Somewhere a GOP Congressman…

I was surprised to read today* that only 3% of adult cancer patients eligible for clinical trials choose to participate and that 40% of such trials don’t achieve minimum enrollment.

It occurred to me that somewhere a GOP Congressman is reading this and thinking that anyone who has cancer and is on Medicaid should be forced to take part in clinical trials.

* “Heroic Measures,” Bill Keller, NYT

Rove Tried to Contain Planned Parenthood/Komen Damage

From “Karen Handel book:  Karl Rove urged retreat on Planned Parenthood,” Kathryn Smith and David Nather, Politico:

A tell-all book by a former official at Susan G. Komen for the Cure alleges that Karl Rove told the charity to reverse its decision to end its cancer screening funding of Planned Parenthood — raising eyebrows among conservatives who wanted Komen to stand firm amid the uproar.

The book by Karen Handel, the former Komen vice president who resigned after the charity restored funding to Planned Parenthood, says Komen CEO Nancy Brinker told her that Rove said the organization should back down.

The book, “Planned Bullyhood,” went on sale Tuesday, and the Rove story is already provoking comments from conservatives who have been skeptical of Rove in the past.

Read more:

Rove wisely wanted the GOP to focus on the economy in the 2012 presidential election and not get bogged down in social issues, driving women away, especially white suburban women who helped elect Bush 43 twice.


Judge With Cancer Pleads for Medical Marijuana

The New York state legislature is considering medical marijuana again.  In the past, it has been approved by the Assembly, but died in the Senate.    New York Judge Gustin L. Reichbach, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for over three years, today pleads for legalization in a moving, eloquent, and courageous op ed in the NYT, “A Judge’s Plea for Pot.”  Some excerpts:

“Nausea and pain are constant companions.  One struggles to eat enough to stave off the dramatic weight loss that is part of this disease. … Pain medication leads to loss of appetite and constipation.  Anti-nausea medication raises glucose levels, a serious problem for me with my pancreas so compromised.  Sleep, which might bring respite from the miseries of the day, becomes increasingly elusive.

“Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep.  The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless.

“This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue.  Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care.  But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients.

“Given my position as a sitting judge still hearing cases, well-meaning friends question the wisdom of my coming out on this issue.  But I recognize that fellow cancer sufferers may be unable, for a host of reasons, to give voice to our plight.

“Because criminalizing an effective medical technique affects the fair administration of justice, I feel obliged to speak out as both a judge and a cancer patient suffering with a fatal disease.  I implore the governor and the Legislature of New York, always considered a leader among states, to join the forward leader and humane thinking of 16 other states and pass the medical marijuana bill this year.”

Get Those Tests!

From “Assumptions and Attitudes Don’t Survive Cancer,” Abigail Zuger, NYT:

“As director of the bioethics program at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Norman Fost regularly deplores our national pastime of wasteful and unnecessary medical testing.  Yet as a patient, he writes, he has personally benefited enormously from just such testing, with not one, not two but three separate serious illnesses diagnosed with entirely unwarranted tests, leaving him with a bad case of what he calls ‘hypocrite’s guilt.;”

The Land of the Unemployed

Over at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson has some heart-wrenching posts by the unemployed about their frustration and misery.  They write of how they suddenly got cut off from the rest of us “normal” people and how they long to rejoin us.  Reading their stories made me think of how those who get a cancer diagnosis suddenly find themselves off in another country, off in Cancer Land, trying to get back to the land of the healthy.

It seems as if we are occupying the same physical space, but really, if you’re sitting in a coffee shop or on the subway next to someone who is unemployed or who has cancer, they are off in a nightmarish parallel world.  Even our responses to them tend to be the same — empty platitudes and words of encouragement and false cheer that ring hollow both to them and to us.  We turn away, we stop calling and visiting because we are afraid of them and their pain.  We cling to our world, and we pretend it is the only one.