Survivor's Story: He Lived Through Bombs...And a Brain Tumor
Survivor Story: He Lived Through Bombs… and a Brain Tumor
Henry Cluney had several close calls playing political rock songs during the violent 1980s in Northern Ireland. But the real threat was growing silently inside his skull: a rare and slow-growing brain tumor called a 'subependymoma.'
By Everyday Health Staff
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Guitarist Henry Cluney says he escaped being killed several times during the turbulent years he was playing his brand of political punk rock in Northern Ireland. "I've been through bombs and things," Cluney says.
His band, Stiff Little Fingers, dodged the bombs and recorded at least two major hits in Northern Ireland: "Suspect Device" and "Alternative Ulster."
But Cluney could not dodge the brain tumor that was growing slowly inside his skull. It did not cause symptoms until it was the size of a baseball -- only then did he start experiencing dizziness.
Derek Johnson, MD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, diagnosed an extremely rare and slow-growing tumor called a subependymoma. It had probably been growing for years.
Surgery was the only option, but it carried a small risk of damaging the motor skills Cluney needed to play the guitar.
After the surgery, the moment of truth: A therapist brought Cluney his guitar and asked him to play.
"It was the way it always was," Cluney says, "awful." Both his motor skills and his Irish sense of humor were intact.
Now Cluney is back on tour, doing solo performances in the United States and in Europe.
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