15 June 2012
Aengus Shanahan with the Olympic torch in Edinburgh
Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) Podiatry student Aengus Shanahan refused to let his illness stand in the way of his studies.
And this month the student –who was back at his books only six weeks after having the tumour removed in a 6 hour long operation –was rewarded for his bravery by carrying the Olympic torch through Edinburgh on Thursday, June 14.
The final year student will also graduate from GCU this summer with a BSc (Hons) in Podiatry.
Says Aengus, 30, a keen sportsman and sports fan: “Today was one of the best days in my life. The experience will stay with me forever.
“I was nominated to carry the torch by my girlfriend Rebecca and I didn’t know a thing about it. We were on holiday in Barcelona, visiting the Olympic stadium there, when she told me she’d put my name forward.
“It’s been an honour to carry the torch. I want to use this opportunity to thank all the people – the doctors, the lecturers, the friends and the family – who have helped me to work through my experience.”
Diagnosed in 2006, Aengus’ conditioned worsened until he suffered a small seizure nearly every day. He would get stuck saying certain words, unable to finish pronouncing them, often frightening those who did not know him well.
After finding out about the Podiatry profession on a skiing trip, he enrolled on the GCU course in 2008, determined not to let his condition hold him back.
But a chance meeting with a surgeon encouraged him to travel to Barcelona in 2009 for an operation to remove the tumour.
After undergoing the procedure, parts of which he had to stay conscious for so that surgeons could check parts of his brain were operating correctly, he returned to Glasgow to finish his degree.
Says Aengus: “I was back in clinical practice six weeks after the operation. But it takes a long time for the brain to fully recover so the hard work was afterwards. There were problems with communication and short term memory. Social situations were nigh on impossible for a while. I’m still constantly doing small exercises.
“My recovery and my degree have now moulded into one for me, and the recognition by being asked to carry the torch is a good way to mark that. I’m now ready to let the last four years go and move onto the next thing. Both graduation, and carrying the torch, are momentous days for me.”