Drink Tea for MND Ambassador 2022

Denis Cagney

Denis Cagney is from Dublin and lives with his wife Margaret. He was diagnosed with MND in April 2020.

“I was diagnosed with MND in April 2020. I was 67 and living a very active life, running, golfing, cycling, and doing some part-time consultancy. My wife Margaret and I were retired, and life was great. But I had a little weakness in my left thumb, and I’d had a few falls when running so I went to get checked out. 

The diagnosis floored me. I had to walk around the hospital grounds before going home to break the news to the family. You can imagine the impact on us all. 

Three days later I had my first emotional meltdown. I was listening to Brendan O’Connor in the car when he played Mary Hopkin singing “Those were the Days my Friend” for some reason the tears welled up and I had to pull in immediately. For fifteen minutes I cried. Then I pulled myself together and got on with my day. 

 That has been the general pattern ever since. Most of the time I am strong and resilient but every so often I get very emotional. Margaret is a great help when this happens. 

 Mercifully my speech, breathing, interest in life and sense of humour are fine. I still enjoy life very much. 

 At a physical level the MND is more in the nature of frustration and restriction rather than pain. Two factors help me enormously, firstly the love and support from Margaret and the children Donagh, Neil and Anna and the active support of my two brothers and close friends. The impact on the family helps me keep a sense of balance. I’m not the only show in town!

 Secondly the support services from IMNDA, the Beaumont hospital team, the HSE district staff (alias the Three Graces) and the stalwart carers have all been wonderful especially in easing me through the various milestones for example from walking stick to rollator to wheelchair. I’m very proud of all the professionals who work so hard to help. 

 Professor Hardiman urged me at my first consultation to try to take each day as it comes. Then she smiled and said this was harder to do in practice than in theory but was still worth doing. How right she was on both counts. 

 I still actively enjoy life. My brothers and I take frequent jaunts to the beach and nearby parks to enjoy nature. My long-time buddies call regularly to shoot the breeze, slag each other and resolve the world’s problems! I’m still playing Bridge with Margaret. This can be a bigger challenge to a marriage than MND! My family come home frequently and I’m looking forward to seeing them all especially my little granddaughter Sienna.”