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February 13, 2013

Local man hopes to inspire others with tale of cancer survival

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

Irish

It is never a good day when you make an appointment with your doctor’s office and are told that the drooping eyelid that brought you there is actually a symptom of advanced lung cancer.

That diagnosis, received in January 2009, sent St. Clair Shores resident Kevin Irish’s life spiraling out of control.

He spent all of 2009 fighting the disease, going through three months of chemotherapy and radiation five days a week, then surgery to remove half of his lung, followed by more chemotherapy.

The entire time, his elderly father and disabled brother lived in Wayne, Mich., and therefore couldn’t be there to support him.

“I did this all by myself and that kind of hurt,” he said.

But he decided he had to have a positive outlook to survive and began looking into alternative methods to treat his cancer, discovering a book by author Ty Bollinger, who lives in Montana and writes about alternative treatments for cancer.

Preparing for his last round of chemotherapy, Irish started a new routine of vitamins and other natural remedies he had discovered. At the follow-up appointment after the chemotherapy, his doctor told him test results looked promising.

“It never came back,” Irish said, more than three years into remission. Now 54, he has retired from working as a mechanical design engineer for General Motors and automotive suppliers.

A few years after finishing traditional treatments, Irish contacted Bollinger to let him know that some of the alternatives he recommends had worked.

“He said, ‘Kev, you’ve got to write a book,’” Irish said. “He said, ‘You’ve got to write a book telling what you went through and how you got through it.’ He kept pushing.”

As a previously self-published author, Irish said he didn’t hold out much hope that any publisher would be interested in his story. But Bollinger sent Irish’s book to his publisher, Infinity 510 Partners, and they were interested.

“Being a patient and helping other patients … it was meant to give comfort to, both, patients who are going through it and survivors,” Irish said of his book. “It’s kind of like a camaraderie. We know what we were feeling and how we were feeling.”

“I’m Still Here: A Cancer Survivor’s Story,” was published in 2012 by Infinity 510 Partners and focuses on how Irish managed to stay positive through the ordeal.

“Cancer is not a death sentence; you can survive it,” he said.

Irish said he has met so many people whose lives have been touched by cancer that he hopes to be a beacon of hope for them and those living with the disease.

“It’s a very inspiring story to me,” said Bollinger, speaking from Kalispell, Mont. “He’s a very jovial kind of guy and he’s very encouraging, and he’s just a person that people really relate to.”

He has published two cancer books and three other books on health topics, and said his readers often ask him if there is someone they can talk to who has gone through the treatments. When Irish contacted him after reading Bollinger’s book, “Cancer: Step Outside the Box,” Bollinger said he knew it was a story that would resonate.

“He’s not a statistic, he’s not a study, he’s a real-life person with a story and I thought that was a very important thing for people to hear because that’s a frequent question that I get,” Bollinger said.

Irish wants to do more than just motivate cancer patients, too — he wants to give back to others who are fighting the battle he did at the Ted Wahby Cancer Center at McLaren Macomb hospital in Mount Clemens. He receives a little more than $8 per book back in royalties and is planning to donate $5 per book to his doctor at the center when he sells 1,000 books.

“He can give it to the patients that are having the worst time,” Irish said, declining to name his doctor due to privacy concerns. “All of a sudden, boom! Here’s a little something to help you out with your finances.”

The book is for sale at Barnes & Noble stores and online, as well as at Amazon.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.