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..

Court is the only option.

To my knowledge water fluoridation represents the only form of prophylactic medication that is delivered on a ‘dose-by-thirst-regardless-of-your-age-gender-weight-ethnicity-need-or-current-consumption-from-other-sources’ basis.

In Ireland – the only country in the world where it is mandated by law –  residents have higher than average rates of osteoporosis, some cancers, hypothyroidism (which in turn is linked with depression) and neurological disease – all of which have been linked with, or shown to be either contributed to or exacerbated by, fluoride.

Yet despite those increased disease rates and risks thereof, and despite the fact that recent WHO stats show we have the worst dental health in the (98% non-fluoridated) EU, the Irish Government keeps adding it to our water supply.

As they are not listening to the logic… and are repeatedly ignoring the science (presented to them in the early 2000’s and again many times in recent years)…  and clearly aren’t concerned about the ethical issues around haphazardly medicating people they’ve never medically examined with a substance that is not only unapproved as either a food additive or a medicine but is also deemed hazardous by the EU… they are going to have to be brought to court.

On what grounds?

I’m no lawyer. But I can think of plenty.

  1. Human rights violations. Everyone has the right to bodily integrity and medicating someone against their will contravenes that right. Lots of people have asked the Government and/or State to stop medicating them… but they continue to do so. That means there are lots of people whose rights have been abused.
  2. Negligence. Apparently, written into early 1960’s Act which mandated fluoridation, is the condition that there would be investigation and monitoring of the health of the Irish population to see if fluoride was adversely affecting it. To date there have been no reports of toxicological studies or even epidemiological studies exploring that issue. Surely if one does something repeatedly to a person’s body every day for their entire lives and never stops to investigate that (a) the action is producing the intended result and (b) is not producing any unintended result, the actor is being negligent in their duty of care?
  3. Willful negligence. If one accepts this definition of it: “Intentional performance of an unreasonable act in disregard of a known risk, making it highly probable that harm will be caused. Willful negligence usually involves a conscious indifference to the consequences.” If our national dental health records indicate we have worse dental health than non-fluoridating nations, it means fluoridation is not working. So to continue doing it is unreasonable… and they DO know of the risks because they have been informed many times. Not least by several scientists and researchers in the early 2000’s and again in the last 2-3 years.
  4. Criminal negligence. If one agrees that it means “recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences)“. When the Material Safety Data Sheet that arrives with your supply of Hexafluosilicic Acid or other fluoridating agent, specifically says something like ‘human corrosive – damages teeth and bones and should be considered so dangerous that it should on no account be released into the environment’*… then forcing someone to drink it surely means you acted in an unreasonably incautious manner and put them at risk of at least some form of injury. If not death. (Interestingly, the Wikipedia criminal negligence describes it as a ‘misfeasance or ‘nonfeasance’ (see omission), where the fault lies in the failure to foresee and so allow otherwise avoidable dangers to manifest. In some cases this failure can rise to the level of willful blindness where the individual intentionally avoids adverting to the reality of a situation.” That sounds very like what our Government and Dept of Health and Children are doing as they go about fluoridating our water.

Lawyers please sharpen your quills. We need this insane practice ended. Please get in touch with The Girl Against Fluoride – she needs help preparing and taking her legal case.

Everyone else, please ask lawyers you know to investigate this topic – and do what you can to support her brave intentions.


* With my own eyes I read words to that effect on an MSDS obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by an end-fluoridation campaigner in the late 1990’s.

Safe? It’s not even effective!

Since the 1960’s the Irish population have been told by their Government that not only is water fluoridation safe, but it is also effective at reducing dental caries (decay and/or crumbling of teeth).

But in May 2010, the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) published a report which clearly shows water fluoridation is not effective.

Because, despite starting from a better position than most, the rate of Decayed Missing and Filled Teeth in Irish 12 year olds is now HIGHER than that of 12 year olds in other non-fluoridated EU countries. 

Not only that, but many of those other non-fluoridated countries managed to reduce their DMFT scores far more than we Irish. They did this without resorting to water fluoridation!

