A Cork man who successfully overcame testicular cancer, a blood clot and two bouts of chemotherapy made his return to competitive action for Béal Athan Ghaorthaidh last weekend.
Antóin O Creimin came on for the final fifteen minutes of his side’s Junior C challenge game against Douglas. Wearing his beloved club jersey and participating once again in a football game represented a special feeling for the 26-year-old.
“It was an unreal feeling. It was a great achievement. I thought I would never be able to play again. We were slack on players and I got the idea of togging out once again. It was my first game in two years.
"It was tiring and a big shock to my body. I woke up stiff and sore Saturday morning, but I was on top of the world. It was great to put on the jersey and be back out there playing with my club-mates once again,” revealed the football enthusiast.
Antóin’s horrific ordeal initially began when he was diagnosed with cancer on February 13th, 2019. Antóin, a naturally fit young man, was working as an electrician when he began experiencing severe back pain which he put down to the nature of his job and from playing competitive sport. When physiotherapy failed to solve his chronic back pain, his GP the late Dr Denis Cotter in Bantry suggested he take an MRI. Antóin vividly recalls the shock when he got his results.
“I wasn’t able to walk with the pain in my back. I went to my GP on the Monday. I was diagnosed on the Wednesday and I was operated on the Friday. I did my MRI in the Mater Private on Tuesday morning. I thought it was a muscle injury sustained through work. I was on my way home from Cork when Dr Cotter rang me to tell me turn around and go straight to the CUH. They ran a few more tests and I was diagnosed Wednesday evening with stage 3 testicular cancer.
"There was a 90% growth rate at the time. I had the operation on the Friday. If I hadn’t gone to see the GP or delayed it for another few weeks, the final story would not have been good.”
The whirlwind nature of that week unsurprisingly knocked the sports enthusiast who revealed he struggled with the shocking news he had cancer. Antóin is full of praise for the great support he received from all in his local community in Ballingeary.
“You don’t know what to do. I went into a state of depression for a while. I came home the following Tuesday after the operation. It is when you are home and on your own, it really starts to sink in. I tried to stay as positive as possible. I am fortunate to live in a great community. They all rallied around me. I don’t want to think what would have happened if I didn’t have their help.
"My family, friends, work colleagues and club mates were all brilliant. They called me regularly. It meant a lot.”
Following six weeks recuperation after his surgery, Antóin then started his first course of chemotherapy which he revealed was extremely tough.
“I did 16 weeks of chemotherapy in the Mercy. I was very sick from it. In week 15, I got a massive blood clot in my arm which almost killed me. It was a huge setback. I was very low. I always thought of how I could end it. Only for the nurses in the Mercy Hospital I don’t think I would be here today. All the nurses were brilliant. My community and coming back home also kept me going. I managed to pull through. By September of last year I was back working.”
Antóin received another setback when another scan on January 20th of this year revealed more bad news. His cancer had come back. Antóin once again had to display all his resilience. He admits he experienced a lot of dark days, however.
“It hit me very badly. I was very depressed upon hearing this news. I did another 16 weeks of chemotherapy in the CUH which was torture. It was a more vigorous treatment. I lost my hair both times, but this really knocked me out. I would come home on a Friday evening and be in bed until the following Wednesday.”
The Ballingeary native finished his second course of treatment on June 26th. He went back for a check-up in July which showed that he was clear. Antóin admits to jumping for joy when he received that news.
“I was fearing the worst. When I got the news, I danced a jig out of the hospital. I am now back to work. My next appointment is not until November. I am feeling good.”
Antóin story is truly inspirational. He is a true fighter. His love for his family, friends and community is very evident. He is desperate to make up for lost time. He is enjoying spending time with his friends and family and playing Gaelic football. “It has given me a total new outlook on life. I wasn’t expecting to live this long. I was told in February 2019 that I probably wouldn’t have long to live. Great medical care, great support and love from everyone has ensured I have survived. I am enjoying life. I am determined to start living again. I am looking forward to the future.”