Top doctor’s musical tribute to his cancer ‘warriors’

Professor Joe OSullivan's albums have been inspired by the cancer patients he has treated

One of Ulster’s leading cancer doctors has paid a musical tribute to some of the patients he has treated at Belfast City Hospital’s cancer centre.

Professor Joe O’Sullivan has drawn on the hope and positivity shown by his patients and their families when coping with illness and loss to pen a 10-track album which will raise money for Friends of the Cancer Centre.

Professor Joe OSullivan's album is available to buy from

Prof O’Sullivan, who is originally from Co Wexford but has been living in Bangor for the past 14 years, told the News Letter of one patient in particular whom he described as a “warrior”.

The 47-year-old said: “I knew Allister Murphy really well. I looked after him as his doctor for about eight years. He was a feisty fella from Newtownabbey.

“He was diagnosed at a very young age with a very bad prostate cancer. He had a tough time with it, but with his involvement with the clinic we were able to extend his life by about five years or so.

“During that time I got to know him very well. He was a big part of a campaign to help us get access to new cancer drugs here that other parts of the UK were already getting.

Professor Joe OSullivan (centre) with his band (left to right) Oisin OSullivan (Joes 14-year-old son), Sam Davidson, Lyn McMullan and Laurence Dugan

“He was like a warrior. We had lots of conversations over the years where he would ask, ‘how will I die?’. I think it’s important to talk about it and not be afraid of it.

“When he did die here in our hospital I was privileged to be with him. He still looked like a warrior.

“The song I wrote about him is called ‘Still The Warrior’. It’s about the fact he was still a warrior after he died but also the fact he was still, at peace.”

He said Mr Murphy’s wife Laura had heard the song and was a supporter of the charity album.

‘Another Light’ will be the oncologist’s second album following 2015’s ‘Take A Deep Breath’ which raised over £10,000 for Friends of the Cancer Centre.

Both albums are inspired by some of the moving experiences he has shared with his patients throughout his career.

Prof O’Sullivan added: “I’ve seen many of my patients find inner strength they didn’t know they had by being able to find a little light in those dark moments.

“I wanted to try to capture that in my songs so that anyone listening might also be able to take a little bit of hope away with them.

“I’ve always had ambitions to write an album. It was a good first effort, but this one hopefully is a lot better.

“I’ve got some great musicians involved, and I had a much clearer idea of what I was doing.”

Prof O’Sullivan is married to Dara and together they have four children – Lucy, Anna, Leo and Oisín.

Anna and Oisín appear on the album.

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