Depression: Spike Milligan died in March 2002. This is a synopsis of his journey with manic depression by Michelle Clarke





There is a huge price to be paid in loneliness. Spike spoke of an overly active brain, moving in all dimensions. He reported that he had a very strong feeling that he could not cope with children. He said that mistakes made, remain with you as persecutors. His first marriage broke up due to his wife’s adultery. Spike proved in retrospect highly critical of his contribution to the marriage. He deemed himself to be too watchful of what his wife was spending. He also deemed the system wrong that she was held responsible through adultery for the divorce grounds and not his mental illness. (Ironically, I thought the reverse when it applied to me and as it still does in the eyes of the Church).

He was a romantic and very much in love with his first wife. He referred to a ‘token suicide’ that he attempted after she left. He acknowledges it was a ‘cry for help’. This led on to the characteristic period of withdrawal from society. To try and redress the balance over the grounds for divorce, he wrote a book of poems.

Quite interestingly, his four children stated that they were happy to have been brought up by their father despite his ‘ups and downs’.  It is worth noting that eccentric behaviour can be so appealing to children.   He used to engage in games with their imagination. He would write notes and hide them and the children would find them – it constructed an imaginary game. These notes would be signed by the Pixies and Fairies.

 My fondest memories of JJ, my cousin, (a manic depressive) with whom I spent a considerable amount of time and who also knew Spike, were his visits from England nearly every weekend.  JJ would sit in the black chair in the kitchen in Belper, our rambling home. Shane (his Godson) and I could swish around the chair amusing ourselves greatly. Basically, Shane and I ‘tortured the man’ in our childish ways. I had lots of questions and used to like combing his virtually non-existent hair. Now I know why he just sat – unlike others he never tried to tickle us or catch us. I know why now because I am the next generation family member with manic depression. When I see my nieces and nephew, I am like a ‘sack of potatoes’ – Lithium and the other medications have side effects. Muscle weakness occurs and strength is minimal. The great thing is the human brain adjusts so you can be the passive being with young people and put your mind into play and create imaginary jaunts that might equally entertain them. We are talking about Vicarious Compensation. We need to openly recognise this. Holistic education exists in Canada and it is my belief that it is critical to teach people ‘life coping skills’ and make others aware of differences that exist between people.

Spike Milligan had a socially driven mindset. He hated the hardship in the world. His view for the future of the human race was negative. Being a creative, he tended to take world problems and issues on his own shoulders as if they applied to him personally. I truly understand this. Two of ‘us’ who had been part of the Trinity Horizon Programme – a rehabilitation workshop for women with depression shared our deep concern about Foot and Mouth last year – it proved to have serious effects for both of us. Our rational minds told us it was irrational but not our emotions….

The tendency when Spike started thinking was to keep adding on – never going back and consolidating a point – his mind would be moving too fast. His mind was very active and away ahead of others. This is often referred to as ‘racing thoughts’.

This Manic Depressive (Bipolar) illness is best viewed as:-



Spike Milligan served in the Second World War and sums it up best himself  when he said ‘I ran out of guts’. He was discharged with Battle Fatigue/Shell Shock as mental disorders were described at that time.  Basically, he left the war, a manic depressive. After his mental illness, he would often comment ‘I did that when I was alive’

Spike Milligan was friendly with Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers would refer to Spike’s ‘Mad Abstract’ mind but that he was a very likeable man.  Spike Milligan’s work always attracted a ‘special type’ of audience. The kind that would move from laughter to near hysteria. Spike was deemed to thrive off the ideas of another and their thoughts became the springboard for his mind to move in all directions. He could generate so many ideas but never really had time to write them down.  Even when admitted to the mental hospital, he continued to write frenetically. To behave this way – there is an obsessive characteristic embedded behaviour.  Logic did not apply for Spike. He would continually change rules and add in more and flow onwards.

Think of Spike being asked for a few kind words and the reply to come:-

‘Librium, Valium etc.’

He believed it was perfectly okay to have a show with no beginning – no end. He would interrupt and input – no problem.  Spike was fascinated by what people want. The aim according to the way he thought was about making each other laugh.

Spike Milligan liked instant decisions and was extremely disciplined.



