Barry living Olympic dream

A LURGAN cancer survivor will be living his Olympic dream for the next two weeks.

Barry Magee had always wanted to go to the Olympic Games and when it was announced the event was coming to London this summer he vowed he’d be there in some capacity.

Having bravely battled testicular cancer, Barry is not one to let things stand in the way of his dreams.

Barry, who works in Smurfit will be volunteering at the ExCeL Arena at the London Games which start on Friday. He’ll be outside the arena acting as a wayfinder.

The 33-year-old explained how it came about: “It was on the news that they were looking for 70,000 volunteers.

“They wanted people from all walks of life to do everything and anything. I’m a big sports fan. I couldn’t pass that opportunity up.

“I will be outside the ExCeL arena as a wayfinder. There’ll be thousands of people getting off trains, buses and the tube and I have to keep them right.

“At the ExCeL Arena they have judo, taekwondo, table tennis, boxing, fencing and one or two other sports.”

As well as working outside the venue, Barry has also got tickets for one of the events.

He said: “I applied for lots of tickets but didn’t get any on the first round. On the second application I got tickets for the weightlifting.”

He added: “I would have done anything to get there. It didn’t matter what I’d be doing.”

Barry was interviewed for the role as an Olympic volunteer around the same time as he had to undergo major surgery for cancer.

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2010 and started chemotherapy in November.

He had to undergo two major operations after the cancer spread to the lymph nodes attached to his kidneys.

He said: “The interview at Queen’s was not long after the second operation. Since then I’ve been over to London three times to get my accreditation, training and uniform.”

Two months after surgery Barry remarkably completed the Belfast Marathon.

He commented: “I did the marathon two months after major surgery. I only walked it. I didn’t know whether I’d even be able to do it. I only decided late on I would attempt it.”

Barry’s marathon effort raised £1,200 for Macmillan.

Barry and his wife Michelle have been married for five years and have one daughter, Annie, who’s three. They live in Silverwood Leaves in Lurgan.

The Lurgan man commented: “At the time I was diagnosed I was 31 and Annie was only one and a half. You always think, it’ll never happen to me, it doesn’t happen to young fit people.

“It can happen to anyone. I’d have loved to have someone to talk to back then who’d went through the same thing, but there was no one to talk to.

“What the doctor did tell me was not to read anything on the internet because while it can be helpful, people can post all sorts of things up which go unchecked.

“I’m happy to talk to anyone about what I went through. I want to raise awareness of male cancer.

“It’s something men don’t like to talk about. It’s something they won’t seek help about and think it will just go away. They think it won’t happen to them.”

Barry has offered help to anyone going through a similar experience to himself. He said anyone who would like a chat about what they’re going through should contact him via [email protected]

Barry, who has had the all clear a year in March, heads to the London Olympics from Sunday, July 29 to Sunday, August 12.

Barry’s employers Smurfit and the Ozanam Centre, where his daughter Annie goes to daycare, have both been very helpful in terms of facilitating the trip to London.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Barry.

“I’m looking forward to the marathon and blue ribbon events.”