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Erin Anderssen on Cancer: A Day in the Life

Globe and Mail Update

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  1. D J from Canada writes: Hi Erin
    You have done a fantastic job. This is an excellent series. I too have been touched by cancer having lost both parents and sibling to various forms (all different) and being a breast cancer survivor myself. But tremendous gains have been made in breast cancer for example with the advent of the newer drugs like the aromatase inhibitors. There are more survivors than ever now. Research is paying off and the focus is moving towards prevention too. This series is so important I hope consideration will be given to having it available on CD.
  2. Diana Daghofer from Dunrobin, Canada writes: Hello Erin, Thank you so much for including me in this Globe Focus. I am glad I was able to lend some optimism to what was a pretty grim picture of cancer. The good news, that wasn't really reflected in the section, is that there are more happy outcomes than sad ones now. We do seem to be making some, though not enough, progress. One person commented in this space about the lack of complementary therapies. I made good use of my naturopathic doctor, an osteopath, throughout my treatment. I'm sure he played a big role in reducing the side-effects I experienced through chemotherapy and radiation to a minimum. His role was generally tolerated, though certainly not embraced, by my medical team. It would be so much better if his skills were available to more patients, to help them through. Thanks again for letting me add my story to this feature. It's through our collective voices that we will be able to improve things for those coming after us. Diana
  3. Lynne Reich from St Clair Shores, United States writes: My husband has multiple myeloma,iga form, with multiple lesions in skull and spine. He is on clinical trial phase 3 for newly diagnosed. There is no cure and people with this form of cancer who are alive up to five years are at 30%. So if this the case, why don't all cancer patients, in this group, try clinical trials, it is like playing the lottery! We need research dollars and clinical trials, to find, if not a cure then at best quality and dignity to deal with this. Cancer has no borders!!! We need to all work together in treatments and cure.
  4. Heather Resnick from Thornhill, Canada writes: INSPITE OF IT ALL

    DEATH licks my face
    Like a salty, dry tongue.
    But, it is only a lick-
    Tasting...Testing
    Waiting...Working
    On my mind.
    When it wants more
    I muzzle it.
    It can't nip.
    It can't bite.
    It can only growl.
    I walk away.
    I don't hear.
    I don't listen.
    I turn on the music.
    I respond to the sounds of LIFE!

    Heather Resnick April 1997.

    Two-time Cancer Warrior, Author of Women Reworked Empowering Women in Employment Transition and Ms. Humpty Dumpty www.womenreworked
  5. Christina Roy from Mallorytown, Canada writes: This wonderful article by Erin Anderssen touched me profoundly. I read it from beginning to end without stopping because each story had a different initial paragragh that captured my heart and made me want to know more about these everyday people.
    The stories made me stop and reflect on how I handled the emotions my friends expressed when they were diagnosed because that was certainly a common thread in each of the sections.
    I will pay even more attention to the emotional quagmire because these people allowed Erin into their stories and she related them with such great care and skill.
    Thank you, Erin.
  6. Edith Carter from Canada writes: I'm sick and tired of chemicals in food. The government does nothing to help bring in to law no chemicals in food.
    Cancer causing additives and chemicals; even in meat, poultry, potatoes, milk, and fruit, not to mention the air we breathe. No wonder every month we have 426 people dying of cancer. We have to take upon our selves to buy Certified Organic Foods.
    Breast Cancer Survivor since 2001.
    Take care, Edith
  7. Clayton Burns from Vancouver, Canada writes: 1.Where in Ontario do we have honours life sciences high schools in which students would study Bruce Alberts on cell biology, for example, along with texts in genetics and biochemistry so as to accelerate their preparation for university? Such high schools would double as diagnostic centers where students would also learn about healthy lifestyles. Somehow, in Canada, we have managed to do the work exactly backwards. Even in the first two years of university, the teaching of biology is often slapdash. It is common to hear of students being asked to buy expensive texts, including Alberts on the cell, when these books are hardly being taught at all in the course. 2.Why can't high schools and universities integrate Medical Information Technology into their life sciences programs so that students would instinctively feel aversion for obsolete teaching methods and old-fashioned medical records? As long as we look in on the paper records in so many clinics in Vancouver, we will know the truth: no matter how brilliant the medical discoveries in cancer research, we still will not be able to adapt to the future just on the IT factor alone. 3.Why is it so difficult for the Provinces to set common standards in health care? What are the Charter implications of this failure? 4.What are the upstream causes of the incoherence in our health systems? One 'stem cell-style' determinant is obviously language, especially English and French. Anyone who sorts through the Public Service exams could only be dumbfounded by the triviality of the language component of the tests. The country is awash in garbage, LPI, TOEFL, made-up English, every pathology ever invented. How can life scientists be so oblivious to the effects of atrocious language teaching and testing? 5.When is the federal government going to make grants conditional on specific performance in IT, for example? How could we have a major grant regime in health sciences still with all of the helpless tinkering in electronic records?
  8. Terry Dempsey from Vancouver, Canada writes: I am very pleased that you have opened up a dialogue about cancer with your readers. I think this should be very beneficial to both cancer patients as well create a tremendous awareness to the general public of the issues cancer patients face.

