Archive for cancer

Marijuana - An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

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ounce of prevention

Now let me begin with I'm a skeptic when it comes to things like Dr. Whoopadoo's Snake Oil Elixir, good for whatever ails you. There's no panacea that does it all. At least I haven't found it. But I'd like to believe that good health and cures for all diseases are within our reach.

Now I read this on HUFFPO:

Marijuana has long been used to effectively treat symptoms associated with HIV, such as chronic pain and weight loss. But a growing body of research suggests the plant may be able to stop the spread of the disease itself.

Adding to these findings is a Louisiana State University study published last week in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses Scientists found that damage to immune tissue in the primates' stomachs, one of the most common areas in the body for HIV infection to spread, decreased.

Some of you may say, who cares? HIV is a "gay" disease, attributed to risky sexual behavior. Those queers deserve what they got. It's God's wrath. Well if you believe that, you don't need to read any farther. Go back to reading your Flat Earth Society Monthly periodical.

I suppose I attribute my being spared from HIV to my relatively normal, quite risk-free lifestyle. But hey, maybe my many years of smoking weed was actually helping me in ways of which I had no knowledge. Putting honesty above claims that marijuana saved me revelations, I'm glad to see these scientific research findings. And not for the reason you may think.

I'm glad because I come from the generation that saw so many die of HIV-related AIDS complications. It was the '80s and '90s. Being diagnosed with HIV was as close to a death sentence as you could get. There were no cocktails of meds that could save you. I saw friends die. Now, things are bit different.

So what if smoking grass could prevent this awful disease and its related complications? Wouldn't that be great?

Put aside the old thinking that marijuana is nothing more than a gateway drug. Of course it's got its drawbacks which, like the premature reports of Mark Twain's death, have been greatly exaggerated. It's not for everybody -- neither is alcohol or peanuts. There are also limits to be discussed. But with all the arguments against smoking cannabis, the movement to legalize it is a juggernaut. It's happening. The sooner the better.

If you're an opponent of legalization, I understand. You really don't have the facts. But give a bit of credence to the findings quoted above or this one below:

Similar research spearheaded by Molina in 2011 found that infected monkeys treated with THC had a better chance of surviving. And a report published in 2012 pointed to evidence that marijuana-like compounds can fight HIV in late-stage AIDS patients.

Let's face facts. Most of us aren't scientists. So being dubious is natural. If you have doubts about marijuana being nothing more than snake oil, that's your business. No one's forcing you to imbibe. Just don't stop others whom modern medical science show are being benefited by it. And not just HIV sufferers.

Last year, an oncologist from the United Kingdom found that marijuana compounds can kill cancer cells in leukemia patients, and scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have conducted research that suggests those compounds can also effectively combat other forms of aggressive cancer.

If there's even the slightest bit of medical benefits to this drug, that's important to all of us. And if by some chance it actually does stop the spread of disease, let's make it available for anyone of legal age to have access to. It won't hurt you and it could ease a patient's pain or even prevent the spread of a deadly disease. The time is here. Let's take our heads out of the sand and back marijuana legalization when it comes up for a vote in your state. As they say, the life you save may just be your own.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield health care disaster: Man with brain tumor needs care STAT, not a death panel.

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Lolly Jean Twitter profile health care

One of my longtime Twitter pals, @Lolly_Jean, is desperately trying to raise the profile of what health care insurance companies are doing in the employer provided field; maybe shaming Blue Cross into allowing her husband to continue the care they have already approved, the care her husband was receiving until he became sick, will help.

She has tried tweeting to news and cable outlets to no avail. Any suggestions anyone might have to help her raise the profile of this devastating issue--for her husband and the others in employer-provided health care policies that will likely follow-- would be greatly appreciated.

Here is her story in her own words (bolding is mine):

My husband has a brain tumor and has been under care of Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, and receives his radiation treatment from Memorial Sloan Kettering in Commack, Long Island, New York. He became ill from side effects, was taken to our local hospital on January 28th, where he remains today.

We have been fighting Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield for the past 2.5 weeks, as they refuse to allow him to be transferred to Memorial Sloan in Manhattan (MSK) for acute care and resumption of his remaining radiation treatments to the brain. We receive our insurance through my husband's employer, and we pay an additionally for Direct Point of Service care, which allows us choice of doctors and facilities. To note, my husband has been under the care of Memorial Sloan Kettering for the prior 4 years.

Blue Cross, at first, wanted to transfer my husband to a hospice facility with a standing DNR (do not resuscitate) order. My husband is not in end stages of his illness.

