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Still here twelve years after being told death was near

Hugh Breslin, Ardara.

Hugh Breslin, Ardara.


A DONEGAL man battling cancer and told that he had just months to live has defied medics and continues to live a normal life twelve years on.
Hugh Breslin from Ardlougher, Ardara, was just 46 when he received the devastating diagnosis of terminal multiple myeloma, which had spread through his spine, ribs and hips.
Having already suffered multiple bone fractures, the father of three was warned that he wouldn’t be alive to see his children grow up but, he refused to accept his diagnosis.
The future was grim – he was told he had just nine months to live without treatment and two to three years “at best” with treatment.
After refusing chemotherapy, Hugh insisted on being treated with thalidomide as a first treatment. The Ardara man became the first man to undergo such treatment at that time. Initially, the response was excellent and he was living a relatively pain-free life.
However, he re-lapsed and was strongly advised to have a transplant involving his own stem cells. Again, he refused.
Instead, he got a second opinion from a Belfast-based doctor who believes that most modern diseases have multiples causes and, therefore, should have a multi-pronged treatment approach.
At this point, Hugh was very well read up on the subject and in his bid to find out more about the disease he took great solace from Beating Cancer with Nutrition by US Dr Patrick Quillan which has become the definitive book on this subject.
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. In Ireland about 200 people are diagnosed each year with myeloma. In Multiple myeloma cases, Stage 3 is the terminal stage. In other words, it’s the most advanced stage of this type of rare cancer.
Hugh takes up the story..
“I don’t know how many myeloma survivors there are in the country but there’s not too many Stage 3 because there can’t be – it’s a killer disease – and anyone I know who’s had it is gone,” he said.
“I was diagnosed as late Stage 3 with extensive skeletal damage and was given only nine months to live without treatment. At that stage, even with treatment, the prognosis wasn’t that good – two to three years max,” he added.
Hugh followed a mixture of mainstream and alternative treatments – mainly alternative for the past eight years – and now he has it under control. The myeloma is still there but his body is keeping it under control.
“After relapsing for two years (2006-07) I’ve been without conventional medical treatment these past eight years,” he said.
For much of that time, Hugh has been travelling to Belfast to visit Dr Finbar Magee who specialises in alternative medicines. In November last though Dr Magee was barred from practising by the General Medical Council.
“At the start, he put me on an intravenous (IV) vitamin C and B12 drip every day – varying the dose each time – and now it’s done to one IV drip every four to six weeks. Dr Magee’s clinic closed towards the end of last year for no good reason, in my opinion, and now I’ve got to look into other options to get the treatments I need,” Mr Breslin said.
Married to Bríd, the couple have three children, John, Sinéad and Róisín, and he refuses to dwell on the past.
“There’s no point wasting energy and wondering why I got cancer – why not me? I prefer to put all my energies into trying to keep myself fit and healthy.
“My message is quite simple: Look after your body because you have to live with it for the rest of your life.
“The most important thing is to take control of your decisions as best you can. It’s very important – even when you’re dealing with qualified medical professionals – that you stand by your gut feeling at all times,” he said.
“I never made a fuss of the cancer, I just got on with it, accepted it and vowed to beat it. I eat a very natural diet with no sugars or processed foods – I’ve gone back to basics. I keep a clear head and I listen to my body,” he added.
Had to give up work
Acknowledging that he still has cancer cells in his body, Hugh said he has 60 per cent lesions in his hip and 40 per cent in his hips. He also accepts that developments in new drug combinations has greatly helped the outlook for myeloma patients.
“I would hope that my story is an inspiration to other people out there not to be afraid of serious diagnoses. I followed the medical line and once that stopped working I recalled a wee paragraph in Dr Quillan’s book. It said that it you combine Vitamin C with B12, the synergy of both is very powerful. I tried it and, over time, I got the balance right – for me at least.
“Eight years ago, the conventional treatment and drugs stopped working. They wanted me to undergo a transplant and told me it was the only option at that stage. From talking to other patients, the most a transplant gives you is two to three years so I declined,” he said.
In conclusion, Mr Breslin said that he would like to give thanks to doctors and nurses in Letterkenny University Hospital for their help and support.
“I’ve nothing but thanks and praise for the staff in the Oncology Ward. They too are delighted to see me still living,” he quipped.

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