Maybe cancer got me on TV

Recently a few of those who provide – along with some of us who use – the excellent services of the Sligo Cancer Support Centre were filmed for RTE’s Nationwide. We believe the resulting 7-minute slot might feature in tomorrow night’s edition (Monday 24th, RTE 1 TV, 7pm). But if not, then most likely either this coming Wednesday or Friday.

Given the brevity of the piece, I’m not sure not sure for how long, or indeed if at all, any of my contribution might be aired. But, worst case, there is every chance of glimpsing me either doing Art Therapy… or singing with the Something to Sing About Sligo choir (sitting front row, left, with noticeably more hair than in my FB profile pic).*

The show should also be viewable on the RTE Player here for the next few weeks.

So, apart from doing TV appearances, how am I?

Well there’s heaps to tell you about…

  • CAT and PET Scans results either side of Christmas;
  • the difficulty of reaching the decision to decline maintenance treatment;
  • the terror of facing the open landscape of a new, bare life with the words “you will relapse” ringing in my mind;
  • the desire for something like a “12 Step” support programme, or at least a pathway, that I could just slip into or follow that would provide some signposts and landmarks for me as I evolve my own recovery programme;
  • the joy and relief at seeing how good my blood looked in the microscope mid-Jan;
  • amazingly sympathetic, considerate and caring support from my Community Welfare Officer;
  • the stunning shock as I came to appreciate just how deeply my friends and family members have been traumatised too (each now needs to recover in their own way and time… and we now each need mutual care as we pick up the severely stress-tested threads… and begin to weave new ones…);
  • passing blood far more often and for longer than expected – while also adjusting to new sensations in kidney and bladder – after my ureteral stent was replaced March 11th…

… but for now, and assuming all is well with blood tests taken on Friday (nurse says most results in and are ‘perfect’ but more to come next week) and the last 48-hours of blood-free-urine means that particular challenge is behind me, you can take it that I am doing very well. Very well indeed.

So well in fact that I’m beginning to really enjoy and savour what seem to be steadily increasing energy levels. Sure, I still need to nap sometimes in the afternoon or early evening. But overall the energy is trending upwards.

I’m also finding confidence growing inside again… one which leaves me believing that not only do I have a considerable chunk of future ahead of me, but that that remaining future can now, finally, be turned and faced bravely. Not only that but I might even soon have the mental and emotional energy to start populating it with many good things. (This latter inner progress is particularly welcome; because for a few weeks there my future felt and looked like a very lonely, unsatisfying and bleak place. Thank you Art Therapy-!!).

Which is why, despite nearly once-daily bouts of blood in my urine at the time, I was still able to make my way to Doolin for St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy some ocean time with some human friends and Dusty. A massive, massive day for me… the depths and significance of which really only hit me when I got there – and which I will unfold soon in a dedicated post.

Many thanks to Jan Ploeg for this shot of me with Dusty:

Sean Callagy with Dusty In Doolin 2014-03-17
Me with Dusty In Doolin 2014-03-17

* There are of course far easier ways of getting featured on telly. Next time I’ll try one of them..

Simon’s Buns

This recipe had a major impact on my well being during treatment for Follicular Lymphoma. I will be forever grateful to my cousin and her hubby Simon for baking and bringing a batch when they came to visit. The taste and texture were amazing – and all the more satisfying because there was no flour or sugar involved!

I’m sure Simon will humbly say he didn’t come up with the recipe. But as he never gave us a pithy name for them, the Callagy’s of Sligo now affectionately call them “Simon’s Buns” (if he does provide an official name I’ll update this post; but don’t worry, you’ll always be able to find this post again by searching here in “Recipes”).

Like Simon himself this recipe is friendly and flexible. So using different sized bananas or eggs from one batch to the next isn’t going to cause problems (although will affect how many buns a batch will produce). Likewise, if you haven’t got very ripe ones, using fresh bananas is okay. You can also add in some flaked almonds if you like. I’m sure other seasonings could be added with impunity. And don’t worry about leaving some honey behind on the spoon either. The recipe can absorb the loss!

Oh, and am very grateful for the good people at Sligo Wellness Centre for typing this up first (because I hadn’t the energy at the time!).

Ingredients

  • 300gm ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of bread soda
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs – beaten
  • 120gms (4oz) melted butter
  • 3 medium-large bananas (best if very ripe with spots on skin)
  • 4 level tablespoons honey

Method

Turn on oven to pre-heat to 170 -180 degrees (and place butter in a dish in there to melt).

Sieve bread soda and cinnamon into the ground almonds. Mix well.

Beat the eggs.

Mash bananas – or blitz in a processor.

Mix eggs, bananas and honey together. Then mix into dry, almond mix.

Finally, mix in the melted butter.

You should end up with a soft, sloppy mix (might seem very runny but the buns will firm up when the butter sets again).

Pour or spoon out into muffin cases in muffin trays (perhaps one tablespoon per case). Makes between 16 and 20 muffins depending on size of bananas used.

Bake at 170 – 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the centre of them springs back up when you press lightly on them.

Enjoy! 😀

Know someone who snores?

I am currently planning for a 4-month project that might help people reduce their Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms.

“Reduce” because the method I intend to replicate in Sligo did not entirely eliminate their problems. But they did feel less tired during the day because of having slept better. Quality of life also improved for both them and their partners thanks to the reduced frequency, intensity and volume of snoring.

What will participants have to do?

Sorry, the details are still being worked out… but to give themselves the best chance of progress, participating snorers need to be prepared to commit 20-25mins per day to a specific activity for the four months duration.

Of course, if they want to do less per day (or not do it all) then that’s their choice. But the scientific, peer-reviewed study on which this project is based showed that an average of 25mins per day, 6 days a week made a big difference to:

  1. Daytime Sleepiness (Epworth Scale)
  2. Sleep quality (Pittsburgh Quality of Sleep Index
  3. Partner rating of sleep disturbance (visual analogue scale)
  4. Apnoea-Hypopnoea index
  5. Health related quality of life.

Is there a fee?

Yes there is – but it has yet to be fully established.

I will need to be paid for the materials needed, my time interviewing participants, their partners as well as teaching this self-help method to participants and monitoring their progress (perhaps once monthly). The Wine Street Wellness Centre (my hosts for this) will also need to be paid for the use of their large room during the project.

However, the final cost will be divided equally between participants – of whom I hope to work with between 15 and 20 people. So the cost should not be prohibitive.

As soon as I have more details clarified I will update you.

Interested? Know someone who might be?

Have them get in touch with me here, or through Facebook.