Liam Bergin, 49, father of three, bicyclist enthusiast and Head of Catering at the University of Manchester was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme bang in the middle of the Covit-19 lockdown. To make things even harder, Liam’s mother passed away the day before his diagnosis.
Nobody knows precisely how we might react to such lifechanging circumstances in such a short amount of time, but Liam now wants to use his experience to help others.
After crossing paths on Twitter, Liam kindly agreed to share his story with us. Find Liam on Twitter: @liamdbergin
Hi Liam, tell us about your brain tumour diagnoses?
Out of the blue in June 2020, I had a seizure. at first, I put it down to overheating as I had just come back from a 90k bike ride. I was not going to do anything about it, but my wife, Jen, convinced me to go and get checked out. We went to the A&E on Good Friday, which was the peak of Covid-19 lockdown. Jen was not allowed to join me, so I had to go alone. I was in shock when I was told after an MRI scan, I had a brain tumour.
I was told I had a Glioblastoma Multiforme, and it was Cancer. I was booked in for brain surgery to remove the tumour but was told it would more than likely grow back, I would also need radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Two days after being told I’ve got a sizeable tumour I decided to buy a new isolation bike ride so I could carry on keeping fit as I knew I would need to stay home and avoid any germs.
On the 2nd of July, I underwent 7 hours of brain surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible. I am now undergoing 30 sessions of radiotherapy and then 1 week of chemo every month. I will be staying on chemotherapy for the foreseeable.
How are you feeling now with your treatments?
I am feeling very tired of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I have lost some hair, not a massive issue for a 49-year-old man. The most formidable challenge is what I might miss. I’ve 3 teenagers one just starting University, I sometimes get sad thinking about what I might not experience, but I have a lot to be thankful for. I think what continues to lurk in the chasm that is my brain, the chances are I know what’s going to kill me, but at the same time I could be hit by an asteroid.
I have had great support from family and friends. I’ve been reminded to live life to the full. I am concentrating more on taking opportunities and enjoying every moment. One being I aim to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research now.
Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
- See that google thing, use it for good. There are some inspirational stories out there, it’s impossible to ignore but use the internet wisely.
- Control the controllable your actions. The stuff you can’t do leave to the medics.
Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
My wife, Jen, is my personal hero; she inspires me every day. Then, Mum and Dad, Mum died sadly the day before my diagnosis. They were a fine example of parenting, to which My brother and sister and I will always struggle to emulate. I’m inspired by the likes of Billy Bragg, Paul Robeson, performers and activists that stick to their principles but are flexible enough to adapt with times.
Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know?
I once earned a living as an inflatable 7ft high KFC bucket in the 80s (not for long)