is of my Granddad Peadar sitting beside me on a chair in my room crying his eyes out wailing “ whywon’t you tell us what’s wrong with you ?” The worrying thing was that none of us knew…..
My family couldn’t take any more and immediately drove me to Crumlin Hospital with a referral letter from my GP. The last thing I remember leaving my house was my nana Patsy helping me into the car (this will be important later). They did lots of tests and scans and rushed me to Beaumont Hospital at midnight by ambulance. After more tests and scans I was diagnosed as having a brain tumour in the pineal gland (over my right eye) I remember being told “brain tumour” but not knowing what it was. I especially didn’t know how serious it was or that it was cancer. I thought I would be back in school by at the latest late September. The Hospital quickly set about removing some of the brain fluid which was causing the headaches as it was being blocked by the tumour. I later found out off my Dad that I would have died over the next day or 2 had they not removed the excess. I had a 10 hr operation to remove the tumour. There were complications during surgery. I had a bleed on the right side of my brain which left the entire left side of my body weakened and left me in a coma for 14 weeks. After the coma I was in a vegetated state and was sent back to Crumlin for chemotherapy. I caught a bug which meant I had to return to Beaumont half way through the treatment. I had a total of  18 operations on my head, spent 9 months in a hospital bed as a vegetable (a parsnip as Jamie says, but was probably closer to a cabbage) I remember nothing of my time in Beaumont Hospital and only know this information from asking. I had my 16th birthday party in Beaumont Hospital.
In May 2002 I was discharged from Beaumont and admitted to Dun Laoighre N.R.H As I couldn’t walk, talk or move etc. At this point although I was cancer free I was extremely soft in the head and was still being fed through a naso gastric tube in my nose. The feed always made me sick which brought the tube back up and it wasn’t very nice getting it replaced. I spent a long hard 10 months there in rehabilitation. I eventually went home for weekend visits every Friday afternoon and came back Sunday evenings. The ironic thing is  mynanwas the first person to help me out of the car As my physical injuries improved I was upgraded from a wheelchair to a walking frame. I remember taking my first unaided steps at home with the same aunt, Trisha in November 2002 (I took 8) I was discharged in March 2003 just before my 17th. I walked out those doors unaided that time.
I was forced to leave school the summer before my junior cert and my class had moved on in the system but I was slowly integrated back into it. I started it in September 2003 in third yr and did my junior at 18 in a class of 15 yr olds. I have to say that the entire school were very helpful and understanding with me. I stayed on at school after it.
In the meantime I joined Canteen after spotting it while doing a random “cancer” search on the internet. But I didn’t go to any meetings because I was on a lot of medication at the time and wanted to forget my past. But when I went to my first meeting in “Carlingford” in 2005 I realised that this wasn’t just a club for “sick” people but a family. A family I was being welcomed into with open arms. It was 1 of the best things I ever did. I love all the meetings and weekends away and we are all a really close nit group/family (even if there is the odd joke about my terrible accent and my Pidgin English nothing is meant by it.
I stayed at school for the leaving cert in which I got one of the highest marks in the year. I graduated in May 2006 and won the “Student of the Year Award”.  This brought my story to the attention of the Local Media and some National Newspapers.  I postponed my Mechanical Engineering place in DKIT and did Engineering PLC.  In the meantime I was nominated and subsequently won the “Co. Louth Person of the Year 2006”.
I started college in 2007.  Initially I enjoyed it and was top of my class but the stress of the 12 hour days of Honours Physics, Chemistry and Maths and other personal problems meant that my grades began to slip.  I decided to leave in December 2007.  At present I am pursuing a dream of mine in doing stand up comedy. I ve gigged in Ireland and the UK. 
I look upon my cancer experience as a positive one, although it caused family and friends great pain, personally I think it was good for me. Life not about the destination it’s the journey. I’m a lucky man and I see that now, although it has taken me 7 years and almost two years in hospital to realise and come to terms with this. It has made me appreciate and respect family, friends and the little things in life more.
If we didn’t have the hard times we wouldn’t appreciate the good times as much. Surviving cancer is great once you have the right attitude. I don’t know hat life has in store for me but it will be fun finding out. I have really grown up and matured as a result. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who gave their help and support to both me and my family over the years.
Life’s for a good time not a long time………..so enjoy it! 
pab1986 pab1986
22-25, M
2 Responses Jul 26, 2010

it goes to show that human nature should never be underestimated. as mahatma ghandi once said, "strenght does not come from phyical compacity, but from indomitable will". and paudy u have set an brave example of that. i hope that your story does more than inspire people. i hope that they be more perceptive in life and not just to them selves, but to others too. and when that happens, it really goes to show just how lucky you really are and how far you have come and have yet to go. life is to short, so lets live as if there is no tmw, and die and you shall live. :)<br />
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ps. can i have the handcuffs back...

Hi Paudy, Wow what a story and many thanks for sharing this with us. My story is posted three down and nowhere nearly as intense as yours; I feel a bit of a fraud really. Sharing my story has helped a great deal and listening to others like yourself helps also. I am from UK, Brighton to be exact; love your part of the world. Your story is very inspirational and I hope you do not mind me quoting you signature line at the end? Brilliant and proud of your achievements - Good luck with the stand up, Stay well, but most of all Enjoy .......!! Regards Mike