Singer Brian Kennedy announced on social media that his latest scan results have given him the all-clear: He is cancer-free. There was pure joy in his voice as he confirmed the news to Kathryn Thomas on The Ray D'Arcy Show. 

Brian says his happiness is mixed with sorrow, as he remembers fellow cancer sufferers who have passed away.

After a clear scan last December, Brian’s follow-up scan was postponed due to coronavirus. When it finally happened on July 23rd, Brian says the date coincided with the anniversary of the death Danika McGuigan, daughter of Barry and Sandra McGuigan:

"So there I sat, where you get a scan in St James’s Hospital, just so aware . . . Oh my God! Poor Danika has passed a year ago, and I’m down and sad about that. And yet, here we were – in the real world, getting my own scan, surrounded by the cancer world again."

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First diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016, Brian has been through major surgery and chemotherapy, and for a time, he was unable to walk. He says he developed his resilience at a young age:

"Having had a childhood in the Falls Road in West Belfast, I do think that I can draw on some of that, I think, that robustness."

Brian says one of the toughest things about the past couple of years has been losing friends to cancer, and they are never far from his thoughts:

"Of course I went through some days that were very scary. Especially when I started to lose… I’ve lost maybe five or six friends in the past two years from cancer. So it’s not lost on me, with the flip of a coin, that could have been a different conversation and I could be sitting here with the opposite news.

"And I’m sure the same nurse who called me to say I was clear had to call someone else to say that they weren’t clear. So it’s bittersweet and it’s wonderful and I feel lucky."

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Being an artist also helps, Brian says. He speaks about the comfort he found in expressing himself through his work, even when he was very ill. While getting chemotherapy, he began writing and recording tracks for his 2019 EP Recovery:

"There were certain days when I couldn’t get out of bed, but there would be days when I would be writing words and thinking – how do I turn this into music? I started visualising t-shirts I could wear with 'Recovery’ written on them or ‘Don’t Look Back’, or the songs that ended up on that record."

Recording songs, even when he didn’t feel 100% was hugely important, Brian says:

"I allowed myself to sound tired, I allowed myself to sound emotional, because I was going through all those things. Again, I feel lucky to be able to express myself artistically like that."

Going by his recent experience, Brian says he has full confidence in the Covid-19 precautions being taken in hospitals and he believes that people shouldn’t hesitate to attend, if it’s necessary:

"Wear your mask, go in, honestly the hospitals have it down. It’s so clean in there. The environment is very careful, people are very careful. Just wear your mask and just listen, do not let a cancer diagnosis pass you by."

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Brian made a special appeal to men to follow up on anything that could be a cause for concern. In his experience, he says, early diagnosis can lead to better outcomes:

"If you’ve got an appointment or you’ve got a worry especially fellas, because you women are so amazing, you’re always on it. We fellas are way behind you in that way.

"So fellas, if you’re listening, if you’ve got any worries, present yourself to your GP, to the hospital. Wear your mask and I promise you, the sooner you get diagnosed of something, the easier and the sooner it usually is to get treated and recover from, and that’s certainly my case"

Brian says his recovery didn’t come easily, but he’s in a great place now:

"When you get news like I did yesterday, that I’ve had an all-clear, it was worth every moment of having to learn how to walk again, all of those things."

Listen back to Brian Kennedy’s full interview with Kathryn Thomas here.