Friday, 26 May 2017


Dermot Morgan’s son used cannabis to cope with cancer

Ben Morgan discusses the moment he was told he had the disease and how he is seeing the funny side, writes Mark O’Regan

HUMOUR: Aspiring comedian Ben Morgan wrote a blog called Stage Four Chancer about his winning battle against Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Picture By David Conachy

BEN Morgan slowly rubs his finger along his neck, and points to the part of it where he first discovered a cluster of small “lumps”.
The aspiring comedian and Trinity College law student — the son of Father Ted actor Dermot Morgan — recalls without emotion the fateful cancer diagnosis that would change his life.
The first inkling that something was wrong came on New Year’s Day.
“I usually have a really good immune system but I kept getting sick. I was getting really bad night sweats and had to change my sheets on a daily basis,” he says.
However, after becoming ill for a third time in quick succession, he discovered those lumps in his neck.
One of his lymph nodes was removed and an early prognosis suggested he may be suffering from a form of glandular fever.
However, Ben’s mother insisted further medical examination was necessary.
His voice stays deliberately calm as he recalls the first indication that he had something serious.
“They went through the various things it might be, and that’s when they said, God forbid, it might be cancer.
“But I pushed that out of my head quite fast. What are the odds of a 22 year old getting this disease?”
Eventually he was delivered the stark news that, despite his young years, he had Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Seared in his memory was the moment the “c-word” was first uttered by his doctor. He said nothing could have prepared him for that moment.
“I broke down in tears. I was thinking: ‘Oh f***, oh f ***, oh f ***’,” Ben says.
“I went into panic mode. I was kicking the hospital bed to bits. It was quite bad.”
The anguish of those times is still all too vivid — in particular, he remembers the cloud of uncertainty which enveloped him. It was followed by feelings of complete helplessness.
But Ben then decided to fight a fierce battle to regain his composure, which would allow him to use all his resources to fight the disease.
“When they tell you what you have, and you finally get the prognosis, at least you know where you stand,” Ben says. “In a way, you don’t feel as powerless.”
And then perhaps his family lineage provided its own unique sense of comfort.
His late father, with the passage of time, has become one of the most loved of Irish comedians, mainly due to the enduring popularity of the Father Ted series.
So Ben, rather than feeling sorry for himself, decided to try to find some humour in his situation.
He started a blog — Stage Four Chancer — which would take a light-hearted view of his condition.
Littered with swear words and wisecracks, it is also a brutally honest, no-holds-barred account of his illness.
Ben says this determination to look on the bright side as much as possible was central to his determination to confront his cancer “head on”.
“You need something to take the sting out of reality,” he says solemnly.
A joke-filled approach would bring its own consolation and, in a sense, would ensure this illness would not dominate him.
But he stresses he did not want to come across as in any way “flippant” about such a serious disease, while stating he “won the lottery of cancers”.
“I am in full remission,” he says, with an obvious sense of deep gratitude. “I just decided if I could make fun of it, then it would not be so serious. If I had some control then it hadn’t beaten me.
“It’s kind of like saying, ‘F*** cancer, you’re not going to get me’. As a young man, you think if there is a God he definitely f ****** hates me. Why would he give me cancer?
“But when I decided to accept my situation it was amazing the amount of mental strength I had — I didn’t know it was there.
“I used to worry about my entire life and what would happen. I have really bad anxiety and am obsessive compulsive.
“But when I was diagnosed with the disease I realised I had the tools to deal with it.
“It’s just that I never had to use them before. I also received lots of support from friends and family, which was a big help.”
His experience with the most dreaded of diseases has also left him with strong views on the importance of medicinal cannabis.
Ben credits the drug with alleviating some of the more serious side effects of his chemotherapy treatment, and with generally helping him through his recovery.
He is now an unabashed proponent of its use as a medicinal drug, and insists it has both physical and mental benefits.
“I cannot describe how much we really, really need it in Ireland at the moment,” he says.
Meanwhile, despite all the tribulations in what has been a turbulent 2016, Ben’s dream of making his mark as a comedian is as alive and as fervent as ever.
“I’ve done more gigs this year than I’ve done any other year — and I’m writing a lot more new material,” he says.
He feels that, in a sense, his cancer has deepened his concept of humour and the mysteries of what makes people laugh.
“I’ve a lot more material to work with now,” he admits.
Ben remains patently proud of the achievements of his famous father, but is determined to carve his own niche in the often wayward world of comedy.
“My dad died when I was aged three or four. I admire him so much,’’ he says.
Ben has confronted head on the most dreaded disease of them all. But, as of now, making people laugh remains his life’s ambition.
Clearly speaking from the heart, he says simply: “All I know is it’s what I really want to do.”
‘If there is a God, he hates me... why would he give me cancer?’


Stories like this young man's battle for his life put the comfortable self serving Maynooth crowd to shame.

While they are squabbling in the cloisters there are people like Ben Morgan are the heroes of daily life.

Who can blame him for turning to cannabis to help him in the darkest times?

