Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Children of Cancer Patients

The other day in the Chemo Bay I visit a couple times a month, I found myself between two older ladies, one who was anxious as to how her 3-4 year-old granddaughter would react if she lost her hair and one accompanied by her grown daughter and a friend, who had lost her hair and proudly wore a bandana celebrating the 4th of July.

As their conversation roamed through how to shop for a wig and how much they cost and, more importantly who was the best wigmaker in this area of wealth and opulence, I found myself remembering my niece who was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer some ten years ago.  At the time she was young, late thirties, drop-dead gorgeous, and contending with, not only her cancer, but a husband who seemingly had enough of her cancer foolishness.

On the heels of that memory, I was reminded of a presentation by Eva Grayzel at an AADA Leadership Conference I attended with Mary.  Eva was a Broadway talent in the true Chorus Line model, who probably would have been lost in the Ensemble credits had she not contracted Oral Cancer, one of 6,000 who die each year of 40,000 diagnosed in the United States.

Ms. Grayzel gave a very inspirational and informative presentation that included how her case management was delayed and her case misdiagnosed.  She was asked to present at an annual conference for the ADA but was quietly moved to the background because the ADA was involved with a newly launched diagnostic tool and was more interested in a campaign to promote it than in linking oral cancer incidence to something that might have a preventive component, namely a vaccine.

I asked her why the numbers of oral cancer patients per 1,000 population in the U.S. had not changed since Mary’s grandmother was diagnosed in the 1950s and she said we are not very good at recognizing affected people early.  We also are seeing a new cause; unprotected oral sex with multiple partners with resultant infection by Human Papilloma Virus.  This has now become a cause celebre for me.

She also said that her daughter, a tweener at the time as I remember it, blamed her (Eva) for at least three years for “Catching cancer”.  It turns out that this is not an uncommon response of children, who believe the world centers them for each event. And the patient is partly to blame for the weakness that causes the cancer and the changes that may occur.

That was likely the condition that Jackson Hunsicker was attempting to combat when she enlisted several topline fashion photographers to highlight the beauty of being bald in her book, Turning Heads    If you get or read the book you will find my niece on page 50, by far the most striking model in the book.

My sister-in-law graciously donated a book to my chemo bay and I saw to it that both the women mentioned above read it.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it has become extremely popular, on display with the magazine and a quick read, since it is essentially all pictures.  Thank you, CeCe.  I’m sure Julia is very pleased.


In my next post I will share with you the surprise Mary and I had at our grandson’s twelfth birthday.  I hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Northeast Passage

Northeast Passage vs. Suez Canal
A couple weeks ago, a press release from the Russian press announced the commissioning of a multi-billion dollar nuclear icebreaker.  The backstory was in the accompanying phrase that essentially said, “This will put an end to the American embargo.”

Why might that be?

For several years I have attended a seminar in the Bay Area by one of my Alma Maters, The Naval War College in Newport, RI.  About three years ago there was an interesting presentation on the unintended consequences of the U.S. Fleet decimation.  In particular, they mentioned that we no longer had any useable Hospital Ships, because we can airlift casualties in shorter time to U.S. hospitals and we have limited resources in Germany now.  Another casualty has been icebreakers, of which we have only two, old, conventional ships that rotate between the yards, the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Aside from the fact that icebreakers used to provide a billet for a dentist, why should that be of importance?  The answer is that the ice in the Arctic is going away. 

While the fact that the Polar Bears are losing their hunting grounds is of little consequence unless you are a young boy sitting on a remaining ice flow wondering if you are going to be a Polar Bear breakfast, what is means this that the ice, which restricts passage of the Northeast Passage and more importantly the North Sea as it borders Russia in 2013 allowed for passage for more than three weeks, when ten years previous it had been open for about one week.  With icebreaker assistance that could be tripled or even quadrupled.

Use of the Northeast Passage chops about 23,000 miles off the Suez Canal passage.  This has great economic advantage for both China and Russia and both are greatly increasing their presence and influence in the region.  The major savings is in fuel and the construction of nuclear icebreakers is an intentional investment in ships that can remain on station without assistance for longer periods of time.

The Peabody, out of Beluga
What has slowed the process in the ensuing years is the fact that Russia’s major export is oil, which has decreased dramatically in value and need by the rest of the world. If Russia could open trade markets in Europe and China could cheaply increase its influence in Africa, the game might truly be changed.

Interestingly, the Passage is a two-way street with Germany going in the other direction.  Most of the previous icebreakers have in fact been German, including their own nuclear ship, The Peabody.  With Great Britain’s Brexit, it will be interesting to see if Europe desires to increase trade outside of the EU.

It will also be interesting to see what the next President is inclined to do about rebuilding the U.S. fleet.  Our present policy with our naval presence being treated with open disdain by both China and Russia would argue that something needs to be done.

In my next Post I will offer observations on children of cancer patients and the effect that cancer treatment of parents and grandparents have on their lives.  I hope you will join me.