Originally, Dear Readers, Valet Boy was going to launch into one of his exhausting tirades chastising the Medical Profession and prove, yet once again, that even the most ill-informed idiot with a laptop and internet connection can pee all over everything and short out the circuitry.
Believe it or not, Valet Boy does manage to squeeze some research into his busy daily schedule of letting the dog out, reading, napping, letting the dog out, snacking, reading, letting the dog out….Getting the picture here? Sensing the pattern?
I was on the road Sunday afternoon and listening to NPR in the vain hopes of catching a reprise of the News from Lake Wobegon with Garrison Keillor.
To my utter amazement, I became engrossed by “The People’s Pharmacy” and Joe & Terry Graedon’s interview with the Founders of Global Cures, a small Cancer Research Group. That sparked my idea for this weeks’ Post about the dearth of funding for cancer research in the Small Pharma business – as opposed of course to the billions Big Pharma expends annually to create must have drugs like Viagra, Cialis…etc…
The show was compelling and the evidence presented to substantiate their position was equally so.
And we’re off to the races. Right?
I’m at the computer cranking away, laying forth my case on how Doctors, Big Pharma, the AMA and American Cancer Society don’t give a rat’s fanny about you when you get sick and then lo and behold Wednesday Night’s News on all networks carried reports of a new treatment for Metastatic Melanoma – the very same disease at the core of Showtime’s hit new show “The Big C”.
This new drug has been shown to be effective in eradicating and/or shrinking tumors by as much as 80% in about 50% of the test subjects with advanced Melanoma. That is a big deal, folks. Because Melanoma, once it gets down in there, has an 85% mortality rate. And just a few months ago another new drug was shown to be effective in extending life expectancy of sufferers by an additional 4 months. It doesn’t sound like much, but the average life expectancy of someone with advanced Melanoma is around a year.
Faced with this development, Valet Boy had to either toss out the scathing diatribe or do a little bit of his own salvage surgery. A lazier man would have just said, “To Hell with it.” But, Valet Boy’s Readers (all 3 of them) deserve better. So, tempering the almighty destructive force of my pen-sword and taking into consideration the recent successful cancer surgeries/treatments among a handful friends…Valet Boy now presents his kinder, gentler, more responsible Blog-Post appropriately retitled:
Get That Bed Pan Away From Me, I Can Stand on My Own 2 Stumps
It is Valet Boy’s intention to discuss a topic that is riddled with hope, frustration, confusion, obfuscation and fear: Cancer Research.
Just to be clear, Valet Boy does not have cancer. That massive growth around his middle, more likely than not, is simply the result of too many Nacho Cheese Doritos, Peanut Butter creme OREOs and La-Z-Boy romances with his favorite TV shows.
Nor is this Blog-Post an indictment of the Medical Profession at large. Luckily, overall, Valet Boy has had very pleasant involvements with those practioners of the Hippocratic Oath. (VB Readers will recall his recent MRI experience “I Know Why the Caged Sausage Sings” posted 8-1-2010).
The only truly horrifying medical experience Valet Boy ever had was as a wee sprout of about 4 when he had a goiter the size of Milwaukee on his neck. To this day I can still see the butcher knife’s blade glinting under the fluorescents as it moved ever closer to my throat and the Doctor’s leering admonishment to my parents, “Hold him down!” Nothing to numb the surgical-strike-site or general anesthesia to knock the kid down. And oh the pain! Thank God it was a quick lancing job. But, it took years before I trusted my parents whenever they said, “Hey, kid, let’s go for a ride.”
Anyway, back to the main purpose here…
But, first: The numbers. Oh, Dear Lord, please, not MATH!
Each year approximately 1.5 million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Of that number, about 1/3 will die. The good news is that 1 million will survive. Both diagnosis and survival rates between men and women are virtually even. If you are, or someone you know is, among the lucky 2/3 who are successfully treated and go into remission, that is wonderful. Seriously, that is great news!
However, today we’ll be dealing with the less than fortunate “other third”. Those for whom the outcome is less than stellar.
