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Terry Kavanagh

Terry Kavanagh:

Survivor, Counsellor, Supporter

Terry, an ex-boxer and family man from Liverpool, was diagnosed with lung cancer on
Friday 13th January 1989, a week short of his 43rd birthday. He was told he had just three
months to live. Many years later, Terry is still fighting fit and helping others in similar
situations. Inspire caught up with Terry to find out more about his experience.

“Being told you have lung cancer is a scary place to be.         “I’ve always enjoyed sports. In my youth I played rugby,
At the time I was offered no support or help.There was           ran marathons and, when I was 17, I started boxing.
little communication and certainly no information leaflets       I fell in love with the game and even trained alongside
available.We were very much in the dark, which made the          former world light heavyweight champion, John Conteh,
situation even more frightening.                                 whom I later met at one of the Foundation’s conferences.
                                                                 So, after my treatment, I was keen to get active again.
“Then, after a series of tests, I met Professor Ray Donnelly.
I remember him sitting at my bedside and telling me              “I gave it a few months and joined a yoga club and a rambling
they couldn’t go ahead and operate because they hadn’t           group. It was the best thing I ever did. Less than 18 months
received my papers from the previous hospital. Thankfully,       later and I was climbing mountains and running marathons
he then turned to his team and said ‘I think this man has        again, fundraising for the charity. I also became a support
been through enough – we will operate tomorrow’. And             worker where I met many patients with various cancers.
operate they did; I had surgery to remove half of my left lung.
Like countless other lung cancer patients, then and since,       “This led me to take a Diploma in Counselling and to
I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.                              set up the Liverpool branch of the Roy Castle Lung
                                                                 Cancer Foundation Patient Support Groups.
“Prior to the tests and operation, I was told I had
three months to live. I later found out, however,                “I consider myself to be quite fortunate. My wonderful
that this was a misdiagnosis. My oncologist told me              wife Anne was, and continues to be, my greatest support.
they had made a mistake with the first biopsy they               We have three wonderful children plus four beautiful
had taken and, because of this, my cancer was less               grandchildren who I never thought I would live to see.
aggressive than first thought and, in fact, did not need
any further treatment. Needless to say, I forgave them!          “After my treatment I watched my diet but soon fell back
                                                                 into my old routine. It may seem negative but I don’t think
“I’ve been directly involved with the Foundation since           there’s anything you can do to stop the disease returning.
1992 when the news first broke that Roy Castle had lung          I’ve met many people whose cancer mirrored mine, yet
cancer. I immediately wrote to him offering support and          still fell foul to a recurrence.
was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter back.He wished
me well and said he too was going to ‘thump’ his cancer.         “What’s most important is to become an
Through our missives, we developed a friendship and I had        expert on your cancer. Ask as many questions as
the pleasure of meeting him on a number of occasions.            possible. Then you can start your fight.”

                Find out more about becoming your own lung cancer expert on page 6

4 Inspire 2016
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