Category Archives: Advocacy

Facebook Can Help Fight Cancer

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People spend a lot of time on facebook. Me? Guilty as charged. On fb I have:

  1. Reconnected with old friends from high school and college.
  2. Promoted projects.
  3. Read and posted lots of interesting and educational articles/blogs.
  4. Received solutions to tech issues I posted.
  5. Read and posted some good (sometimes childish) humor.

So this post is not about Facebook bashing… But… like life, Facebook can be what you make of it. And sometimes I wonder if people use it too frequently as escapism and not enough as the powerful galvanizing tool it can be. 

For example, a post about passing gas can oftentimes get ten to twenty times more views and likes than a post about health or science that can have a huge impact on you or your family…

So, for your consideration… If you’re on Facebook and you have time to:

10- Look for the first three words you see in the puzzle.

9- Write the one word that describes your ex.

8- Guess, debate, or argue about if the dress is white and gold, or black and blue. 

7- Figure out what your band or stripper name is.

6- Frequently make and post Meme’s.

(C)Flynt/bigstockphoto.com

(C)Flynt/bigstockphoto.com

5- Post partisan rant after rant to people who already agree with you.

4- Troll other people’s posts.

3- Share inspirational quotes daily.

2- Post breaking world, political, and entertainment news that has been or will be shared 10 thousand times in the next 10 seconds.

1- Change you default picture again… and again… and again. (In the same day.) 

Then maybe you have time to read and consider signing and sharing this petition urging congress to hold oversight hearings into the prevention, treatment, and cure for cancer.

I truly believe in this petition with all of my heart. But hey, if you read it and it is not for you, I understand.

However, I would still encourage you to find your own way to challenge cancer, a disease that possesses a 50% chance of impacting your life or that of someone you love.

If not cancer, pick a cause near and dear to you and use Facebook, and other powerful social media tools, for something meaningful in addition to the many other good, fun and distracting uses fb has.  

Well, I was going to say something else that I think might be of interest to you, but it is getting late and I want to pick out my next flashback Thursday picture.


Oh and PS, the first three words I saw in the puzzle were: Hopeful, proud, ghoul. Yikes!

 
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Responses To Petition About Cancer Oversight

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So it has been about a month since I started this petition urging congress to hold oversight hearings into the prevention, treatment, and cure for cancer. I want to sincerely thank again all of those who have responded so far, and those who went one step further and shared the petition with others.

Your signing means a lot to me personally. But more importantly, every e-signature, your e-signature, brings us one signer closer to hopefully making a big difference in fighting a disease that will have 1 in 2 men and 1 and 3 women hit with the words no one wants to hear… You have cancer.

For those who have not read or signed the petition, I would like to share just some of the email responses* I have received from people who have. (I edited out some of the personal condolences to me about my moth

I have lost friends and family to cancer, and the questions raised and transparency requested on your site make good sense. Thank you for forwarding. I will sign the petition… D.C.

Of course I signed your petition. Gladly. I too lost my Mother to this horrible disease. In 1977, my precious Mother was only 37 years old and Ovarian cancer robbed her of her life and dreams and left her 5 children without a mother… J.R.

Done. I support this wholeheartedly. I contracted breast cancer in 2003 and was told it was 8-10 years old… O.W.

I appreciate your efforts and I wish you tender mercies, joyous memories and strong resolve to continue campaigning against the disease…E.C.

Thank you for creating this! I signed!… V.B.

Hi Jeff! Thank you so much for bringing this petition to my attention. I’ve signed it and will be sharing it as well! So sorry for your loss. That is simply tragic. My heart goes out to you & all cancer victims. Best of luck!! …M.R.

Hi Jeff, I feel for you and your mother. I lost 7 significantly close family members to cancer and heart disease. I am currently fighting breast cancer. I signed the petition. Best regards…. C.H.

No prob-I lost my dad & sister to cancer as well-whats your email I will send you my book… D.L.

I will sign the petition you sent me and will share so others see it and sign it as well. I wish you the best of luck and really appreciate you are reaching to fight for a cure… R.U.

I agree 100% and signed the petition. I also think that the billions of dollars to cancer “research” that people raise money for is questionable, in particular I’d like to know where that research is in terms of progress… S.H.

Cancer is a terrible thing and I’ve seen it take the life of more than a few. A girlfriend’s father included when she was just in her early 20’s. Why in this day and age we haven’t made major headway in treatment is a very hard question. I’d be honored to sign your petition and re-post it…. D.J.

