Jun 302005

this article can be found here:


An American Cancer Society survey finds up to half of Americans mistakenly believe surgery can spread cancer, and more than one in four thinks a cure for cancer already exists but is being held back by a profit-driven industry. Results of the survey are published in the August 1, 2005 issue of CANCER (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer-newsroom), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The authors say it shows the American public is significantly ill-informed about cancer, and that most overestimate how much they know.

The medical management of cancer and cancer-related complications, such as pain, has significantly improved over the last three decades, as have survival rates for leading cancers. Still, studies indicate that a patient’s own cultural beliefs and understanding of cancer may influence health behavior, such as whether patients get regular screenings and undergo treatment.

Led by Ted Gansler, M.D., M.B.A of the American Cancer Society, researchers conducted a national telephone survey of 957 adults with no history of cancer to assess Americans’ understanding of the disease and its management, and identify any demographic characteristics associated with misconceptions. Participants were asked if five misconceptions were true or false.

The authors found only one in four (25 percent) of participants correctly identified all five misconceptions as false. Four in ten (41 percent) of the respondents believed that surgical treatment actually spread cancer in the body and 13 percent said they were unsure whether this was true. Twenty-seven percent believed that there is a cure for cancer available being withheld by the healthcare industry and an additional 14 percent were uncertain. Nineteen percent believed that pain medications were ineffective in treating cancer pain with another 13 percent saying they did not know. Nine in ten (89 percent) correctly disagreed with the statement that “all you need to beat cancer is a positive attitude,” but more than one in ten (11 percent) either thought is was true or did not know. A similar percentage (87 percent) correctly disagreed that “cancer is something that cannot be effectively treated,” but again, about one in eight (13 percent) either agreed or did not know.

People who were over 65 years, of non-White race, residents of the South, or self-identified as without much or any understanding of cancer were likely to hold more misconceptions. The survey found little relation between people’s self-assessment of cancer knowledge and the accuracy of their answers. For four of the five questions, there was no significant difference in prevalence of endorsement of the inaccuracies between the groups who called themselves “very informed,” “somewhat informed,” or “not very informed.” However, those who called themselves “not at all informed” were generally quite accurate when rating their own health literacy.

“These results indicate that public and patient education interventions are most urgently needed in cancer centers, medical practices, and other community organizations that serve large numbers of patients with these ‘at risk’ demographic characteristics,” conclude the authors.

 Posted by at 9:48 am
Jun 302005

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

And now you should steal from me!

Bloggers of the world, get your calloused little digits over to the MIT site and take this survey.

It seems to me that we are changing the world here and I think it’s exciting to be part of the scientific analysis of it.

 Posted by at 12:18 am
Jun 292005

I found this article on the Globe and Mail website yesterday but then it vanished into the land of the paid subscription.
Thankfully, it appears here as well

Text below:

Many believe the breast cancer-fighting drug Herceptin is being delayed needlessly by the Canadian government; unless emergency relief is provided, more lives will be lost.

Herceptin had been used by patients over the past six years for metastasized breast cancer patients with an excess of HER-2, a protein caused by a genetic mutation. Up to 30 percent of breast cancer patients have these symptoms, which makes the cancer much more difficult to treat. Three different studies have shown that Herceptin can treat this specific form of breast cancer at a much earlier stage than previous therapies.

Yet many patients cannot afford the $35,000 per year minimum price of Herceptin treatments, and insurance companies will not cover the drug because the medication has not been officially approved for use.

It is estimated that 115 women each month could see their symptoms return and eventually lead to death without use of the breakthrough breast cancer medication. Activist organizations are calling for Canadian government officials to invoke an emergency disaster relief program for patients at risk but unable to afford Herceptin treatments.

Dr Joseph Ragaz, director of McGill University Health Centre’s oncology program, sent information concerning Herceptin to various media outlets in hopes that increased awareness concerning the drug will bring policy changes. He believes the restrictions are hindering his ability to treat patients.

“It’s a big frustration. As a physician, you are on a sacred mission.” he said. “And the only reason you are being blocked from that mission is for fiscal reasons.”

 Posted by at 11:46 pm
Jun 292005

Okay, so I had to go to a memorial service on Sunday and I am still dealing with the experience.

It was strange on a few levels.

First and foremost, there is the loss of someone who was in my life, even if that has become a peripheral involvement over the last few years.
And there is the great sense of tragedy for the family.
That part is awful.

