Cork man with terminal cancer beats the odds to celebrate 21st birthday

Aaron McMahon of Shanagarry, Co Cork underwent arduous eleven-hour surgery to remove a chordoma tumour at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre in the summer of 2018.
Cork man with terminal cancer beats the odds to celebrate 21st birthday

Olivia Kelleher

A young man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the skull at the age of 16 has beaten all the odds to reach his 21st birthday.

Aaron McMahon of Shanagarry, Co Cork underwent arduous eleven-hour surgery to remove a chordoma tumour at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre in the summer of 2018.

He survived the operation which was his last throw of the dice after doctors in Ireland indicated that his condition was terminal.

Since the operation Aaron has had to return to Pittsburgh for more medical treatment. He has also travelled to Essen in Germany for medical appointments as well.

Aaron hopes to make his own mark in life outside the illness he has suffered from.

He told the Opinion Line on Cork's 96FM of his joy at turning 21. When Aaron was celebrating his 18th birthday he was in a hospital in the US having surgery.

Big milestone

“It is weird having a big milestone like this having been told that you wouldn't see past your 18th. Now three years on and you are living your life with family and friends celebrating it. Over the weekend we had a small party to celebrate as a family.

“I was sixteen when I was first diagnosed with the tumour. From then on it was a rollercoaster. I didn't understand it fully at the time.

You are in school and doing sports, and then you get told (about the tumour) and you don't understand.

Aaron has been through a tumultuous few years. He is now in reasonably good health but still worries before he is due to get a scan.

“I get panic attacks. Kind of like worrying every day. I wouldn't be lifting a lot of heavy stuff and it (recovery) is a slow process.

Aaron found himself dwelling on his illness for a period. However, he is now looking for Level 5 or 6 courses to complete.

The Covid-19 lockdown was particularly tough for Aaron as he had to stay home as he is still classed as vulnerable.

He is hopeful of resuming a normal life.

Normal life

“I don't want to be stuck in the same position two to three years down the line. I just don't know when the rollercoaster will stop. There is hope and then there is doubt. That is the problem I have right now. Lockdowns kind of shattered the hope.”

He said he wants to make his mark and move on to “live a normal life.”

Aaron receives scans every six months. Life can be a ‘tough slog’ but he remains optimistic and is focusing on his career choices.

Whilst the removal of the tumour was a success for Aaron there is still a long road ahead for him with medical appointments and treatment.

Paul McMahon, father of Aaron, previously expressed his gratitude for the “phenomenal” fundraising efforts carried by the community on his son’s Go Fund Me page. 

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