gives man wake-up call'
by Susan Riley
Photo: Bradford McIntyre, with his pet turtle dove.
Photo Credit: Rod MacIvor, Ottawa Citizen
November 30, 1994
If you were given
six months to live, how would you spend the time?
For Brad McIntyre, a 42 years-old former hairstylist at Rinaldo's,
its not an idle question. Ten years ago this week, McIntyre was
told he was HIV positive and had six months to live.
He was advised to tell his family and arrange his funeral. When
he didn't die within the allotted time, he was given 18 more
months. On Monday, he celebrated another anniversary of that grim
diagnosis with 60 friends at a party at the World Exchange Plaza.
Handsome, healthy, and charged with nervous excitement, McIntyre
used the occasion to share the emotion and spiritual transformation
that has, he says, made him more fully alive than ever.
We don't usually look at AIDS-or any life-threatening illness - as
an opportunity. But without diminishing the seriousness of the
disease of sentimentalizing its impact, it can be, says McIntyre,
"a wake-up call."
One year after his diagnosis, he moved to Ottawa from Kitchener
so his loved ones wouldn't have to watch him die. Once here,
he avoided close relationships and didn't talk much about
his HIV status. Over the last decade, two lovers have left him
because "they didn't want to stick around to watch me
die. I don't blame them: I might not have stayed myself."
Finally, a female friend challenged him to stop thinking about
dying and get on with living. That started a journey that led
him to various New Age and eastern therapies.
Power of Love
Three years ago, he stopped taking AZT the anti-AIDS drug AZT - it
was making him sick, in any case - and began eating well, meditating,
exercising, and practicing Reiki, which emphasizes deep relaxation
and the healing power of love.
Healing himself emotionally, he says, made his physical illness
easier to except. He didn't detach himself from the illness,
as much as think about it differently. He stopped being afraid:
he decided, he says, "to show up for my life".
His experience is becoming more common, as people who carry the
AIDS virus live longer and look beyond western medicine for relief.
There are 955 known cases of HIV infection in Ottawa-Carleton,
including 188 new cases this year.
Lately, new infections have stabilized at 104 -160 cases a year,
and the number of deaths has dropped remarkably thanks to new
drugs, earlier diagnosis and healthy regimes like McIntyre's.
Dr. Geoff Dunkley of the regional health unit says drugs can
prolong life, but adds, "The more people are in control of
their own treatment, the better they do."
Laya Smith, 37, a Reiki master, says some alternate healers have
tried to exploit people with AIDS, but her practice is bases on
helping Brad "cohabit with the disease" not deny its
On Thursday, World AIDS Day, local activists will make a human
chain across the Interprovincial Bridge at noon. While the political
battle for funding and the scientific quest for a vaccine continue,
Brad McIntyre pursues his own healing, his own way. It has been
a long, and rich, six months.
HIV diagnosis gives man wake-up call
Published in the Ottawa Citizen