And there was the Big Chill factor.
I worked with Benjamin for about 8 years, and it was, at the time, a really close-knit group of people at that workplace.
Almost all of us have gone on to other things in the meantime, but there we all were, just like it was ten years ago.
It was one of the most surreal time-tweaking experiences I have ever had.

But the part that was really weird that was particular to me was the fact that on some level, I am the person many of those people expected to be dead by now, not Benjamin.
That is partly because Benjamin wasn’t someone you would expect to die at the age of 54. He ate pretty well and was a pretty active guy.
And, I think for many people, when they hear that someone they know has cancer, they begin that process of letting go, of anticipating the future loss, and pretty soon the person with cancer moves deeper and deeper into the territory of “other”.
Now, that isn’t true of everyone, but I certainly have felt it from some people over the last chunk of time.
So, it is bizarre on a lot of levels to show up at the memorial service of the guy who shouldn’t have died when you are the one that people had expected to die.
It’s sort of like I cheated death and somebody had to take my place.
(Or maybe I watched too much Buffy while I was sick and I have some Whedonesque guilt. I dunno.)
It was weird.
And I am still thinking it through.

One thing I will say… when that day does come when I kick up my heels, every one should know that there is no need for people to talk about my defects of character at any memorial service that may occur.
I’m just sayin’.
People get turned off by how smarmy a lot of these things are, and I tend to agree. But having spent some time listening to people be all touchy-feely and honest about the dead person’s shortcomings, I have to say, it’s no better, and actually, I think it’s worse.
Go have a beer with your inner circle and talk about that stuff.
Don’t say it in front of his kid or his partner or his brother.

Anyway, there it is.
So far, I am surviving, and it’s strange. Sometimes, it’s strange.
Of course, if you have been doing the recommended reading at home, you know that the ‘survivin’ status could change in a heartbeat.
But I am trying to be happy with what is good in the moment, because I would be so spectacularly pissed off if I had a recurrence and I hadn’t made the most of it now, while I am doing okay.

This last few weeks have been kind of weird.
See, I am a person who focuses on calendar dates quite a bit.
And right now is about a year after when I started chemo.
I keep thinking back to what it was like to be about to start chemo, and how overwhelming and frightening it was to have to start this thing I only knew by its bad reputation.
And how fast everything happened, and how fast my life changed from employed and pretty self-sufficient to being on disability unemployment insurance and having to rely on my girlfriend and my friends to get most basic things done.
I remember being afraid that the process would harden me emotionally, and I didn’t want that.
I think it did, and frankly, I can’t see any viable alternative.
Nowadays I think that my biggest job is to make sense of what I just went through, and then I realize that I don’t have a clue where I should begin with something like that.
And I wonder if I start, will I just sit down and cry about what I lost, and cry, and cry, and cry, and maybe never stop?
How will I stop?
There is a whole bunch of anger inside me because of what I lost, and then I feel unreasonable for being angry because, for Christ’s sake, I am still alive, against all odds, so what do I have to be pissed off about?
I had great care on every possible level.
I know that and I believe that.
And there is still an underlying anger that I had to go through that.
That I put Elaine through that.
That I have to spend so much effort to get back to where I was before and part of me knows I will never get there. That I can’t just become a normal person again.
It’s like I was abducted by aliens.
I know what happened and I know that it changed me, even if I do a crappy job of trying to explain it to you.
I know that the time I spent on Uranus has made me different than the average earthling.

When I was doing chemo, people told me I was brave.
See, I don’t see it that way.
I just did what I had to do and I think almost anyone would have done the same.
You just put one foot in front of the other and you do what they tell you, because you don’t have many realistic alternatives.
And now that there is time to breathe and time to look back over my shoulder, it’s time to try to make sense of it.
I feel a bit like I fell through the ice and then crawled back out and made my way to relative safety. I still know the ice could give out underneath me at any moment, but for now, I am still trying to get my vital signs back to normal and deal with the fact that I am freezing.
I don’t think I do a very good job of explaining it. I think my cancer comrades do a better job of explaining it in their blogs.

So, that’s where it’s at for me these days.
And no, if I bump into you in person, I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s just how it is.
I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me or anything. I just need people to understand that even though I finished chemo, but I haven’t completely finished with the cancer episode.
I wish it was that way, but it’s not.

 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Jun 292005

well, it seems our place at the back of the bus is going to have to be handed over to surly teenagers.

