A LOCAL councillor is running his entire election campaign from the isolation unit where he is fighting cancer.
Cork City North West independent candidate Kevin Conway had been preparing for stem cell treatment for multiple myeloma, a condition causing cancer in the bone marrow, before a diagnosis with sepsis left his life hanging in the balance last September. In recent weeks he was dealt another blow after doctors identified a number of tumours on his spine.
Nevertheless, the politician refuses to give up on his campaign and has vowed to make it to the count next week.
“I’ve never got to a point in my life where I’ve wanted to give up and I hope I never do,” he said.
Mr Conway is currently undergoing cancer treatment at Cork University Hospital and hopes to be well enough to have a bone marrow transplant in the near future. This comes five years after his initial transplant.
The Cork University Hospital patient has spent his last few weeks in isolation, responding to constituents’ emails and campaigning from his hospital bed.
“I know there is a view out there that I’m not up to the election but I have never fought so hard, both for myself and my constituents,” he said. “I may not be calling door to door but when I’m back on my feet, I’ll be with my supporters, every step of the way.”
Mr Conway has been dealing with concerns from constituents ranging from social housing to road works — all while in isolation.
“I get pleasure out of helping others. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve always been focused on other people’s problems, rather than my own. That’s never going to change for me. I am very proud of what I have done in the community over the last 40 years and I hope to continue to do that for years to come.”
The candidate outlined how illness prompted him to reassess his values.
“Isolation takes a bit of getting used to. Before getting sick I was very driven. I’m no longer in a rush. That is the one distinct difference in me. Time was of the essence for me once, but of course, that’s all had to change. I’m grateful to be functional and able to do something every day. This in itself is a very beneficial part of my treatment. You are limited in what you can do, but as soon as you’re well enough you drive on and hope for the best again.”
He said the support from his community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I never realised it would be so positive. It’s wonderful to have people show you that sort of consideration There were so many “get well” cards that I had to send a pile of them home. The isolation room has limited space so I haven’t been able to keep them all with me. I’m astounded by all the well wishes and the masses that have been said for me.
It gives you great belief in people and makes you think that maybe there’s a reason for it all. That’s what keeps me going.”
Mr Conway’s own positive attitude has also served him well.
“That’s the way I was the first time I had the transplant and I hope to carry that with me. I come from a very positive family and am lucky to have so much support from them. My hope is that I’ll get to the stage where I’ll be well enough for another transplant.”
He spoke of what he is looking forward to experiencing in the outside world again.
“My own homeplace is surrounded by ash trees planted by my grandfather 100 years ago. I get more pleasure from looking at them and listening to the birds sing than I do from anything else. I’ve never been a great man to travel. These little things are all I need in life.”
The councillor has high hopes if elected.
“My one fear is that entering the city boundaries will mean that Blarney might not get its fair share of the apple cart. If elected I’d like to make sure that it does.”