Hey Jeff!! yeah, cancer has affected my family on so many levels. I’m so happy to know that you’re leading this needed crusade against, what has become a drawn-out process to cure cancer. the root causes are not clear yet either (is the food we eat? the water? the air? the chemicals in everyday life?) and the way to treat it is still so clunky. for all the money pouring in, you’d think there’s be more progress… H.C.

Unfortunately, cancer is not just in the rear view mirror. It is beside us and in front of us. It’s not hypothetical, and it does not negotiate.  We can do more, and be more, so much more efficient. And it’s not about money. Knowing this. Knowing what’s ahead in terms of pain and suffering for millions of people in the years to come motivates me.  I hope it does you too.

Please read, share and spread the word about this petition. If nothing else take some time to learn about ways you can prevent cancer. Do this for yourself and for the people you love.

You have the power to help do what one respond-er to the petition hopes for:

Thanks man I appreciate it. I pray this petition of yours goes viral… J.W.

Please help make it so…

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*Many of the responses included a sentence of condolence about the loss of my mother. I appreciate them but edited most of them out to get to more of what may matter to you. I used their initials in case they prefer anonymity.

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Material placed on this Web site by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical or mental health advice. Coming Together To Fight Cancer makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

The Coming Together To Fight Cancer website provides links to other non-Coming Together To Fight Cancer sites. Coming Together To Fight Cancer has no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that Coming Together To Fight Cancer links to another site does not mean that Coming Together To Fight Cancer endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which Coming Together To Fight Cancer provides a link, you do so at your own risk.

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An Open Letter To ESPN About Stuart Scott And Cancer

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Dear ESPN,

A month ago you lost one of your own in Stuart Scott.

Stuart was clearly far more than a colleague to most of you. He was a friend, a mentor and an inspiration. Far more importantly than any of that, he was a beloved father. Appropriately, you honored him with the Jimmy V Award at the ESPYS, where Stuart made a speech that would have made Jim Valvano proud. It will stand the test of time serving as an inspiration to many for years to come.

After Stuart’s passing, you memorialized and honored him in a way that went beyond what was necessary, but a reflection of how much this man meant to you. It was genuine and welcome. Not just from you, the response from some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods… and even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, demonstrates you were not alone in your affection and appreciation for Mr. Scott.

StuartScottOne of the things you admired about him was the way he battled and fought cancer. On the day of his passing, I, along with many others posted this quote from his ESPY Award acceptance speech: “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” There is strong meaning, inspiration and truth in those words.

Stuart Scott’s fight is over, but the fight against cancer lives on, and it needs your help. ESPN, you are the worldwide leader in sports, but I am asking you to do more. To be a worldwide leader in the fight against cancer. I am asking you to honor your friend and fight for a cure for cancer as aggressively as Stuart fought cancer for his life.

You see as a society we collectively wait until cancer is in the “red zone” before we fight it with everything we have. Sometimes our defenses will merely bend and cancer will cause significant damage.  However, too often our defense does break, and it is too late, game over.

As I don’t have to tell you, sports is a results oriented business. If teams don’t perform, there is scrutiny. A lot of it (Pete Carroll anyone?). Each and every aspect of success and failure is analyzed, and if one group can’t get it done, it doesn’t matter who is a nice guy, or how hard they are trying, sooner or later (often sooner) change comes. New athletes with different abilities, and new coaches with different voices and schemes, are brought in.

The fight for a cure for cancer, (which includes prevention) needs to be a results oriented business. Cancer is the number one killer worldwide and its numbers are projected to grow. Currently 1 in 2 men in America get diagnosed with cancer and 1 in 3 women. Take a moment to take those numbers in. They are staggering. If I was talking to Michael Smith and Jemele Hill I would say those numbers don’t lie. They mean that in all likelihood Stuart Scott is not the last person close to you that will be hit with this dreaded disease.  Sadly, far from it.

There are so many other issues in this country that we spend far more time on that pale, absolutely pale in comparison, to the emotional, physical and financial devastation, and loss of life caused by cancer.

Bigstock_ 26614838 - 3D Man Prepared To Race

(c)Nasir1164/bigstockphoto.com

It will take brave leaders like you to change the trajectory we are on. Thank you for your efforts with the Jimmy V. Foundation, but I am going to ask you to do a bit more…

In truth ESPN, I’m not going to ask you to do much, but here goes:

1 – Read and sign this petition to implore congress to hold televised hearings into the search for a cure for cancer.  You know, the way they did for steroids & PEDs in baseball.

