A Message Amidst Madness Series: The Final Message.

By Cathy Lee

Everything is finite isn’t it? I mean infinity can’t even be defined.

The duration of your favourite film is set. There could be a sequel, but that has to end as well doesn’t it?

Just like this ‘A Message Amidst Madness’ Series, it has to end sometime.

I realise my last few posts have been rather political, but I can guarantee that this won’t be.

It won’t be political because politics doesn’t matter for what I’m going to talk about.

Last week, suddenly, my gran-aunt died for about fifteen minutes, casually, on Friday morning.

Weird right? She literally was at deaths door, said “no thank you” and made her return on back.

It got me to thinking and kind of put things into perspective a little bit.

I had come home to vote on Friday (I’m sorry I said I wouldn’t mention politics – woops!) and my mother picked me up off the train.

We drove for a little bit and caught up on various things. About twenty minutes in she announced that we had to go eat lunch.

I told her I wasn’t overly hungry, just wanted to go vote and get working on a few assignments due – as I knew that’s how my weekend looked like it would consist of anyway.

There was no protesting, we were going to get lunch.

At the table after just starting to eat my mother told me that we wouldn’t be going home and we’d have to go check in on my gran-aunt.

She then explained the reasoning and what her morning had consisted of.

Ambulances had been called and my extended family members had gathered in the home of my gran-aunt after her housekeeper had noticed her fall particularly ill.

“White as a ghost she was, cold, gone I tell ya” – I was told later on when we arrived to the house.

Now, after a near-death experience everyone is usually you know, shook up or panicked.

But not Theresa.  I swear she got a new lease for life.

When I arrived to the house, some relatives and friends were still lurking around.

They all chattered together, expecting her to take another turn.

I took a seat beside her bed when I arrived. We call to her regularly and it’s usually the same questions or trivia discussed.

Today was different though.

She complimented my ripped jeans and asked me what nightclub we’d go to that night.

I quickly informed her that Saturday nights were better for the night-life and dancing.

We laughed and she asked if she could borrow some of my clothes as a hand-me-down saying she missed being in fashion.

I told her no problem, that I would have loved to have had the opportunity to go to the dances with her. I knew this from stories of herself and my grandmother doing a few jigs up at the community hall in their time.

She said of the morning’s proceedings that she remembers being given some cornflakes and it was a regular morning. Then waking up to ambulance men and relatives in her room.

Her first thought was that there wouldn’t be enough cornflakes for everyone and that she hadn’t realised she was throwing a party.

For some reason I’ve always thought that the young and the old get on better than adults and children or adults and the elderly.

It’s simply because neither group take life too seriously.

I mean myself and Theresa could just laugh about going out on the town while the adults conducting their actions in panic over where Mrs. Keane was going next.

Theresa is 87, she knows what happens to people at that stage of life. It has happened for many friends, relatives and neighbours she knew.

I really think she’s okay with it. When we left her home, she got up out of bed and walked me to the door and waved as we drove away.

My mother couldn’t understand why I was smiling.

That weekend I worked at my essays, but I also took the time to see my dear friends. We had dinner at my best friend’s house and she even basked dessert for us.

I told the friend group of this story, we talked about the elections and we planned for the future of the fun things we’d do together.

I know we won’t have the future forever and may not even have each other either.

But I realised the truth that day, and that is my final message for you:

“Don’t take life too seriously, nobody gets out alive anyway”.

That saying used to freak me to my very core. But seeing Theresa face death and come back with a laugh, I’m inspired.

 

And so this is the end of the series. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

 

A message amidst madness series: Facing Challenges

 

By Cathy Lee

“Cancer”.

It’s a threatening word that faces us in modern day life, something that we can’t back down from.

The pronoun before the dreaded word is very important too. “You have, I have, your wife has, your friend has” and so on.

Cancer is a sickening challenge, like that one competitor in the game who’s a born dominant fighter that you have to rise above to have a chance at overcoming.

Not an easy thing either, I might add.

How people tackle the beast of the C word has always fascinated me. From those suffering with the outer skin types, the internal organs types, brain tumours and in my opinion the worst case, the blood.

One in three people in Ireland today are affected by Cancer directly, but think about how many families and friends are indirectly affected.

This probably sounds like it’s going to be a downer piece but trust me, it’s not.

I want to share with you an incredible story of friendship, innovation and generosity which I witnessed in my own home town recently.

Last week I came across a link called “Aaron’s fight” that friends from home were sharing online. The image attached to the link looked kind and familiar, like I recognised the kids in the photograph across the screen.

The online world is a hectic place. Things such as these are easy to scroll past or look at half-heartedly. But not this one.

I clicked in, thinking some young lad from home had gotten in a fight or something. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn’t the case.

“Aaron’s Fight” is a fundraising campaign for a young man, Aaron de Veerde, who has been fighting T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia for just over one year now.

Fighting is not strong enough of a term to describe this young man. From my reading and from talking to his best friend Blaine McKeever, who started this campaign, he’s an inspirational kid who has never wanted to give up.

Since his diagnoses, Aaron

has suffered the loss of sight in one eye and also missed out on the chance to finish secondary school with his classmates, a big step defining step in any adolescents life.

With this in mind, feeling inspired by his friend, Blaine came up with the innovative idea to use online means to secure Aaron a fighting chance at overcoming his cancer.

Blaine is a UCD student aged 19 and comes from Wicklow and is a long standing friend of Aaron. This campaign was a simple idea of telling Aaron’s story and appealing to the generosity of others in order to raise €10,000 for Aaron to travel to Florida to seek vital survival treatment.

This escalated over the last few days, with nearly 350 people donating to the cause online as well as directly to Blaine himself.

The €10k was collected in under a week from friends, neighbours and even those outside of the Wicklow catchment area.

The response was huge, as now there is even a charity concert being planned for early March with local bands who are friends of Aarons providing the entertainment.

“Aarons’ Fight” will go on until April, and the campaign continues today.

The extra donations past the now reached target are being used for family support and other donations such as to St. Vincents hospital, Dublin.

The support is huge and Blaine has been amazed by the ultimate generosity saying “It’s the people sharing and donating that deserve the thanks”.

What we can take from this story is that friendship is something extraordinary and any challenge, even one such as brutal as cancer, can be stepped up against with the strength and support in valuable numbers.

Daily, people complain about money constraints and their unwillingness to spend, yet this is such a different case. As the story grows and continues, I think the nature of giving will as well once this strong sense of dedication to friendship is recognised.

Check out the campaign here and I encourage you to donate to “Aaron’s Fight”. https://www.gofundme.com/aaronsfight