    As we all know early detection is the key and I know of several cases where a PET Scan has diagnosed early stage cancer which resulted in early treatment and saved or gave the cancer patient a longer life span.

    Why are PET Scanners not in every major hospital in Canada and why are they not covered under our provincial medical plans?

    Canada lags far behind most other developed countries that have been using PET Scan technology for years.
  9. stephen strauss from Canada writes: Very nicely written, but I was still curious as to why the people who were selected for the piece did not in some rough way statistically represent the incidence of cancer in this country. Why didn't 2/3 of the people profiled get diagnosed with cancer after 60; why were 62 per cent of the examples women and not 49 per cent; why so much ovarian cancer and so little lung cancer?
  10. patricia anselmi from toronto, Canada writes: As I mentioned in a message I left in the mail box of the editor of the Globe, your coverage of this cancer issue will be fascinating to many. For those living with the disease picking up our paper every morning off the front porch just jolts back into the fear we live with every day. Now that your series is off to a good start could we worry less about headlines and rest assured that those interested in the series will go looking for the articles. Let those of us living with cancert start our morning off with a headline referring to something other than 'cancer'. We want to pretend life is normal.
  11. Ken Rush from Canada writes: One of my clients who works at the Cancer Ward in our cities' hospital told me of the huge increase in new cancer cases from year to year with the people continaully getting younger in age. My question is why the monmental increase in cancer and secondly why isn't the answer to that question first and foremost the focus of our research and attention. There are some answers that few too people are taking seriously. 1) We live in a chemical society. They are in our cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care, toothpaste you name it. Some are know carcinogens. 2) Harmful chemicals are in fertilizers, bug sprays and most aerosal sprays including air freshners. 3) Our agriculture industry is dependant and large users of many different chemicals. 4) Our food and water supply have been penetrated by chemicals. Our whole system of preserving food takes it from its natural form with some external substance. I am convinced we are killing ourselves by embracing this chemical society. Just like smoking the big industries will fight hand and foot to deny this because it is all about money. Get informed! There are healthy alternatives.
  12. Joe Recupero from Toronto, Canada writes:
    To Erin Anderssen:

    I cannot begin to tell you how brilliant I thought your writing and compassion was for this highly emotional piece of work....I read it all from beginning to end in one sitting and could not put it down ....instead of being depressed by the subject , I thought you did an outstanding job and what a remarkable stroke of honesty and inspiration from all those who participated .....every family can relate to these stories and the individuals who allowed you to show a glimpse into their scarey , isolated , uplifting , courageous worlds....cancer has touched my family many times and it makes you feel as if you are the only ones going through it .....a brave piece of work like this demonstrates the universality of the disease affecting all genders, ages, socio- economic groups.....it touches us all but a major feature like this can make people see beyond the disease and see the human being in all us no matter who it strikes ....we're all in this together ......
    A wonderful piece of writing ......I will never forget it ....

    Joe Recupero
  13. Wilf Kruggel from writes: I feel so badly for most cancer patients and I'm sure most people reading the G&M have seen the suffering first hand many times. The G&M poll regarding the governments underwritting cancer treatments needs to be gone through with a fine tooth come because the alcohlics and smokers are on their own, as far as I'm concerned. We were all warned about the end results of smoking and excessive drinking so they can deal with their problems. I really do believe that health Canada needs to be tougher with all the chemicals being allowed in our foods, air freshners etc. Wilf
  14. yag yag from Canada writes: Great comment, number 9. Cancer is a disease that mostly affects people older than 60. I suspect the reason two-thirds of the stories weren't about those people is that that just wouldn't sell as many papers. It just wouldn't have the 'emotional wallop' that a three-year-old has.
  15. j p from Canada writes: #13,Wilf Kruggel: There is a problem with your position that "alcohlics [sic] and smokers are on their own". Non-smokers and non-drinkers get cancer, in fact non-smokers get lung cancer. Which means that even if a smoker gets lung cancer, you cannot prove that he would not have done so even had he never smoked. And therefore, you cannot leave him "to deal with [his] problems".
  16. Anthony Welch from Barbados writes: The G & M did an excellent job in tracing and tracking those patients who subjected themselves to the investigation. Keep it up! I am very disturbed when doctors speak of pallative care because that is when they pick up their wings and play God. They have no right to treat symptoms and ignore the cause because they conclude that the patient is either too old or too sick to be worth their time. Doctors are people too and they have parents, spouses and other relatives who can have cancer. Will they relegate any person who they believe is too old or too sick to pallative care? When are we going to see a return to the oaths taken by them during their training days. I am referring to the Hippocrates oath which all doctors must take. I believe that the time has come for the medical profession to be fully scrutinized and the bad apples removed to avoid bringing the profession into disrepute.

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