2 – Have your on air, TV and Radio talent, do PSA’s for this petition and or cancer in general. Help recruit as many current star athletes to do the same.

3 – Do a 30 for 30 type of documentary of athletes and their families affected by cancer that also highlight the problems that we all face.

4 – Start an organization in Stuart Scott’s name that serves the multipurpose of raising cancer awareness, helping and supporting those with cancer, and one that serves as a watchdog group to the government, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Well maybe the third and fourth one is a tall order. If you don’t like any of the ideas in this letter come up with your own. Your talented, creative, and most importantly you have a voice. A loud one… With many platforms and personalities to broadcast it and make a difference in a fight against a disease that kills more U.S. citizens in a three year span than were lost in all wars we, the United States, have engaged in combined.

Please consider doing something. Thank you for reading this letter. I am truly sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,
Jeff Schubert
A grieving son who lost his mother to cancer.

 

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Euthanasia: Is It Okay To Stop Fighting?

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Yes, on behalf of loved ones lost to cancer and what is inevitably still to come from the number one killer worldwide, I want to fight, beat, and destroy cancer.  The thought of it sickens me.  But until the day when we end this pandemic and other terminal illnesses, a debate over euthanasia/ assisted suicide needs to continue.

Cards on the table.

If you want to fight for your life till the last breath, regardless of the odds, pain, and suffering that you or loved ones watching you may experience; I won’t argue against that. It is your life, it’s your choice, and I honor and respect it.

If you want a measure of control over the timing of your passing, to not fight what appears to be insurmountable odds, to avoid the pain and suffering that you and loved ones would go through, I won’t argue against that. It is your life, it’s your choice, and I honor and respect it.

Truth is I have been an advocate of euthanasia/assisted suicide for as long as I can remember.  Long before I witnessed my grandmother die of a long drawn out bout with Alzheimers, and then my mother to cancer. (For the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide, click here) Faced with a similar situation and a beyond reasonable doubt point of no return, I would do what I could to end my life on my terms.

It’s that point of no return that gives me pause and inspired me to write this blog. I was reading this powerful article about Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal cancer who has chosen to end her life via assisted suicide.

As her life winds down, I find her advocacy for others and their right to assisted suicide courageous and inspirational.  (If you would like to sign an e-card showing support for Brittany’s decision you can do so here.)

My hesitation or caveat when it comes to euthanasia comes from the deciding point of when to let go, and in particular, not resigning too soon. I am in no way meaning to imply that Maynard is doing so, however my concern is how others may construe the headline of the message. Specifically, while I am an advocate in favor or euthanasia/assisted suicide, I wouldn’t want to see people ending things when they may have had more good time than they thought.

You see Mrs. Maynard was initially given a diagnosis of 10 years to live, but then that drastically changed to 6 months. One repeated theme in many of my blogs is that we as a society turn over too much trust to doctors. They are fallible. They can be wrong. People who are told they are terminal turn out not to be. People who are told they have a small amount of time left, live for years before passing. And, sadly there are many times people have less time than doctors predict.

3d rendering of signs with "LIFE" and "DEATH" pointing in opposi

(c)zentilia/bigstockphoto.com

Life prognostication is not an exact science. Grace Silva had been given five months to live. She had thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs. Four years later, Grace has gracefully proved that wrong. What if she left us too soon?

While I would like to see assisted suicide legal in all 50 states (instead of just 5), I would encourage anyone thinking about assisted suicide to hold out as long they reasonably can, and of course get multiple opinions on their condition.

In other words, if I am going to err, I would rather it be living one day too long verses going out one day too soon. One decision is reversible. The other is not. “Pull the plug” to soon and I might not wake up the next day to find out that indeed my doctor is wrong and I have far more time left before deterioration and death. Pull the plug one day to late and I experience one day of suffering that I would have chosen not to. One day versus perhaps days, weeks, months or years.

I’m not trying to judge or tell anyone what to do. From a legal and moral perspective, so long as a person is deemed of sound mind, I believe the choice should be theirs.  But I can’t think of a more important decision to think through, know all of your options, and to be sure of what you want to do, and the timing with which you want to do it.

My best wishes to the Maynard family and anyone faced with this most challenging circumstance.

Love and respect to all whatever you decide.

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You can watch and listen to Brittany in her own words by clicking here.

If you would like to make a donation to help in the fight for Death with Dignity rights you can go to http://www.thebrittanyfund.org/.  The funds go to an organization called Compassion and Choices.

