Normally I do a New Year post but after the year we just experienced in 2021 I have decided to write this article and for a change I will be giving my opinions along with scientific facts and conclusions.
This is possibly the longest and most adventurist article I have prepared since Mental Health August 2018 It is my second main Mental Health Awareness article
Like most people I am tired of hearing about Covid 19 and the various strains of the virus. There are people who are seriously profiteering from this. It seems to be never ending even with vaccines.
I going to begin this article by rolling back the years to 1918, the Spanish Flu or The Great Influenza a strain of A/H1N1. It infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide and claimed the lives of 50 million. It lasted from 1918 to 1919. The properties that made this Flu so devastating is unknown, no vaccines or antibiotics were ever developed for it and it was beaten by isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly. It infected over a third of the worlds population.
There is a history of different infections that have been part of human history for a long time, chicken pox, small pox, measles, malaria, Bubonic Plague (pneumonia Black Death) TB and many more. Some of these are still about but vaccines and antibiotics were created to control them. Various different types of flu hit every year and claim lives.
What can or should we have learnt from hundreds of years of virus related deaths? Covid 19 started in 2019 and continues to rampage into 2022 – why ?
Pushing aside what we are being told about various strains of Covid and this is purely my opinion – we have learnt nothing. 50 million people died of Spanish flu that lasted less than 18 months and we learnt nothing. Our ancestors paid a heavy price showing the only way to really beat a pandemic is isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings. Let’s just say that 99% of people reading this article are saying “yes Ian we agree but we tried the isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings and it didn’t work” but try to compare the world we live in against the World in 1918. It’s impossible. There were no international flights, stadiums were small, land travel was also short. International communication was at an infant stage. But more importantly people listened back then, there were no anti mask rallies, no real bending rules. Isolation meant a complete cut off by towns, Cities and Counties.
Our modern version of isolation is a far cry from 1918. International flights did not stop fully, Australia and New Zealand got it right from day one. But pressure from their population forced reopening and as international travel resumed so did the spread of the virus. WHO made recommendations but different countries adapted different approaches. Why argue with The World Health Organization during a Pandemic ?
In reality we are lucky that the death rate caused by Covid is low against the infection rate. The Spanish Flu had an estimated death rate of 10% but most likely up to 15% as records were not as defined as we have today.
Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. 23rd December 2021 – over two years since Covid was diagnosed and 18 months from being declared a pandemic, infection rate was still high, vaccines in place, the Omicron variant was about already active, Ireland had started to resume a partial isolation and restricted pubs and restaurants to close at 8pm, table service only and restricted to a maximum of 6 people together. We decided to go out for a pre Christmas meal. The town we are currently in is a small town in Southern Ireland the population of the town is roughly 2,400 people. During the summer it is a busy tourist town but winter it returns to its own population, due to tourism the town has plenty of restaurants and bars. This was our fourth time out together for a meal since March 2019 (I’ll go through some of the reasons for this later in the article), we’re very careful, only the two of us, fully vaccinated, wearing masks, observing hand washing etc. We pick a bar that serves meals – probably better described as a restaurant that serves pints. We wait at the door to be checked by a waitress, she double checks our Covid vaccination passes, takes my mobile number and escorts us to a table. So we first noticed a group of about 10 youths sitting together at a large table just across from us. They are excessively loud. We asked to be moved to another table – one closer to the bar and door. We’re moved and order our meal. As we’re waiting for the meal the group of 10 are joined by about 20 more, none of them have face masks, they are all locals so none are covid vaccination checked. By the time our meal arrives the group now occupy most of the premises about 50 plus no social distancing, no masks – loud and a large number drunk. The waitress explains that it’s the “12 Bars of Christmas” (and yes I had to Google it ) – we finished our meal quickly and left. So in our socially aware world the reason why people were allowed to gather in large groups, without masks and without any trace of social distancing was because of a piss up. Bar staff and owners allowed it due to the massive revenue generated. Other pubs were even more packed. And this was only one example.
