Monthly Archives: March 2014

Only Child’s thoughts on cancer

Only Child  thinking about cancer and its causes and consequence.

Only Child thinking about cancer and its causes and consequence.

Cancer was the big concern yesterday. I was back in Aurora, Ontario to visit an old friend and read from my book Beyond the Tripping Point at the local library. The old friend and one of the other authors reading both have cancer. Which got me thinking.
It’s been almost 50 years since my dad died of brain cancer and we’re still trying to get the cure? Except for the long long time and some of the concoctions for treatment that come up, I do have respect for the researchers for at least keeping on digging for the cure.
My worry here is the treatments that are being used. In Dad’s time it was either slice or burn or both. (He had the latter only; it helped the first time, but the cancer just spread to another area of the brain, they couldn’t do anything, so he had what we now call palliative care).
One of the two people I saw yesterday had outlined her treatment plan for breast cancer in an email. It made me feel ill just to read it – that she would have to go through all that to maybe get better.
The other one has terminal cancer from what I can gather. She is on chemo – and has been for the past couple of years. Originally the high-dosed chemo made her so sick she was considering just dropping it and spending the rest of her days as is with her family. But the dosage was changed and the side effects aren’t so bad. Eventually the chemo will not help.
It seems like the “cure” is worse than the disease. And it is not always a cure. Who gets through the cancer into remission and who doesn’t seems to be a crap game. Sure, some of the chemo, surgery and radiation works. Some people who choose no medical intervention of the “regular kind” get through it. Same for some who choose modified treatment despite being told they should be more radical. Some try alternative treatment (either on its own or with regular medical). Some who are hopeful about getting better, do; some don’t.  Some who aren’t hopeful don’t make it and some do. Ditto those who are spiritual and those who aren’t. Attitude doesn’t seem to matter.
Then there is the question – with all those odds should they go through the treatment that will drag them through hell physically and emotionally, for a bit more time with their family and friends? Or should they just let it be and spend their time with their families and friends?
One exception here – some surgeries can cure some cancers (but not all). If the prognosis for surgery as a cure is very high, then maybe go with it.
It’s the chemo and/or radiation afterwards that I question.
Like my book’s title, we seem to be beyond the tripping point with cancer. I don’t know what the answer is but I have a few suggestions (besides the obvious – find a cure NOW).

  • Focus more on treatment that isn’t so drastic, so painful, and so debilitating. Did you know if you get radiation treatment you can’t go out in the hot summer sun without covering up? I know, I know – we should be more careful here because of the UV rays and skin cancer potential. But those who get “burned” don’t get radiation just for skin cancer.
  • Focus on more natural treatment.
  • Try to work more at the prevention end (research, getting the word out, and the rest of us – individuals, corporations and government – doing more about the environmental “polluters”).
  • The so-called average person can also do more about improving their lives using information already available. We’ve come some way with banning pesticides, the cfc elimination from refrigerators, etc., and the publicity on smoking causing cancer.
  • Something has to be done about too many cars spewing out toxins – they don’t just cause asthma attacks, but they cause cancer. See the Studies section in this Wikipedia article on Motor Vehicle Emissions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_emissions#Health_Studies From there link to the studies. And Google for more studies.These are just the tip of the smogberg.
  • More responsibility in automobile ads. Instead of just focusing on the car’s features and “low” price, how about some caveats? This is done with alcohol in relation to drunk driving.
  • Smokers need to quit and the younger generation shouldn’t start smoking. However, I don’t think they are getting the message and that might be because it isn’t coming at them as relevant.
  • Pay more attention to our diet. There is a lot of media attention to obesity and diet and diabetes and diet. All very well. How about some big publicity about cancer and diet? And the food manufacturers have to get in the act here, too, to help.

Maybe I’m being naive but when the treatment is worse than the cure; when cure as a result is a crap shoot, and when even the cancer instigators aren’t consistent (i.e., some who eat or inhale something cancerous don’t get cancer; and some who live healthy lives do get cancer, well…
Something is sure screwed up here.
It’s nearly 50 years since my dad died of brain cancer. Have we really come a long way since then?
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

And I have no clue why my spacing disappeared when I save the draft of this post.

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Filed under cancer, Cancer Treatment

Only Child scowls through life

Only Child wearing her gentler scowl.

Only Child wearing her gentler scowl.