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Material placed on this Web site by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical or mental health advice. Coming Together To Fight Cancer makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

The Coming Together To Fight Cancer website provides links to other non-Coming Together To Fight Cancer sites. Coming Together To Fight Cancer has no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that Coming Together To Fight Cancer links to another site does not mean that Coming Together To Fight Cancer endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which Coming Together To Fight Cancer provides a link, you do so at your own risk.

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Cancer Needs A Ray Rice Video

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Domestic violence and child abuse are not new issues. And yet due to the NFL’s Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson situations, they have been thrust into our collective consciousness. Society tends to not want to talk about such things. They’re unpleasant, and under the guise that these issues are private matters between couples and family they have been dismissed. Or as a result of lack of proof, (think “he said, she said”) we have allowed ourselves to fall into an uncomfortable denial.

However, more and more, social media, videos and pictures that offer indisputable proof, have changed that by periodically shocking us into their realities.

The Ray Rice video leaves nothing vague or left to the imagination. Ray Rice knocked out his then fiancé Janay Palmer. Cultural values of raising a child aside, the pictures of Adrian Peterson’s child show abuse. We understandably judge those who commit the acts. We also judge their bosses/owners with the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings respectively, and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, for being too lenient. Fair enough.

I would like to see even harsher judgment for the lawyers, judges, and politicians responsible for making and enforcing laws, and public policy, so that more than the spouses and children of football players are protected going forward. And I am hopeful we will. Why? Because Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson put faces to these otherwise dormant issues. Their “private” issues have forced the rest of us to deal with it and have a national conversation. Something many passionate people and groups have fought for, for many years.

The result has been an evaluation of how we educate, enforce and prosecute these crimes. Stricter enforcement and more education can result in perhaps hundreds or even thousands of fewer victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

If only cancer had its version of a Ray Rice video. One where we saw what a cancer victim goes through. Of course you couldn’t capture it all in one short clip or a few pictures.

  1. There can be the clip where everything goes right yet we still see the pain, suffering, body withering away and death.
  2. There can be the one with hospital or doctor negligence or honest mistakes.
  3. There can be the one with the unbearable side effects of drugs.
  4. There can be one where a patient can’t get access to drugs that could help but are not FDA approved.
  5. There can be the one where non-mainstream potential cures are being blocked by mainstream interests…
  6. And dare I say it there can be one possibly exposing immoral or unethical behavior by a pharmaceutical company or other power wielding entity…

If that is too conspiratorial for you, think about the information that the tobacco industry withheld from the public and how they spiked cigarettes with nicotine making them more addictive.

Think about the NFL and “league of denial”, what they knew about concussions and the damage they caused leading to what could be a billion dollar settlement with former players.

Pharmaceutical Products

(c)Denis Pepin/bigstockphoto.com

Is it possible that with the blind faith most of us afford the billion dollar cancer industry, and the entities that profit from it, that everything isn’t on the up and up?

Finally, all of these videos should end with the chilling statistic that the rate of cancer diagnosis is 1 in 3 for women and 1 in 2 for men…

These videos should shock and outrage the public. They should do so to the point where just like the NFL has been forced to reevaluate its lenient stance on domestic violence, and just like the commissioner is being held accountable for what did he know and when did he know it, we the people can hold the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and government et al, accountable for the state of treatment, prevention, and the search for a cure for the number one killer in the world… Cancer.

Given the death and rate of diagnosis of cancer I think we need and deserve more oversight. But that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.  I don’t wish cancer on my worst enemy… But if and when a famous person(s) comes down with cancer maybe they can make video… Maybe Michael Moore can make a controversial documentary with ordinary people that will get attention.

If increased education, and oversight lead to better prevention, better care, faster cures, and reduced cancer death rates in America by 10%, that would save close to 60,000 lives a year. It shouldn’t take a video, but hey whatever it takes.

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Update: On CBS’ 60 Minutes: The Cost of Cancer Drugs

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Material placed on this Web site by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical or mental health advice. Coming Together To Fight Cancer makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

The Coming Together To Fight Cancer website provides links to other non-Coming Together To Fight Cancer sites. Coming Together To Fight Cancer has no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that Coming Together To Fight Cancer links to another site does not mean that Coming Together To Fight Cancer endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which Coming Together To Fight Cancer provides a link, you do so at your own risk.

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What Traditional and Alternative Medicines Have in Common

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I want to take a timeout from biological arguments. From chemotherapy, radiation, diets and herbs. I want us all to step back for a moment and look around at the landscape as it pertains to the fight against cancer.