I stated earlier that we have learnt nothing from 1918. In reality we are our own worst enemies. We live in a society where there is one rule for some and another variation of that rule for others. When Covid started in Ireland I worked for a transport company in a senior position. We were delivering essential goods. I was given a pass that “would get you through any check point”, when I developed 4 symptoms of Covid in April 2020 I was told by my employer to “stop acting like a ten year old and return to work” as I had gone home sick. I had Covid 19 and was sick for about 3 weeks. If I had gone back into work as instructed then I would have had direct contact with 20 drivers.
But the worrying part is that these situations are not unusual.
During lockdown none essential services were closed such as toy stores, clothing shops etc but you could buy online- which was supposed to reduce interaction. But how will historians see this. To buy online meant that more people had to travel to warehouses to pick and pack, more were needed to despatch goods, more operation people were required in transport companies, more drivers were needed to deliver goods to homes. All it really meant was changing how goods were sold. But all these extra people that were part of the supply chain were allowed to travel.
Lets try a few comparison mostly from the World Health Organisation
1918 to 1919 Spanish Flu deaths Worldwide 50 Million
2019 to 2021 Covid related deaths Worldwide 5.4 Million
2019 to 2021 Ischaemic Heart Disease Worldwide estimated 56.7 Million
2019 to 2021 Cancer related deaths Worldwide estimated 52 Million
2019 to 2021 Suicide related deaths Worldwide estimated 3 Million
2019 to 2021 Annual Flu deaths Worldwide estimated 1.8 Million
I have been very openly criticized for comparing Covid and Cancer. The reason being that according to most people there is no comparison and they are right. Cancer is a killer. Roughly 30% of people diagnosed with cancer will die. The global biggest killer remains to be Chronic Heart Disease. I am not well versed in Heart disease so I will not even attempt to write about it, Anita maintains that it is impossible for someone that has no heart to discuss this.
Oncologists worldwide are more than concerned about the impact of Covid on Cancer victims. Not so much current victims or those in remission but the undiagnosed victims. Cancer rates for 2020 were well below expected case numbers. Cancer can be a slow cure or killer, so everything is estimated. Getting exact figures is close to impossible. Covid attacks immune suppressed people, therefore anyone undergoing chemotherapy is more vulnerable, cancer survivors could have impaired immune systems for years after treatment. My immune system is still impaired after 4 years in remission. 1.5 million deaths are also associated with diabetes every year, another group of most exposed to Covid .
I mentioned some diseases that have been around for a long time that are still with us like Malaria and TB. Annual figures suggest that between 1 to 2,500,000 people die annually from these diseases. Malaria was first diagnosed in 1880, TB (Tuberculosis) was first diagnosed in 1882. Little known facts Coronavirus was first identified in 1965 – its been around that long. Covid 19 or as its classed SARS-CoV-2 was first diagnosed in 2019.
A History of lethal viruses
Plague of Athens Bubonic plague Deaths Unknown 427 – 426 BC
Antonine Plague Smallpox or measles Deaths 5–10 million 165–180
Plague of Justinian Bubonic plague Deaths 15–100 million 541–549
Japanese smallpox Smallpox Deaths 2 million 735–737
Black Death Bubonic plague Deaths 75–200 million 1346–1353
Mexico smallpox Smallpox Deaths 5–8 million 1519–1520
Cocoliztli epidemic i Cocoliztli Deaths 5–15 million 1545–1548
Cocoliztli epidemic ii Cocoliztli Deaths 2–2.5 million 1576–1580
Italian plague Bubonic plague Deaths 1 million 1629–1631
Naples Plague Plague Deaths 1.25 million 1656–1658
Persian Plague Bubonic plague Deaths 2 million 1772–1774
Cholera pandemic Cholera Deaths 1 million+ 1846–1860
Third plague pandemic Bubonic plague Deaths 12–15 million 1855–1860
Flu pandemic Influenza Deaths 1 million 1889–1890
Spanish flu Influenza A/H1N1 Deaths 60 million 1918–1920
Russia typhus Typhus Deaths 2-3 million 1918–1922
Influenza Influenza A/H2N2 Deaths 1–4 million 1957–1958
Hong Kong flu Influenza A/H3N2 Deaths 1–4 million 1968–1969
HIV/AIDS epidemic HIV/AIDS Deaths 36.3 million 1981–present
Malaria Malaria Deaths 423 million 1880 -present
Tuberculosis TB Deaths 1.8 Billion 1882 – present
And of course