Most of us have had someone near and dear to us die of cancer, or from complications brought on by the disease. Cancer is prevalent throughout the roots, limbs and leaves of Valet Boy’s family tree. Both my father and 1 of his brothers died from Leukemia. Both my Grandmothers died of cancer – though which type we aren’t certain, I believe the term “galloping” was used in their diagnoses, however. Other Aunts and Uncles have succumbed to this monster-killer, but I’m sketchy on particular details.
And here’s some really good news!
If you are the President of the United States your statistical chance of dying from cancer is less than 2%.
(Only 1 US President has ever died of cancer. That was Ulysses S. Grant of throat cancer – my bet’s on all the cigars and booze. Plus, he really could’ve used a nice script for Lexapro or Zoloft. )
The General Population’s annual numbers are closer to 5%. Not such bad odds. Though, if at all possible, I would highly recommend becoming President in order to gain that additional 3% edge.
In 20 years, the portrait of a cancer patient is likely to appear quite different. That Patient will be more proactive, more demanding of their physicians and their treatments and may just be fortunate enough to have had the Congress get off its collective misguided duff and remove the shackles that prevent Doctors from exploring alternatives to the devastating Chemotherapy and Radiation options we have today.
Indeed, in 20 years, our current methodologies might be more akin to that of Ye Olde Medieval Surgeons who were also known by another name….Barbers. “Good day, Barber. Please take a little off the top and excise that tumor on my neck, would ye.”
Many people blame that august institution, the American Cancer Society, for failing to truly explore possible cures and alternative treatments in favor of growing larger and larger, consuming more and more wealth and in effect becoming a cancer themselves.
However, a brief waltz through the ACS website will prove that they don’t shy away from acknowledging alternative treatments. Giving detailed explanations on the histories of unconventional and atypical oncological solutions. They do, however, stress today’s accepted therapies as the way to go with treatments. Since Valet Boy is not a Doctor, nor does he play one on TV, he really cannot argue this point too stringently.
Today there are small groups of Medical Research Professionals attempting clinical trials on a wide variety of protocols from the OTC and off-patent markets and some of these therapies were known to exist 100 years ago.
Not to be confused with the Snake Oil Salesmen’s “Patent Medicines” from a bygone era, these medications are well-known and often used to treat other illnesses or conditions and you may be certain that the Pharmaceutical Companies have absolutely no vested interest in promoting their use.
Why? That’s easy. Where is the profit in a drug that has been on the market for 50 years? Or a vitamin? Or an over-the-counter remedy that costs pennies? We cannot look to Big Pharma for answers which may be right in front of us. They are not really in business to cure us, that’s tantamount to putting themselves out of business. No. They are in the business of keeping us around just long enough to make them richer.
There are good and honorable folks out there in the research and development fields, don’t get me wrong. We know for some it is their life’s calling. But sometimes our good intentions can be lost amid the archaic labyrinthine quagmire that Medical Research has become.
Here in America, if you happen to be a Terminally Ill Patient with only months or weeks to live, you do not have the right to avail yourself of medications and therapies of which mainstream medicine does not approve. And most Physicians won’t touch anything like that with a 10 foot scalpel. Why not? Well, our best reasoning would be: Fear of being sued, fear of the unknown, fear of professional retribution and ignorance.
Before you get your Garanimals in a bunch, let me clarify.
Most Physicians do not have the time required to study everything that’s happening in their field. There are simply not enough waking hours in the day. And to their credit, they wouldn’t want to subject a patient to something for which they did not have personal knowledge. Then there’s the pressure from the monster-drug-pushers to make it easy for them to continually prescribe “le therapie de rigueur”.
Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a Conspiracy Nut to know that the AMA and Big Pharma have been bunk mates for eons and the FDA, for all its grand purpose, is about as effective as a 3 peckered mule. We used to have a saying for folks like the FDA, “Penny wise and pound foolish.”
