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Radio 'soul mates' in cancer battle

Eddie West opens heart on fight against killer disease

By Claire Regan

Popular Downtown Radio personality Eddie West opened his heart today about his battle against cancer - and spoke of his shock after a young colleague was also diagnosed.

The 54-year-old, who has been a familiar voice on the station since 1976, is recovering well after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in March.

He has since undergone radiotherapy and surgery and was well enough to return to his role as deputy programme director for both Downtown and Cool FM three weeks ago.

But staff at the sister stations have also been left stunned by the illness of Cool FM journalist Munier Abdalla.

The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in July and is currently undergoing gruelling chemotherapy.

Colleagues have now organised a sponsored 10 mile walk to raise funds for the Ulster Cancer Foundation in recognition of the brave battle facing their two colleagues.

Eddie said he was "absolutely shocked" by his diagnosis.

" I had no symptoms whatsoever but I heard a health promotion ad on the radio around Christmas asking 'are you over 50? Are you overweight? Have you experienced a change in bowel habits?' he said.

"I realised some of these things applied to me so I was talked into seeing the doctor by my partner, not once suspecting that there would be something wrong.

"I felt great. I had no tiredness or sickness, just a change of bowel habit. The diagnosis was not what I was expecting to hear."

Eddie underwent radiotherapy and then had surgery in July to remove a tumour. Around the same time, Munier was faced with his own battle after discovering a lump on his neck.

"It was a huge shock to learn of my diagnosis especially as I have never had any serious health problems in the past," said the sporty Ballymena man.

"Now I'm undergoing crippling combination chemotherapy. But I'm trying to stay positive and I know it can be overcome."

Eddie said he and Munier were now "soul mates".

"When I was in hospital, Munier was the first person to come and see me. I feel now we have a bond over something that's impossible to understand unless you've been there yourself," he said.

"We talk on the phone about how things are going. His illness was a massive shock to everyone because he's so young and fit."

Cool FM/Downtown news editor Bob Huggins will be taking part in the sponsored walk which will leave from Pickie Park in Bangor on Saturday, October 27.

"We all know that cancer is an indiscriminate disease which can hit anyone. But when two of your colleagues are struck down at once it hits home," he said.

"We decided to launch our 'Radio Active 4 Cancer' campaign and the walk is a first step to raise cash for research."

Eddie, a Newtownards man, said he also hoped the walk would raise bowel cancer awareness.

"People are often too embarrassed to talk about things like bowel changes, especially men," he added.

" But it could save your life, like it did mine, to go and get checked out if you've any changes.

"Cancer is beatable if you catch it early enough."

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