The old Charlie Chaplin song Smile tells us to smile through all our grief (Smile, music: Charlie Chaplin, Lyrics: John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) but I’m not buying it for me. A study at Wayne  State University (published in Psychological Science says those who smile can live up to 79 years – the wider the smile the longer the life.

Those of us who are glum can expect to live to 73 years, according to the same study.

Do you know where this study’s researchers got their information? By looking at photos of  230 Major League baseball player on 1952 baseball cards,  seeing if they scowl or grin (and how wide the grin) and then checking records to see at what age they died.

I thought these studies were supposed to use the actual people – not pictures and records of them. Maybe the baseball players smiled purposely for the photo. (That was considered in the study, but obviously not held to much importance). Maybe the players were having a good or bad day and smiled or scowled accordingly.

This isn’t enough research for me to change my scowls to smiles. I do occasionally smile but my main facial expression, the last year at least, is a big fat scowl. And it’s not all squinting at the sun or trying to read the print on my computer when my eyes are bummed out for the day. I scowl because of all the misery I have in my life – all the stuff I referred to in my last post (and earlier posts) as coming at me from outside, or as I put it “dealing with others’ shit coming at me”).

As for attitude and perception – I’ve tried the positive route. The beginning of this year I had high hopes 2014 would be much better. Except for some financial improvement, it’s not turning out that way. And the “financial improvement” may all literally go out the window  to replace a few new windows so the rain can’t come in and yet another major excavation outside to waterproof the basement wall because of the contractor Nigel Applewaite’s screw-up in 2011. I’m now booking contractors and window companies for estimates, but deep down I don’t think my finances will cover it all – even with some help from my ex-husband. I’m already carrying debt and am trying to pay it down.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be frightful – a mix of rain, ice pellets, snow and high winds – from the east and southeast – right where it can get into my basement when we have this concoction. To top it off I have a sore swollen gland – the tale end and/or a branch of the sinusitis I thought went away a couple of weeks ago.

And don’t tell me if I had smiled 24/7 I wouldn’t have this viral infection.

Back to the study. Look at the life ages predicted. Seventy-nine (for the big grinners) and 72.9 (actual) for us scowlers. Not much difference. But more to the point for me. Even at my age, 72.9 is far far away when you have to put up with all the crap coming at you on a daily basis.

It’s not as if I don’t do anything about it. I don’t bury my head in the sand (if Icould  find it under the snow and ice). I tackle my problems and try to resolve them and get rid of them for good.

But like a bad penny they won’t go away.

Oh, correction, the penny has gone away – from the Canadian monetary system at least. Maybe PM Stephen Harper had the right idea here.

Unfortunate that all the other bad pennies in life won’t stay away.

See story on this baseball players smile study at http://healthland.time.com/2010/03/25/grinning

and

 How smile intensity may offer clues about longevity | TIME.com http://healthland.time.com/2010/03/25/grinning-for-a-longer-life/#ixzz2wKIX3j5m

More stories can be found by Googling “smiling and longevity study”

Cheers. (or should that be “Scowls”)

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Debt, Leaky Basements, Life demands, Money, Only child, Rain, Smiling and Longevity, Snow, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child on Daylight Savings and Winter

One of Only Child's teddy bears sits on time to try to tame it

One of Only Child’s teddy bears sits on time to try to tame it

When daylight savings comes around the medical experts are quick to list all the health problems associated with losing one hour’s sleep. Newsflash: some of us get little sleep as it is. This year the bigger bugaboo is the winter weather.

Don’t get me wrong. I prefer daylight savings time and when Canada decided to follow the United States in moving the start date up a month, I was (and still am) all for it. The evenings are suddenly daylight longer and the daylight hours will continue to expand into late June and the roll-back after that won’t be obvious until mid-August.

Of course this year, the extra evening daylight will light up the sidewalks and driveways so we can shovel snow. Yes, southern Ontario is getting hit with another big snowfall late tonight and into Wednesday. The only plus is it’s not rain as there still wasn’t quite enough snow melted to stop potential basement flooding from a too fast liquid-added meltdown. But we are getting somewhat warmer weather and a somewhat slow snow melt. It’s actually coming along fine. Now this. Is it no wonder that I have no faith and trust in God or whomever is out there running things.

But back to daylight time and the so-called health hazards – stroke and heart attacks. Another newsflash for these medical experts. Stress can cause strokes and heart attacks too and I’ve been buried under hundreds of avalanches of stress. All this business with potential basement flooding is more than enough to cause strokes and heart attacks.