In fact I think that there is a serious case to be made for medicinal cannabis.

Although I have seen cannabis trigger psychosis in some young people.

It is also understandable that he questions a God who allows a 22 year old and others to get cancer.

I bet you the Maynooth crowd would have petty answers to his struggle with life and faith.


  1. Actually I was thinking the Maynooth crowd could do with some cannabis to cope with Maynooth!

    1. Maybe Dermot and Brown will need some wackey backey for the forthcoming ordinations :-)

  2. Ben certainly makes us think today. Why would God give somebody cancer. If those who allegedly spend so much energy on lace and aftershave looked at questions we might have a more fit for purpose church in some areas. Of course here in manchester we had the bomb. i heard a woman say she had to pick bits of shrapnel from someones brain. Her work colleagues are traumatised. why do young children have to see blood and guts spilled on the floor. Have I a straight up answer. Honestly No. All I can do is look around, comment on what I see and like Jesus on the cross hope there is a God in heaven. I have seen in the distance numerous acts of unbounded kindness-people and hotels opening their doors to the stranded, taxi drivers offering free lifts home. Hospital Workers volunteering to give up their days/time off and come to work. Surely part of this positive human instinct that motivates such people is part of what motivated jesus. Like Jesus we need to believe there is a God in heaven who will not forsake us. One phrase that is repeated over and over again here is that "words are not enough" On Sunday Clarice is decorating a candle with flowers and lighting itin church. We will have a minute of silent prayer. I would request all bloggers to be kind today and with helping hands and prayers reflect on the reason we are called Christian and or indeed good human beings of whatever persuasion.

    1. Sean, God was on the floor there in that arena, with the blood and guts. Elie Wiesel (jewish holocaust survivor) has written an account of an incident in the concentration camp during World War II. Several prisoners were to be publicly executed by hanging in order to frighten the other prisoners and deter them from trying to escape. Someone whispered, according to Wiesel; “Where is God now?” Someone whispered back: “He’s up there on the scaffold”. God suffers with us.

    2. In faith I accept all that is said above.

      Rationally I have the problem that when faced with terrible suffering we are often powerless - whereas God is all powerful ???

    3. Pat, Jesus, who shared our humanity, also was powerless on the cross, felt forsaken.Suffering is part of our human condition.

    4. I believe that too.

      But we must always acknowledge the difficult questions that we believers are asked.

  3. 10.20 Yes God suffers with us.

    1. Jane, I believe that too.

      But here are we not in the realm of faith and mystery?

  4. MournemanMichael26 May 2017 at 11:56

    Dear Pat & Sean As believers with faith you may well acknowledge the difficult questions, but with no obvious answers, are compelled inevitably to revert as always, back to that blind faith you were originally indoctrinated into and subsequently confirmed through familial, communal and clerical experiences. Personal emotional and psychological events too will have strengthened your conviction.
    The worst of the human condition is shown in the actions of the bomber despite what may be said of him being a man of faith and conviction albeit much misguided. The best of the human condition is shown in the supportive actions of those who instinctively helped those affected by the bombing regardless of race, colour, or creed. Some of them will be of faith and others with no faith.But the majority will have the spirit of human compassion now deeply embedded in our human psyche through countless generations of evolutionary cooperation.

    1. MMM, I personally feel I have moved away from the "blind faith" to a questioning faith - from a doctrine / dogma faith to an exploring type of faith that still looks both to Mystery and Reason.

    2. MourneManMichael26 May 2017 at 16:47

      Very fair comment Pat. I like the 'move from a doctrine/dogma to an exploration looking to both mystery and reason' description.
      In a sense we are all exploring, for there's no easy or obvious answers once we leave aside blind adherence to received religious truths as a panacea for all the unknown.
      Perhaps posing questions to which we seek answers is merely a function of evolved human intelligence nonwithstanding its inherent limitations.

  5. Tell all those platitudes to the grieving families of the dead in Manchester and see how seriously they take you. Perhaps it's not a time to be trying to justify the existence and love of God! Many people suffer in all kinds of ways and struggle, I think it's justifiable for many of them to question, "How can a loving God permit this to happen"? I'm not sure many would be comforted or convinced by some of the statements on here to be honest.

    1. I would never dream of talking to suffering people in platitudes.

      I have lived through 39 years of violence and suffering in N. Ireland.

      In moments of suffering I simply stand in solidarity and compassion with those suffering.

      More is said by tears at these moments than by words.

    2. I agree about the platitudes being inappropriate. But I can tell you that over the last thirty and more years I have had to deal with many bereaved and devastated people and over and over again I have heard the same thing--people saying that only their strong Faith and trust in God has pulled them through and kept them this side of sanity in some cases. People find immense strength in prayer. It's the one thing you have left when all else goes. In times of adversity whole cities and nations turn back to God.