They fought us for a precious week of treatment time until they agreed that my husband did not warrant end of life care. They still refuse to allow us to take him to MSK, where his doctors know him, have knowledge of the rare form of tumor he has, and where until 5 weeks ago, he was receiving his treatment.

As I mentioned, this is employer-provided health care. My husband's employer is advocating he be moved to MSK for the remainder of his treatment, and has been very helpful in contacting Blue Cross in advocacy of his case.

MSK is 'in network' on our plan. They accept the negotiated payment as per their contract with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. And as I stated, we do have a Direct POS plan which allows us to go outside of network, should we choose.

To force us to change our doctors at this stage is unconscionable, immoral and dangerous.

To force us to go to a facility that cannot provide the same level of cancer care would not allow for the outcome that MSK feels my husband's condition should have.

And the more time we fight Blue Cross, my husband becomes weaker. This truly is a death panel, one run by the actuaries in Empire Blue Cross.

Please, help us by lending your voice by advocating for my husband.

By the way, here's the @AskAnthem Twitter profile. Notice the link they provide at the bottom:

Anthem on Twitter health care

Here's what you see when you follow the "customer support" link they provide, because, you know, they CARE:

anthem support health care under maintenance

I'm sure Anthem's "improving your online experience" and apologizing for "any inconvenience" are a huge comfort to Lolly Jean and her ailing husband.

You can get the ball rolling by tweeting this post to @empirebcbs (Sally Kweskin, their PR director in New York) and @askAnthem.

I don't know about you, but I'm not letting up until we get more action than a pleasant, solicitous response.

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Republican on Republican Bloodbath -- Eating Their Own

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RepublicansEatingOwnw398h282

Ever get the feeling you were being eaten by your own?

Is the Tea Party really part of the Republican party or are they a third party? That's the question that leads to this story on the internecine battle going on right now in what's currently called the GOP ranks. But as you read more, you may come to the same conclusion that many share now -- the GOP and the Tea Party are two different organizations, kind of like conjoined twins - relying on each other for their complete existence.

eng and chang

Sadly, like with Eng and Chang Bunker, they were two very different people who couldn't co-exist without one another. They shared vital organs, one's blood fed through the other. Neither could survive alone, therefore they spent 63 years connected -- and when one died, the other quickly followed.

Is this the fate of the GOP? There's a certain movement afoot to separate the two groups. There were separate responses to the State of the Union. They have separate caucuses in Congress. They have separate agendas, and even separate fundraising. Yet they loosely still are bridled under the one banner of the Republican Party.

Here's where the malfunction is being felt the most. Forget "all politics is local." All politics is MONEY. Period.

Via Talking Points Memo:

As part of their efforts to avoid the unforced errors that have cost them in the last two elections, Republicans have been playing "hardball" with would-be donors to a leading tea party group.

FreedomWorks chief Matt Kibbe told the New York Times in a story published Monday that leading Republican lawmakers have done their part to block donations to his group.

This is beginning to sound like those species who eat their young. Where the Tea Party and the GOP share a number of commonalities, they also are facing some mutual obstacles -- mainly the Independent voters who are flocking to the Democrats. These are largely women, the poor, immigrants, and minorities.

So you'd think that if you were one party, you'd work together, sharing the chores and the funding. As two parties, they can't exist beyond another election without self-inflicted major injuries. One will not walk away from the next showdown. And when you cut the power to the GOP and exile the Tea Party members, you've got two weak and ineffective groups. When Eng died, Chang followed minutes later. Does anyone else smell the faint wafting of the Whig or the Bull Moose Parties?

FreedomWorks is backing a number of conservative candidates trying to unseat GOP incumbents such as Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

And while the effort has drawn the ire of Republican leadership, Kibbe doesn't mind his insurgent role. In October, he suggested that there's a "real possibility" that the GOP splits into two factions.

So FreedomWorks, the fundraising mechanism for the Tea Party is starting to get shut out from the mainstream Republican donors. No money means no influence, which then means no politics. All they can do now is take what funds they can scrape together to try to usurp the larger, more mainstream GOP. But this Tea Party cancer is taking it's toll, eating away from within. Will the Tea Party cancer turn out to be malignant? Some say it already has. Just ask Speaker John Boehner.

The bigger question is whether or not this creeping disease is going to be fatal. Right now the attending physicians aren't giving great odds for survival. I hear Boehner and Cantor are meeting later today with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. The Speaker has requested a priest be present, in case last rites need to be administered. Does that give you a "tale of the tape?"