Michelle: Hence now at 43, I know why I could not concentrate at school, it took a skull fracture and brain damage to teach me to focus……….most of the time………



Michelle Clarke

Revised: 22/06/02

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Citizen Journalism Ireland: The Dew of Dear Tara (Susan Isabella Sheehan Repasky (Flicker Light Studio America) and Michelle Clarke) 2007

via Citizen Journalism Ireland: The Dew of Dear Tara (Susan Isabella Sheehan Repasky (Flicker Light Studio America) and Michelle Clarke) 2007

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Citizen Journalism Ireland: The Dew of Dear Tara – Susan Isabella Sheehan Repasky (Flicker Light Studio America) and Michelle Clarke) 2007


The Dew Of Dear Tara

Dé Luain Lúnasa 06, 2007 19:29author by Susan Repasky – Flicker Light Studio Report this post to the editors

Reflections On The Spiritual Center

Moments of time, reflecting on the importance of Tara as the Spiritual Center of Ireland.

On The Hill Of Tara
On The Hill Of Tara

I was kissed by the dew of dear Tara
All those many long years ago.
When promise and light
Filled my days and my nights,
And the magick had found her abode.

I was blessed by the dew of dear Tara
And drank of her sacred delight,
Where the fox in the dark,
And the call of the lark,
Surrounded my soul with new light.

I was touched by the dew of dear Tara
And filled with the magick of old,
With the scent of the mist
And the rose blossom kiss
Of the faeries I in my heart hold.

I was filled by the dew of dear Tara
And the White Mare who grazed on her hills.
With the stories of old
Of the heroes so bold
Who on her green meadows were killed.

I’ll come back to the dew of dear Tara
To restore the strong magick of old.
To make right the sad wrong
And to sing a new song
Of honor and courage, so bold.

Oh wait for me dew of dear Tara
For I quicken to you ‘ere I die.
To be one with your love
And the brightness above
Oh wait for me, please do not cry.

The time is now nigh, my dear Tara
For the glory of all you have known,
Lives in these brave hearts
Who will bring a fresh start.
Bless these children your magick has grown.

Susan Isabella Sheehan-Repasky

On The Hill Of Tara
On The Hill Of Tara

On The Hill Of Tara
On The Hill Of Tara

  On The Hill Of Tara
On The Hill Of Tara

author by Susan Isabella Sheehan-Repasky – Flicker Light Studiopublication date Domh MFómh 30, 2007 22:02Report this post to the editors

Thank you Michelle.
We have just returned from two weeks in the EU.
Anything we have that could be of use to the Tara campaign is available for the asking.


Late Late Show – Tara; the Harpists

author by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Sath MFómh 22, 2007 00:03Report this post to the editors

Tara by J. Quigley, renowned for his aerial photography.

Susan, I was looking up the site and saw your photos and thought about the considerable contribution these photos make, to the Tara Skryne Gabhra stand for heritage.



‘I don’t want flowers at my funeral because I know that they would be taken from the forest’………………Consequences by Chico Mendes (1944-1988) Brazilian rubber-tapper and environmentalist

Tara. What a foolish outcome re. Tara…..Greed reigns…..

author by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Aoine Lún 24, 2007 18:38Report this post to the editors


Thank you for advising on the sad outcome from An Bord Pleanala. What can I say? As you say, it is now up to those close to Mr. Salafia to seek means of challenging the construction of the M3.

I found today a book by Maire and Conor Cruise O’Brien titled ‘A concise history of Ireland’ published in 1972.

There is a black and white photo that resembles the Tara seen today. It states that ‘the Hill of Tara’ is in Co. Meath, seat of the half legendary kings and a centre of superstitious awe, traditionally associated with the High Kingship, it was an important burial site in prehistoric times’

Tara is entrenched in history, both pre Christian and Christianity. Tara is listed in top 100 world heritage sites; it is documented in the libraries of our main universities, churches, and other archives.

Ireland made one shrewd move back in 1973 – we joined the European Union. We have been empowered as a nation by joining this Union of States – the main reason being that we were so disadvantaged as a young fledgling state, we received priority funds. The EU have empowered our people with funds since then into education, infrastructure, social programmes and yes there are those who reaped massive benefits and funds……greed, envy, jealousy – those Deadly Sins highlighted by the Catholic Church…….are given the full test in projects like the M3.

Why is it the Celtic Tiger gone Pussy cat is so sacrosanct that it will not, through its planners and councillors, make changes. Surely, they can grasp the historic site of Tara, the High Kings, more importantly the pre-Christian culture; the superstitions, our ancient Brehon Law, the culture of the druids, and most importantly, what is concealed by nature but once was a venue of the High Kings of Ireland. Why do we forget where Tara is situated and the castles that were build in its environs?

If we were the Italians, would we accept our ‘over embellished bureaucracy’ knocking down the Vatican. I could never see this happening. Vatican City is a separate entity in Italy….