This from the CBC website found here:


Same-sex marriage law passes 158-133
Last Updated Wed, 29 Jun 2005 10:45:06 EDT
CBC News

The Liberals’ controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading in the House of Commons, sailing through in a 158-133 vote.

Supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, the legislation passed easily, making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex marriage.

But the passage of Bill C-38, once again, came with a political price tag for the government. Joe Comuzzi, resigned from the cabinet so he could vote against the bill – an open rebuke of the government legislation.

Comuzzi was the minister responsible for Northern Ontario.

Although he was the only cabinet minister to break ranks with Prime Minister Paul Martin over the controversial plan to legalize the marriage of gays and lesbians, it highlighted the divisions within Canada and within the Liberal party, pitting supporters of equality rights against those who are defending religious freedoms.

For Comuzzi, the decision to resign meant putting principles ahead of the privileges of cabinet. “In 2004, during the election, I promised faithfully to the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North, that I would defend the definition of marriage,” he said, explaining his move.

The prime minister said he regretted the decision of a man he called an “old friend,” but accepts it because the government must speak with one voice on same-sex marriage.

The “vote is about the Charter of Rights,” said Martin. “We’re a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don’t cherry-pick rights.”

The government has moved over the last few months to appease critics both within Liberal ranks and among Canadians at large. Amendments were introduced to ensure no religious group or charitable organization would be forced to accept same-sex marriage. But in spite of those amendments some groups remain unconvinced.

Same-sex marriage remains one of the most difficult issues ever to confront Canadian politicians. In large part passage of the bill is the reason the parliamentary session was extended for the first time in 17 years.

But while Tuesday night’s vote closes off the debate in the Commons, the Conservatives insist there is no closure for Canadians who believe marriage should continue to be defined as the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says if his party forms the next government, the law will be revisited.

Harper made the promise one day after suggesting the adoption of the law lacked legitimacy because it relied on the support of the separatist Bloc Québécois. Harper said he believes Bloc MPs are the legitimate representatives of Quebec voters. But he argues most Canadians aren’t buying it as a final decision since most federalist MPs are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Harper says a Conservative government would hold a free vote for all MPs on the matter, rather than forcing cabinet ministers to vote with the government.

 Posted by at 3:25 pm
Jun 222005


Okay, I found a truck.

It got a really good bill of health from the BCAA mechanic.

I gave the man my money and now I qualify as just another dickhead in an SUV.

I am such a macho dyke.
It’s all a bit ridiculous.

Still, it’s a great truck.

 Posted by at 11:53 pm
Jun 172005

Damn, everything is so Ottawa-focused today.

Here is a newsflash from the folks at Canadians for Equal Marriage .
I am so happy that I can post about a gay wedding on an airforce base.
And, those rights are not yet carved in stone.
Please do what you can to nudge or drop-kick our politicians in the direction of enlightenment.

Details below:

It’s down to the wire. It is still possible to pass the equal marriage
bill before Parliament breaks for the summer.

Even if you have already contacted the Prime Minister’s office we need you
to do so again. RIGHT NOW.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP leader Jack Layton have both
agreed to extend the Parliamentary session to pass the bill. ALL IT WILL

We need your help. Please take two quick minutes and take these two quick

1. Email the Prime Minister at pm@pm.gc.ca and martin.p@parl.gc.ca. Even
if you emailed the Prime Minister earlier in the week, please do so again.

2. Phone the Prime Minister’s office at 613-992-4211 — it is open 24/7.
Call at any time of day or night and leave a message at the switchboard.

Here’s what to say: Prime Minister Martin, I am counting on you to take
leadership. Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe are willing to ensure the bill
gets passed in the next few days and weeks. All that’s needed now to pass
the equal marriage bill before summer is your commitment. Please show
leadership. Stand up for human rights. I am counting on you.

(suite de la version française)

Nous sommes à la onzième heure! Il est encore possible d?adopter le projet
de loi sur le droit égal au mariage avant l?ajournement des travaux du
Parlement pour l?été.

Même si vous avez déjà contacté le bureau du Premier ministre, nous vous
prions de le faire de nouveau. MAINTENANT.

Le chef du Bloc Québécois, Gilles Duceppe, et le chef du NPD, Jack Layton,
ont consenti à prolonger la session afin d?adopter le projet de loi.

