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Funeral for William McIntaggart (60) in Carryduff after `long hard-fought battle with cancer'

William McIntaggart

WHEN William McIntaggart was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer his response was to buy a motorbike to drive himself to and from chemotherapy sessions.

Three-and-a-half years later, family and friends will today reflect on the "enormous void" left by the father-of-two as they gather for his funeral at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Carryduff, Co Down.

Born in Rasharkin, Mr McIntaggart's restless curiosity saw him take on challenge after challenge right up to his final weeks, dying on Monday at Marie Curie Hospice in east Belfast.

"He was playing football two or three times a week up and playing golf until two months before he passed away," his son Ordhán (27) said.

"He got a motorbike when he was diagnosed, because `why not drive to treatment?' That's just the person he was - go, go, go.

"We would say to him to slow down a bit he didn't slow down that much until the last weeks when he went into the hospice. He was going right up until then. He was just such a positive guy."

The chartered surveyor's refusal to "give in" to the disease which became terminal a year after the initial diagnosis, included not telling any colleagues at Helm Housing about his battle, working around his hospital treatment.

He survived long enough to celebrate both the 30th anniversary of his marriage to wife Oonagh in June and his 60th birthday in October.

Mrs McIntaggart said it had been "love at first sight" when they met while she was working for a building surveyor and three years after their marriage they had their first child, Ordhán, with daughter Niamh (18) following.

"All we wanted was for him to take the foot off the pedal, sit down in the house and not play football, just take a break, but that was what was keeping him going.

"They were in awe of him in the (Belfast) City Hospital, leaving on that motorbike, how he behaved, he fought and fought and fought and in the end it just consumed him.

"Right to the end he never accepted it, he didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want sympathy, he wanted to be treated as `William' not a cancer patient."

He resolved to visit every country in Europe and managed to make it to 22 out of the 27 before he got too ill.

"At least got one last Christmas together. That's the way we have to look at it," he said.

"He was just the best father. He was always so positive, he was my go-to person if I was ever worried as he would go through all the options.

"The way he handled his death, with no fuss, really prepared my sister and me for it. He was very selfless."

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