As Heritage week approaches – the book for tourists is worth picking up, let us think of the invisible Tara going back a few centuries and Imagine……just Imagine….and ask why is this being allowed happen. Who has the vested interests? Why have they same? and why not embrace change and re-route the M3 or set up a train route or organise a proper transport system? e.g. park in an area Phoenix park and then bus or walk.

How can we ignore such Heritage?

Michelle Clarke


‘Bombs and Brains’
If protesting against a nuclear bomb implanted in my brain is anti-Hindu and anti national, then I secede by declaring myself an independent mobile republic

I am a citizen of the earth. I own no territory. I have no flag. I’m female but I have nothing against eunuchs. My policies are simple. I’m willing to sign any nuclear nonproliferation treaty or nuclear test ban treaty that’s going. Immigrants are welcome. You can help me design our flag……’


Dr. Arundhati Roy (born 1961) Indian novelist and essayist
Author ‘The God of Small Things and The end of Imagination

The Dew of Tara, Anam Cara, Decision time M3

author by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Domh Lún 19, 2007 21:56Report this post to the editors


The images of sites at Tara are resounding and highly visually captivating.

Decisions are expected this week so in the wake of the Aer Lingus Shannon crossfire…..let us hope spirituality and Tara takes hold re. the M3.

The Anam Cara site is worth accession… gives perspective, vision and hope in the face of Travesty.

Michelle Clarke


Born a Slave
‘I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood has passed away……I never dreamed I was a piece of merchandise
Harriet Jacobs (c1813-1897)
US writer and former Slave…!!!


Call For Support From Artists

author by Susan Repasky – Flicker Light Studiopublication date Déar Lún 16, 2007 22:57Report this post to the editors

These are fine writings Fred, and I am delighted that you have shared them. I loved the poem, and was especially touched by the writing of Colum McCann, historical questions as seen through the eyes of a child. Out of the entire population of the world who can claim Irish descent, the percentage which is responding/protesting is dismal.

I visited the Anam Cara site, which is beautifully put together and timely in content. I would love to donate some of my own art to the site, in hopes that it would help, even if in the smallest way.

The call for support from artists is essential, and anyone who has a means of contacting those who have the ability to capture the attention of the public certainly would be appreciated.


Susan Isabella Sheehan-Repasky


“I have always taken a lesson from something that was told me by a sound man, that is, that everyone, Republican or otherwise, has his own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.” Bobby Sands – March 9, 1954 to May 5, 1981.

“It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.” (Article 2, Constitution of the Republic of Ireland.)

Apathy…. I JUST DON`T GET IT!!!

What If?

author by Susan Repasky – Flicker Light Studiopublication date Céad Lún 15, 2007 01:09Report this post to the editors

Hi Anarchaeologist .

You ask what’s going to happen to Tara. This is about the Tara Complex, the Gabhra Valley, and the desecration and destruction of ancient burial sites. Even if noted by the esteemed archaeologists who are at this time working at the Lismullen site, the Sacred site will never be the same.

I understand the need for more efficient methods of commuting for the hard working folks who live in the outlying areas. I have traveled the N-3 many times, especially during commute hours. I know how the traffic binds up, and how long it takes to get from Nobber to Dublin. I also know that there are other options which were considered during the planning stages which would have taken the road away from these sites. For whatever reason, the other options were not chosen.

Some questions I asked a few years back are, would you want your most recently deceased loved one disinterred in order to facilitate the construction of an infrastructure such as the M-3? What and how much would you be willing to sacrifice for the ability to arrive at your destination half an hour earlier? Is the memory of our Ancestors important to you? Would you, like Esau, sell your birthright for a bowl of stew?

I am sorry that you don’t get it. I wish I had a better way of communicating to you how I, along with many others, feel. I believe that would make all of the difference in the world.


Susan Isabella Sheehan-Repasky

“I have always taken a lesson from something that was told me by a sound man, that is, that everyone, Republican or otherwise, has his own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.” Bobby Sands – March 9, 1954 to May 5, 1981.

“It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.” (Article 2, Constitution of the Republic of Ireland.)

Related Link:…earch

On The Hill Of Tara - Patrick
On The Hill Of Tara – Patrick


author by anarchaeologist – PRApublication date Máirt Lún 14, 2007 23:47Report this post to the editors

What’s going to happen to Tara?

A bit more of an attempt to concentrate on the hearts and minds of the workers who commute through the valley should be a more effective use of your time and talents. Even at this late stage.

Sorry, I just don’t get it.


The vibrancy of Tara – let the soul arise and awaken the inane

author by Michelle Clarke – Social Inclusionpublication date Máirt Lún 14, 2007 15:19Report this post to the editors

Susan, we meet again.

