Today marks the first anniversary of the death of a friend and activist Aodhrua Fitzgerald.
A year ago he tragically lost his battle with a rare form of cancer known as Ewing’s Sarcoma.
However nothing about his attitude was tragic as his family and friends will confirm. He remained strong until the end, and still had the great sense of humour which had made him a fantastic comedian.
One of his final Facebook updates read as follows.
“My only worry regarding cannabis as medicine is that hospital weed will resemble hospital food.”
Aodhrua was open about his medical use following the diagnosis and he did a number of media appearances, some of which I helped to facilitate.
He appeared in the Irish Times in July 2013 alongside others in a feature on cannabis. Sadly the article is behind a paywall now, but you can read the text of it which is archived on the 420 magazine forums.
In the article he describes how cannabis helps with his treatment.
“I have a lot of problems with chemo including loss of appetite and nausea. Cannabis worked better than anything they could give me in hospital. When I ran out of dope, I’d be throwing up for 12 hours non-stop. When I have dope, I would barely notice there was anything wrong with me. It made that kind of difference.”
He also stated that “I’m the one guy in the chemo ward not getting sick and moaning about the horrible treatment. I wish the rest of those beside me could feel the same, but we are limited by the law.”
Alongside this appearance in the Irish Times, he was also appeared on RTE Radio One and in local media.
As an activist he assisted the scene in numerous ways. Like when he opened the shows for Howard Marks and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. He also ran comedy events to promote SSDP Cork (then UCC DAR), the group which hosted Marks and Ming.
Below is a clip of Aodhrua opening for Howard Marks in February 2013.
Following his diagnosis many of his friends, myself included, did what we could to ensure he had a supply of clean cannabis, especially following chemo treatments.
Prohibition made this task more dangerous, but no less one we wished to undertake.
He was a regular around mine at one point, and the chats we had always left me either short of breath from laughter, in awe of his witty observations about life, or both.
I know he had a similar effect on others too.
Other medical users and activists have come forward through the years such as John McCarthy, Darcy Petticrew, Paddy Doyle, Noel McCullagh, Jude Campion, Gordon McArdle, Mark Fitzsimions and others.
Various medical and personal reasons led to these people voicing their opinions, but one thing unites them, the fact they were/are under risk of prosecution.
It is the testimony and campaigning of these individuals and others which has helped change the opinions of some in Ireland.
In the years that follow hopefully we will see the law change, so medical users such as Aodhrua can treat their conditions with cannabis should they choose.
They should be in an environment which is free from stress, where they can interact with other medical users, without any stigma and free from the risk of criminality.
I know today will be tough for his friends and family, but for those who knew him there are many fond memories which we will cherish for years to come.
You can read a nice tribute that appeared in the Evening Echo following his death here