Coronavirus Covid 19 SARS-CoV-2 Deaths 5.4 Million 2019 – present
There are thousands of other virus and still active worldwide but I’d like to look at the first recorded one Plague of Athens
According to Thucydides, the Plague of Athens, the symptoms victims of the plague experienced
- Redness and inflammation in the eyes
- Sore throats leading to bleeding and bad breath
- Loss of voice
- Pustules and ulcers on the body
- Extreme thirst
It is believed that the City of Athens was sealed off in 426BC to stop the spread of the plague. The city, generating overpopulation and resource shortage. Due to the close quarters and poor hygiene exhibited at that time, Athens became a breeding ground for disease, and many citizens died. In the history of epidemics in war time, the ‘Plague’ of Athens is remarkable for the limitation of the affliction to one side as well as for its influence on the ultimate outcome of the war between Sparta and Athenian,
Thucydides’ account clearly details the complete disappearance of social morals during the time of the plague:
…the catastrophe was so overwhelming that men, not knowing what would happen next to them, became indifferent to every rule of religion or law.”
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
The aftermath of the Plague of Athens according to wikipedia.org
The plague was an unforeseen event that resulted in one of the largest recorded loss of life in ancient Greece as well as a breakdown of Athenian society. The balance of power between citizens had changed due to many of the rich dying and their fortunes being inherited by remaining relatives of the lower class. According to Thucydides, those who had become ill and survived were the most sympathetic to others suffering: believing that they could no longer succumb to any illness, a number of survivors offered to assist with the remaining sick. The plague had also contributed to Athens’ overall loss of power and ability to expand. Many of the remaining Athenians were found to be metric who had forged their documentation or had bribed officials to hide their original status. A number of these people were reduced to slaves once they were caught. This resulted in stricter laws dictating who could become an Athenian citizen, reducing both their number of potential soldiers and amount of political power, but also a decline in treatment and rights for metics in Athens.
The plague dealt massive damage to Athens two years into the Peloponnesian War, from which it never recovered. Their political strength had weakened and morale among their armies as well as the citizens had fallen significantly. Athens would then go on to be defeated by Sparta and fall from being a major power in Ancient Greece
Michiel Sweerts’ Plague in an Ancient City (circa 1652). Wikimedia
As a footnote here and this is purely my option, main pharmaceutical companies have made massive levels of profit from producing vaccines into billions Pfizers alone expect to make $36 billion profit (Pfizers Profit report Irish Times ) . Governments should ensure that these companies take more responsibly for the vaccines endurance and success in preventing Covid, but they should also be pushing for the development of an antibiotic for Covid. Vaccines alone do not work, history has proven that. Annually there are thousands of people who get the flu after a Flu Jab but there are antibiotics to help.
But here is a shocker to say the least “The origins of Cancer”
The American Cancer Society have researched the origins extensively
“Our oldest description of cancer (although the word cancer was not used) was discovered in Egypt and dates back to about 3000 BC. It’s called the Edwin Smith Papyrus and is a copy of part of an ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery.
The origin of the word cancer is credited to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC),
who is considered the “Father of Medicine.” Hippocrates used the terms carcinos and carcinoma to describe non-ulcer forming and ulcer-forming tumors. In Greek, these words refer to a crab, most likely applied to the disease because the finger-like spreading projections from a cancer called to mind the shape of a crab. The Roman physician, Celsus (28-50 BC), later translated the Greek term into cancer, the Latin word for crab. Galen (130-200 AD), another Greek physician, used the word oncos (Greek for swelling) to describe tumors. Although the crab analogy of Hippocrates and Celsus is still used to describe malignant tumors, Galen’s term is now used as a part of the name for cancer specialists – oncologists.”