What a beautiful poem…one that I have printed out, to hold and cherish of times of old.

The gravestone……the date 1798, the photo gives resonance to a historical time.

I published this yesterday and somehow it has gone amiss.

Tara… sacred ground – how else could the history survive?

Let us briefly return to a poem written by Thomas Moore. Tara Hall is a demesne now in ruins when people chose not to buy it, because property was cheap and Independence was uncertain.

The Harp that Once….. (invokes times of yore, of poetry, of mythology, of history, …… a time that people like Maud Gonne, George Russell, Arthur Griffith considered the strong possibility of the Ark of the Covenant being concealed in the mounds, land, in the origin of the High Kings of Tara, St. Patrick, the times of pre-Christianity, the pagans, the Five Roads to Tara that still exist…..

‘The harp that once thro’ Tara’s halls,
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls
As if the soul were fled:-
So sleeps the pride of former days,
So glory’s thrill is o’er;
And hearts, that once beat high for praise,
Now feel that pulse no more

But my question is: Has the soul fully fled, can it really flee from such a sacred place?’

Tara was the Emblem of Ireland – What has gone wrong now?


Michelle intervenes
Take time to consider the imagination of the Rowland woman who has written this most spectacular series of Harry Potter books. I looked at her books in a bookshop today and then I found myself exploring a theme…..I thought of law, the Brehon law and looked at a few books there, then I moved to ancient Irish history and bought for euros 8 the completed works of Lady Gregory on Irish Mythology, then I purchased History Ireland noting its feature on Hugh deLacy and the Lordship of Meath. Then I noted the ghost stories of Padraic O’Farrell which brought me right back to days and nights spent in Clare with my grand aunt and all the ghost stories of earlier times. This is a serious contender in the Ireland of the Soul; the anam chara, the fairies, the druids. Does it deserve Irish style Denial?

I have said it before, the soul of Tara cries out, just like the Cistercian Abbey’s in Europe and Ireland struggled from decay and demolition. It is not their perfection that is relevant but it is the soul, the imagination, the history, the present, and for future generations to explore and decide.

The Celtic Dawn; let us not forget the writings of people who saw alternatives to Catholicism and Protestantism, that in fact pre-dated Christianity in Ireland. I moved to the childrens’ section and what was so blatantly obvious is thankfully that children still read the Swans of Lir, the Oscar Wilde tales, Hans Christian Andersen… therefore imagination remains with them to be captivated. Like my generation, children will be able to decide what Church they choose to go to, or whether to be agnostic, or to follow the directions of Psychologists like Carl Jung – ‘the Collective Unconscious’, the poetry that ensnares nature as distinct from carbon footprints that will destroy the planet…….

Let us not forget people like Patch Adams, the famous American doctor who brought to medicine a sense of humour. He gained that slight smug admiration from the hierarchy of the day but the most important thing Adams did is creating his clinic which can be accessed on the web and is enlightening to those who suffer from melancholy, depression and other related addictions.  Adams put a smile on a child’s face even in the face of serious illness…..Medicine did not do that. Diversity from within the human being achieved that smile.

I chose this Ghost Story from Padraic O’Farrell’s book Irish Ghost Stories. (He has written books about Irish legends, customs, fairy tales, cures, saints and surnames). Mr. O’Farrell was both an army officer and a gentleman. He served with distinction in the Irish Army.

In the ghost room in Maynooth, the clerical student from County Limerick committed suicide in 1841. He slashed his throat with a raser in the Ghost room. It is claimed that before he died he leaped through the window. 19 years later another student did the same thing, of course the verdict was – he was mentally disturbed. An abundance of stories are told about the ghostly figures that roam around the room during the day. One tells the story of a student – he was shaving when he noticed a figure standing behind him, miming the drawing of a rasor across the jugular vein!!!!

Many years ago, Dr. Thomas O’Fiach (later Archbishop of Armagh and also a Cardinal) made a study of the Ghost Room while he was President of the College. In his study, he claimed there were factual events that occurred in the Ghost Room.

Let us not forget the Ghosts of Tara tonight…….and the ghosts of all our dead who fought for Irish Freedom and Equality. That goes for the Ghosts also which are our heritage.

Again I ask has the Church taken a position here; what about Opus Dei, the Columban Fathers, the Church of Ireland…….?  William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, George Russell and many others went to great lengths to ensure our alternative Irish mythology was documented and restored…..surely this includes the sacred sites like Tara.


