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Brian Kennedy tells of his own cancer fight... after brother Bap revealed he is terminally-ill

Singer admits he is scared but putting a brave face on things and describes how he may not have gone to the doctor but for his musician brother's earlier diagnosis

By Stephanie Bell

Published 03/09/2016

Brian Kennedy
Brian Kennedy

Belfast singer Brian Kennedy has revealed that he is battling cancer - shortly after his older brother Bap said his own cancer diagnosis was terminal.

Brian (49) shared the devastating news yesterday, saying he was lucky to have caught the illness early and would not have found it at all were it not for Bap's diagnosis.

"I have just started a journey with cancer, I'm afraid to say," he said. "A huge shock, of course. I've just finished my second week of treatment today.

His brother and fellow musician Bap (53) has been admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice for pain management after receiving the shattering news that his illness was terminal.

Fans have continued to rally round the popular singer as he comes to terms with what he described himself as "the worst-case scenario".

Bap's devoted wife Brenda has moved into the hospice to stay with her husband and has been by his side night and day as medical staff try and control his pain.

Brian explained his own condition on the airwaves yesterday to Matt Cooper on Today FM, hours after receiving radiation treatment.

"First of all, what I have is called rectal cancer," he explained. "I said to my doctor, 'Could I have a more embarrassing form of cancer... cancer in my bum, really?'"

"At the same time, he pointed out that there are plenty other worse places to get this disease."

After passing blood while using the toilet in July, Brian visited the GP, but despite getting the all-clear, Bap's condition caused him to check twice.

Bap Kennedy on stage
Bap Kennedy on stage

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"My eldest brother lately has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he's in very serious trouble, so that was something I was very sad about and very moved about," Brian said.

"We had been estranged for a very long time - that's another whole series entirely - but certainly that had been in my mind. I said to the doctor, 'Would you mind if we take this a bit further for peace of mind?'"

After being booked in for a colonoscopy, Brian was told the news after waking up in hospital.

"I'm coming round on the bed and the doctor said, 'Brian, you've got a tumour in your rectum'," he explained. "I nearly died (when I heard).

"It's two weeks of treatment now and I'm responding well to it - I'm incredibly lucky.

"There are all types of cancer now that didn't exist before, and the flipside of that is that there are all kind of treatments as well.

"I'm not lying on my bed with a silk scarf going, 'Woe is me, I have cancer'.

Bap Kennedy at home with his wife Brenda
Bap Kennedy at home with his wife Brenda

"I'm putting a brave face on it, but I am a bit scared, to tell you the truth. I'm also very hopeful because I've got incredible, close friends and I realised that I could do some good by saying to people to get tested."

Bap has kept his many fans informed of his progress this year through a health blog. His latest post revealed he had been in the hospice since mid-August so that his condition could be better managed.

He also gave an insight into how severe his symptoms are, describing some days as "unexpectedly rotten" as he battles pain, nausea and extreme fatigue.

But the 53-year-old, who was due to go on tour when he took ill in May, is staying optimistic. He wrote: "I wasn't sure what to expect before I came in. I knew it was mostly about pain control. It's set up to provide palliative care, which is the best care that can help the terminally ill have a dignified and as pain-free as possible exit from this mortal coil. So sometimes it's the last port of call for the very ill, but not always.

"My pain/meds had been going steadily up and up while I was at home, and in the end they were getting out of control, so the best plan seemed to be to get me into Marie Curie and find out what was going on.

"So these days I'm hooked up to a mobile driver - which is basically two large syringes which constantly pump a regimented amount of painkillers, sedatives and other drugs around the clock."

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Although very ill, Bap paid tribute to hospice staff for the high level of care he is receiving. "The place itself is wonderful and the care, kindness and expertise of the staff are second to none," he said.

"But I've been fighting bouts of pain and nausea every day and extreme fatigue. Sometimes the driver syringes need a bigger painkiller dose, so I have to take extra injections for breakthrough pain. I've had some unexpectedly rotten days and even ended back up in the Ulster Hospital for a night. I'm not getting any better health-wise. The best I can hope for is to stabilise and be able to do get on with doing some things I never thought twice about before. Like most of us, I took my health for granted."

When told the cancer in his pancreas and bowel was terminal, Bap poignantly wrote in his health blog that he wanted to use what time he had to "fix the things I can and put as much love as I can into the world before the boatman rows me across the big river".

Expressing his gratitude to his supporters, he said: "There's so much trouble in the world, yet all I've had directed at me lately has been love and kindness.

"I've never felt so loved and appreciated. I think my heart is going to burst.

"Old friends have come to see me in hospital and we all want to make music together again.

"People have been telling me how much my music means to them. I didn't know. I didn't know how many people have been touched by my songs.

"It's breaking my heart to find out when I have so little time to do anything about it, but I am also very happy to feel the achievement. It's what I always wanted. Not money. Not fame. I always wanted people to feel what I feel. The magic of music.

"From the bottom of my heart, thanks to everyone who has appreciated my music."

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