Generally I don’t like it when people use war metaphors to make a point. However, in 2012 alone, 8.2 million people worldwide died from cancer. Between the deaths, suffering, and the emotional collateral damage it causes, I’m okay with using them when it comes to cancer.

In the fight against cancer we have an army made up of traditional western medicine devotees. And we also have an equally passionate army that is alternative and or complementary. Western and alternative practices each fight cancer with a unique arsenal of weapons. Each stake the higher ground when it comes to comparisons to the other as being the one true terrain to follow. Cloaked in the faith and arrogance of their chosen path, each can be guilty of personifying the Gore Vidal quote, “it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

While I respect the passion and conviction, it pains me when I see the slings and arrows going back and forth between traditional and alternative medicine. Cancer is such a menace. It has caused so much suffering and death that we need an all hands on deck mentality. If necessary we need to agree to disagree and not see a different paradigm as the enemy.

From one side we often hear: “stay away from alternative medicine, they’re nothing but charlatans and snake oil salesmen… There is no science!!”

From the other we often hear: “cancer is big business, the pharmaceutical companies, doctors and government are all in bed with each other. They don’t want a cure! In fact they are blocking alternative methods and doctors that have a cure!!”

Before I get to the point I want to make, I would ask that despite any discomfort, you take a moment to close your eyes. Forget about the daily minutia of what may trouble you. Forget about what side of medicine or healing you align yourself with. I ask that you visualize the damage, hurt, pain, and death caused by cancer. Take a moment to take in the vulnerability, tears and loss felt by loved ones left behind. Feel the emotional tsunami and upheaval it can bring about.

Together We Can Chalk Illustration

(C) image kbuntu/bigstockphoto.com

And here is what both sides have in common. Odds are there are very few among us who have not been touched by cancer. This includes advocates of traditional and alternative medicine. There have been too many casualties on both sides for me to believe that either is completely corrupt or without authentic belief in what they are doing and pursuing in the cause to beat cancer. To end cancer, so that no one, ever again, has to experience what I have just described.

I refuse to believe that all western doctors who have lost loved ones are going to “blindly line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies”.  Or worse yet, subject themselves or their loved ones to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, if they do not believe it is what gives them the best chance to live or live longer than they could otherwise.

Likewise, there are alternative medicine healers or believers who have lost too many loved ones or been directly hit by cancer for them not to believe what they are doing is right, or to knowingly sell false hope and prematurely end a person’s life.

It simply isn’t that black and white. While each side can make disparaging comments and accusations about the other where there may be a partial truth, let me say that a partial truth does not equal the whole truth. To extrapolate and damn a whole group based on the actions of a few, or maybe even a little or a lot more than a few, is called stereotyping. It is wrong when done to groups of people and wrong in the fight against cancer.

A sentiment stated by two prominent U.S. senators, one republican and one democrat, is: “question my policies but not my intentions.” (I am specifically not naming the senators because the importance is in the message not getting sidetracked by thoughts about the messengers.)

Are there corrupt, greedy, and or incompetent people on both sides of this medicinal argument? I’m not naïve, so yes, I’m sure there is. We do need to find them, call them out, and if and when appropriate, let the legal system deal with them.

But I’m also not so cynical as to think everyone is. Not so partisan to my own ideas that I lose sight of the fact that cancer is the enemy. Truth, in the search for the cure or at least extending and improving quality of life, are the goals. Given the escalation of cancer, we should be willing to seek truth in all likely and even what we may think are unlikely places.

Given the lack of a cure we need to critically, objectively, and without ad hominem attacks, examine and question all of our approaches and methodologies.

When passion and sense of rightness is married to ends justify the means thinking, it is easy to justify almost any behavior. Cancer involves life and death and pain and struggle, so if you believe your way is the right way and any other way is potentially deadly, it is understandable how passions can boil over.

Right now there are still a lot of questions when it comes to cancer. People of good conscious should respect the authentic efforts made by anyone trying to end this blight. If for no other reason than the alternative of mudslinging can be a turnoff to a the very population you are trying to get through to.

Aside from loss of loved ones to this pandemic there are two other things I believe true soldiers of these armies have in common. 1 – Is a desire to find a cure. 2 – As of this time, the belief that prevention is the best cure we have.

Perhaps a shared focus on the elements of prevention that are agreed upon is something positive that could make difference. The numbers when it comes to death by cancer are so large that even a small difference can make a big difference. And that is far more important than being right or proving the other guy wrong.

