Tuesday Open Thread: cancer cure edition

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The Cure For Racism Is Cancer
BY TONY HOAGLAND

THE SUN: September 2018

The woman sitting next to me in the waiting room is wearing a blue dashiki, a sterile paper face mask to protect her from infection, and a black leather Oakland Raiders baseball cap. I look down at her brown, sandaled feet and see that her toenails are the color of green papaya, glossy and enameled.

This room at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, is full of people of different ages, body types, skin colors, religious preferences, mother tongues, and cultural backgrounds. Standing along one wall, in work boots, denim overalls, and a hunter’s camouflage hat, is a white rancher in his forties. Nervously, he shifts from foot to foot, a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand. An elderly Chinese couple sit side by side, silently studying their phones. The husband is watching a video. The wife is the sick one, pale and gaunt. Her head droops as if she is fighting sleep. An African American family occupies a corner. They are wearing church clothes; the older kids are supervising the younger ones while two grown women lean into their conversation and a man — fiftyish, in a gray sports coat — stares into space.

America, that old problem of yours? Racism? I have a cure for it: Get cancer. Come into these waiting rooms and clinics, the cold radiology units and the ICU cubicles. Take a walk down Leukemia Lane with a strange pain in your lower back and an uneasy sense of foreboding. Make an appointment for your CAT scan. Wonder what you are doing here among all these sick people: the retired telephone lineman, the grandmother, the junior-high-school soccer coach, the mother of three.

Show up early on Friday morning and lay your forearm on the padded armrest of the phlebotomist’s chair. Her nametag reads, NATASHA. She is clear-eyed and plump, and a pink plastic radio on her cubicle desk softly plays gospel at 8 AM. Her fingernails are two inches long, and it is hard to believe she can do her job with nails like that, but she’s flawless and slips the needle into the hardened, scarred vein in the back of your hand.

I wish there were other ways to cure your racism, America, but I don’t see one. Frankly your immune system seems to be the problem. Installed by history and maintained by privilege, it is too robust, too entrenched to be undone by anything less than disaster. That’s how it is for a lot of us. If you are white and doing well in America, a voice whispers to you incessantly, repeating that you deserve to be on top, that to profit is your just reward. And it’s not only white people who need the cancer cure; it’s any person who thinks that someone of another religion, color, or background is somehow not indisputably, equally human.

The first time you park your car in the vast, cold cavern of the underground garage and step onto the elevator, you may feel alien and forsaken. Perhaps you’ll feel that you have been singled out unfairly, plucked from your healthy life and cast into this cruel ordeal. Walking through the lobby with a manila envelope of X-rays under your arm and a folder of lab reports and notes from your previous doctor, you’ll sense the deep tremor of your animal fear, a barely audible uneasiness trickling up from somewhere inside you.

But there is good news, too. As you pass one hallway after another, looking for elevator B, you’ll see that this place is full of people — riding the escalators, reading books and magazines, checking their phones near the coffeepots. And it will dawn on you that most of these people have cancer. In fact, it seems as if the whole world has cancer. With relief and dismay you’ll realize, I’m not special. Everybody here has cancer. The withered old Jewish lefty newspaper editor. The Latino landscape contractor with the stone-roughened hands. The tough lesbian with the bleached-blond crew cut and the black leather jacket. And you will be cushioned and bolstered by the sheer number and variety of your fellows.

This strange country of cancer, it turns out, is the true democracy — one more real than the nation that lies outside these walls and more authentic than the lofty statements of politicians; a democracy more incontrovertible than platitudes or aspiration.

In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.

It is true that this is not a country you ever planned to visit, much less move to. It is true that you may not have previously considered these people your compatriots. But now you have more in common with them than with your oldest childhood friends. You live together in the community of cancer.

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All of a sudden you have everything in common with everyone in that "club".

I have been doing internet searches on "countries that have conquered racism", "countries that have eliminated racism", and have gotten back pages and pages of examples of racism and intolerance in most countries and history. Maybe cancer is the answer.

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I'm hoping this essay is just a regularly scheduled topic, and not a subconscious comment about the last. I kept remembering Union Square, then China Basin and the ball park, the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, Alioto's, Fort Mason, North Beach. I took my own little virtual tourist trip back home last week. Thanks.

