19 November 2014

Entrepreneur Declan Brannigan speaks openly about his prostate cancer journey. Be inspired here.

Declan Branagan - A Brave Mo Bro
Declan is a proud Movember Ambassador and kindly discussed his prostate cancer journey with us. He talks about dealing with being diagnosed and how discussing it has proven to be hugely therapeutic. It's a testement to all men who're dealing with health issues.  He's a great example to many men around the country who don't speak about their wellbeing or go to the doctor regularly. Declan is an inspiration to all men by being open and honest about his story. You can support his Mo Space page here: Declan's Mo Space Page

Here's Declan's story:

I was 57 when I discovered that I had prostate cancer. I was living in Cape Town at the time, working there for 6 months with the Cape Town Law Society. I went to the Doctor for my yearly checkup; ever since I turned 50 I go to the doctor as a little treat for myself and get the bloods, the heart, physical and the PSA tests done. It was a Scottish doctor that saw me and told me that my PSA had risen slightly and to go and get it seen to in 6 months when I got back to Ireland. So I went back to my doctor when I got back and said that it was worth investigating. I went on the 17th of December to an oncologist, Dr. Brian O’Neill and within three seconds of doing the physical test he said that he wasn’t happy with the top-right hand corner. I went out thinking that it was probably nothing. I didn’t really have any symptoms, other than a bit of a problem with my urine flow. I was getting up three or four times a night to go to the bathroom. It was during our Christmas party that night that I really thought about it. I started to think about how having prostate cancer could affect my life.

I went back to the doctor the next day and he told me that I had advanced cancer in my prostate and that I needed to get it out. He said if we had seen it earlier you would have had some options but at this stage we think you need to get it out. It was on the perimeter of the prostate which is a dangerous place for it to be because it can then more easily spread to other parts of the body. The operation date was set to have robotic surgery. I had that on the 13th of March. I was in and out in two and a half days. I suppose for most men, we swim on top of the water a lot; we don’t really do too much scuba diving. I really didn’t think about it too much. I just thought “get on with it”.
I was playing golf with my father-in-law Jo Carr. One day we were playing golf and I was practicing shots coming out of the bunker. He comes over and stands on the ball, making it go down deeper into the sand and told me to try and hit it. I said “what did you do that for, I’m never going to be in that situation.” And he said “You never know.” That has always stuck with me. So when I was in this situation I knew that it was time to dig deep.

Throughout my treatment I had to take 8 weeks off work. It was really tough to do that because I run my own business, I’ve 18 staff; I’ve hardly been sick a day in my life. But you know, it gave me time to reflect. On a positive note, it’s made me look at the business, it’s made me look inwardly. I’ve done some amazing changes in the business so that I can think about other people. It’s not about me. I've more time with my family. I get more from talking to people, than anything else. A solicitor friend of mine hugged me last week. He said that it was great to speak about such personal things. You know, it was really important. It’s great for guys to do.
I got involved in Movember when I was sitting in the pub with a few of the lads talking about sport and they were slagging me about my moustache, saying that they’d give me €10,000 to take it off. It was only when I was going home that I realised, they’re going to do nothing about it. So I thought, I better do something about this. I was with my doctor the next day and she asked me if I’d come along with her to some workshops with men who’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I jumped at the chance and this has led me to be talking to you here today. Therapy is a very important part of dealing with prostate cancer. I remember meeting the therapist one day and she told me that in 4 sessions I had never mentioned the word cancer. I was in denial; the rest of my family were feeling the pain of me dealing with the disease, but I wasn’t.

It’s important to be able to speak openly about it and discuss it. It’s been therapeutic for me in dealing with cancer. People are donating money to my Mo Space page. Speaking about it has done a huge amount for my wellbeing, the amount of texts I’m getting is great. I sent out a group message to all my contacts and have gotten great support from them. There are therapists that are specifically trained for working with men with prostate cancer and they have been a huge help throughout the whole process."

The Movember Foundation recognises the great care and support that specialist nurses and doctors can have in a man's battle with prostate cancer. This is why we've decided to fund a specialist programme with The Irish Cancer Society.  You can read more about our CASE initiative in partnership with The Irish Cancer Society on our report card page.

Declan has been given the all-clear from his doctors and has decided to go under more treatment to ensure that all the cancer has left his body. He continues to work and is hugely proud to have a supportive family who've been there for him throughout his journey. You can donate to Declan's Mo Space page here, and you can read more about the signs, symtptoms and what's important to you on our prostate cancer page.