Bigstock_ 26614841 - Fast Food

(c) image digitalista/bigstockphoto.com

While all the specifics of prevention may not be agreed upon, there is enough agreement on certain aspects of diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that are. Let’s strengthen this message and do whatever we can to get it out there and understood because it doesn’t seem to be getting through.

In addition to cancer, there is also heart disease, diabetes and obesity. We’re doing undeniable harm to ourselves. If we can focus on what we can agree on, just maybe we can make a positive dent on these outcomes.

As far as the disagreements, I don’t expect them to end anytime soon. And that’s okay. Disagreements are to be expected, and when done constructively they can even spark greater innovation. But when it comes to intentions and how we disagree, remember, soldiers who are fighting the same enemy as you have suffered their losses too.

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Material placed on this Web site by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical or mental health advice. Coming Together To Fight Cancer makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

The Coming Together To Fight Cancer website provides links to other non-Coming Together To Fight Cancer sites.  Coming Together To Fight Cancer has no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that Coming Together To Fight Cancer links to another site does not mean that Coming Together To Fight Cancer endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which Coming Together To Fight Cancer provides a link, you do so at your own risk.

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Cancer IS NOT Random

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Yesterday I read an article written by Mike Florio about ESPN sports anchor, Stuart Scott, and his ongoing fight against cancer.  It is a nice brief commentary written by Florio about Scott’s inspirational and courageous battle.

However, part of the first sentence hit a nerve with me.  It reads:

“Anyone with a family member affected by the horribly random curse that is cancer…”

With sincere respect to Mr. Florio’s intention, cancer is not random.  Too many people think it is.  They shrug their shoulders, and say, “if it happens it happens”, “I’m not going to worry about it”.  And then go about their business, as if in fact, it will never happen to them.

The truth is, running into your favorite celebrity at a department store is random.  Winning the lottery is random.  Being hit by falling plane crash debris is random. 

Bigstock_ 26614835 - Failing To Prepare

(c)Yury Zap/bigstockphoto.com

Contracting a disease that affects men at a rate of 1 in 2, and women at a rate of 1 in 3, is not random.  It is not a curse.  It is a reality that we no longer have the luxury of being in denial about.  We have to deal with it head on.

Just because we can’t fully explain why something occurs, or does not occur, does not make it random.  Considering that the rate of cancer diagnosis has been on a perpetual rise since the early 1900’s, it is fair to call it something other than random.  It is a pattern.  It is a trend going in the wrong direction.

Aside from people living longer being the only good reason for this trend, we can assume something(s) about the way we live, eat, and breath may be contributing to the rise in cancer.  Leaving it up to fate in hopes that the odds work in our favor makes playing Russian roulette seem safe.

If you want to give yourself and your loved ones the best chance to avoid or beat this “curse”, we have to take matters into our own hands now. That means making use of the best available information to prevent getting cancer and or treating it.  It means being prepared and knowing your options.

In addition, it means calling on the government to put in relevant oversight measures to prevent and cure cancer with the same vigor that it has towards preventing and ending terrorism.

When something random occurs, by its very nature, there is a little surprise involved.  Sadly, cancer should surprise no one.

One last note: I firmly agree with Florio when towards the end of his article he writes:

“Best wishes to Stuart and his family as he continues the battle,…”

Donate now!

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How The Politics Of Fear Can Fight Cancer

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What are the politics of fear?  Typically it is when republicans or democrats exaggerate the nature of a threat to push through a change in policy or to keep things the same.  Change or the status quo will depend on which party has the power and which sectors of voters are being appealed to. 

American Politics

(c)Krisdog/bigstockphoto.com

For example, if the republicans are in power, they may use the politics of fear to keep anti-terror laws or push new ones in place.  If the democrats are in power, the republicans may use the fear of terrorism to win back power by proselytizing that the democrats aren’t taking the threat seriously enough, and that they will do more to protect the folks.

Both parties do it.  And fear politics is used on an array of issues including:

  • Terrorism
  • Gun control
  • The deficit
  • The environment
  • Immigration
  • Social security
  • Election of ideological judges that could sway issues like abortion.

Despite our public awareness of it, fear politics can be very effective.  Whether a politician or an interest group initially stokes the fire is irrelevant.  Once the flame is ignited, the media, and a significant portion of the public become involved and it’s game on.  A national discussion ensues and each and every politician better have a position on it.  If they don’t have their own plan, they better be for or against someone else’s.

When elections roll around the issues are usually debated based on the weight and the level of fear and concern each issue has been able to generate.

