Hope this doesn’t take long…. I don’t really want to be knocked out for a long time. It’s my right brain that this tumor is on and I hope when they take it out I’ll still have mind enough to do this blog…an activity I am unusually fond of.
I guess I’ll be signing off now. I’ll try to get back up tomorrow or Sunday. – Bill
Christopher Hitchens, the polarizing author and essayist, died on Thursday night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston due to complications of esophageal cancer. He was 62. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote about in his lifetime, but I admired his stand as an atheist in a world which places so much emphasis on religion.
I thought he was brilliant.
While I was looking through the web for things about Hitchens, I found this 45 minute or so video called Stephen Fry and Friends on the life, loves and hates of Christopher Hitchens. This is really a special piece, recorded shortly before his death, and says more than I can:
Maybe it is time to look at what President Obama has really done, rather than listen to Republicans funded by the pharmaceutical and major medical industries as they campaign to get rid of his health care plan.
I read this in the afternoon while watching Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, KS:
Spike Dolomite Ward tells her story in an LA Times op-ed.
I want to apologize to President Obama. But first, some background.
I found out three weeks ago I have cancer. I’m 49 years old, have been married for almost 20 years and have two kids. My husband has his own small computer business, and I run a small nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley. I am also an artist. Money is tight, and we don’t spend it frivolously. We’re just ordinary, middle-class people, making an honest living, raising great kids and participating in our community, the kids’ schools and church.
We’re good people, and we work hard. But we haven’t been able to afford health insurance for more than two years. And now I have third-stage breast cancer and am facing months of expensive treatment.
To understand how such a thing could happen to a family like ours, I need to take you back nine years to when my husband got laid off from the entertainment company where he’d worked for 10 years. Until then, we had been insured through his work, with a first-rate plan. After he got laid off, we got to keep that health insurance for 18 months through COBRA, by paying $1,300 a month, which was a huge burden on an unemployed father and his family.
By the time the COBRA ran out, my husband had decided to go into business for himself, so we had to purchase our own insurance. That was fine for a while. Every year his business grew. But insurance premiums were steadily rising too. More than once, we switched carriers for a lower rate, only to have them raise rates significantly after a few months.
With the recession, both of our businesses took a huge hit — my husband’s income was cut in half, and the foundations that had supported my small nonprofit were going through their own tough times. We had to start using a home equity line of credit to pay for our health insurance premiums (which by that point cost as much as our monthly mortgage). When the bank capped our home equity line, we were forced to cash in my husband’s IRA. The time finally came when we had to make a choice between paying our mortgage or paying for health insurance. We chose to keep our house. We made a nerve-racking gamble, and we lost.
Not having insurance amplifies cancer stress. After the diagnosis, instead of focusing all of my energy on getting well, I was panicked about how we were going to pay for everything. I felt guilty and embarrassed about not being insured. When I went to the diagnostic center to pick up my first reports, I was sent to the financial department, where a woman sat me down to talk about resources for “cash patients” (a polite way of saying “uninsured”).
“I’m not a deadbeat,” I blurted out. “I’m a good person. I have two kids and a house!” The clerk was sympathetic, telling me how even though she worked in the healthcare field, she could barely afford insurance herself.
Although there have been a few people who judged us harshly, most people have been understanding about how this could happen to us. That’s given me the courage to “out” myself and my family in hopes that it will educate people who are still lucky enough to have health insurance and view people like my family as irresponsible. We’re not. What I want people to understand is that, if this could happen to us, it could happen to anybody.
If you are fortunate enough to still be employed and have insurance through your employers, you may feel insulated from the sufferings of people like me right now. But things can change abruptly. If you still have a good job with insurance, that doesn’t mean that you’re better than me, more deserving than me or smarter than me. It just means that you are luckier. And access to healthcare shouldn’t depend on luck.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been saved by the federal government’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, something I had never heard of before needing it. It’s part of President Obama’s healthcare plan, one of the things that has already kicked in, and it guarantees access to insurance for U.S. citizens with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. The application was short, the premiums are affordable, and I have found the people who work in the administration office to be quite compassionate (nothing like the people I have dealt with over the years at other insurance companies.) It’s not perfect, of course, and it still leaves many people in need out in the cold. But it’s a start, and for me it’s been a lifesaver — perhaps literally.
Which brings me to my apology. I was pretty mad at Obama before I learned about this new insurance plan. I had changed my registration from Democrat to Independent, and I had blacked out the top of the “h” on my Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, “Got nope” instead of “got hope.” I felt like he had let down the struggling middle class. My son and I had campaigned for him, but since he took office, we felt he had let us down.
So this is my public apology. I’m sorry I didn’t do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I’m getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says “Got nope.” It will say “ObamaCares.”
(thanks to http://mariopiperni.com for printing this.)
Former heavyweight champ Smokin’ Joe Frazier has died at age 67.
Known primarily for his highly publicized fights with Muhammed Ali, Frazier died from complications of liver cancer.
Frazier won 32 fights, 27 by knockouts, and lost four times — twice to Ali in furious bouts and twice to George Foreman. He also recorded one draw.According to author Norman Mailer, Frazier had “the rugged decent life-worked face of a man who had labored in the pits all his life.” He was big and ugly, but a hard and committed fighter in an age when the Heavyweight Championship was much more important than it is today.
Frazier maintained his adverse relationship with Ali long after they were no longer in the ring. Recently he changed his view of Ali:
“I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn’t have said. Called him names I shouldn’t have called him. I apologize for that. I’m sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight.”
If you didn’t hear This American Life with Ira Glass this weekend, or if you don’t subscribe to its podcast, then you missed an excellent piece on the development of natural gas drilling on the Marcellus Shale. Don’t worry, though. Would Under The LobsterScope not pass on an important program like this?
