ROBBIE DILLON - A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Robert Patrick Dillon was born to Dublin parents Bob and Kathleen Dillon on 23rd August, 1961, their first child. After living in a house with his grandparents on his father's side at Seville Place, Dublin ( off Amien's Street, near a local landmark known as The Five Lamps), and following the birth of sister Irene and brother Patrick, his parents decided to move to Clondalkin, then a small village on the outskirts of the city, when Robbie was four years of age.
Robbie went to Scoil Mhuire primary school, Clondalkin before moving on to Moyle Park College, Clondalkin when he was eight years of age. He remained at that school up until his Leaving Certificate at age 17. After a brief period when he returned to school to reapeat his leaving certificate in an effort to get better results, he was offered and took a job as Post Boy in Clondalkin Paper Mills.
When the Paper Mills closed down, letting go all staff eventually in one of the most acrimonious closures in recent Irish industrial history - which involved a hunger strike of employees at one stage in an attempt to keep the planty open - Robbie took his redundancy money and travelled throughout Europe with a fellow ex-employee, Martin Donaghy from Walkinstown.
On his return to Ireland nine months later, Robbie took up a job in Boland's Bakery, Dublin, as an accounts clerk, a position secured for him by his uncle Joe, his father's brother. He stayed there for five months until offered a position with the state transport company, C.I.E. he took up employment with C.I.E. at their Capwell, Cork bus depot in March, 1981.
Since then, Robbie has worked for C.I.E. and iarnród éireann, the Irish rail company, for the past sixteen years. Over that time he has studied Industrial Relations (College of Industrial Relation, Ranelagh), Personnel Management (Institute of Personnel Management) and had qualified as an Accounting Technician (Institute of Accounting Technicians in Ireland).
In late1979 he met Paula Quinn (youngest of four daughters of Myles and Rose Quinn of Kennelsfort Road, Palmerstown, Dublin 20), and they went out together for over four years. In 1984 he married Paula, and they have since had two sons, Robert, born in 1986, and Stephen, born in 1989.
From an early age, Robbie has being writing stories. Apart from writing short stories during the eighties, some of which were published in a British anthology (Panurge, Northern Arts, Cumbria), Robbie has written a humorous column in The Clondalkin People since 1992, loosely based around the exploits of a local amateur soccer club, Freewheelers F.C.
In 1995, his first book about his experiences under cancer was published to national acclaim. Strange Magic, Miracles & Beautiful Dreams (The Blackwater Press, Dublin - May,1995) mixes his own true experiences with his young family with the story of a fictional boy whose father eventually dies from cancer.
Throughout this time, Robbie has had adeno carcenoma of the sinus', which has resulted in over fifteen operations to remove tumours in and around his right sinus. Most of the roof of his mouth - the hard and soft palate - has been removed, and he can only eat, drink and speak properly with the aid of a plate which clips onto his teeth to cover the hole in the roof of his mouth. He has had teeth and gums removed on the upper right of his mouth, as well as much of the tissue around the right sinus under his right cheek. To compliment the medical treatments he had undergone, Robbie has developed an interest in spiritual and energy field healing, which has grown from his first contact with a bio-energy healer in Saggart, Co. Dublin in 1990. Robbie has no doubt - nor do those around him who have watched his progress over the years - that bio-energy healing has been just as effective as standard medical treatments in keeping him stronger than the cancer and therefore alive and well.
Early in 1997, a tumour began to grow in his right sinus, which pushed his cheek out, as if it is about to burst. Similarly, the tumour also grew inside, back towards the lining of his brain. This tumour, if left untreated, will kill him. Robbie completed four month's chemotherapy in St. Luke's Hospital, Dublin, which has had little or no effect on the tumour.
In July, 1997, his consultant Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon from Dublin's Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital listened to a conference marking the 100th Anniversary of the hospital. Dr. Pat Gullane from Toronto Hospital, Canada, spoke about the difficulties involved with the removal of a tumour in the same position as Robbie's. Having been briefed on Robbie's case, and met Robbie in hospital, Dr. Gullane (who is originally from Ballinasloe, Ireland) agreed to take Robbie over to Toronto and remove the tumour.
The operation would involve his staying in Toronto for up to a month, away from his two children. The total cost was estimated at IR£60,000. At this time Robbie contacted an old friend from his work with Amnesty International, Paul Cunningham, now a reporter with R.T.E. News, seeking assistance in publicising his need to raise a lot of money. Robbie hoped that matbe he might get a few minutes on a radio or T.V. show to issue an appeal for funds to the general public.It was to assist in the raising of this amount of money for him that friends formed The Robbie Dillon Appeal Fund Committee on August 10th, 1997. The amount eventually raised over a ten-week period by the Appeal Fund Committee was in excess of £70,000, and the fund was further boosted by the end of 1997 with a donation of over £11,000 from Robbie's colleagues and freinds in iarnród éireann.
The approach to Paul Cunningham led eventually to the recording of 57 hours of videotape, which was edited down to one hour by Producer Joyce jackson & Paul, and inserted into the R.T.E. documentary series entitled True Lives. In December, 1998, Robbie's second book, Cancer Life, was published, with the assistance of his friend Liam Heffernan, who typeset the manuscript and designed the cover. Cancer Life was launched in The Laurels, Clondalkin in early December, on the night after the documentary, titled Poptarts & Chemotherapy ,was broadcast on R.T.E. 1.
Robbie has since left iarnród éireann in order to spend some more time with Paula, Robert & Stephen, as well as his wider circle of family & friends. He also decided to take the decision he worked to during the writing of, Cancer Life, and dedicate his spare time to writing. In 1998 he also began using some of his spare time by attending Aileen Skelton's Art Classes in Clondalkin, during which Robbie has found another means of expression. In an exhibition in December, 1998 Robbie's paintings were all sold on the opening night.
Though the proposed surgery in Canada was postponed, Robbie continues to hope that a suitable treatment may be found in the world for his particular condition, now that the resources are in place to try such a treatment should it be found. Meanwhile, he is awaiting the go-ahead with a proposed visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, for a consultation there. Until then, he must take whatever he needs to alleviate pain, cope with the psychological stress of his situation, and trust in his faith in the Lord and belief that his life with this terrible disease has not been in vain.
TO OBTAIN A COPY OF ROBBIE'S SECOND BOOK, "CANCER LIFE", WRITE TO 12 FLORAVILLE DRIVE, CLONDALKIN, DUBLIN 22 ENCLOSING A CHEQUE OR POSTAL ORDER TO SWORDSMAN PUBLISHING FOR Ir£8.99 (incl. P. & P.)