The Story Of Edward McDaid
No matter who you are or when it happens if you hear a doctor say the word cancer it is an incredible shock. Very suddenly everything is turned on its head as you try to get to grips with what cancer you have, what stage it is at, what options you have, the next steps, where do you go from here and a million more questions come to mind. Add into that the negative impact of COVID on the HSE’s cancer programme and even more perversely the ramifications of a Cyber attack on their computer systems and Edward McDaid describes an incredibly difficult first few months trying to get to grips with his prostate cancer diagnosis and getting his treatment plan started. Thankfully he finally started his treatment in November 2021 and once in the system his experience really improved as over the next twelve months he completed his radiotherapy treatment and moved onto oral chemotherapy. Managing his treatment, and the side effects, has been a fulltime job but Edward is incredibly positive about his situation and tries always to see the lighter side of everything especially when he tells his young grandchildren how his tablets can help him sing and dance better.
But cancer is an insidious disease says Edward. Mostly you cannot see it, touch it or even feel it and there you are going about your daily life thinking all is good but all the time it’s there inside you. The physical side of the disease is what you immediately deal with, getting on with getting it under control. At this stage the psychological side of what is happening is often much less of a worry. Edward didn’t even think he needed to look for help with this aspect of his disease. “I am not the kind of person who has ever considered doing counselling. I am a reasonably successful business man and I have always been very much in control of my life, planning and managing everything that has come my way. I just didn’t see that I would need help with managing this.”
However the loss of several close friends to cancer, over a short period of time, brought him up short. “Like a hammer blow I was severely affected by these deaths and struggling a bit to come to terms with everything. Janice Richmond, my oncology support nurse suggested I talk to Dr. John Donohue at Cancer Care West. John is a psychologist specialising in supporting oncology patients and their families. I went to see him and I was just amazed by the difference my sessions with him have made on my life. Firstly John creates a safe place, a sanctuary, in which you can say exactly what you feel without fear of making someone else feel worried, anxious or even alarmed by your thoughts. He really listens while gently helping you to explore your feelings and make sense of them. In my case I was angry with myself that I had cancer and frustrated that I couldn’t control it. I was beating myself up even though it wasn’t my fault and blaming myself for what was happening. John helped me see this and to readjust my thinking and to stop being angry with myself. Then secondly John has helped me build more trust in the system that I am depending on to help me. I am feeling so much more positive about handing over control of my life to others who can help me get through this. These two things mean I have let go of so much that I was bottling up inside and I have a much more positive outlook on my condition and my future. John’s intervention has been a very powerful and positive impact on my cancer journey.
Cancer Care West offers support like this to anyone who needs it on the West coast of Ireland and the sessions are all provided for free. Edward concludes “I would say to anyone who has a cancer diagnosis – do not underestimate the psychological aspects of this disease and more importantly do not underestimate the power of counselling to help. I am so glad I got the help I needed and am very grateful to Cancer Care West for being there for me.”