Here’s the lead-in:
A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences.
This is part of our continuing serious of articles and information on Hydraulic Fracturing, or “Fracking” and the effect it will have on our water and land right here in West Virginia (and New York State, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio – all sitting on the Marcellus Shale and all targeted by the unregulated natural gas industry.
Here we go again. This time the question of whether mobile phones can give users brain cancer has come up once again from a group of international researchers that examined dozens of studies. They say the answer is maybe. From Portfolio.com:
A statement issued Tuesday from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that mobile phones are “possibly carcinogenic,” and although the link between cell phones and cancer is “not clearly established” it also cannot be ruled out. Mobiles may be linked to a type of brain cancer called glioma, according to the research conducted by a group of 31 experts that have been meeting in Lyon, France, to review human evidence coming from epidemiological studies.
It’s worth noting that the WHO’s cancer researchers could have given mobile phones one of five scientific labels: carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic, not classifiable, or not carcinogenic, reports the BBC. Other “possibly carcinogenic” items, based on previous IARC research, include gasoline engine exhaust, lead, coffee, and dry cleaning.
- Will Cellphone (Mobile Phone) Causes Brain Cancer? WHO: Possibly (mydigitallife.info)
- Cell Phones to Be “Possibly Carcinogenic,” Experts Say (fitsugar.com)
- Cellphones could raise risk of brain cancer: World Health Organization researchers (healthzone.ca)
- Brain cancer warning over mobiles (mirror.co.uk)
- Mobile phones officially under suspicion (nature.com)
- Expert Panel: Cell Phones Might Cause Brain Cancer (tleonidas.wordpress.com)
- Mobile Phone Use May Be Linked to Brain Cancer, WHO Panel Finds (businessweek.com)
From the LA Times:
A Harvard School of Public Health study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 60% reduced risk of developing lethal prostate cancer compared with nondrinkers.
The reduction in lethal prostate cancer risk was similar between decaf and regular coffee drinkers. Thus, the researchers conclude, caffeine isn’t the wonder element — good news for those who already consume far too much caffeine (you know who you are).
The results were published online Tuesday in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“An association between coffee and lower risk of advanced prostate cancer is biologically plausible. Coffee improves glucose metabolism, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and affects sex hormone levels, all of which play roles in prostate cancer progression.”
- Study: Coffee Will Make Us Healthier? (flapsblog.com)
- Prevention: Coffee Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer, Harvard Study Says (nytimes.com)
- New coffee plus: Lowering prostate cancer (timesunion.com)
- Coffee, Is There Anything It Can’t Do? (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Positive Tidbits: News to Make You Feel Good (businessinsider.com)
- Coffee ‘cuts risk of male cancer’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Men, save your prostate – drink coffee (inquisitr.com)
- The Risk Of Lethal Prostate Cancer May Be Reduced In Coffee Drinkers (medicalnewstoday.com)
Dennis Hopper was known primarily as an actor (Rebel Without A Cause, Easy Rider, Blue Velvet) and director, but he was also an accomplished photographer, not to mention a painter, sculptor and art collector.
He had been married 5 times and was known for an explosive temper. In the last years of his life he was broke and not working, although he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two months ago.
Since I became a Vegan last November, I have had absolutely no dairy products. You would think that was disappointing as I looked at the great dairy products around me, but I’m actually quite happy, well-off, and close to 30 pounds lighter (120 to go).
Check this out from Dr. Mark Hyman (who also blasts the Food Pyramid):
OK? Get out there now and try avoiding dairy. It will help you immensely.
Conservative Columnist and former White House Speech Writer has died of cancer in a Maryland hospice. He wrote a NY Times column for 30 years and, during the Nixon Administration, coined Spiro Agnew’s famous phrase: “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
Safire made a specialty of analyzing the correct use of the English language, and in more than 3000 columns and 15 books he had plenty of opportunity to show off his craft.
I never agreed with his point of view, but I must say I admired his weight and staying power in journalism.
This news just came in and Elly and I both said “Oh no!” at the same time.
Of course, we knew Swayze’s Cancer was severe and even in his recent television work he didn’t look well. Swayze told ABC’s Barbara Walters that he hoped to live long enough “until they find a cure,” but he was “not going to chase [the idea of] staying alive….I’ll be here, or I won’t.”
I guess he won’t. Farewell to actor and dancer Patrick Swayze.
… and a VERY GOOD FEDERAL HEALTH PLAN.
The Hartford Courant quoted Dodd on the subject of his condition and how it related to his drive for health care legislation:
“I wanted to let you know that I’ve been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer,” Dodd wrote. “Luckily, a routine test allowed my doctor to catch it at a very early stage, and my prognosis is excellent – we expect a full and speedy recovery. I want to assure you that I am feeling fine.”
“After the Senate adjourns at the end of next week, I’ll have surgery to remove the cancer,” Dodd wrote. “After a week or two of recuperation, I expect to be right back to work. After all, as a member of Congress, I have great health insurance. I was able to get screened, seek the opinions of highly skilled doctors, consider all the available options, and choose the treatment that was right for me.”
He added, in a reference to his current work to pass healthcare legislation, “I know you’ll agree that every American deserves the same ability. We have healthcare legislation to pass – and an election to win. And I can’t thank you enough for your support.”
Let’s be clear: we ALL need a great health care plan. too. I hope Dodd gets it through.
Good Luck, Senator.
She was 62 years old and it was just the other day that we were reading that Ryan O’Neal was had gotten back together with Fawcett… to marry her… and stay by her side as she suffered from anal cancer.
I just didn’t expect her to go so soon.
Her diagnosis was in 2006 and she traveled the world looking for a cure. While she was known for her one big success in Charlie’s Angels, guys in my generation think of the famous poster of her at the time which adorned dorm rooms across the country.