‘Romantic Ireland is dead and gone, it is with O’Leary in the grave’
William Butler Yeats

Romantic Ireland comprises beauty, climate, nature, environments, wildlife,………

You Have My Permission

author by Susan Repasky – Flicker Light Studiopublication date Céad Lún 08, 2007 01:43Report this post to the editors

Dear Con,
I have sent you an email giving you permission to use this. I apologize, for I fear that I spelled your name incorrectly :–(
Susan Sheehan-Repasky

This Well Is Sacred - The Well Of The White Cow, The Hill Of Tara
This Well Is Sacred – The Well Of The White Cow, The Hill Of Tara

sweet words

author by Con Connor – Ireland’s Druidschoolpublication date Céad Lún 08, 2007 01:24Report this post to the editors

Thank you, blessings to you.

With your permission I would add this poem to the page shown below. Please email me if this is OK


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Suicide: Time to consider impact on other people, those who live on by Michelle Clarke

via Suicide: Time to consider impact on other people, those who live on by Michelle Clarke

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Let Me Blow Your Mind: The Importance of Awe in Education

We should be teaching our youth with the intrinsic rewards of awe as opposed to the extrinsic reward of grades.

Source: Let Me Blow Your Mind: The Importance of Awe in Education

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017: Annual selection of quotations – Theme Detente (The Balfour Declaration 1917) by Michelle Clarke

via HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017: Annual selection of quotations – Theme Detente by Michelle Clarke

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Breast Cancer: Chemotherapy 2 at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital 5th December 2017. Chapter 3

4th December 2017:  Chemotherapy 2 is due tomorrow so today I met my Mum Rose again at the Westin hotel in Westmoreland Street just beside Trinity College Dublin.  The hair had come out in tufts so I wore the blue turban that I bought at the time of buying the wig – I do not yet have the confidence to wear the wig.  We sat and we chatted.  A kind neighbour of Mum’s had gone shopping for her and bought me a really comfortable warm pair of PJ’s and of course there were more hats.  I had been googling as I often do and had found a piece about my dear cousin JJ and he was listed as one of Meath’s most well-known people.  The Navan Historical Society had printed his obituary  JJ was very special to me.  My parents, both doctors, had transferred from Loughglynn, Co. Roscommon to another “Dispensary” house and practice at Tara Hill when my father became ill for a long period of time.  My mum worked acting as the dispensary doctor for a large practice solo during that time.  JJ and Aunt Lill  knew my Mum, my 6 week old brother, and me only 5 years old needed a haven from Dad’s illness and a rambling old Victorian dispensary house that needed much work carried out by the Co. Council was unsuitable to live in.  We went to live at JJ’s home in Belvin, Tara, Co. Meath and all that can tempt a child to be curious existed there at that time for me, the time I had moved from Co. Roscommon to Co. Meath and went to school at the Loretto primary school in Navan.

Back to now and cancer and chemotherapy, it registered with me that the following day I was due for chemotherapy so I checked the pink file and went to the page which detailed the drugs to be taken on the day before chemotherapy for session 1 and then as usual pure panic set in.  Had I forgotten something?  Of course, yes I had.  Rose said phone the Oncology team; KT then phoned the team on my behalf and yes I needed the same medications as the last time, to be taken in the same routine.  Smart urban community living came to my rescue yet again because I knew all I had to do is walk to the Boots Chemist in Upper Baggot Street and the team there would assist me, as they have done for over a decade now.  Everything was sorted out in one hour and I was ready for Tuesday 10th November 2017 Oncology Department, 3rd Floor, St. Vincent’s Private Hospital.

Lorna was assigned to me for the day to oversee the drip feed of chemotherapy medications.  Initially, it is necessary to have a blood tests to check that all is okay before they proceed.  By 10.00 am – we knew the bloods were correct so it was time to start.  From 9.00 am you sit in a chair while the drip feeds in the drugs.  There is a TV but somehow the solemn nature of the ward you are in for that day seems to say no to media, engage with the silence.  For me, I had brought with me two books, which no matter how poor my concentration was, I would be able to read one or other of them; I had the lilac diary which keeps as diligently as possible notes of my daily routine (which I am now reading) and of course the mobile phone which I so seldom use.  KT unlike me never really reads the brochures to be found in hospital but quite unusually before he left he handed to me the Irish Cancer Society ‘Talking to Children about Cancer’ – a guide for parents.  I do not have children so I had taken it but when I gave it to Lorna to return to the receptionbut  she left it with me.  Forever curious I took out the highlighter pen and I spent most of the day reading this incredible piece common sense literature…/talking_to_children_about_cancer_2011.pd…

