Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

It’s not often that I go from cheers to jeers within minutes as I did this morning reading two separate news reports. The first was a post from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz “Give women every chance 2 fight off a killer.” She pointed out that 1 in 8 women in America has a chance of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. She goes on to describe her own story, telling of those seven surgeries as she fought her own cancer. She then describes her disappointment in the “FDA’s decision last month to pull the metastatic breast cancer indication from the Avastin (bevacizumab) label” and why.

My sister fought for eight years against breast cancer and tried every kind of treatment she felt would work for her, whether through advice of her doctors, other cancer survivors or those into natural remedies. She lived far longer than was originally expected and attributed that to her choices. That’s why when I read Wasserman-Schultz’s post, I felt hope — hope that a representative in Congress “got it” and that maybe women would be allowed the right to choose, in this case medications that have a proven track record for some. Guess that gives “pro-choice” a broader meaning!

A few minutes later, I ran across this headline, “Scalia: women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination.” What the hell?! And I quote: “The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.” This, coming from a U.S. Supreme Court Justice whose work impacts everything we do in this country, more than, I would suggest, any other “job” in America.

Fortunately the article does refer to the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, “any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,”and commented,  “that would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred.”

Others will argue for or against the FDA ruling and for or against Scalia’s opinion. I, for one, am once again strongly reminded of the impact of those individuals we elect to represent us. Whether they take action themselves or appoint others to take action for us, the fact they make decisions that impact my life, my family, friends, all of us in this country should make each and every one realize the importance of voting. And then of holding our representatives accountable. I’d rather be cheering then jeering any day.

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My family still teases me for getting a tear in my eye at some commercials (yes, guilty), and my niece still remembers how I cried when I took her to see the dinosaur flick, Land Before Time, years ago. So it was no wonder that it was a Kleenex moment when I watched the Elizabeth Edwards interview on the Today Show this morning as Matt Lauer talked with her about the publication of her new book Resilience.  

The book focuses on her continuing experience as a cancer survivor and of course, being the wife of former N.C. Senator & VP Candidate, John Edwards, most recently known for his admitted affair.  Others will talk about the “affair”, it was her own story that caught my eye. It was the story of the loss of her father, of her 16 year old son, of her battle with cancer, of the joys of her other children, that made me bring out the Kleenex brigade.

And it was the story of how she wants to take her youngest daughter on a trip with her (her daughter’s one wish). Knowing she can’t “handle luggage and an 11 year old” on her own now, Elizabeth said she was thinking of taking a tour. Hearing that, off popped the memory lightbulb as I remember my own sister in the same cancer battle, trying to set up a tour so that she might take her young daughter on a trip as well. 

The final “big” trip didn’t happen, but my sister did create many loving memories that will carry through the years and listening to the interview this morning, I applaud Elizabeth Edwards and all like her who are making the effort to do the same for their child. It’s off to the bookstore at lunch today to get Resilience and to get inspired — inspired with tissues in hand admittedly.

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Swine Flu Vs. ?

Ever increasing media coverage on the possible swine flu epidemic has caused most conversations at work today to start with, “have you heard…?”. As a quick reference, I found this  HealthandSurvival.com blog that lists symptoms and precautionary measures. I do have to wonder if the medical profession is ready this time around.

Now I’m like the next person, I’ll likely quickly turn my head at someone coughing, wash my hands and wash my hands, etc., but I also want to keep it in perspective. More people are killed by drunk drivers, by suicide, by other less spoken about illnesses than because of the swine flu. Just because it has reared it’s ugly head in Mexico, will we see discrimination against all things Mexican rise? Yes, I want everyone to be cautious and be proactive with their health, but no, I don’t want to see fear set in and reactions blown out of proportion.

Hopefully there will be  a rise of people going to the doctor’s early if they have any symptoms that match what is listed for the Swine Flu. According to a report I saw this morning, not going to the doctor or hospital early enough led to the deaths of some of the individuals.  That is a lesson we all can learn from, even as we send sympathy to the families.

Now if we could only get as much media coverage too about other issues that need attention and resources as well.  Let’s not make it swine flu vs. cancer or alcoholism, or other illnesses that don’t have such media impact. Keep it real, not hype.

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My sister spent eight years living with breast cancer until she finally succumbed last year. I grew my hair in anticipation of donating to Locks of Love after a memorable (and humorous) experience choosing a wig post-chemo treatment with my sister and her daughter. Here’s our story, in my AAUW Blog, Locks of Love.

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