As the nominees, their families and friends eagerly look forward to Friday night’s Donegal Sports Star Awards the special guest for the 36th year of the function RTE Sport’s soccer correspondent Tony O’Donoghue has been speaking about his battle with cancer over the past year.
The Cork man underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy last year and is now hoping that a scan at the end of this month will give him a clean bill of health.
O’Donoghue has just returned from holiday in Spain at the beginning of the week is looking forward to Friday night’s Donegal County Council sponsored awards ceremony in the Silver Tassie Hotel.
“I’m really looking forward to it having read up on some of the people who have been up to present the awards and feel very humbled,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting the many Donegal man and women and boys and girls. It’s a fantastic achievement for them and the fact the award have been running so long is a great accolade to all involved.
“When I look at the names of the previous special guests I am deeply honoured and delighted to have been asked by the organising committee to present the awards on Friday night. I am looking forward to meeting Donegal’s sporting stars and it promises to be a big night for everyone involved with the function.”
“I’m a regular enough visitor to Donegal although I wish Finn Harps were in the Premier Division so I could get up a bit more often. It’s one of my favourite counties and I think it’ll be a great night at the Sports Stars.”
O’Donoghue has been fighting cancer in the last year after RTE make-up artist Siobhan Power discovered a lump in his throat and encouarged him to go and get it seen to.
It’s almost 12 months ago since we had the footballers’ award show on RTE when the team and the management come into the studio,” O’Donoghe said. “A lot of my work is on the sidelines so I wouldn’t really be in the studios or the make-up department but on this particular occasion it was the full metal jacket - the shirt and tie, the suit and shoes - and I was in make-up and was having difficulty in closing my shirt collar.
“Siobhan (Power) in make-up in RTE said there seemed to be a bit of a lump there and she badgered me into going to get it checked and the lump was cancerous. I had surgery first of all and them radiotherapy and chemotheraphy, so at the end of the month I’m due a scan so keep your fingers crossed for me. It was bad enough. I had daily radiotherapy for about eight weeks and then weekly chemo, from which I felt awfully sick. But my consultant told me it was needed. I’m not alone in any means as there probably isn’t a family that hasn’t been touched by cancer.”
After Power’s warning, O’Donoghue went to his doctor on February 8 and soon underwent surgery at the Blackrock Clinic to get the lump removed from his throat. During his recovery he was still eager to follow the sport he loved.
“I kept asking my consultant, who is also a Senator, Professor John Crown, when would I be able to go back to work. He said he wanted to have me ready for the World Cup of 2022 in Qatar! With the help of good though I’ll be just fine.
“It’s been a strange old year and then I suppose the message I would like to pass on is for men especially, who can be very bad at looking after themselves and getting themselves checked out, to check it out. All men should take heed from what I experienced over the last year.
“I didn’t think much of it. Women probably check themselves more often and education has probably helped them be more vigilant. Men are terrible at going to doctors. Hopefully I am on the road to recovery after a difficult year but for a year when Ireland qualify for their first championship in 10 years can’t be all bad.”