All needs are tended to.  Coffee to lunch is provided by Bewley’s and is of excellent choice and standard.  The day starts with a nurse introducing herself and taking you to be weighed.  The weight is a shock for me 12.12 stone.  How did it happen?  Last time I recall I was size 10-12 clothes.  KT must ensure that I eat plentiful amounts but then weight is the least of my problems at the moment.  Lorna is assigned a routine to deal with each patient under her care for the day.  It starts with much like what a General Practitioner would do when you visited years ago.  It involves a paper file and details are listed and compared to previous replies.  There are a list of questions for you to answer about the intervening three weeks but again lucky for me that Snapchat/Groundhog day memory imposed on me by traumatic brain injury means that I recall so very little, in fact nothing.  I note from my diary the sheer amazement as I listened to the man next to me list out all the details of what he had experienced.  He was even able to ask for sleeping tablets to be added to his prescription.  I am again conscious of the fact that I am lucky because my Mum had continued to pay for my VHI private healthcare insurance when it was not possible for me to do so.  I have the best of healthcare cover and options.

Curious is so important as are the words “Awe and Wonder” when you have as I have a list of illnesses, one following on from the other and now to breast cancer.  There is a common trend that me the humble patient can offer for the final diagnosis and that is the prevalence of a severely underlying anxiety which has always thwarted me starting with asthma when I was a child (I can recall today those vivid memories from about age two of a VW car murdering both my parents and Fr. Higgins, the Parish Priest and others dear to me).  Death predominated.  I have written a considerable amount about depression, traumatic brain in jury, suicide and it is for this reason that I read in detail the Irish Cancer Society ‘Talking to Children about Cancer’.  Every day I try to engage with TEDMED; TEDtalks.  I recommend this talk :…

Well prepared I arrived for the 2nd course of Chemotherapy in the company of KT, my ever vigilant protector.  The complications from Chemotherapy 1 were to be avoided at all costs.  (Tonight I am too exhausted so tomorrow I will write about this based on the notes I took during the day when Lorna kindly ensured that the drugs through the drip were monitored).

Today is Sunday and all I know is the sensation of drop dead exhaustion (as experienced when I suffered from Chronic Fatigue for years) has wasted whatever energy I need to even humbly engage with the day.  I managed to wash dishes but then it was time for bed, and then having created a little more energy I get up and go to my desktop computer; the objective became Google to engage with Twitter to ensure I could engage with the world in a virtual space that could enhance my mood to saying there is some reason to fight this disease called cancer; that you have some worth within to contribute to society .

The power of the computer to help you regain some of that fighting spirit you once had is powerful; you can Google those songs of your youth, you know the ones that put fire in your belly and whose message today is still so relevant.  We can hear the same singer Cat Stevens tell us about the importance of the eradication of poverty and we know that over the decades this has in fact happened so we know if we continue seeking Peace and Poverty eradication the eventual outcome is that it will be achieved,  Please share this song with me.  I have just had the injection that tells my Bone Marrow – produce those cells that kill off infection and my body (yesterday in particular) feels just like that Dove of Peace being attacked by a Hawk of War or for that matter the human body before a train trundling fast down the tracks knowing you are on the way out but somehow you fight back and this is what the Peace Train is about – ‘bring your good friends too….come on join the living….Peace Train sounded louder…. via @YouTube

Thank you Cat Stevens of my youth now known as Yusuf Islam – Peace Train – OUTSTANDING!

I have deviated.  The age old need for perfection and the linear mind can be usurped because I just couldn’t engage.  What did happen is what Lorna explained to me at the hospital would happen and that is within 24-72 hours after the chemotherapy the intervention from the Amgen Education team.  This happened on Thursday 12 noon when Elaine, having made several phone calls, arrived from the Amgen Nurse Service for training on how to self inject your medication, which has to happen on each occasion within 24-72 hour time limit after chemotherapy.  I had the prescription so the day before I went to Boots Pharmacy and all was ordered for collection next day which KT collected.  This is the medication that gets your bone marrow producing cells in a kind of fast forward way to help you eradicate any infection.  Elaine had her iPad and asked all the necessary questions.  I found it interesting that she had studied in Trinity College Dublin both Oncology and Haemotology and that if she were to study further, it would be palliative care.  The questions avoid the loopholes because loopholes can cause insurance claims and this system of healthcare must work both efficiently and effectively because basically the continuum of your chemotherapy is carried out in your home with the participation of you and your carer.  The iPad carefully used by a most diligent Elaine took the details from the blister pack medications that I take each week.  Elaine advised me that the next time I had to give myself the injection to do so on the other side.  She explained that for the pain I had been prescribed by the hospital medications and to take them and for sick tummy, there were also other tablets prescribed.

