Michael O'Regan“I’d love to come in this morning and say ‘Ryan this is a story of heroism’. It’s not!”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Michael O’Regan stepped out into the rain and savoured a simple moment of pleasure.

“I felt rain on my face – the beauty of rain on my face!”

After long periods stuck indoors undergoing cancer treatment and dialysis, the journalist and proud Kerryman was experiencing the complete bliss of a very ordinary shower of rain.

Michael O’Regan chatted to Ryan Tubridy today about how he was hit with not one, but two belts of the cancer stick. Initially, he had surgery after a lump on his right leg turned out to be cancerous but the recovery was worryingly slow. Further tests revealed kidney failure and multiple myeloma. The second cancer was much more serious. Michael is brutally honest about how hard that was:

“I was prepared to take one, you know we all have to take a hit, but this is round two of this awful frightening illness.”

Further treatment involved both dialysis and chemotherapy simultaneously, which left him feeling “half dead”. Michael has no problem admitting he felt sorry for himself at times. Watching Humphrey Bogart classics helped, even if he had to rewind the movies several times when exhaustion took over. Screen idols aside, Michael O’Regan has no intention of casting himself as the hero in the movie of his life

“I’ve been a bad patient, at times, I’ve been cranky, I’ve taken this badly. I’d love to come in this morning and say ‘Ryan this is a story of heroism’. It’s not! … This is an aged Kerryman who’s taken it badly.”

Rage at the bad luck of it all, pain, insomnia and overwhelming tiredness were very real and had to be faced head on. The support from friends and family, psychology services and Michael’s love of great writers like John McGahern and F. Scott Fitzgerald all played a role in his recovery. But the thing that helped most in wrenching him out of the inevitable lows was meeting very young people living with cancer.

“There’s no room at all for self-pity for somebody like me. I’ve had a pretty privileged life by any standards, decades of very healthy life.”

Now in recovery, O’Regan is still working as a journalist but at a less hectic pace. He’s honest and self-effacing about what he has come through and he’s savouring the beauty of what his beloved McGahern described as “the best of life … lived quietly”.

Find more about his confessions of being a cranky patient, the inspiration he found from young cancer patients and which politician he thinks about most when he’s on the 46A bus in the full interview here.

© The Listener 2019

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