Brian Lenihan interview
Anyone who listened to Brian Lenihan’s interview will be struck by his optimism and lack of self-pity in the face of such a grave and life-threatening condition. You can listen to Sean O’Rourke’s (adroitly handled) interview with him on RTE’s News at One here.
My own observations:
1. While he has not confirmed pancreatic cancer, he has confirmed a malignant tumour at the mouth of the pancreas. It is also close to a vital blood vessel. Therefore, chemotherapy and radio therapy will be the first options for treatment, presumably followed by surgery, if deemed necessary. It’s a serious condition that requires radical treatment. There is no doubt about that.
2. He said that he will defeat it or it will defeat him. They were the key words in the interview. They were telling of his positive and upbeat disposition. That phrase will feature in most of the headlines tomorrow.
3. He said he doesn’t intend to comment further on his condition, nor give daily or weekly updates. If there is a change, he will make it known. Lenihan also said that he would discontinue if his condition or treatment meant that he was unable to continue. The media will continue to take a very close and continuing (ie daily) interest in his condition. This will be a big test of striking the balance between the public duty to report and his rights to privacy.
4. Steve Jobs, the charismatic founder of Apple, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and had a successful transplant operation (liver transplant) last year. Nobody is under any illusion about how serious the conditon is though. The Minister did say that his pancreas continues to function, which suggests that the tumour may not have spread to this vital organ. And that is a hopeful sign.
5. He was critical of TV3, albeit mild rather than severe. In today’s interview he accepted that the medical condition of the Minister for Finance was of public interest. However, he said that he let it be known he would make a statement and he always intended to make a statement on January 4, to allow him time to inform his wider family, and his friends. The decision of TV3 to jump the gun and break the story on St Stephen’s Day will now come in for renewed condemnation.
6. The reaction to the interview has been overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive. His decision to continue in his role, notwithstanding the huge personal battle he is facing, is nothing short of bravery. I think everybody, friend or foe, wishes him well in the weeks, months and years ahead.