    3. 12.02 I have been under 6 consultants since 2011 and very close to death. My husband was in a road accident last year and broke his back and neck. We coped well because I am a person of faith and prayer. True faith came to me when my son was close to death, and I absolutely and totally surrendered to God. It is the only way. God is with me in the good and bad. The good theif was saved because he turned to God. It's your choice if you take the plunge God will catch you.

    4. Beautifully put, Bishop P. . That is my approach, too.

      Love, if it's real, needs no words of explanation or justification. It's power to reach out and embrace is most effectively and persuasively felt without these.

    5. Yes, 14.29, I understand what you say. But there will be people in Manchester who have no faith or who do not believe in God. What do you say to them? We can hardly reassure them by trying to explain that God exists and that God is love.

    6. 15.21 We are not out to convert the world nice as it my seem. Love exists and love is. . You tell me. Why do so many good people give a toss anyway

    7. Thank you @15.21 for your sincere remarks to my post (at 14.29).There will indeed be many distraught families and friends affected by the attack and with no faith to give them strength. To try to give people like that comfort is a challenge but is very important. No one has all the answers or gets it right all the time but I think we can give help and witness by our sincere, maybe even silent listening presence as Pat has suggested. A warm hug and a listening ear can show compassion. Perhaps the person has no identifiable faith, but you have and your prayers are very powerful as you already know. Through you, this person will experience something of what it is to be loved by God even if he is not aware of the connection at that moment. You take him as you find him and you completely respect where he stands on these matters. Leave the rest in God's hands. (Years later you may be surprised to discover the impact of your intervention and the strong and enduring power of good example. That has been my experience and I offer to you for what it's worth.) Thanks again.

    8. Mr Page at 16.09, perhaps you can make your mind up what you are saying, it's contradictory. At 16.09 you claim that we are not out to convert the world. At 09.29 you said "we" needed to believe like Jesus that there is a God in heaven. Who is "we" exactly and my question remains how do you tell people there is a God in heaven who have no faith or no belief in God? I think you are being all things to all people.

    9. Mr/Rev Anonymous To Convert is a conscious objective action. To believe is a subjective response to choices presented to an individual. In a sense I try to be all things to all people. I do not own or control the process Conversion is between God and the individual in essence. Check out what the Wesleys wrote.

    10. 19.54 I don't need to "check out" anything, thank you! How condescending! Would the people of Manchester benefit what the Wesleys wrote? I think not. Would they benefit from your diatribe on here today? Most certainly not. You need, I think, to get a tad into the real world. You say that you don't own or control the process, fine, well stop spouting on man as if you do for heavens sake.

    11. Jane, do you know the Novena of Surrender?

  6. MMM I agree. With faith there always is an element of x factor a proportionality unconfirmed trust. Can a partner prove objectively the quantity and value of love they have for the other and vice versa Still marriages and commitments happen.

  7. MourneManMichael26 May 2017 at 19:09

    The benefits and efficacy of religious faith, belief, and prayer cannot be denied, for they provide succour for many in times of need. But beyond that these beliefs are efficacious for many, do those beliefs held as absolute objectively validate and make true the reality believed, particularly if there is very little objective concrete evidence? Perhaps, in common parlance these days, does virtual reality suffice?

    1. Many not all! How many? Also, I have seen people thinking prayer helped them when it did not. I think promoting prayer as a placboe and a crutch is anti-Christian. Christ tied prayer down to an acting out of an attitude of opposition to evil in oneself and society. Christ never claimed prayer made his life any easier. Plus it is not prayer helps but God if he exists. And as for religion benefits come at a terrible price. A lot of hatefilled curses by the Church were leveled at good people and are still on the Church's books. "Let him be anathema". It is selfish to say that all that warmongering and hate is worth it so you can pray to feel good.

    2. Promoting prayer is most certainly not anti-Christian! That is complete nonsense!
      Prayer is talking and communicating in thought with God and is our way of responding to His love and deepening our relationship with Him. So it's an essential part of being a good Christian.

  8. Belief or disbelief does not confirm or deny. Reality is objective and does not depend on the believer for existence

  9. Jane
    I loved your post. Surrender to god. Islam means surrender (to God). I agree

    1. Yes. Submission to Allah the only true God and Mohammed his prophet blessings be apon him. You will not publish my views.

    2. Jane's post is indeed excellent, and a Christian attitude of surrender such as Jane's is a beautiful thing. But I stand with Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in his analysis of Islam.

  10. MourneManMichael: You are a loss to the Sorbonne or one such eminent palaces of learning. To the rest of us you're just a pain in the aaaaa......

    1. The Sorbonne isn't an elite institution in France so one rather imagines that you're not darkening the doors of eminent palaces of learning too frequently....

    2. MourneManMichael27 May 2017 at 13:29

      Response comments to difficult questions on this blog usually requires some cerebral activity. Biology informs us that takes place in the brain, located in the head.
      However it seems from Anon @22:40 that for some, their cerebral functioning is elsewhere, and much lower in the body.
      Hmmm. Very revealing.

  11. 19.54 Why does what I say bother you. You spout and I am happy to consider respectfully what you say. Allow me the same freedom please