Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Universal health care -- except for women

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

New gummint study yesterday tells women to forego mammograms before age 50 and then get them, oh, maybe every couple of years or so. You know, if you really want to.

That's not the American Cancer Society saying that, mind you, it's the gummint. There are already spokesweasels mentioning that, btw, it's still OK to get earlier mammograms but... wait for it... now they may not be covered by your health insurance plan. Universal health care, except for women.

Brings us in line with Canada, we hear today. That's what you wanted, right? To be like Canada? Canada, where sick people come to the US for treatment because they can get treated now and not a year from now. That Canada.

And say, about those self-exams? Nah ladies, don't worry your sweet little heads about those either. No, really. Because, y'know, sometimes they're wrong and that can be really inconvenient and hurty.

And, besides, they can cost your insurance company some money, checking you out and all. Sure, sometimes they're right, too, but in the health insurance industry it's only the bottom line that counts. Your life? Don't mean nothin' to the bottom line. Just ask the gummint. It's healing that costs money, not death.

WARNING -- Anecdote follows:

My darlin' wife found her breast cancer by means of a self-exam. No, you can't draw broad conclusions from anecdotes, much as politicians want you to believe otherwise. But you can tell them to others and say what they mean to YOU. In her case, it means that she's going to live. What else do you need to know about breast self-exams?

End of anecdote.

There are lots of places to learn about breast and other cancers. The American Cancer Society is one of them, at www.cancer.org . A superb source of information about breast cancer is the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation at www.komen.org . If you or someone close to you is threatened by cancer, or if you just want to know more and be more aware, those are good places to start.

There don't need to be death panels in the proposed health care legislation as long as the gummint keeps telling you to ignore those darn pesky lumps, unexplained bleeding and pain where you never had pain before. It's the ostrich approach. Maybe they'll go away... and maybe they won't.

Please, please, please. Do your self-exams and get your mammograms regularly. They are acts of love.

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You are not your circumstances. You are your possibilities.
Oprah Winfrey

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cancer Lessons -- Your Contributions Invited

My darlin' wife is enjoying a gratifying recovery from breast cancer. It is her second experience with a very threatening disease. Her first was in 1996, a different cancer. Back then she was given "less than sixty days to live." That was 13 years ago. It's a fact. Take whatever you need from it.

I have reflected on what I would pass along to others going through the cancer experience. She's out of town and I haven't collaborated with her about this so she may correct any or all of my meanderings. My fears and thoughts are those of a loving husband. Others are invited to share their experience, strength and hope here as either a patient or a support person.

1. It is a very rough and scary experience and sometimes it hurts. BUT... you can survive it and come through on the other side smiling. Smiling. It just doesn't always feel like it. No kidding. You really can do it.

2. Do what you can to reduce your personal cancer risk. That includes
  • Don't smoke
  • Avoid over-exposure to the sun and tanning booths. My mom didn't.
  • Be aware of your own body and pay attention to changes
  • Ladies and men, do your self exams
3. Don't let your doc put you off with "It's probably nothing". The same for your own denial. It doesn't matter if your dad or mom never had cancer. They're not you and you simply don't know enough to have an informed opinion. If you suspect that something's wrong have it thoroughly checked out. Second opinions are good... get 'em.

4. Take the meds your docs prescribe. If you insist on supplementing with non-traditional medicine, do it alongside your prescribed treatment, not instead of it, and keep your doc informed about what you're doing.

5. Go all the way with your treatments, don't stop no matter how much you want to

6. Don't deny yourself familiar pleasures along the way. Enjoy them as best you can without interfering with your treatments.

7. Chemo really sucks. Yeah, your hair is likely to fall out. IT'S NO BIG DEAL! Puking? Yeah, it happens. Sorry, but it's no big deal either and the meds for it are a lot better than they used to be. If you can keep the juice/cookies/Popsicles they offer at the chemo clinic down, enjoy them. They taste good and they'll distract you for a moment. You'll want that.

8. You're going to be scared. Don't keep it in like I tried to. Talk about it and share it with those close to you. Try to remember that fear is an emotion and like all emotions, it will change. It doesn't have to own you. It's OK to cry. I did.

9. Participate in support groups. You need what they have, whether you are new and needy or a long-term survivor who proves that you can overcome.

10. Take walks during your recovery, as many as you can, more than one a day if you can. You need to see that the world is still there and the sun is still shining. You need the exercise, too.

11. Let others care for you in any way they can and want to. They love you and, like me, are often at a loss about how to show you. Tell them what you want and need and let them show you they care enough to do for you. You both need that. Don't be jealous of others who care and want to help. If you are a support person you might as well admit that you can use all the help you can get.

12. Pay attention to newly documented cancer risks and treatments. Avoid the risks when you can and investigate newly proven treatments with your doc.

13. Pray. There's no downside.

OK, enough for today. I hope you'll join in here and pass along your experiences so that others can benefit.

I love my darlin' wife's smile.

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If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell.
Lance Armstrong