Fans rally round Bap Kennedy after cancer shock
Singer Bap Kennedy has expressed his gratitude to scores of supportive fans for their touching messages after he was diagnosed with cancer.
The 53-year-old from west Belfast has revealed that the reason he has had to cancel a number of gigs recently was due to ill health.
In a blog post he said he had been due to perform at a festival in Co Mayo on Saturday, May 7 - but instead of singing, he had to be taken by his wife Brenda to the Ulster Hospital suffering from severe stomach pains.
He described himself as being in "absolute agony" before undergoing 24 hours of assessment and the unexpected cancer diagnosis.
Brenda said Bap had received so many messages wishing him well that she is having to print them out for her husband to read in his own time.
"As some of you may know, Bap recently took ill. Unfortunately the illness has turned out to be much more serious than we first thought, but Bap is in very good hands and we're going to remain positive and optimistic about the future," she said.
The former Energy Orchard frontman has decided he will write an online diary chronicling his battle with cancer.
"Bap has been overwhelmed by the huge number of comments and messages of support and goodwill coming in from every corner of the globe," Brenda said.
"It means a lot to him to feel so much positive energy coming his way, and he's decided to keep a blog about his health crisis so he can keep in touch with everyone."
In Bap's first blog post he bravely revealed how his diagnosis had come about, and also about how touched he had been by acts of kindness he had witnessed at the Ulster Hospital during his stay.
"On Saturday, May 7 I was supposed to be performing at the Acoustic Yard Festival in Westport, Co Mayo. I was looking forward to seeing an old friend, the festival organiser David Dee Moore, having a great gig and then waking up in a nice hotel with my bass player (and wife) Brenda in Westport the next day," he wrote, adding: "That didn't happen."
He continued: "Instead, early on Saturday morning I found myself being driven to the A&E department of the Ulster hospital by Brenda in absolute agony with stomach pains.
"The next 24 hours went past in a blur of examinations, medication, anxious family members and the very real possibility of an emergency operation." Bap - who has collaborated with Steve Earle, Van Morrison, Shane MacGowan and Mark Knopfler in the past - said he was touched by all the kindness at the Ulster Hospital.
"Kindness was everywhere and all-pervasive, as if the cold indifferent universe outside the hospital windows didn't really exist," he wrote.
"It made me realise how precious an enterprise is our National Health Service.
"The doctors and nurses, the administrators and cleaners, lab technicians, the porters who wheeled me from one scanning machine to another, everyone working together to keep the body of this incredible living system healthy and functioning."