Nous avons besoin de votre aide. Veuillez prendre deux petites minutes
pour faire ce qui suit :

a. Envoyez un courriel au Premier ministre à pm@pm.gc.ca et
martin.p@parl.gc.ca. Même si vous en avez déjà envoyé un au début de la
semaine, envoyez-en un deuxième.

b. Téléphonez au bureau du Premier ministre au 1-613-992-4211 ? ouvert 24
heures par jour, 7 jours par semaine. Appelez à n?importe quelle heure du
jour ou de la nuit et laissez un message.

Voici ce que vous pouvez dire : Monsieur le Premier ministre Martin, je
compte sur votre leadership sur cette question. Jack Layton et Gilles
Duceppe sont disposés à assurer l?adoption du projet de loi au cours des
prochains jours et semaines. Pour que le projet de loi soit adopté, il ne
manque plus que votre engagement. Veuillez exercer votre leadership.
Prononcez-vous en faveur des droits de la personne. Je compte sur vous.

 Posted by at 1:12 pm
Jun 172005

Newsflash, taken from here

I’m still trying to figure the exact details of all this, but at first glance, it seems like a good thing, though I don’t understand why the Bloc Quebecois MP’s would vote against it.
I heard about it from my pals at the National Ovarian Cancer Association (NOCA), so I reckon it’s good news.

Read on.

Cancer Community Congratulates Federal Members of Parliament for Supporting National Cancer Strategy

Signals cancer as a health care priority

OTTAWA, June 8 /CNW/ – The more than 30 leading Canadian cancer
organizations represented by The Campaign to Control Cancer applaud the
Members of Parliament for voting yesterday afternoon in support of a motion
directing the federal government to fund the implementation of the Canadian
Strategy for Cancer Control.
The coalition commends Steven Fletcher, the Conservative Party Health
Critic, and Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James, MB, for his
leadership in tabling the motion which received the support of all political
parties with the exception of the Bloc Quebecois.
“This is a monumental occasion for Canada’s cancer community,” said
Dr. Brent Schacter, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Association of
Provincial Cancer Agencies. “We’re seeing the results that can be achieved
when a community of impassioned and engaged experts, patients, survivors and
other stakeholders unite with government to create an evidence-based,
long-term approach to fighting cancer.”
“Yesterday’s vote reaffirms that the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control
is an innovative approach to public health policy development,” said
Pat Kelly, cancer survivor, advocate and spokesperson for The Campaign to
Control Cancer. “We now look forward to working with all levels of government
to implement the national cancer strategy and bringing the Quebec cancer
community into its rightful leadership role.”
Support for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control leads the way for
consultative processes for developing similar strategies for heart disease,
mental illness, and mental health.
The federal Liberals have pledged $260 million in funding support over
five years to implement the plan. It is estimated that an implemented national
strategy would mean, over the next 30 years:
– preventing an additional 1.2 million Canadians from developing cancer
– saving the lives of more than 420,000 Canadians
– preventing the loss of more than $101 billion in wage-based
– preventing the loss of more than $24 billion in total government tax

About the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control

The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control is a national strategy that has
the potential to bring about the sustained, coordinated, comprehensive and
collaborative approach needed to meet the challenge of our growing and aging
population. A considered and rationale approach to the increasing number of
new cancer cases, the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control offers a solution
to the cancer challenge. Each province will be able to independently build its
own cancer care management system from a foundation of national data and
knowledge that is gathered from across Canada and shared by all. Current,
state-of-the-art information about all aspects of cancer will be available to
Canadians no matter where they live. The Strategy will reduce duplication,
fill in gaps and ensure scarce resources will be shared.

Understanding Cancer Control

Cancer control means dealing with the disease through a systematic,
sustainable program of public education, prevention, proper screening, early
detection, appropriate and accessible treatment, and supportive care for all
Canadians living with cancer. Cancer control can increase survival and quality
of life by effectively converting knowledge gained through research,
surveillance and outcome evaluation into practical strategies.

Canada Losing Control of Cancer

Cancer kills more people in Canada than strokes, respiratory disease,
pneumonia, diabetes, liver diseases and HIV/AIDS combined. This year alone, an
estimated 69,500 Canadians are expected to die from cancer – 1,200 more than
last year – and 149,000 will be diagnosed with the disease. The number of
cancer cases will increase by more than 60 per cent over the next decade if no
action is taken.
While the increase of cancer in Canada will present enormous future
challenges to our health care system, other countries have demonstrated
dramatic reductions of this burden by systematically applying existing
knowledge and through developing comprehensive national cancer research

Taking Action

The Control Cancer Campaign web site provides information and tools to
get involved in cancer control. Visit www.controlcancer.ca.

