Fighting an invisible opponent

Updated: Feb 20

Hi, my name is Philip Cullen and I am a ten year cancer survivor.


Philip Cullen

In 2008 I found myself in a fight. A fight that wasn’t a normal fisticuffs fight where you can see your opponent and you know what you’re dealing with.

This was a fight I didn’t want any part of but I was left with no choice. My opponent was this huge thug who I named Chancer Cancer.

His only purpose was to beat the living life out of me. I was terrified because this bully had a reputation for winning. He had put the best of men, women and children down. I knew it was going to be the hardest and most brutal fight of my life. Finding a way to beat cancer was not impossible because in my corner I had a network of support experts made up of medics, family and friends.


Medics pre-warned me that cancer will beat me down and each time my battered body tries to get up, he will keep coming at me, but, he under-estimated my resolve, my strength of spirit and the support network I had in my corner, we were not going to make it easy for Chancer Cancer. The people in my corner told me to stay positive and focused on my goal which was to strike that killer blow of positivity, hope and determination into the heart of this maniac. This fight was not a solo venture, and when I got too tired to fight, I rested and I let somebody else fight for me.


Cancer and the necessary treatment sometimes can bring you to your knees, literally, to your knees. It can smother you and it can suck all resistance from your body until almost every fibre of your being is ready to step over into the unknown. You become accepting, almost content. You are ready. Then, from nowhere, you hear a rallying call. The cavalry arrive, for once in the nick of time. This unbelievable gallant unit of family strength with their positive thoughts and their unrelenting solid uplifting attitude towards life, lifts your spirit and restores hope. You live to fight another day and another day and another day until you eventually become a survivor.


Although every person who has cancer has an individual story, their stories are all basically the same. While the outcome is not the same for everybody, looking around here today at the number of survivors, it gives hope and encouragement to all those who are about to begin their journey in the fight against this dreadful disease and like all normal human beings we will never give in to thuggery of any kind. We must fight, resist and conquer until we are no longer threatened.


Relay for life unites communities like ours in the fight against cancer. Relay for life celebrates the lives of cancer survivors, it recognizes those who are undergoing treatment as well as the people who care for them. It remembers those whom we have lost and it strengthens our corner in the fight by increasing our knowledge of cancer and by raising money which enables the Irish Cancer Society to continue it’s life saving work both in research and services. So, enjoy the weather, enjoy the music and above all enjoy life.


Thank you.

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