Kilbeggan native Tony McCormack will launch his book this Saturday, May 3 and he is also going to take part in a charity football match in Portlaoise next Monday, May 4.
The following piece was written by Tony:
The very word cancer brings fear to all of us and I, like many others when diagnosed, believed my life would soon be at an end. Little did I know that in many ways my life was just beginning.
Most of my life was spent in pursuit of happiness. Of course this could only be attained by making money and acquiring all of the gadgets and pleasures that it could buy. There was never any real direction or any concrete idea as to what I wanted from life. Sadly, being part of the rat race my ambition never stretched beyond being King Rat.
Then cancer struck. To describe how I felt the moment I was diagnosed I wrote a little poem entitled 'Save Me Mammy Save Me'.
Well I didn’t die. I had my course of treatment and although I suffered no ill effects, I remained fearful and depressed for quite a while but as time passed, I began to realise that whether I liked it or not there was a life to be lived.
I took my first tentative steps into this new life partially believing that it was a waste of time. I would be putting an effort into some task or other but at the same time wondering would I be around to enjoy the result. But gradually the penny dropped; I could enjoy the effort, I could enjoy the journey. And so I came to live in the moment. This does not mean I don’t make plans; of course I do, but the outcome, I leave to fate.
No more than any other person, do I know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that whatever today brings I will make the most of it. This is a whole new way of life for me and it gives me what I always sought but did not realize; freedom. That is, the freedom to be me.
Because of my cancer, I now do the things I always wanted to do but would never allow myself the time. Some years ago I took up writing and joined the sadly now disbanded, Offaly Writers Group.
As a result I have written a number of short stories and poems. These were left in a drawer and were going to be published sometime. Of course sometime meant never but that has changed. I have written and published a book of short stories and poetry with illustrations by my daughter Siobhan. All monies raised from this will go to The Friends of St Luke’s and St James’ oncology units.
The official launch took place on Thursday night last in Tullamore Library. It was attended by over 250 people and was a marvelous success. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all of you who made it such a memorable night.
Recently I came across a website promoting a GAA football match which will be played in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, on the bank holiday Monday, May 5. It will be played between two teams drawn from people who have received treatment for cancer in St Luke’s and St James’ hospitals. The managers will be Mick O’Dwyer and Brian Cody.
Included in the teams will be county men, past and present, such as Ronan Rocks, Stephen Mulligan, Marty McGrath, John McGrath, Aiden Shevlin etc. It will be attended by a host of celebrities and the parade will be led by The Artane Band. The much loved Michael O’Muircheartaigh will commentate.
There are lots of other attractions and the whole thing kicks off at 1pm. The actual match will start at 3.30pm. And of course ‘Black Magic’ will be on sale on the day. All proceeds will go to the hospitals concerned.
Where do I come into this? At sixty four years of age I am playing in goal for St. Luke’s. And seven years ago I thought my life was ended.
On Saturday night next, May 3, I am having my hometown launch in the new Parish Centre in Kilbeggan. All are welcome and I am looking forward to meeting up with you all. The book will be launched by Geraldine O’Neill, best-selling author of ‘Tara Road’ and almost a dozen other novels.
The stories in the book are all taken from my experience of growing up in Kilbeggan in the ‘fifties’ and ‘sixties’. Many of you who were around then, will recognize some of the characters and don’t be surprised if you find yourself hidden in the pages. I would be thrilled to see you there. It’s a long way from ‘Save me Mammy Save me’to playing in a football match and writing a book. Lastly and most importantly let’s get that message out there;
THERE IS LIFE AFTER CANCER