During the Renaissance, beginning in the 15th century, scientists developed greater understanding of the human body. Scientists like Galileo and Newton began to use the scientific method, which later was used to study disease. Autopsies, done by Harvey (1628), led to an understanding of the circulation of blood through the heart and body that had until then been a mystery.
In 1761, Giovanni Morgagni of Padua was the first to do something which has become routine today – he did autopsies to relate the patient’s illness to pathologic findings after death. This laid the foundation for scientific oncology, the study of cancer.
The famous Scottish surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) suggested that some cancers might be cured by surgery and described how the surgeon might decide which cancers to operate on. If the tumor had not invaded nearby tissue and was “moveable,” he said, “There is no impropriety in removing it.”
A century later the development of anesthesia allowed surgery to flourish and classic cancer operations such as the radical mastectomy were developed.
The 19th century saw the birth of scientific oncology with use of the modern microscope in studying diseased tissues. Rudolf Virchow, often called the founder of cellular pathology, provided the scientific basis for the modern pathologic study of cancer. As Morgagni had linked autopsy findings seen with the unaided eye with the clinical course of illness, so Virchow correlated microscopic pathology to illness.
This method not only allowed a better understanding of the damage cancer had done, but also aided the development of cancer surgery. Body tissues removed by the surgeon could now be examined and a precise diagnosis could be made. The pathologist could also tell the surgeon whether the operation had completely removed the cancer.”
The era of cancer chemotherapy began in the 1940s with the first use of nitrogen mustards and folic acid antagonist drugs. The targeted therapy revolution has arrived, but many of the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply.
Dr Ananya Mandal wrote
“Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system that affects the B-lymphocytes, causing them to accumulate in the lymph nodes. The cancer is named after Thomas Hodgkin who first described abnormalities in the lymphatic system in 1832. However, Hodgkin did note that the earliest description of the disease may have been given by Marcello Malpighi in 1666.
While working at Guy’s Hospital, Hodgkin studied seven patients who had enlarged but painless lymph nodes. One of these individuals was a patient of Robert Carswell, whose report of the patient included many illustrations that were used as an aid in early descriptions of the condition. Hodgkin wrote a report on the seven patients entitled “On some morbid appearances of the absorbent glands and spleen,” which was presented to the Medical and Chirurgical Society in London in 1832 and then published in the society’s journal, “Medical-Chirurgical Society Transactions.”
And my point is simple. Cancer, viruses and disease have been with us since the dawn of time. Some viruses linger on for centuries. The 1918 Spanish flu was the first of three flu pandemics caused by H1N1 influenza A virus; the most recent one was the 2009 swine flu pandemic. The 1977 Russian flu was also caused by H1N1 virus.
Returning to Covid 19. Those who have experienced Covid like myself never want to get infected again. Mine was seen as a mild case but the lasting condition has caused serious damage to my lungs. Reoccurring pneumonia is causing havoc on me. It is directly linked to my Covid attack in April 2020.
I have given my opinions along with scientific facts but I have really had to consider my conclusions.
Its difficult to gauge what will happen with Covid, as vaccines continue to roll out and new strains appear it seems never ending. Governments are creating rules which they can’t even follow. But there is one absolutely unquestionable outcome serious Mental Health issues.
So my conclusions are aimed at Mental Health
Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”, according to the World Health Organization.
I do keep quoting the World Health Organization because they are a great source of reference.
Here are 11 facts about Mental Health
- More than 1 Billion people struggle with mental illness
- 1 in 5 young people (age 13-18) has or will develop a mental illness in their lifetime
- Youth depression rates have risen from 5.9% to 8.2% since 2012. Depression symptoms can impact performance in school and interfere with personal relationships. The stats for 2020 & 2021 are unavailable
- Most people lack access to adequate mental health treatment. 70% of adults with mental illness did not receive care in the last year.
- Mental illnesses can affect people of any age, race, religion, or income. A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and ability to relate to others and daily functioning.
- Many factors contribute to the development of a mental health condition, including life experiences (such as trauma or a history of abuse), biological factors, and family history of mental illness and physical illness.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
- Members of LGBTQ+ community are almost 3 times more likely to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
- Common signs of mental health issues include: extreme mood swings, changes in eating habits, excessive worrying or fear, problems concentrating, and avoiding friends or social activities.
