Former Coombe champion Chris Fitzpatrick on the surprise letter his dying brother received from Jurgen Klopp

The former Coombe hospital director has spoken of the difficulty of coming to terms with the death of his younger brother after a shock diagnosis of cancer.

Professor Chris Fitzpatrick’s brother Declan, 61, died last year after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer after collapsing unexpectedly at work. Mr Fitpatrick said his brother was “perfectly healthy” before the sudden incident.

“Declan was three years younger than me and he was a school teacher and he was also a passionate supporter of Liverpool. He was also very religious, which I don’t think is typical for people his age these days,” he told The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ.

“He was teaching English and that was a point of mutual interest for both of us and he was doing absolutely fine until he collapsed at work around this time last year. And he was hospitalized and within 24 hours he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer with secondary brain tumors.

“And he really had no symptoms up to that point, he was perfectly healthy, and he asked how long he had left to live, and they said maybe three to four months, and he ended up having a little longer.”

Mr Fitpatrick said his brother was receiving palliative care around the time of the cyber attack on the HSE, further complicating matters.

“He was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that was palliative and this was the time of the cyber attack on the HSE. So his radiation therapy was actually done at three different hospitals because of connectivity issues,” he said.

“He became very ill shortly after starting his chemotherapy and basically he went home to die and his wife Cepta, who is also a teacher, took time off from work and she took such wonderful care of him.”

He said that due to the Covid-19 restrictions at the time and some family members had not yet received their vaccine, family visits to Declan’s home were restricted.

“Some of the family members were waiting to be vaccinated, others had not been vaccinated and we had window visits, we had restrictions on home visits. He lost basically all his bodily functions over a period of months, except he was compensated towards the end,” he said.

“He was very coming to terms with what was going to happen to him and it was a challenge for him and a challenge for Cepta and all of us.”

A shining light on the family’s devastating situation came in the form of a letter from Liverpool football manager Jurgen Klopp.

Mr Fitpatrick said Declan was delighted to receive a letter of support from the club he has loved and supported all his life.

“And out of the blue one day he received a letter from Jurgen Klopp and he was a huge Liverpool fan. This was a personal letter to him and before that he received an email from the club saying ‘I wish you the best, we hear you are ill’ and it was signed by management and the team, and he was thrilled to get that,” he said.

“But getting a letter from Jurgen Klopp in the post was like a poem because every word was perfect and it ended with the line ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and it was like a ray of sunshine coming into his life and it was so powerfully meaningful to him and brought him so much joy.

“And then after he died the Liverpool football team chaplain wrote a letter to his wife just to say he remembered you and I thought that was quite remarkable.” Former Coombe champion Chris Fitzpatrick on the surprise letter his dying brother received from Jurgen Klopp

Fry Electronics Team

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