My Cancer Journey
The drive from the beautiful Inishowen peninsula to Galway is approximately 300 km and takes nearly four hours. It was not a trip Terence Hegarty expected to be doing on a regular basis, but following a diagnosis of prostate cancer in late 2021 it became a familiar part of his life. Fit and seemingly healthy Terence had no idea this would happen following a regular check-up with his GP. He remembers “I was shocked to learn that the PSA levels in my blood were elevated and further investigation would be required.” At this point Terence had no symptoms, was working full time and exercising regularly.
Two weeks later and just before Christmas, Terence had an MRI scan, followed by a biopsy and his diagnosis was confirmed. Electing to have his treatment in Galway, Terence started his regular trips to his oncologist who determined that surgery to remove his prostate was the best option. Following surgery Terence started working on his recovery with the aim of being back to work and back to his regular fitness routine as soon as possible. “It all happened very fast and after the tests were complete I had the surgery, which was about 4 months after my initial GP visit. It’s hard to get your head around it and I quickly realised that to recover well I needed to work on getting myself mentally fit as well as physically fit.”
From the physical perspective Terence commenced a course of physiotherapy specifically designed to help patients recover from cancer treatment. Getting support for his mental health was less obvious but he found just what he needed in Cancer Care West, a charity based in Galway and Donegal. Cancer Care West provides Psycho-Oncology services for anyone living with cancer in the West and Northwest of Ireland. Terence quickly found that talking to the clinical psychologists at the charity was exactly what he needed to help him put his journey into perspective. “Sometimes you need a stranger to talk to. Someone who listens as you work through the enormous impact this disease has on your life. I am extremely grateful that Cancer Care West was there for me. It means that now my recovery will be more complete and I can really get on with my life.”
Following his treatment at University Hospital Galway, where everyone he met was so supportive and kind to him, Terence is back to work at his painter and decorator business three days a week. He is also back to cycling, jogging and walking around the beautiful Inishowen peninsula. More importantly he is more at peace now with what he has been through. “I am coming to terms with the fact that I am now cancer free, both in my body and in my mind. I estimated that I travelled over 6,000 km to get all my treatment done but I am home now, my journey is complete.”