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Health guru raps Irish TV station over Lenihan cancer

Published 15/01/2010

Dublin TV station TV3’s deadline to Brian Lenihan before going public with his cancer diagnosis was “potentially damaging” to the Republic’s Finance Minister, a leading health analyst has said.

Dr Muiris Houston said the TV station “took Mr Lenihan's options away” from him and forced him to confront his illness in a “false way”.

“If it was a 48-hour deadline, for most people that wouldn't be enough. I think the minister was deprived of the time he was entitled to,” he said.

“(Mr Lenihan) came across as being so brave, and we admire him for that, but my concern is, did that come easily to him or was he forced into it? That is not to say he wouldn't have reacted in a brave way, but we don't know.

“By giving him a deadline, his chances of reacting to his diagnosis in a way that was comfortable to him were definitely minimised and possibly damaged. It was a really big ask by TV3 and his options were taken away from him.”

Dr Houston made the analysis of TV3's decision in his Irish Times health column and told the Herald he stood by the strongly worded article. He said many people in the field were becoming wary of the emphasis on cancer patients “fighting or battling” their illness.

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