Where am I now?  Today is Tuesday 12th December and I have gathered bits of notes and articles that I gathered while that sheet of metal feeling within my body frame laid me down to rest.  Thankfully my virtual world remained a possibility so I know I have been able to spend some time engaging in that daily routine of using Twitter for my augmented memory; emails alas, I am just deleting them for the moment, this brain cannot focus on content so yes I have had to concede and admit there are limitations and I must abide by them.    Awakened from sleep I evidently found an old Time magazine dating back to 2015 title Health “The Cancer Gap”.  No two cancers are alike.  But what will it take to give every patient equal care.

Highlighter to hand tells me I read the article and it made me think a little.   I have included the link above but I am going to take this opportunity to read again those facts that catapulted my state of ignorance to gain some more knowledge about breast cancer.  Before I start, the hair falling out is appalling. I have lots of hats but when you brush your hair and big chunks end up on the brush and then you see the bald patch; it cuts deep.  I find myself trying to hide behind the hat; especially at night when I put it on, hoping against hope that by the morning it will be still on my head, hiding that sense of shame.  My memory drifted back to childhood and I found myself trying recalling the Bed Cap.  Yes, now I know the secret of then, the cap could be tied just below your chin so you could conceal whatever it was that you wanted to hide.

Two women diagnosed with cancer:  Both women’s doctors opted first for the blunt-force approach that’s standard for most cancers:  surgery, radiation, chemotherapy.  In the case of one women diagnosed with glioblastoma this detail cannot be ignored because it describes just what cancer does.   “But gliobalstomas have an insidious habit of infiltrating brain tissue with tiny fingers of malignant cells, making the tumours hard to treat the traditional way.  That’s why, even after treatment, they almost inevitably come back.

There is a better way of attacking glioblastoma, or at least the doctors think there is.  It’s still at the EXPERIMENTAL STAGE, but when the patient’s body couldn’t tolerate the chemo, she EVENTUALLY became among the first patients to TAKE THE RISK AND TEST IT”.

Again, it is repeated, no two cancers are alike; even with an individual patient, tumours may change over time.  And doctors are learning that a melanoma growth might have more in common with a lung cancer or a brain cancer than another melanoma.  The article cites Dr David Solit, director of the Kravis Centre for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) “We are moving away from the concept that all lung cancers are the same and all breast cancers are the same and all colon cancers are the same.  It will involve looking at mutations.

The line I like (because in a generation of grand aunts and uncles, all except one died of different cancers, apart from one brother who died very young from the 1918 flu epidemic, and a sister who died from a third stroke.  My grandmother died from leukaemia in her early sixties and when you look of photos of her at my Christening you quite evidently identify that cancer was consuming her body.

Quotation from Time article which is a guideline going forward:-

“That’s led to a new consensus that to truly fight cancer, doctors need to see and understand it from the inside out, which means decoding its DNA and exposing the way it co-opts the body’s healthy cells.  Once that’s known, the task becomes to DEVELOP DRUGS THAT CAN THWART THE WAY A GIVEN CANCER WAS VIRTUALLY NON EXISTENT.

Now, given that this article in written in 2015, we know that fast-moving developments in genetics and molecular biology are heralding change.  I have mentioned my genetic strain in that four maybe five out of six died from cancer; by the next generation, I know that a further four of that generation had cancer and I have cancer.  I wonder if the Team would be interested in my genetic code.  My virtual world, no doubt through Charlie Rose interviews and TED Talks tell me 23 and me make it very easy now to access your genetic code and it is becoming cheaper and cheaper on a daily basis.

So here I am in December 2017 and I am going to assume I fall within the category of the revolution known as precision medicine!  The move is away from crowd-based, best for most treatments, and toward therapies specifically designed to treat the individual patient’s ills.  “The mantra for the precision approach is to learn from every single patient.  The link for article is there for people to read; I am going to close off on this section by highlighting the work of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) which recently announced it is creating a registry of patients who take drugs that are approved for a cancer other than the one for which they are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We want to gather information and see what happens to those patients, even if they aren’t in a clinical trial”.  Dr Julie Vose, chief of haemathology and oncology at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre and president-elect of ASCO”

It appears that an email caught my attention because I printed it to remind me always the importance of education awe and wonder.  As a collector of quotations for many years now this heading “Let me Blow Your Mind: The Importance of Awe in Education” by Raya Bidshahri (December 4th 2017) inspired me to search awe quotations and then send them out via twitter.  You can be sick but that does not mean you have nothing to contribute to society, the virtual world has provided a platform for many years now for people like me, with limited capacity, to engage thanks to a form of augmented technology which I go so far as to call my access in advance to artificial intelligence.  This article is from Singularity University, Singularity Hub and this quote will re-affirm what I have just said:-

