Category Archives: Cancer

Fleeing From Life-Saving Cancer Treatment

Police authorities are on a nation-wide search for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy’s life.  The two left their Minnesota home after a doctor’s appointment and X-ray showed his tumor had grown.  A court has issued an arrest warrant (ruling the mother in contempt of court), and has ordered that the boy be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated for treatment by a cancer specialist . 

His parents insist on alternative medicines, citing religious beliefs.  That led authorities to seek custody, as the court ruled that the boy’s parents were medically neglecting their son, as his form of cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation.

The parents believe in the philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and such.  However, lately the dad has jumped ideological ships and is now agreeing that his son needs the best treatment with a doctor of medicine.

All over the blogosphere, you can read arguments as to whether or not the court should be able to countermand the parents.  My opinion?  Absolutely yes…when it is clear that the child is in imminent harm and there are the means to rescue him.

This child is in imminent harm because of his parents and the cancer itself.  Since the cancer is likely curable, it is unconscionable for his life to be taken by parents who choose some extreme religious views which put their child on the road to death.  Secondly, the child, 13, cannot read due to some learning disability.  I question whether or not the parents helped him with that problem either.  Since the boy cannot read, he is relying on the “wisdom” of his parents, who are not giving him the truth, which is “chemo will save you and herbs will let you die in pain.”

Personally, I am very respectful of most (not all) religious views.  I am completely disrespectful of religious views which result in taking the life of an innocent – in this case, robbing the life of an innocent child.

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”  It seems that some women would benefit more than others by becoming more “aware” about this disfiguring and potentially deadly disease.

Jessica Queller is a supervising producer and one of the head writers of the successful CW series “Gossip Girls.”  She has revealed publicly that she had a double mastectomy, even though she doesn’t have breast cancer, and in two years, plans to have her ovaries removed, even though she doesn’t have ovarian cancer.

Ms. Queller, 38, made these decisions after her mother battled breast cancer and then died from ovarian cancer at the age of 60.  Paranoia?  Nope.  It seems that Ms. Queller tested positive for the breast cancer mutation (BRCA1), so she had the mastectomy, followed up by reconstructive surgery.

The facts are that women who test positive for mutations in BRCA1 genes have up to an 87% chance of developing breast cancer, and a 44% risk of ovarian cancer by the age of 70.

Everyone has BRCA genes (both 1 and 2), but only a small percentage of people have the mutated genes:  about 1 in 800 have the mutated BRCA1, and fewer have the mutated BRCA2.  Mutated BRCA genes account for 5-10% of all breast cancers diagnosed in America.

If one parent carries the BRCA mutation, his or her offspring have a 50% chance of inheriting it.  Prophylactic mastectomy (i.e., removing the breasts as a preventative measure) reduces the risk of breast cancer by 90%.

As with other genetic mutation diseases (like Huntington’s), when there is a test for the mutation, do you want to know your fate?  Many vote “No,” and I find that amazing.  I understand the fear that goes along with realizing you are at significantly higher risk or actually have a potentially devastating disease, but knowledge is power and prophylaxis and treatment lower your risk of having the worst come to bear.

Breast cancer is extremely rare in men, but BRCA2 gene changes have been linked to male breast cancer and possibly prostate, pancreatic and colon cancer.  So it’s a good idea for men with family cancer histories also to consider taking the test.

To find doctors who do gene tests, and the counseling that is beneficial, call the cancer information service at the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).  To find a genetic counselor near you, contact the National Society of Genetic Counselors at 312-321-6834 or visit their website at www.nsgc.org.

Certain people have an increased chance of inheriting BRCA1 or 2 gene changes:

* Jewish women whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe, especially if they have parents or siblings with breast or ovarian cancer, or two incidences of such in aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
* If you’re not Jewish, but have significant instances of breast and/or ovarian cancer in your family, you are also at a higher risk of inheriting BRCA1 or BRCA2 changes.

As my dad was descended from Ashkenazi Jews (from Eastern Europe), and my maternal grandmother died of breast cancer, and my sister reported early pre-cancerous signs, I’m getting the genetic test.  I also do yearly mammograms, sonograms, and regular manual checkups.  At each yearly pelvic exam, we include a sonogram assessment of my ovaries, and each year for my regular checkup, I have various cancer marker blood tests done.

I’d rather know if and what I have to fight.

Mandatory Testing for Cervical Cancer for Pre-Teen Girls? I Don’t Think So!

I’m Against Mandatory Cervical-Cancer Vaccine for Pre-teen Girls: It makes sense to me to require school children to have immunization to measles, chicken pox and polio, because these are highly contagious diseases readily spread in a classroom or schoolyard setting. However, mandating immunization of American school girls for HPV (human papilloma virus), transmitted sexually, as a requirement for attending public or private schools is patently outrageous and should be fought tooth and nail by every parent in America. Continue reading