The idea that we are all connected by cancer is one I've pondered myself. Why not it be love? I don't know, I think about viral media and software, the psychology and abuse of power. San Francisco, the Bay Area, California is an open sore on the face of the planet to me right now, not on a healing path at all. I sing Aretha's cover of "I'll say a little prayer for you", and stay away from that Golden Gate, so never never land. Avoiding the Big C costs a lot of money, stopping its growth costs even more. (4.Profit!)

--- day late dollar short
I came across another overshooter on the internet. Woo hoo my club is more than me, yay. It would seem so perfect if they never returned... perfect!

If this blog goes dark…

A good friend and I are departing tomorrow on an epic 6-8 day hike in Strathcona Park to celebrate turning 60 this year.

That was August 13th, Happy Birthdays to them. My self is a '59er, born in '59, turning 59 - on the outside. Inside guts and bones are 90 years old and d-diddly-done, no rest for the broken hearted.
"old flint's boat is fine, but she's called the mis-inclined, and there's no home port painted on her stern"

https://un-denial.com/welcome/

hello goodbye
peace

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mhagle's picture

@eyo

Going to spend some time here today https://un-denial.com/welcome/

I want to hear about the lunch meeting too.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

phillybluesfan's picture

@eyo no, not a follow up to last week. Dale and I meet on Tuesday, September 25th. So that morning's OT may be a follow ... as might the one after.

I did change our meeting place to Papito Hayes out of respect for his comment about beer. But I expect to order a sangria

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Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

Leukemia guy, he testified before Congress, to pry out more research money, that a cure for leukemia was imminent. His mom died of brain cancer at MD Andersen while he sat with her overnight. She had been vain all her life, but refused to wear a wig or a hat when she lost her hair to cancer treatment. That had to have been huge for her.

Scary, scary thing about my relative. He told me he ignores directives wherein the patient has asked to be allowed to die under certain circumstances. His reason? When the patients can speak to him for themselves, they beg for anything he can do that might keep them alive longer. Incredible that he does not see the difference between a patient who is on life support and a patient who is able to speak to him for himself or herself.

Anyway, when he told me that, I could not believe my ears. What the actual fuck? That thought had never occurred to me.

IF the family were aware of the directive and his actions, they could seek an injunction and cross their fingers that the Texas state judge who is assigned the case is not a pro life extremist. Otherwise, what is the remedy? I know of no lawsuit by an estate against a doctor for having tried to keep the decedent alive longer, despite a medical directive to the contrary.

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@HenryAWallace thanks, I lived next door to a guy for 13 years, latter half taking treatments for Leukemia. He had retired from a good job, Golden Gate Transit bus mechanic his whole career. Good pension, good health coverage... until he got sick. And then he almost became part of a class-action suit against the bosses for exposing him and his cow-orkers to benzene and other harsh cleaning chemicals, all routinely applied with NO PROTECTION. I am not kidding. They caved in fast agreeing to pay for all treatments until death do them part. RIP Charlie.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3447593/

Excessive exposure to benzene has been known for more than a century to damage the bone marrow resulting in decreases in the numbers of circulating blood cells, and ultimately, aplastic anemia. Of more recent vintage has been the appreciation that an alternative outcome of benzene exposure has been the development of one or more types of leukemia.

Burning Plastic Pipe

This video demonstrates what happens when plastic pipe, in this case High-Density-Polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, is exposed to a grass fire. These demonstrations show two pipes - one laying on the ground and one buried. In both cases the pipe melts in hot drips. Once the buried pipe catches on fire and begins to melt, the soil above it collapses in on the pipe. The pipe can no longer transport water, the ground above it is not passable, and noxious gases are likely emitted into the environment. This happened in the 2007 California wildfires, and will happen any time plastic pipe burns.

