The Forgotten Cancer in Derry

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The man with the sign is Francie Coyle. The sun is scorching as we walk to the car. It’s a black Mercedes. The doors have a confident slam and the air conditioning kicks in.  Quicker than you can say “the troubles” we’re weaving through glorious County Antrim and onwards for an hour to Londonderry.

We chat and laugh about what we both know – Tax and the art of self employment. Francie Coyle sits well in his own skin in his own car. He’s a man in the place he wants to be and he’s doing what needs to be done. Me too. As they say in Belfast  “that’s us”.  Eventually we talk about the reasons. “See I have a son who passed on” he said “and since he passed on I’ve appreciate as much life as I can.”

His son Paul Coyle was 28 when he visited the doctor with a lump. The doctor dismissed it as a sports injury. In a short while the lump grew so Paul went back with his dad Francie. His dad asked “shouldn’t Paul have a biopsy, at least just a hospital visit”. The doctor had heard this over concern before from parents “No need” he said again more assuredly  “it’s a sports injury”.  Paul was a good rugby player.  I imagine the conversation between he doctor and Paul a bit like this

“You play sport?”
“Yes Rugby”
“And I see you’ve a lump”
“Yes a lump. That’s why I came here. I’ve this lump.”
“It’s a sports injury”

A short while after that final  visit  Francie was morning the death of his son. The “sports injury” was  cancer as Francie had suspected.  He is calm in telling this story as the warm air swirls over the car. It was a fatal misdiagnosis.   Francie continued “But I had questions for the doctor. But the doctor wouldn’t answer”. The caring father was now a threat. He continued  “I know my son by his first name. The doctor addressed my son by his first name so  I asked him ‘what’s your first name.’ And again he wouldn’t answer. Names are important.

Frankie Coyle set up a campaign to make people aware of Sarcoma called paulscampaign.  Finally we enter Derry under a yellowing early evening sun. It’s a beautiful city. The golden Foyle runs through it.  We drive onwards to the world famous  YOU ARE NOW  ENTERING  FREE DERRY mural. It is normally black and white. It ahs only changed colour six times.   Now it is Yellow to raise awareness of Sarcoma and Pauls Campaign.  . Please support the campaign for  awareness of Sarcoma. It affects young people. Click like on the  facebook page and let’s raise their numbers on twitter beyond one hundred. Please


7 thoughts on “The Forgotten Cancer in Derry

  1. Hi Frankie
    That’s good work – thanks. Hope you still chat to Paul – I do this with the ones I miss. I live in Derry and may see you about – take care

    Paul Moore

    • sorry Paul only getting back to you now our Paul stands beside us every days of our lives our loved ones are all around us we had a great turn out for our Pauls campaign last week it was amazing how much love and kindness our small town has done by supporting our wonderful son Paul call to me when you see me about god bless x

      • Francis, it was great to meet you again in Derry/Londonderry. It’s great to know Pauls campaign continues to raise the consciousness of this pernicious illness.

  2. A very special thank you to Lemn for supporting our wonderful son Pauls campaign This is Francie wife Marion I feel that I already know you Francie told me all the lovely stories you shared on your trip back to Derry and how much he enjoyed listening about you own sad story about your mum and your life I wish you all the best God Bless xx

    • Thanks Marion, I enjoyed the journey too. We swapped sad stories but in a positive light. It’s a lifes’ work isn’t it.


  3. HI Lemn are you still in lovely Derry this is the man with the sign just like to say on shaun Doherty radio show in letterkenny to day and believe or not your name came up my nephew is going to sent it to you if you don’t mind once again a big thank you for supporting our wonderful son pauls campaign we are very grateful for what you have done for all young people in Derry GOD BLESS to you and family xxx

    • Hi Francie, thanks for getting in touch. I’m back in London now. I’d really like to hear the radio show. Maybe I can hear it online? All the best Lemn

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