Gareth O'Callaghan says he's 'not afraid to die' after being diagnosed with incurable illness

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Gareth O'Callaghan says he's 'not afraid to die' after being diagnosed with incurable illness
Gareth O'Callaghan says he's 'not afraid to die' after being diagnosed with incurable illness

Radio star Gareth O’Callaghan has said he is not afraid of death after being diagnosed with an incurable illness.

The 57-year-old announced two weeks ago that he will quit Classic Hits 4FM as he is battling multiple system atrophy, known as Shy-Drager syndrome.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One this morning about the struggles of the illness and his future prognosis, Gareth said he noticed small changes in his behaviour a few years back.

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The father of three, who wrote a book about his struggles with depression, said death doesn’t scare him.

The former RTE presenter said: “I’m not afraid to die. Death doesn’t scare me, I just don’t want to die.

“There are very dark moments unfortunately.

“But I’m not going to let it get to close to me for a very long time.”

Gareth O’Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy

He added: “The first thing you think when you read up on this is ‘this is incurable, progressive’.

“You plan in the short term and try not to plan ahead. Special occasions in four, five, six-years-time you think ‘no I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to talk about it’. You realise there’s a strong possibility you might not be there for them.”

Speaking about how he first realised something wasn’t right he said: “I thought I might get another six months, a year out if it but I noticed that it’s OK to begin talking but after about 15-20 minutes you get a crackle and things begin to break a bit. I’m beginning to have a bit of problem with my swallow which is very worrying.

“I think about a year ago, probably longer than that, I started to feel really unwell and I just thought first of all ‘I’m 57, I’m very stressed, I have a lot going on, you are getting a bit run down.’

“There was nothing I could do, I needed to keep working. I was working six days a week and doing an awful lot of stuff.

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“I began to realise that there were some changes starting to happen. I began to realise I was losing a lot of power in my left hand, that my left foot was beginning to drag and it felt heavier than the right one.

“And then strange things would happen, I noticed in the morning if I was having mushrooms for my breakfast that I couldn’t actually get the fork into the mushroom. I would have to use the right hand. The mushrooms used to slide off the plate.

“If I was cutting the toenails on my left foot I had to use my right hand because the left hand wouldn’t actually hold the scissors properly.”

He added: “You start looking up these things and I started thinking I had a stroke and I thought I better go and see this through and I went to the doctor, who has been a great friend of mine for most of my life, and I said ‘look I’m not feeling very well’.

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“He said ‘Ok let’s examine this’ and went through a load of clinical tests with me and all of this time in the back of my head I thought ‘No this is not a stroke, it’s Parkinson’s’. I felt that.

“Every test that was done, the staff genuinely wanted it to come back and tell them ‘This is it, we can put you on an antibiotic and we can get rid of it.

“I was told on the Friday that everything had come back clear which was bizarre. I looked at them and said ‘It is MSA isn’t it?’ and they said ‘Yes it is’.

“Everyone with MSA presents differently. The speed of deterioration and progress of it seems to be different for individuals.

“The prognosis is very closely guarded. There can’t be a general prognosis because it’s down to some many things.”

Source: Celebrity News Ireland