--- good jobs bad jobs
Anyone else ever worked in a California factory during the 80s? My skin and lungs were exposed to a plastic and fumes called CR-39 for more than a year, it was a good factory job. $3.85 an hour. I think it was 75 cents over minimum back then, my mom had already died from cervical cancer, and my dad had just months to live after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

When I first started working there, the filling stations had no skin protection whatsoever, just liquid plastic splashing about if you weren't perfect. Anything that got on bare skin would absorb but you wouldn't feel it until that night or the next morning. "monomer rash" was a horrible thing, but what turned the entire area into a SuperFund site was the improper storage of cleaning alcohol. Leaking storage bins right next to the river (tidal slough) and bird sanctuary why not. I am talking about Petaluma, California and Schollenberger Park, that's the system.
http://solahistory.com/contents.html
That SOLA factory moved to Mexico before it closed, of course. I knew people who stuck it out to the bitter end, and took the "retraining" crumbs. To think about jobs like that coming back... it doesn't sound so good to me. It sounds like pouring gas to put out a fire, double duh. oh well

maybe things'll get a little better in the morning

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@eyo with an -ine ending. Gas stations have warnings. I have heard that for many cancers and conditions, genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger.

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mhagle's picture

Actually a lovely touching article about being united in struggle, cancer being the great equalizer.

I think I'll read it again.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Mark from Queens's picture

This resonates on so many levels. The idea of The Great Equalizer. The path to socialism. Truly becoming our brother's keeper.

I wish there were other ways to cure your racism, America, but I don’t see one. Frankly your immune system seems to be the problem. Installed by history and maintained by privilege, it is too robust, too entrenched to be undone by anything less than disaster. That’s how it is for a lot of us. If you are white and doing well in America, a voice whispers to you incessantly, repeating that you deserve to be on top, that to profit is your just reward. And it’s not only white people who need the cancer cure; it’s any person who thinks that someone of another religion, color, or background is somehow not indisputably, equally human...

This strange country of cancer, it turns out, is the true democracy — one more real than the nation that lies outside these walls and more authentic than the lofty statements of politicians; a democracy more incontrovertible than platitudes or aspiration.

In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.

If we'd just awaken a little more in our daily lives we'd be able to recognize the universality and commonality of life ever present. You get reminders of it all the time, but we dismiss them just a s quickly. As this piece points out we're heavily invested in all kinds of armor or identity that seeks to separate us.

On the subway in a packed car you're jowl to jowl with humanity. And once you get past whatever preconceptions of which you've been conditioned that feeling of universality strikes you. In less severe ways being teammates or working on a project and definitely engaging in activism brings forth a togetherness that opens up the channels to recognizing oneness and squashing division.

It's weird as a relatively new Dad, to be intimate with the beginnings of life, and to think that there could be any parent who could have any other overriding feeling than that of the universality of it all. It's inconceivable to me to look at people or babies now and not at some point imagine the collection of people who took are of and helped nurture that person. Being a parent should enhance feelings of empathy and compassion, not make you a self-centered, cutthroat capitalist with a he-man individualist, superiority complex. What the fuck, people; there's a whole host of the same things everybody desires, no matter how much some Libertarian asshole will try to dispute that. Warm bed at the end of the day? Hot and cold running water? Electricity to run things you need/want? Clean streets? There's more than enough resources to take care of everyone, relieve anxiety about it and make sure we all have access to the basics.

On another note this parlays right into the theme of Briahna Gray's most recent piece at the Intercept (which is making the rounds),"Beware The Race Reductionist."

A hostage situation has emerged on the left. And progressive policies like “Medicare for All,” a $15 minimum wage, free public education, a “Green New Deal,” and even net neutrality, are the captives.

The captors? Bad faith claims of bigotry.

According to an increasingly popular narrative among the center-left, a dispiriting plurality of progressives are “class reductionists” — people who believe that economic equality is a cure-all for societal ills, and who, as a result, would neglect policy prescriptions which seek to remedy identity-based disparities.

Of course, race and class are so interwoven that any political project that aims to resolve one while ignoring the other does a disservice to both. As Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., presumptive leader of the progressive movement, put it this spring when I asked him about the never-ending race versus class debates: “It’s not either-or. It’s never either-or. It’s both.”

The fear that identity-based issues might be “thrown under the bus” in favor of more populist, “universal” policies is legitimate: The Democratic Party has certainly done as much in the recent past for causes less noble than class equality. But the irony is that anxiety over class reductionism has led some to defensively embrace an equally unproductive and regressive ideology: race reductionism.

If you’re #online, like I am, you’re probably already familiar with the main argument. It goes something like this: If a policy doesn’t resolve racism “first,” it’s at worst racist, and at best not worth pursuing.