- 1/2 of all mental illnesses show early signs before a person turns 14 years old, and 3/4 of mental illnesses begin before age 24
- More than 1 in 4 adults living with serious mental illnesses also struggles with substance abuse.
Mental Health issues range from depression to suicide.
Within the list of diseases and virus from WHO I included suicide. It is within the top 7 causes of death worldwide
2019 to 2021 Suicide related deaths Worldwide estimated 3 Million
These estimates are extremely low for 2020 and 2021
Key facts 2019
- More than 700 000 people die due to suicide every year.
- For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.
- 77% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally
These are facts. It is viewed that suicide has increased by 30% over the past year.
Where I promoted Lymphoma Awareness Cancer Awareness and Mental Health Awareness, my aim for 2022 is to promote Suicide Awareness.
These numbers are staggering. Today, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder and in low-income countries, more than 75% of people with the disorder do not receive treatment. Every year, close to 3 million people die due to substance abuse. Every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide
I have absolutely no issues saying that I struggle with Mental Health.
Since 2014 these are a few stress related issues I have had
- I have been terminally diagnosed three time,
- I have battled Stage 4 Cancer twice in three years,
- I have battled Covid.
- My partner was diagnosed with VIN cancer and won
- I lost my Mother to Vascular Dementia
- I lost my career in 2020 thanks to Covid
These are the big ones. I would be a complete idiot not to have considered that each of the above hold life changing events and outcomes
And yes I had considered Suicide myself, in 2017 when I was Terminally diagnosed for the second time in less than 3 years, I explored the idea of assisted suicide in Switzerland, In reality I had researched the company in Switzerland fully, I conclude that I wanted to give myself the chance to battle Lymphoma and I would face death head on and I did and won. But the consideration of assisted suicide alone was a dangerous step to take, it was at a dark time in my life. I was 54 and I had lived life to the fullest. I was facing a challenge that even my Oncologist felt was impossible to accomplish. But here I am 5 years later talking about mental health and suicidal tendencies.
In my Christmas 2021 article I wrote
“I am commencing further psychology training in January 2022. I have achieved 4 higher diplomas in psychology but this time I’m focused on getting QQI Level 6 qualification in Mental Health and the same in Child Psychology. ”
On the spectrum of mental health I had jumped past any form of depression, anxiety or stress right up to intentional suicide within days of relapse. It was a lesson for someone like me that always looks at positivity. The frightening part was how close I got to making that decision.
So let me try and sum up everything that I have discussed in this article. Covid has taken mental health to a different level. The attitude of employers towards employees like myself must change. I’m not talking about a velvet glove approach but a small amount of empathy goes a long way. Where I had pointed out about the 12 bars of Christmas experience- these young people needed to get out and enjoy themselves but taking physical health risks to ease mental health is not the answer
Here are some of the mental health issues that can lead to suicide
- Having a mental illness, particularly depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, or conduct disorder and especially an untreated mental illness
- Bullying In schools, home and work.
- Financial Crisis
- Having a substance use disorder this can include over the counter drugs
- Being seriously ill, living with a chronic or terminal illness, or being in significant, long-term pain
- Suffering from a traumatic brain injury
- Stress stressful life situations, especially those that are prolonged, including bullying or relationship problems,Sudden stressful or traumatic situations, like the loss of a loved one
- Having experienced childhood trauma and abuse
- Being exposed to another person’s suicide
- Past suicide attempts
- A family history of suicide
- The sudden loss of a loved one
- The loss of a parent
Spotting early warning suicide signs
- Diagnosed with Cancer or serious illness
- Talking about dying or wanting to die
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no way out of problems
- Mentioning strong feelings of guilt and shame
- Talking about not having a reason to live or that others would be better off without them
- Social withdrawal and isolation This is particulary difficult under current circumstances
- Giving away personal items and wrapping up loose ends
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Any unusual changes in behavior. This is common for someone who is suicidal, but it’s easy to overlook because the changes may not seem related to depression or hopelessness. For instance, someone you know who is usually kind may become angry and aggressive. Or, someone who has been sad and struggling with depression may suddenly become calm and seemingly happy and at peace. Other changes may include increased substance abuse or unusual mood swings.
