In 2016 I had a feeling that something wasn't right. My eldest Brother also had just been diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer which unbeknownst to me has no symptoms until it's too late, coupled with the fact that I'd had some unusual blood appearing sporadically when I went to the loo. So I got checked and initially there was no blood to be found upon inspection and I was reassured that it was nothing. I realised that although I had insurance for my jeep/ house / phone etc I didn't have any proper insurance for me, so I took out a policy immediately, even though I was again assured nothing was wrong. My instinct made me push for a referral and a fairly invasive colonoscopy and sure enough after coming around from sedation I was told they discovered a tumour very low down in my rectum. I got the shock of my life. That day started my own very personal journey with Cancer.
After consultation It was recommended I did five weeks of radiation Monday to Friday with a bottle of chemo attached via a port in my chest week one and week five. Gladly it wasn't strong enough for my hair to fall out and I actually wore it onstage and never missed a gig. The tiredness was like constant jet lag but I got through it.
Now because my insurance was taken out too late I ended up having to pay for the radiation and chemo and therefore going forward I unknowingly had set a precedent that I would need to pay for any treatment connected to rectal cancer myself. I managed to put a payment scheme in place and finally paid that first bill off. Ironically and cruelly the day my brother died was the day I found out the insurance company were not paying.
I spent the next year or so leaving no stone unturned in terms of alternative thinking and treatments, herbal and otherwise. I kept in contact with my oncology team and I had regular enough CT scans that continued to confirm that the tumour had not matastised or "spread" anywhere but I knew in my heart of hearts that surgery was beckoning. I just wasn't ready psychologically to consider that I would end up needing stoma colostomy world at only 52 yrs old. My tumour had started to thicken so the clock was indeed ticking. Because I would have to pay for the surgery in it's entirety I started getting other opinions in Dublin, Belfast Liverpool and London.
I finally met with Dr Jenkins outside London and from the second we sat down I felt a deep connection and understanding and I knew then and there I was psychologically as ready as I was ever going to be. So a plan was put in place and once I investigated it further I discovered that the hospital needed to be paid in advance and they recommended that I budgeted for a 21 day stay. That Bill alone was just shy of £60,000 Sterling. I have never had surgery before or indeed stayed a single night in a hospital so I was not looking forward to that but I did realise it was my best option. Without going into detail I had some incredible help from a very unusual source and I will never forget that kindness. The staff at the hospital can only be described as an Army of Angels. From the cleaners to the nurses to the caterers to the medical staff and the Stoma nurse of course!
So, without these funds I wouldn't be able to have the surgery done so quickly. The public system as we know is challenged at the best of times and can have very long waiting lists but again I wasn't eligible because of my lack of insurance history and time was not on my side. The tumour simply had to be surgically removed as soon as possible to ensure other organs would be saved.
Post surgery I knew I had to be very realistic about my healing time and very reluctantly I had to turndown a return tour of China with my beloved Friends "Secret Garden" whom I had collaborated on with our Global hit "You Raise Me Up". Suddenly I realised I wouldn't be able to work as much as I was used to doing. I just couldn't risk being on the other side of the planet in case I had any complications post surgery.
I had no idea cancer treatment was so expensive, especially when I'm not insured for it. It means the world to me that people have started to donate the much needed funds. I have some incredible friends who are doing their best to help raise this amount ASAP. There are bills that already need to be paid.
Thank you for reading this and any amount will help us reach our goal.