All posts by Cathal McGuigan

Grandmother With Terminal Illness Warns of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cathal McGuigan

A West Belfast woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer has urged Belfast City Council to raise awareness of the disease among GPs and the general public.

Una Crudden, 59, told the council that she and four other women were initially misdiagnosed as having illnesses with similar symptoms to ovarian cancer like diverticulitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Of the five women, diagnosed around the same time, Mrs Crudden is the only one still alive. She said the fact that misdiagnosis was common, although preventable, made her ‘so mad and so sad.’

Every year 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with the disease, of which 4,300 will die, according to recent research by ovarian cancer charity, Target.

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The study revealed that up to 90% of women would live for five more years if they were diagnosed at the earliest stage.

It also stated that there was a serious lack of awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms among NI women.

Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because by the time you realise you have it, in most cases it’s already too late,” Mrs Crudden told councillors.

Mrs Crudden, a grandmother of six, suggested that GPs complete a free training course about ovarian cancer offered by Target to combat misdiagnosis. She also implored the public to be pro-active where their health is concerned.

I say to all women of all ages to be body aware and if you have the symptoms and they persist, go back to your GP and insist on further tests, as it may save your lives.”

A motion to raise awareness of ovarian cancer was proposed by the SDLP’s Nicola Mallon, who urged councillors to vote in favour.

Una may be one voice, but without question she is a powerful voice and the least that we can do is unite together and to add our voice to hers.”

DUP Alderman Ruth Patterson also praised Mrs Crudden’s speech to the council and said that she was an ‘extremely brave and inspirational woman.’

The motion was passed unanimously and will see the Council consult Health Minister Edwin Poots in a bid to encourage early diagnosis and improve ovarian cancer survival rates.

A Dog’s Life

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Alsatians have a bad reputation, they are said to bite the hand that feeds them. Indeed, Tulip bit my hand once, but accidentally.”

From the very beginning of the animated adaptation of J.R. Ackerley’s memoir My Dog Tulip the author leaps to the defence of his pet. He explains that Tulip bit his hand, mistaking it for an apple, having become so uncontrollably excited at the mere mention of a walk that she grabbed the vegetables and scattered them all over the corridor “as if they were rose petals marking her ascension to heaven.”

It is impossible for the usually grumpy Ackerley, voiced by Christopher Plummer, to be angry with Tulip, as he cannot help but be enchanted by her enthusiasm. “It seems to me both touching and strange that she should find the world so wonderful.”

Director Paul Fierlinger, with wife Sandra, drew all of the film’s nearly 60,000 frames, composed of rough, thin lines reminiscent of a newspaper cartoon. Although usually quite serene, the animation transforms into frantic scribbles underscored with free-form jazz during some of Ackerley’s more fanciful monologues.

The soundtrack shifts from hymns to classical piano as the pair pay visits to the country and the vet and attempt to find a mate for Tulip. Tulip’s difficult search for a partner mirrors Ackerley’s own, who speaks of his struggle to find an ‘ideal friend.’

His failure to form satisfying relationships with people means that he strives for the fullest possible relationship with his dog. As he admits, looking at her in her later years, he feels that the ideal friend ‘would have had the mind of my Tulip.’

Perhaps this is why he defends her often inappropriate and destructive actions, viewing the situation from the point of view of the dog. In one scene, for instance, a passing cyclist comments on Tulip relieving herself on the pavement.

What’s the bleeding street for!?,” he says.

For turds like you!” is Ackerley’s response.

While all around him people complain about Tulip’s barking, smell and behaviour, Ackerley feels only sympathy for dogs in their attempts to understand their masters.

What strained and anxious lives dogs must lead, so emotionally involved in the world of humans, whose affections they strive endlessly to secure, whose authority they are expected unquestioningly to obey, and whose mind they can never do more than imperfectly reach and comprehend.”