Archive for cancer

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


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.


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


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.


Republican on Republican Bloodbath -- Eating Their Own



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?"


Third Marlboro Man Icon Dies A Smoking Related Death



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?