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Irish prop to lift ten tonnes 5 days before his last chemo session

By Ian Cameron
Emmet Burns (Pictures courtesy of Sportsfile)

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A University College Dublin prop and cancer patient is set to lift ten tonnes as part of a charity event that aims to raise awareness about lymphoma and raise money for the Irish Cancer Society and St. Vincent’s Foundation.

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UCD tighthead Emmet Burns was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this summer, a cancer that affects the white blood cells and, in Ireland, is one of the most common cancers among young people. The diagnosis was a cruel blow for Burns, an aspiring professional who was seeking out a contract in England, a plan that has had to be put to the side for now.

“Back in May I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer originating in white blood cells. At this time, I had just got an agent, and was trying my best to get a pro or semi-pro rugby contract in England.”

The first symptoms of lymphoma can include persistent fatigue, painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin; and fever. Another symptom is very itchy skin, which Emmet began experiencing back in January 2021.

“It was a huge shock and I really needed some kind of inspiring story to get me through it.”

“After some frantic Googling, I found an interview with a Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor Joe Batley, who plays for Worcester Warriors, on RugbyPass. I reached out to him on Instagram and he was nice enough to have a call with me, which was really helpful and encouraging. We have been in touch ever since.”

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“Since my diagnosis, I have been getting chemotherapy every second Friday – which has, to be frank, been a very tough ordeal. But through it all, I have been going to the gym whenever I could, which I think has really helped be through this. ”

On the 25th of October Emmet will be undertaking what he has dubbed “Emmet’s Ten Tonne Challenge”, despite still being in the midst of his battle with the disease.

“The event will be five days before my last chemo session and be in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and the Haematology Department at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin – where I have been receiving treatment for the last six months.

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“The idea is pretty simple, I will lift 10 tonnes during the workout by doing 50 squats, 25 deadlifts and 25 bench press – all at 100kg.

“During this journey, I was surprised to hear that Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer for young people aged between 15 and 34, with about 150 people diagnosed each year in Ireland. I was also relieved to hear that it is treatable and curable – but I now realise many people my age are not informed about lymphoma.

“In doing this challenge, I hope to increase awareness of Lymphoma among young people in Ireland ,via an Instagram page I have set up at https://www.instagram.com/emmetstentonnechallenge/ ; and raise much-needed funds for these great charities. We only launched the event last week and have already raised over 25k, which is absolutely crazy and I’m very grateful to everyone who donated.”

If you wish to donate to his the cause, and we urge you to do so, please visit www.idonate.ie/Emmetstentonnechallenge . 

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