 Posted by at 1:01 pm
Jun 142005

Sometimes I actually am proud to be Canadian.

(Full story available here)

Airbase hosts 1st military gay wedding

CBC News

Two men were married in the chapel at Nova Scotia’s Greenwood airbase in May, in what’s being called the Canadian military’s first gay wedding.

Lt.-Cmdr. David Greenwood, the base’s head chaplain, said a sergeant and a warrant officer were married May 3 in front of about 45 guests.

“This couple had been waiting a very long, long time,” said Greenwood, declining to give their names because he hadn’t asked for permission.

In September, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, effectively changing the definition of marriage in the province to “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”

The military has said it’s willing to host gay weddings in jurisdictions where it’s legal.

A low-key marriage ceremony

Greenwood, an Anglican, did not perform the marriage but he did make the arrangements for the service while a United Church minister from nearby Wolfville performed the vows.

“I looked after the co-ordination in accordance with our military policy of receiving the couple with dignity and respect,” said Greenwood.

“I was there to preach and welcome the community on behalf of the base chaplaincy.”

While most Anglican dioceses in Canada do not perform same-sex marriages, the Canadian church has postponed its official decision until 2007.

Greenwood said the ceremony was relaxed and low-key, and there wasn’t a dry eye in sight when the couple signed the marriage documents.

Greenwood said he has been told that a second same-sex marriage may be in the works this year, at CFB Valcartier in Quebec.

Same-sex marriage legal in 7 provinces, 1 territory

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Ottawa has exclusive jurisdiction to decide who has the right to get married in this country, but that religious groups are not obliged to perform unions against their beliefs.

Federal politicians are now considering a same-sex marriage bill.

Currently, same-sex marriages performed in seven provinces and one territory are legal and must be recognized. Same-sex marriages are not performed in Alberta, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, but the Nunavut government will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

 Posted by at 8:48 pm
Jun 092005

I suppose you’re wondering what’s up, and all that jazz.

Here’s a quick peek at the skinny in the life o’ Spike.

I am dealing with the repurcussions of that bus-runs-light incident these days.
Beaucoup time spent going for massage or physio appts.
Lots of time spent looking for the replacement truck.
If anyone local knows of a good, used Toyota truck, drop me a line. I am pretty specific about what I want but maybe someone out there is selling my dream truck and I haven’t seen it yet.

It’s a long, gruelling process, this buying a new (used) truck.
Real people don’t tend to sell Toyota trucks, so I find myself going to those car dealerships that are affiliated with no particular manufacturer and about which an entire set of jokes and stereotyping exists. Movies, books, television, all mock the used car salesman.
And now I find myself having to speak with these men, for they alone hold the keys to the used Toyota truck.
I confess, it makes me feel a little dirty.
I confess, I wonder if I have some sort of Toyota truck addiction, the way I will set aside my normally high social standards and suddenly ponder giving Captain Polyester spectacular amounts of money, the way I let him shake my hand and give me his business card.
And for some reason, all of these dealers seem to spray the inside of the trucks with a ghastly dose of Hai Karate cologne. I am too afraid to even try to think what smell they are covering.
I always shower just as soon as I walk in the door.
You never know how low you may sink.
Trust me on this.

But you came here to read about cancer, and not about sleazy used car dealers.
I know that.
So, here is me grabbing the tiny, almost invisible threads that bring these two subjects together.

Over the last week or so, I have looked at quite a few trucks.
Some are quite obviously crap and some look pretty good on the outside.
But I find myself wondering, “what’s going on under the hood? What surprises are brewing beneath the surface?”
And you see, that’s how buying a used truck is very similar to going through the whole cancer shit-a-roo.
Because I am telling you, I never knew what evil was brewing beneath my shiny exterior.
And now, I am left wondering.
About all of it.
And so far, Dr. On-call-ogist says I am good, I am cool.
And I am more interested in keeping him in the good news section of my life than pretty much anything else, but I would still, also, like to get a new, reliable, good looking, reasonably priced Toyota truck.
And now you understand how truck shopping is very similar to ovarian cancer.

You’ve learned something here today, and for that, I am glad.
I would hate to be just another stupid internet site.

 Posted by at 9:28 am