Oisin Kiernan: “We were in the middle of the Championship. I kind of felt a lump.”
In a video released today, Cavan GAA star and SuperValu GAA ambassador, Oisin Kiernan, has spoken candidly about his battle with testicular cancer and how his close support network, through family and GAA, helped him to overcome his illness and treatment.
“We were in the middle of the Championship. I kind of felt a lump. I said something wasn’t right. I mentioned it to Dad then – obviously he has history of it. He said, ‘just go over to my GP’ in Coole. I went for a scan then the next day. I had to ring Donal Keogan and tell him I was diagnosed that morning.”
The video, which also hears from Castlerahan GAA manager, Donal Keogan, was released as part of SuperValu’s 2019 GAA campaign – marking their 10thyear as sponsor of the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship.
Speaking about receiving a call from Oisin, to break the news of his diagnoses, Donal Keogan says:
“I suppose we were all shocked. I remember it was a Thursday afternoon he rang me and we were training that evening I suppose, and then to have to break it to the players you know, there were a lot of tears in the dressing room that evening. They’re like a family and I think that drove us across the line. We done it for Oisin last year.”
Speaking about his teammates’ reaction to the news, the support he received from the wider GAA community and his first experience of treatment and chemotherapy, Oisin says:
“When Donal told the players that day and I could see the shock on their faces – that’s what really got me more, because I got a bit taken back by that. At the time, I didn’t see it as a massive deal and I saw their reaction, so I thought maybe it’s a bit bigger than it is, but it turned out that it wasn’t really, so yeah, they were a massive support and a massive help.
“It’s a big family really – even the rival teams, I was getting support messages from all of them and lads ringing me. Just even to focus on and come down to the lads nearly every night – that’s what it’s all about and that’s what kept me going and drove me on.
“The next step was, I knew I had to get the operation. They were saying, six to seven weeks. I wasn’t thinking it then, but the county final came along and I was hoping to get playing but it spread, so I had to go for chemotherapy then.
“Through the first session of chemotherapy, I felt fine. I was wondering was it chemo they were putting into me at all at one stage. Then one day the hair started to fall out and I said, okay – this is obviously working. My very last day of chemo, was probably the day I was sick. That was the only day I was in hospital that I was sick. I obviously looked sick, but I didn’t feel sick or anything. I probably look at the bigger picture of things more, so I don’t worry about the little things as much. I’m quite laid back as it is, but I’m probably, definitely more laid back now.”
Speaking about his return to the pitch in a Cavan jersey against Dublin, just six weeks after his final chemo session, and his thoughts and observations having gone through his cancer battle, Oisin says:
“Yeah, it was massive – especially for Dad and the Grandparents too and Mam as well. I got the all-clear about two weeks before that, but in my head, I was going to be clear. It was just more relief for family and friends when I got that.
“I’ve found not too many men have spoken about it. I think lads just want to kind of move on and that’s fair enough too, but if I had gone when I had noticed it, I probably would have been back playing and not had to miss four or five months. I didn’t get to play in the county final, I probably would have if that was the case. Everyone’s going to have bad days, but I think once you’re ready and you know the bad days are going to come you can get through them and just push on. The next day is going to be a new day so you start again and go again.”
SuperValu and the GAA share many of the same values, but none are more powerful than that sense of resilience and the importance of community.SuperValu’s new GAA sponsorship campaign ‘SuperValu, Proud Sponsors of Where You’re From’, encapsulates those shared values.
‘Where You’re From’ is about being rooted in your community. It’s about your family, friends, neighbours, the people around you. The campaign aims tohighlight the real resilience of players and managers and how the connections they have in their local community drives their resilience, when they need it the most.