If an issue can’t crack “the fear list”, it generally is not discussed nor dealt with to the extent that maybe it should.  One such issue that is not on the list and should inspire more fear is cancer.  Why?  Because it is coming for you.  And it is coming for your loved ones.  This is not hyperbole.  The rate of cancer diagnosis has gone from one in twenty to one in three for women, and one in two for men.  The deaths due to cancer dwarfs, and I mean dwarfs, the amount of deaths due to terrorism and guns combined.

It doesn’t discriminate.  Not by gender, not by race and not even by age.  Are you worried about gun shootings at school?  I understand your concern, but from 1980 to 2012 there have been 297 children sadly killed due to school shootings.

In 2014 alone, the American Cancer Society projects that there are going to be 1,350 deaths of children under the age of 15 due to cancer.

And unlike guns and terrorism which can offer a quick death,  death by cancer can be slow, torturous and painful.  It can strip you of your dignity and render you and your loved ones powerless. Ultimately, breaking your spirit as you reach the point where death becomes the solution and not the problem.

We need to make cancer more of an issue so that our politicians can compete for staking out the higher ground in terms of:

  • Doing more to find a cure.
  • Pressing the FDA
  • The pharmaceutical companies.
  • Hospitals.

Regarding hospitals: Just as poor communication and human error may have contributed to 9/11, and improvement in those areas makes us safer, so too can improvement in communication and lessening of human error save and or prolong life with regards to cancer and other causes of hospitalization.

Unlike some saber-rattling and fear-mongering with regards to other issues, the cancer threat is not a hypothetical or theoretical, “if this than that”, threat.  It is real.  It was real yesterday, today and will be real tomorrow and the day after that… unless we stop it.  Maybe I am now playing the politics of fear.  Good.  If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. 

You can easily find and contact you’re elected officials and share your concerns by clicking here.

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What If Steve Jobs Was Murdered?

PALO ALTO, CA - OCT 5: Apple website pays tribute to founder and

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Steve Jobs died from a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Given that he was the co-founder of Apple and a billionaire, his cancer diagnosis received more attention than if he were an “ordinary” person. Understandable. But the news came and went and there really wasn’t that big of a to do about it. There was talk of his diet, and exposure to toxins early in his career in Silicon Valley, but certainly no national discussion. No talk of bipartisan committees or legislative changes.

What do you think the difference would have been had Mr. Jobs been shot and murdered versus cancer? In terms of media coverage? Would the public be plastering social media with images and slogans that were anti or pro gun? You better believe this ancillary topic would be trending. How he died would be as big or bigger news than the fact that he did die.

Death by gun would have sparked discussion about gun control laws. Politicians would undoubtedly be using it to make their case for or against guns.

Tom Brokaw at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Beverly Hilto

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More recently, within about a week of each other, former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, and former major league baseball all-star Curt Schilling,announced they had cancer. It was news. News that came and went without much fanfare. Of course I wish them both a speedy recovery.

What might the difference have been had Brokaw and Schilling both been hospitalized for gun shot wounds? Or victims of terrorism?

For some perspective:

The point is not to diminish the importance of vigilance, discussion, and review of policy as it relates to gun control and terrorism. Rather it is to indicate that we massively need to elevate the importance of doing more where cancer is concerned.

Politics and sports have something in common. They are results oriented. If the job isn’t getting done, there is 24/7 analysis, scrutiny, and calls for transparency and change. And if the masses are unhappy, the media starts calling for heads, and indeed turnover often occurs.

Cancer protocols do not have to follow the same formula identically, but considering:

  1. Millions of deaths have occurred.
  2. The rate of diagnosis has skyrocketed.
  3. The number of deaths per year is rising.
  4. The collateral damage to the emotions of loved ones left behind.
  5. The cost is billions of dollars.

We the people need to demand to know what is going on. We need transparency. We need accountability.  Maybe we need big changes in how we’re going about finding the cure, and in medical care.  Maybe we need little changes.  Or just a few fresh ideas.  We need to make it more of an issue and find out.  We need to think about the things we would be doing if close to 575,000 thousand people per year were dying from guns or terrorism and employ relevant strategies to the fight against cancer.
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Are We Hunters? Or Are We Prey?

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Many years ago, a counselor used this metaphor with me.  He asked me if I am the hunter or if I am the prey?  He stated that if I was not one, than I was the other.  I interpreted this as him wanting to get the point across that life is not neutral.  It is not to be observed, it is to be lived, and in some cases, defended and fought for. 