Yet the mantra keeps being repeated: it’s safe and effective, safe and effective…

Graph showing changes in DMFT scores from fluoridated Ireland and other non-fluoridated countries

Graph copied from Declan Waugh’s response to Junior Minister Jimmy Deenihan. Declan is an environmental scientist who has put together a stunning technical report on the human and environmental toxicity of water fluoridation – and the legal implications thereof. He submitted his report to both the irish Government and the EU. Which, in my opinion, means that when The Girl Against Fluoride takes the irish Government to court, they can’t claim they didn’t know they were doing harm. So the final legal cost to the State will be far, far higher. Download a summary (PDF, 805kb) of this report and/or the full document (PDF, 3.8MB).

End mandatory (or indeed any kind of) water fluoridation

I signed this petition back in Jun 2011. For four reasons.

1) I believe it is medically inappropriate to medicate me without personally assessing me for a) my need based on the number of teeth that need protecting b) my risk of developing the disease based on dietary and lifestyle choices c) my current exposure to the drug from both intended and other unintended sources d) the correct daily amount for me to consume based on those three factors plus my body weight and metabolism and e) how both they and i can control my daily intake so as to prevent over and/or under medicating.

2) Medical negligence aside (and even if this method of delivering medicine was one day proved to be medically sound), I believe it is unethical to medicate other Irish residents for this disease without also having their individual, informed and on-going consent to being treated.

3) Even if it was a medically sound practice, and the particular substance they were using was actually pharmaceutical grade (neither contaminated nor listed as a hazardous substance by the EU), and even if I and every single Irish resident had been personally assessed for both need and consent to being treated, I believe it is morally wrong to also treat every visiting tourist (as well as those living abroad) for this disease via their consumption of Irish beverages and foodstuffs grown, fed and/or prepared using fluoridated water.

4) The Department of Health have never satisfactorily explained why they have (apparently arbitrarily) deemed tooth decay to be such a serious issue – relative to other conditions we might also contract or develop during our lives – that we all need to be prophylactically treated for it regardless of our consent or need (including babies and the elderly who may not have a single exposed tooth in their heads!). For example, if it’s medically and ethically sound to try and prevent a disease by putting something in the water supply, why aren’t they also putting in calcium to prevent osteoporosis? Or something like aspirin to keep our blood thin and thereby reduce our risk of having a stroke? Or putting in vaccinating substances to reduce our risk of whooping cough, measles, mumps etc?

And if you’re already thinking “but they don’t do that because of the danger of some people having bad reactions or developing other problems as a result”… then I suggest you ask yourself why you – and they – have not yet applied that same criteria to fluoridation…

The power of touch

Just a few hours ago a dolphin let me touch her.

I say ‘let me’ because for the past six or seven dives with her, she has always been – skillfully and deliberately – just beyond arms reach. Even with a stretch and a lunge I never managed to touch her.

But today she decided to do a by-pass close enough to me to let my hand brush along her spine toward her tail. Perhaps six, seven, eight or more times… I can’t be sure.

Because after that first touch there were oodles of fly-by moments, ‘look-I’ve-snuck-up-behind-you-again’ moments plus a lovely, skill full swim 2ft above me as I idled along just above the kelp… all melting now into memories of a dive I will be giving thanks for for many years to come.

I’d be hard pressed to describe the physical sensation. Certainly water temperature… skin tough and strong, yet supple and soft… silky smooth apart from some dips and bumps from cuts and grazes (which were very distinctly felt)… yet with a slight feel of a film or scum of sort too – rather like what one feels from dried carrageen seaweed when it’s been put in hot water for a few minutes…

… but it was the internal sense of the touch that was most satisfying. I’ve been in this dolphin’s presence many times now, watching from the shore and being in the water with her. But with the touch came a new internal sensation, felt somewhere around the heart area. Perhaps an opening of chakras? Perhaps a parasympathetic shift in heart rate due to my brain waves slowing and moving into resonance with hers? Or maybe was the impact of that physical contact experienced more on the emotional level? Because there was something akin to of the heart-glow of love I’ve felt in the past when a friend has risked being present and helped me drop the masks to reveal my broken-ness, vulnerability and other not-too-appreciated aspects of myself.

I’m not sure.

All I am sure of is that…

… even though it was my hand that reached out…

… it was she who touched me.