TV's Joe Mahon: I thought I was losing my daughter
One of Northern Ireland's best-loved broadcasters has spoken for the first time about his daughter's brush with death when she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Joe Mahon, known to viewers across the country as the host of Lesser Spotted Ulster, revealed his heartache after doctors told him he was likely to lose his daughter Emma when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
But in an emotional interview with the Belfast Telegraph Joe said Emma was his hero after she battled back to good health.
Joe, who is married to Phil, has become a household name through his extensive local knowledge which has made the long-running UTV series a hit with viewers.
But away from the cameras he has battled near-tragedy. His eldest daughter Emma, who works alongside him on Lesser Spotted Ulster, was at university in Manchester when she fell ill.
Joe says: “She wasn’t well at all and we discovered she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“She had two years of treatment and we thought we’d lost her twice. The doctors said ‘Sorry, you may lose your daughter.’ She was in and out of hospital.
“She likes music and remembers meeting a girlfriend of one of the lads from Ash, in a waiting room once, and the girl being of great comfort to her. She had been through something similar.”
Emma was eventually given stem cell treatment and recovered.
Joe adds: “She wasn’t in great health and she was very listless for a while, but she gradually recovered. It’s not something I talk about much, but she’s fairly laid back about it. She is one of my heroes, to have gone through all that and come out the other side.”
Joe also talks about how he has struggled to come to terms with the loss of his friend, broadcasting legend Gerry Anderson.
He says: “I spoke to Gerry a couple of weeks before he died — he had no intention of leaving the scene. Some people, even when they’re terminally ill, don’t.
“I miss him. I always listened to him in the car, travelling round. It’s very hard to get used to him not being there. Very difficult to come to terms with.”