According to one popular iteration of this theme, “Medicare For All” is presumptively racist or sexist because it won’t eliminate discriminatory point-of-service care or fully address women’s reproductive needs if it’s not thoughtfully designed. Perhaps you remember Rep. James Clyburn’s claim that a free college and university plan would “destroy” historically black colleges and universities. Maybe you’ve heard that the minimum wage is “racist” because it “Kills Jobs and Doesn’t Help The Poor,” or that it’s an act of privilege to care about Wall Street corruption, because only the wealthy could possibly mind what the banks do with the mortgages and pensions of millions of Americans. Perchance you’ve even been pitched on the incredible notion that rooftop solar panels hurt minority communities.

Libertarian journalist Conor Friedersdorf recently entered the fray with a piece titled, “Democratic Socialism Threatens Minorities.” His argument? That “top-down socialism” (which progressives want just about as badly as they want top-down capitalism) would create a tyranny of the majority and put minorities at risk. Completely ignoring the market failures of our current system, and eliding the widespread prejudice and violence black Americans face under capitalism, he concern-trolls by imagining a world in which black women struggle to find suitable hair products. Of course, this is a world we already live in.

The cruel irony is that as much as it wouldn’t have ended racism, breaking up the banks, and properly regulating them, would have a positive effect on the economic, and consequently, the social status of black and Hispanic Americans. Banks, left to their own devices, systematically give blacks worse loans with higher interest rates than whites with worse credit histories. Yet there was little talk of those racial impacts when, this spring, 33 Democrats (including 9 Congressional Black Caucus members) joined with Republicans to roll back protections contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

African-Americans are disproportionately victimized by predatory lending, and as a result, we were among the worst affected by the 2008 housing crisis (from which the bottom still hasn’t recovered). Of course, the goal of breaking up banks was to avoid a repeat of the collapse which wiped out 40 percent of black wealth — hardly an incidental issue to African Americans, who rank the economy, jobs, health care and poverty above race relations when asked to rate our chief political concerns.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

enhydra lutris's picture

met them. Go figure.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris when that subway crashes into the one in front of it, there are those who will die, who will be injured, or in shock, those who will curse the train company, those who will leap to help....and those that steal the wallets, phones and jewelry. I guess that's when we see who we are.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

The human condition is what connects us.
We are, after all, humans. This is denied by those that think their race is superior. What they forget are the following points:
1) We all bleed red.
2) We will all suffer from diseases.
3) We all desire to live our lives with minimal complication.
4) We all want the same things: enough money to live and love in our lives.

My husband suffers from severe PTSD. A few years ago, he had a major melt-down. At that time, my children questioned my commitment to him. They pondered whether I should divorce him. My words to them were as follows: "If he had cancer, would you be advocating for me to divorce him? This is a cancer of the mind. He seeks help and a cure, just like a cancer victim. How is it fair for me to leave when he has this major health issue?" The subject was dropped and support was offered.

We all have our own "cancer." Let's learn to love.
Pleasantry

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

Lookout's picture

Beyond racism we consider our species of paramount importance. Not only should we seek equality among ALL humans but all lifeforms. We are just a part of a larger biosphere. We all are in that ongoing experiment everyday...most blind to their place in the scheme. The planet has a cancer or at least a virus or flu...Homo Sapiens. Our extinction may be the cure.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

magiamma's picture

@Lookout
she needs help, and all that inter-depend on her as well. It is a shame to see the whole thing implode on itself because of our species' lack of foresight.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Regrets for hijacking HAWs comment above, just because it said Luekemia. He was making a different point and I didn't even acknowledge it I just started my own rant, all big industries are cancerous. acK! This is the current version of NorCal "environmental planning", purple plastic pipe:

Published on Jun 27, 2018
The first three phases of the city of Ukiah's Purple Pipe Project will have 38,000 feet of lavender-colored pipe delivering reclaimed water to vineyards, parks and the golf course. More than 5,000 feet is already in the ground.

Ukiah Purple Pipe Project

It doesn't seem smart to be using so much plastic pipe, what about the wildlife? don't answer

More benzene found in Santa Rosa water tests after Sonoma County fires
City installed filters for people, and for the animals? All of our water systems are polluted, no one can drink straight from a city water tap without paying the consequences. The Russian River stinks like sewer in a lot of places, and toxic algae is now an annual occurrence. wtf

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