- Changes in sleeping patterns. A shift in how someone sleeps is also a sign of depression Someone who is feeling suicidal may sleep more than normal, struggling to get out of bed at all. They may sleep less, experiencing insomnia and staying up until all hours and then struggling the next day from fatigue. Whether it’s a symptom of being suicidal or not, these kinds of changes in sleeping habits are cause for concern and should be addressed.
- Accessing lethal means. Gathering lethal means is also an important warning sign that can be hidden. Someone may start stockpiling pills without anyone noticing. They are easy to hide. It’s important to be aware of any lethal means someone you are concerned about may have access to. With access the risk of suicide goes up
- Emotional distance. Someone who is feeling suicidal may become detached from life in general, from other people, and from typical activities. They may seem emotionally distant from people, whether or not they have isolated themselves socially. Acting indifferent in the face of emotional situations may not seem like a suicidal behavior, so it is important to note this kind of behavior and recognize it as a potential warning sign or a symptom of depression. Along the same lines, someone feeling suicidal may lose interest in normal activities, work and home, and things they once enjoyed.
- Physical pain. Physical pain and discomfort are often overlooked as symptoms of depression and also of suicide. If someone you know complains often of any type of pain, like headaches, digestive upset, or just general body pain, be alert to other signs of depression or suicide. If the individual has no easy explanation for the pain, such as a history of migraines or an athletic injury causing achy muscles, you should be especially concerned.
Mental health crisis as defined by the HSE (Irish Health Service)
A mental health crisis often means that you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation.In a crisis, it is important that you get help as soon as possible.
- feel great emotional distress or anxiety
- feel you can’t cope with day-to-day life or work
- think about suicide or self-harm
- experience hallucinations and hearing voices.
- an infection
- an overdose
- illicit drugs
- intoxication with alcohol.
Improving our mental health can start with a very simple approach, I commenced trying this a few months ago and felt that it not only helped me but others. And its not rocket science. Like parts of this article its about dialling back into history. It would have seemed rude for people in years gone by to pass each other on the road without a smile, tilting a hat, moving slightly aside or basically saying hello. It appears that we have lost this basic human quality in life. Since the late 90’s and more into the 20’s people have stopped doing this. And to be honest the reactions have been surprising. I am currently living in a town with roughly a population of 2,500 people. The town is about a 10 minute walk away. It is a tourist attraction during the summer. The walk from the house towards town passes a number of housing estates, guest houses and two hotels. Most of the guest houses and one of the hotels are closed both due to Covid and the winter season. We moved here in early December. More than ever I have started to say hello to people as they pass by, for some they initially ignored the hello or my smile, for others more in my age group and older they smiled back and some even going “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” within a week every single person passing smile or greeted me, including the one’s that initially ignored greetings. And its not a matter of stopping and chatting its just acknowledgment. Basic courtesy like chatting to the checkout people in supermarkets, holding a door open to let people pass. You can see that in some tiny way you are making their day slightly better. It makes the world a nicer place to live. It’s not that I suddenly decided to test psychology but more that I felt it important to simple smile it has helped my own Mental Health.
There is so much more that I really want to discuss about mental health and be in a better position to help others, I am self studying mental health and psychology. My current training in psychology is more aimed at a business environment, hence the reason that I had noted in my Christmas 2021 post that I may be looking for a sponsor to help pay for the upkeep of the site, I am commencing further psychology training in January 2022 pending finance. I have achieved 4 higher diplomas in psychology but this time I’m focused on getting QQI Level 6 qualification in Mental Health and the same in Child Psychology. These are both big parts of dealing with victims & their families. Purchasing my current home has placed a financial strain on me as I have been unable to secure full time employment thanks to Covid. If you are aware of any companies that would be interested in sponsoring this site please let me know firstname.lastname@example.org. The site reaches 35,000 people every year.