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..

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.