Told his career was over after cancer diagnosis, Sean Moran (78) is getting back on the horse – The Irish Times

When Sean Moran was diagnosed with what is often an incurable cancer, multiple myeloma, in 2010, he immediately did what many others would have done and Googled the disease to see what to expect. The retired engineer from Crossna, Co Roscommon chuckles as he recalls: “He said four years, so I thought I better start getting things straight.”

Twelve years later, he is still undergoing chemotherapy three weeks out of four, but he is also preparing for the experience of a lifetime when he takes part in an exhibition event at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS on August 20.

She may have lost four inches in height and six collapsed vertebrae in her back due to a rare form of blood cancer, but she’s not afraid of the adventure that awaits her.

“I really want to do it,” said the 78-year-old, who grew up as one of seven children on a farm where his father, Tom, always had work horses to mow and plow. The family has a history with horses and Moran was recently shown a bill dated 1815 for slabs delivered by horse to the nearby Rockingham estate by one Bartley Moran, who he believes was his great-great-grandfather.

He’s also been told that the stones used to build the courthouse in Boyle around 1830 were quarried from Arigna by his great-grandfather, so his passion for horses comes as no surprise.

I was coming up to the fourth fence and you won’t believe it, but a parachute dropped in front of me. If it happened today it would be viral

The man from Roscommon is pretty sure the RDS event won’t be as challenging as another riding adventure he had nearly 40 years ago when he lived and worked in Zambia, and represented that country jumping on a thoroughbred named Compton Gate, which he then property.

“It didn’t go so well,” he said with typical understatement. “I was coming up to fence four and you won’t believe it, but a parachute fell in front of me. If it happened today it would be viral. I can still see this big red and white thing fluttering towards the ground. I can even see the color of the fence.”

Throughout his working life in places like Zambia, South Africa, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Oman, Moran, who once took lessons at Iris Kellett’s riding school, kept up his hobby.

When he started getting pain in his back 12 years ago, he thought it might be from playing polo at the Riyadh stadium. “My daughter Kim said, ‘Dad, do you think it could be cancer?’ and I told him no, that I had hurt my back”. When blood tests showed Kim’s hunch was correct, he assured her that he would walk her down the aisle when the time came, and it’s a promise of hers that she will happily keep in October when she gets married in the UK.

Of course, there have been many challenges since 2010.

The GP who diagnosed him in Saudi Arabia after doing blood tests ordered him to go straight to the hospital, adding: “Don’t even go home to get your pajamas.”

Back in Dublin, he ended up in the care of consultant Dr Gerard Connaghan at St Vincent’s Hospital. He “he told me that it was the worst he had seen in the presentation”.

Some of the treatments he has undergone have been exhausting, but he is grateful that they have kept him alive.

Stem cell treatment in 2011 gave him three and a half years, he says, but his weight dropped from about 85kg to 71kg.

“There was nothing left of me.”

The treatment at the beginning of last year was also harsh. “I had three lines on me for four days, 24 hours a day. It was scandalous, but without him I wouldn’t be here.

“Dr. Connaghan told me it was the last chapter of his book and I guess that meant it would have been the last chapter of my book as well.”

But he has gone from struggling to get from bed to bathroom, to walking with an aid — “the kind of thing old ladies go shopping with” — to being able to ride a bike, and in recent months he has returned to riding. by horse. . “The hardest thing is getting back out there,” she says.

Another thrill was being able to drive again. “It was magical.”

There was a girl there in Ugg boots. She was only 15 years old or more and she was as pale as death lying there. I almost cried because I thought, at least I’ve had a chance at life

Moran says he wanted to take part in the Dublin Horse Show “to repay the wonderful treatment I’ve received.” On August 20 he will ride Dara Winters’ Newtowns Silver Bobby at the RDS to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society. His goal is €20,000.

She believes she has been lucky to have had such a dedicated medical team and to have been around when so many new treatments were emerging.

“The first day I went for treatment there was a little girl wearing Ugg boots. She was only 15 years old or more and she was as pale as death lying there. I almost cried because I thought, at least I’ve had a chance at life.”

While he may never have participated before, he has attended the Dublin Horse Show many times over the years, including in the golden age of Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh, Con Power and James Kieran when they won the Aga Khan Trophy for Ireland three years in a row in the 1970s.

He says his category will be quite easy from a riding point of view, but it involves galloping, which is now more difficult due to age “and the other stuff”.

“When you’re galloping, you use the middle of your back as a shock absorber and I don’t have the same flexibility in the middle of my back.”

Meanwhile, with a treat to get you through the week before the horse show, you’ll find time for a series of training sessions at the Moorlands Equestrian Center in Drumshanbo.

And after her date at the RDS, she has her 79th birthday and a trip down the aisle with her daughter this fall.

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