Many people live a life of routine and monotony.  But those who seek out wonder, meaning, and intellectual complexity in their lives are found to be happier, healthier, and more motivated.  At a fundamental level, we all crave to be a part of a grand mission, something larger than ourselves.…/let-me-blow-your-mind-the-importance-of-awe-in-educ…

Illness is so complex.  We know so very little.  Being a daughter of doctors, a niece of a doctor, a cousin a doctor, I often wonder why medicine was so paternalistic in culture.  The patient was seen as the object to be instructed.  I am hoping now that data mining and artificial intelligence grows fervently forward so that this dynamic will change.  I read a book recently by Eric Topol, a geneticist and cardiologist and the title says it all “The Patient will see you now”…/the-patient-will-see-you-now-by-eric-topol.html I believe medicine is about to change so significantly that people will be educated to understand their own illnesses and contribute significantly to the massive change in how health works with their direct contribution to being responsible for remaining healthy and engaged, both physically and most important cognitively.

Chemotherapy/Herceptin can cause problems with hearing.  Traumatic brain injury resulted in me losing the hearing in my right ear completely (and my smell also).  1994 medicine and consultants wore such an air of authority and knowledge all you felt was apologetic as you mentioned outcomes ie like losing hearing, cognitive ability, sense of smell, short attention span, falling constantly, sleeping most of the time, et al) as a don’t be wasting my time response.  Add to this the complication of Bipolar – then you were left in a total abyss.  Thankfully I had an excellent psychiatrist, Dr James (Jim) Maguire who encouraged me to keep seeking answers.  He introduced me to the first neuro-psychologist practicing in Ireland at that time.

Murmurings in the media, followed by an interview on RTE 1 Sean O’Rourke show with Professor Ian Robertson…/the-former-dean-of-research-at-the-forefront-of-brain-healt…, now retired from Trinity College Dublin but heading up the Global Brain Health Instiute highlighted the significance about hearing and the exposure to dementia. Ask any person with traumatic brain injury who loses their hearing especially in the right ear just why the amnesia factor re-iterates constantly you will fall into that category of Dementia especially frontal lobe dementia.  The social isolation is the fact that the medical team dismiss your symptoms as nothing by comparison to worse cases.  I do know that life dealt me a hand that curiousity kept me searching and I found the computer and now know I developed other areas in my brain to compensate for hearing loss.

In May, WHO adopted a new resolution on hearing loss that is far more comprehensive and emphatic than the prior resolution agreed upon in 1995. WHO estimates the annual cost for unaddressed hearing loss to be about US$750 billion globally.

Imagine a piece of sheet metal and cotton wool trying to penetrate it – that’s what my body feels like these days but I am getting stronger and yesterday managed to put up a Christmas tree and a few decorations.  I am working on the basis of the gratitude list each night (Ariana Huffington system).  KT has taken me out to coffee a few times; and I met my good friend Esther the other day and just having access to someone who understands is powerful especially when you need the bone marrow to produce fighter cells.  My thoughts are taking me back all the time to when I was a child growing up with Tara Hill and Belper as my playground.  The thoughts are of my Dad and when he died.  My Mum asked me where he should be buried and I said Tara and he is buried in Tara.  Cancer tells me I will be going there too.  In 2007 I wrote a  lot on a citizen journalism cite about Tara Hill and the new road.  Again there was a marvellous connection with an American woman who had taken photographs of Tara.  I checked out the site and found the photos which I included here.  Susan also had cancer.  I recommend this link

14th December and Christmas is coming.  Esther gave me some really good advice.  Apparently the Hospice in Harold’s Cross had a gathering the other day for family members and friends of people who had passed away.  They gave this little snippet which I am going to embrace; they said forget about Christmas Day, if you are not feeling able, have it another day.  So I am drifting along doing what I can and thankful that I have been out tonight with my beautiful dog Freddie for a walk down Clyde Road and Wellington Road.  How I appreciate the efforts of the people to have such an array of Christmas lights, it makes it, like Heaven and I don’t have to do the work; I just need to walk along and be thankful.

TEDMED – if you want to listen to topical conversations about medicine; I highly recommend it.  For people with cancer, for family, for carers, when you feel strong enough to engage, I recommend this:-

Dec 9

At this year, our Partner hosted a conversation on innovation and exploration in cancer care featuring Speakers Lennie Sender, and . Watch here:







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