The expert interviewed for “Time change Could be Bad for your health, expert warns” (by Sonja Puzic for CTV News http://www.theloop.ca/news/ctvnews/article/-/a/3409057/Time-change-could-be-bad-for-your-health-expert-warns) puts the root of all this health business at losing one hour’s sleep. The expert takes it further saying that 10 to 15 per cent of us are sleep-deprived and for us middle-aged and elderly folks we need more than six hours’ sleep per night.

I agree with him 100 per cent here. However, there are factors that get in the way of many of us getting enough sleep. We don’t have the time to get enough sleep. Even if we did, stress butts in. And another newsflash: as you get older sleep patterns change so that you don’t sleep as long. The National Sleep Foundation says:

 “Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age.” (Source: Aging and Sleep, National Sleep Foundation, Reviewed by Michael V. Vitiello, PhD, December 2009, http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep)

We may be able to do something about the time problem (I’m deleting things from my life) but stress that comes from outside ourselves (and don’t give me that crap about attitude and perception) and getting older are something we don’t have much, if any, control over.

So, what’s the answer?

I don’t know. Not using Daylight Savings Time (the Canadian province of Saskatchewan doesn’t change to Daylight Savings time) isn’t the answer.

For me less outside crap shoved at me would help. And back to normal weather would be a good start.

But that’s a subject for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Health, Old Age, Only child, Rain, Seniors, Sharon Crawford, Sleep deprivation, Snow, Time, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child focuses beyond the four-letter words

Only Child  rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Only Child contemplates then and now

Last week I posted dark. Maybe because a lot of what I’ve been experiencing lately is what is described as “going to hell in a hand basket, ” although the basket keeps increasing in size that it is now too big even for the Jolly Green Giant. My postings, my feelings, are a micro reflection of what is going on in the world today – from terrorism to wars to the weather. I’ve posted about that before, too.

Back in the “good old days” when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s life was simpler but not perfect. In the macro realm, most women stayed home with the kids and didn’t work; there was a lot of racism, and the extreme weather conditions were flukes not every-day occurrences. The only extreme weather I lived through was Hurricane Hazel. Our house didn’t experience any flooding. My late Mom said it was because we lived on a hill.

We also didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, and other social media that get abused today (think cyber bullying) and no Internet. The latter, along with email would have been useful. Instead we had landlines (rotary dialing which I couldn’t do now if you paid me), and transportation – we actually had trains going into rural areas carrying people not oil tanks that exploded.

But I’m a railway brat. My late Dad worked for the CNR so Mom, Dad and I got free train rides, a bonus for our holiday travel.

Behind all these good things in the past, there was underlying darkness. I was bullied but it was the in-your-face type of bullying and despite my intense shyness (thanks to being an only child of elderly parents), I did fight back, often more like a clown. In my memoir which I am currently rewriting, I write:

Mom’s uses subtler tactics. How else to explain our silent collusion when one day the Bully and I get into it with words?

I don’t remember the issue, but we’re standing outside on my front veranda. The Bully is letting me have it; I am burning hotter and hotter inside. Mom must hear us because when I run inside to get a knife, she hands me a ruler. The Bully knows she’s in trouble and she runs down the steps. Brandishing the ruler like I’m Zorro without the mask, I tear after her down the stairs, down the street, and around the corner. I’m steaming with how good it will feel to whack her one across the back and head, but she is too far ahead of me. Unlike Zorro, I have no horse, only my short eight-year old legs. I go right up to the side door of her house after she dashes inside. I yell and shake my ruler. I wish I had the nerve to run into her house and finish the job, but what will her mother think and do?

Maybe Mom is trying to protect me by teaching me to stand up for myself. (excerpted  from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford)

And maybe that has something to do with why I became a journalist.

The biggest darkness of my childhood was when my Dad got cancer. I was almost 10 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. It spread to his brain. Six and a half years later he was dead. Compounding living with this was living with betrayal – I found out Mom had lied about the lung cancer – Mom said Dad had TB. The Bully told me the truth.

So, life is never 100 per cent rosy or 100 per cent crappy.

But the balance of rosiness to crappiness has changed drastically since we entered the new millennium. Something is off there and hence the big big (and growing “basket) taking us to hell or whatever you envision as hell.

Shouldn’t the good be more than the bad? Or am I relying on life “back then” instead of  “life now?”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Railways, Sharon A. Crawford, Train travel, Uncategorized, Weather