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Third Marlboro Man Icon Dies A Smoking Related Death

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MarlboroManw392h244

As a boy growing up and through my early adulthood, there were billboards galore that expounded the manliness of smoking. During later years, TV advertisements for cigarettes ultimately were banned, but the iconic images and slogans related to the smoking industry stayed with me. There was the Lucky Strike anagram on the bottom of each pack: LSMFT (Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco). And in trying to reach a female demographic, there was Virginia Slims campaign, "You've Come a Long Way, Baby."

When it came to cigarette slogans, the airwaves were filled with ads for Winston Cigarettes: "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should;" Camel Cigarettes:  "I'd walk a mile for a Camel;" or L&M: "Just what the doctor ordered."

But none of them were as iconic or enticing to men AND women as the lure of becoming or being or being made love to by the Marlboro Man. He was macho personified. Their commercials, their billboards, their slogan appealed to all: "Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro country." It was the benchmark by which smoking itself was measured.

Over the years there have been a number of "cowboys" chosen to be the iconic face of this brand. During the 1970's it was Eric Lawson. He appeared in print and TV ads as “The Malboro Man.” In case you are too young or can't put his name to his face, here's one of his memorable commercials:

Eric Lawson, died yesterday from respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), at the age of 72. In case you weren't aware, that's a most common smoking related cause of death, often reported as lung cancer. You might say his passing from smoking, which his wife claims he did heavily until his death, was coincidental.

I call it ironic. Especially when you factor in that two other Marlboro Men, Wayne McLaren, who appeared in Marlboro print ads, died of lung cancer in 1992, and David McLean, who appeared in print and television spots, died of lung cancer in 1995.

Make no mistake about it. cigarettes kill. Yet to draw an analogy from the NRA who claim guns don't kill, people do, we might be able to make the same argument that cigarettes don't kill, people do. But that's wrong. And even if you buy that, doesn't it make you wonder why cigarettes are so heavily regulated while guns aren't?

Come on. It does make you think, doesn't it?

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Whose Fault Are These Toxic Spills? Ask The Anti-EPA Advocates.

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toxic blame game

Mitch McConnell approved this message as you'll hear at the end:

My heart goes out to anyone who's worked their entire life thinking their workplace environment was safe while. as it turns out, it was not. To hear this commercial and the little bit that's left of cancer victim Robert Pierce's voice, you'd think what Mitch McConnell did for Kentucky was a valiant thing. He rode in on a white horse to save the day, or in Pierce's case, his life.

But lets boil it down a bit and see how the Senate Minority Leader's actions were really nothing more than mopping up spilled milk after he was warned the container wasn't safely stored in the first place. This was an accident waiting to happen and McConnell (and other elected GOP officials) turned a blind eye toward it.

Here's why I find Mitch McConnell's ad disingenuous. HuffPo reports:

Other Paducah residents who suffered illnesses from poisoned wells and plant watchdogs who repeatedly warned of the hazards will likely disagree with Pierce's assessment.

For more than 15 years in office, as The Huffington Post chronicled in a profile of the senator, McConnell all but ignored the problems at the plant. Mark Donham, who had served as chairman of the Paducah Citizens Advisory Board, which monitored plant safety, told HuffPost, "McConnell never stood up and lobbied for an investigation" into the plant's hazards.

Sadly, people like Mitch McConnell are really just mops, not guardians of our safety. They're reluctantly willing, when it's politically expeditious, to step in but only after it's too late. Would Mr. Pierce have come down with throat cancer had the proper procedures been taken to ensure his safety? We'll never know. But warnings were given and McConnell ignored those calls.

Freedom Industries

Now we have a similar situation in West Virginia.

Two weeks ago chemicals leaked into the Elk River and the local drinking water reservoirs. A warning went out for the locals to not drink the water, shower in it or use it in any way other than to flush their toilets. People were becoming sick, some even ending up in the hospital. After a few days the people were told the water was safe to drink again. That was a lie. The perpetrators of this falsehood were Gary Southern and his Freedom Industries, the chemical leakers, who feared financial ruin. So they went into bankruptcy to save their offending company, and only after they received Chapter 11 protections, came out with the second warning that water really wasn't all that safe to use. Especially for pregnant women.

But it didn't stop there. Under bankruptcy protections they then revealed one thing they forgot to mention earlier. There was another chemical stored on their facility that also leaked into the water table.

Bloomberg Business Week:

So now we learn that there was a second coal-processing compound mixed into the West Virginia chemical spill that contaminated Charleston’s water system. The good news is that the experts think—maybe—the second chemical wasn’t any more dangerous than the first. Small comfort to the 300,000 people who lost their water and the 300 residents who had to seek medical help. The bad news is that the belated revelation reaffirms that the company behind the spill is truly out of control.

What was the official response when asked about the additional spill? Mr. Southern commented, "that it's a bad day for Freedom Industries."