I like the hunter/prey metaphor better than the often used “fight or flight” because there is more immediacy to it.  Fight or flight refers to stressful situations that may or may not come to pass.  The psychological aspect of fight or flight asks: do we confront, or do we run?

Hunter/ prey takes it a step further and reminds us that it is not just about situations we find ourselves in or seek out, but that situations may seek us out whether we want them to or not.  And, whether we are aware of it or not.  

Sitting atop our perch of the animal kingdom, it is easy to view humanity as hunter.  Sure, when it is us against sheep and cows we are hunters.  But what about when it is us against each other?  Or us against ourselves?  Our issues?  Issues we don’t want to face, confront, or deal with?  Issues like death.  Like cancer.

The hunter/prey metaphor can be positive as well as negative.  Further, you can be a hunter in one situation and the prey in another.  How we respond to our wants, needs, and fears will determine this on a case-by-case basis.

On a macro level, considering that the rate of cancer diagnosis has gone from 1 in 20 to 1 in 3 for a female and 1 in 2 if you’re a male: between society and cancer, who is the hunter and who is the prey?

As I allude to above, sometimes prey will not know it is being hunted or fully appreciate and understand the fervor with which it is being hunted.

Prior to 9/11/2001, we as Americans knew about terrorism, but many of us had no idea the extent to which Osama Bin Laden was hunting us. 

After 9/11 occurred, the mindset in America changed.  We wanted to be the hunter.  We were filled with fear, sadness, and anger over the attack.  We mourned the loss of life.  We were terrorized not knowing when Osama might strike again.  We may not have used the word prey at the time, but that is what we feared we were. 

It was a challenge and a threat, that despite differences on how to fight terrorism, most us wanted to fight it.  In other words, we collectively decided to deal with it as hunters, not wanting to just shrug our shoulders or throw our hands up and let it happen again.

Despite the fact that illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimers present an exponentially greater threat to us than an airplane blowing up in the sky, many of us have the equivalent of a pre 9/11 mentality when it comes to cancer.

This is not meant to diminish the intention, efforts and results of those seeking a cure.  However, the scoreboard, in terms of number of people being diagnosed, says we are getting our butt’s kicked.  And it doesn’t seem to bother the masses, and in turn our leaders, as much as it should.

Where are the questions?  Where are the hearings?  Where is the accountability?  In government, the pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals?

We’re talking the number one killer worldwide.  At exactly what point does a sense of urgency kick in?  If one in three people were hit by terrorism, Martial Law would probably be declared.

Forget cancer for a moment.  I want to ask you a hypothetical question.

First, humor me for a second and imagine that tomorrow the lead front-page story in the NY Times is about the leaking from a high-ranking official that cancer is in fact now a man-made disease.  A biological weapon that scientists in the Middle East have figured out how to duplicate and unleash upon us.  And that is the reason the rate of diagnosis is increasing so dramatically.

Of course this is not true.  But what if it was?  Do you think the news would be covering cancer differently?  Stoking fears?  Demanding a cure?

I believe their panic and urgency would understandably become our panic and urgency.  As a result the government would do more.  And it would be for the better.

President John F. Kennedy created urgency in 1961 when he declared America would reach the moon by the end of that decade.

President George W. Bush, declared war on terrorism after 9/11 promising to take us to whatever corner of the Earth we needed to go.

Despite their differences, President Barack Obama has taken the baton, continuing, and when it comes to the use of predator drones, escalating the fight to keep us safe from terrorism.

Where is the urgency and declaration for cancer?  I repeat:  Where is the accountability?

The family of victims of terrorism are said to be entitled to answers.  And they are.  When suspected negligence, proven or not, occurs in places like Benghazi, hearings are demanded.  “The people have a right to know!”  And we do.

But this disease.  Cancer.  It hunted down, tortured and killed my mother, and millions of others… She was its prey.  And myself and all the people who loved her were its collateral damage. Left to grieve and perhaps be hunted down ourselves by this killer one day.

The level of depression, anger and post-traumatic stress of watching my mother go through this can be overwhelming.  Am I entitled to any answers?  Are the millions of others who experienced the loss of a loved one close to them, are they entitled to answers? God forbid it happens to you or someone you love, are you entitled to answers?

I don’t know if a cure is around the corner, but I know we can do better.  And if we can do better, shouldn’t we?  But unless we make it an issue, our leaders will not.  When my mother passed I decided I wanted answers, and that I no longer wanted to be prey to this disease.  I want to hunt it.

How about you?  When it comes to cancer, do you want to be the hunter?…  Or do you want to be the prey?
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