Parish priest named honourary cancer survivor

COMBERMERE – Father Ken O’Brien is a familiar face around the Combermere and surrounding area. 
So the community knew something was seriously wrong when he wasn’t seen around town for around a year.
It was March 2012 when Fr. O’Brien noticed something was terribly wrong. He had blood in his stool, so he contacted his family doctor in Pembroke for an appointment. 
Following his visit, his doctor recommended Fr. O’Brien get a colonoscopy. 
The doctor knew the results right away and came in to tell Father the bad news – he had colorectal cancer. 
“It was like a kick in the stomach,” he said. 
But he was not going to let cancer win.
“I thought, okay, let’s go – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – let’s beat this thing,” he said. 
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in canada, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers. On average, 65 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every day.
It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men.
Although Father’s aunts and uncles have had cancer, no one in his immediate family has had colorectal cancer.
Throughout the years, O’Brien has taken care of himself. 
“I thought I was doing everything right,” he said. 
Fr. O’Brien was born and raised in Clontarf, a tiny community with only a post office along the Opeongo Road.
He is the son to Clifford and Loretta O’Brien and is the middle child amongst four siblings and one sister. 
From a young age, he knew he was destined to become a priest. He was named after his uncle, who was a popular pastor at St. Lawrence O’Toole parish in Barry’s Bay. 


Get your April 2, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read this full story.