Really? How about for the people in West Virginia and other states affected by the runoff of deadly chemicals?

Railing at Freedom Industries is no more responsible than railing at Kentucky's uranium plants. Anger needs to be placed at the feet of the elected officials who fought against any form of EPA enforcement or safety checks which could have nipped this in the bud. None of these plants had been checked in years. As a matter of fact, the state of West Virginia wasn't even aware that the second coal processing chemical was even stored at Freedom Industries. Why? The politicians claim this sort of monitoring and controls would cost jobs and money for the coal and uranium enrichment industries. No mention of the words, 'worker's safety.'

Well how much is this cleanup going to cost in lives, jobs and money?  Only time will tell. These disasters might have been prevented if politicians had done their jobs. And how interesting that most of these state politicians are Republicans. It does make you wonder how much they're really looking out for their constituents. Jobs are important. But so is job safety. McConnell and his kind have let down their states. Maybe this is what we should be reminding the Republicans in Washington who have made it their mission to eliminate and disembowel the Environmental Protection Agency.

Instead of thanking McConnell for making healthcare funds available to Mr. Pierce to fight his cancer, he should be asking the Kentucky senator why McConnell let this cancer happen to him in the first place.

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The Wait Can Be Worth It, Certainly The Donation Can Be Life-Saving

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organ transplants

Two years ago wasn't such a good year for me.The show I was writing and producing got cancelled, my oldest child got a wonderful job and moved out and oh, one other thing -- I was told that I had fatty liver disease (called nonalcoholic steatohepatisis). The projected outcome was death. So I was put on a liver transplant list while being sized for a proper fitting toe-tag. But being the newest addition to the list, and with a chance to last a year at the most, my call number was way down --or as they say, you can't even hear the band from back here. A population of donors the size of Phoenix would have to all die and donate their healthy organs for me to survive. Even with John McCain and Sheriff Joe Arpaio running things in that area, there wasn't much chance of that.

In the meantime, my doctors didn't give up. I was submitted for and got accepted into a test group, half of us given a placebo and the other half given an experimental medication. We didn't know who was in which group, but there was some guarded hope. But the waiting was "killing" us... in at least half the cases, literally.

But somehow I adjusted -- I say adjusted guardedly because I didn't tell my family so I was kind of living a lie. I didn't want to worry them but they eventually found out as my health deteriorated and I was hospitalized. The ingrown toenail excuse could only run so long.

I waited and awaited, and at best I seemed to stay the same, then I would check the donation list and still find my name inching up the list, but I was still at least a Hollywood sized population away.

Fortunately for me, last year was a great year. I wasn't on the placebo list -- but on the actual experimental medication list -- and the concoction reversed much of my liver issues. I ultimately improved to the point I was no longer on the list but on the mend. Today I feel great.

But I was one of the lucky ones. And not everyone is so fortunate. One of the first things I did was fill out an organ donor card. Hell, if I was saved from this sod box ending, why shouldn't I give the life of sight, or hearing, or a heart, or kidneys or something else to those who're going through what I went through? If you think waiting for your drive-through window food order is stressful, try waiting to live.

If it's against your religion to make an organ donation, I understand. But if you're just lazy, not so much. Take the two seconds to check off the organ donation box on your next driver's license application. AND MAKE SURE YOU LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW. You can't imagine the miracle gift you can provide for those you leave behind. You have  no idea what that waiting is like and hopefully never will.

Here's a little video to put into pictures what those who are waiting go through. You won't feel a thing, but you'll know you've done something great. And it won't cost you anything you're going to have any use for, anyway.

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A Friend To The End

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Cancer patient and his dog

 

Courtesy of MailOnline:

Mike Petrosino, 21, was diagnosed with cancer in the eighth grade. He has been in and out of Massachusetts General Hospital since then but last week doctors said there was nothing more they could do.

So on Friday, his family brought his dear dog Rusty to the hospital to say a final goodbye. The emotional image of the pet by his bedside was shared on Reddit and has since gone viral.

This is the time of year for miracles -- actually any day and any time is right for an act of God or any other deity. Here's wishing for a safe journey -- perhaps delayed, for a stranger to me, but a friend to all including his dear Rusty.

And for those who think dogs don't understand a friend and relationships, read on:

John Petrosino [Mike's brother] told TheBlaze the moment was deeply moving, and Rusty, who is now 10 years old, seemed to understand the gravity of what was going on.

'That was by far one of the most touching moments of my life,' he told the website.

'Rusty was very emotional when Mike said his finale goodbye. Every time I come home these past two days, he sits near Mike's favorite couch and whines, which is rare from him.'

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