The recent Salmonella Egg Scare showed us just how badly the FDA has been managed over the years. Hampered by the lack of manpower, funds and the necessary tools to adequately protect the American People, the FDA has been plodding along for the last 70 years clinging to a leaking life raft.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) was created when Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. This act was the first of a series of laws and amendments that gave the FDA jurisdiction over the regulation of foods and patent medicines.
Journalist Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” (Published in 1906) to raise public awareness of the plight of immigrant factory workers in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. Instead, Americans were terrified they might find a finger in their sausage.
Within six months of the book’s publication, President Theodore Roosevelt started looking into the problem. Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act, laying the foundation for the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. (Valet Boy’s dad – Big Bob – was a Meat Inspector in Chicago back in the late 40s.)
Today this bureaucratic behemoth is sometimes like a toothless tiger – often forced to shut the barn doors only after the horses have escaped. It has had no power to mandate food recalls or stop corrupt food manufacturers and unscrupulous business practices. They did, however, have the Power of Publicity. But, just this summer Congress gave the FDA powers and tools they should have had all along. Too late for the Eggs & I, but good for the future.
Take for example the fine folks at GlaxoSmithKline, who have a large R&D facility right here in North Carolina at Research Triangle Park near Raleigh. They’ve come out with Lovaza. The only prescription Fish Oil. Touting purity and quality control standards, Lovaza supposedly works much better than your common OTC (over the counter) Fish Oil Capsules at treating high triglycerides – which, as the TV commercial tells us, is fat in the blood. Well, Valet Boy certainly does not need fat blood…he has enough fat everywhere else!
I have no idea whether it works or not. I do, however, take Norwegian Salmon Oil capsules daily and have since I read some research on the efficacy of Omega -3 for inflammation and heart health.
Personally, I don’t know what I’d do if I found out that I had only 6 months to live…..Apart from maybe getting that tatoo of Miss Universe I’ve been putting off or going nude skydiving or swimming with Great Whites off the Barrier Reef.
But, Valet Boy does firmly believe that we as patients have a God Given Right to be permitted to try whatever it takes to survive our terminal diagnoses. I don’t want to drive to Mexico for some bizarre chicken foot cream rub or fly to Germany so they can shove me into a bratwurst casing infused with essence of Kaiser Wilhelm’s flatulence.
Even if the research into these low cost, less invasive, less destructive protocols proves fruitless, do we not owe it to ourselves, at the very least, to investigate them?
I want a “Terminal Patient’s Bill of Rights” that informs my Physician to use any and all available methodologies at their disposal, whether it be a combination of therapies such as metronomic chemotherapy and Coley’s toxins or Mega doses of Vitamin C and Cimetadine (Tagamet) or whatever immunotherapies may be currently under study or in the research pipeline. And I want funding for this research. Hell, if the Feds can bail out the banks,Wall Street and the auto industry, they damn sure can toss a few pennies toward this.
My Physician would be more likely to honor my request for “experimental treatments” if he knew he wouldn’t be sued by my relatives or ostracized by the medical community as a Quackster or kidnapped by Big Pharma and taken to an abandoned warehouse off the coast of Puerto Rico where rusty battery cables would be attached to his nads.
The only way something like this will happen is if our legislature (God Help Us) gets involved to create a law giving Us, the Patients, the right to seek and expect all medical efforts be exhausted to effect a cure even beyond those of conventional methods.
Of course, Valet Boy also believes in a Patient’s Right to have Physician Assisted Life Termination. True, Dr. K is one of my heroes.
So, there we have it.
As always, Thank You for Reading!
There’s not enough room here to go into everything on the subject of Cancer Research but for those Readers interested in learning more about this topic, both past and present protocols, I invite you to check out some of the links below.
The American Cancer Society: www.Cancer.org
The People’s Pharmacy: www.peoplespharmacy.com
Global Cures: www.global-cures.org
VALET BOY WISHES TO THANK:
Joe and Terry Graedon of “The People’s Pharmacy” on NPR produced at WUNC – Chapel Hill, NC for sparking my interest in today’s post.
Showtime’s new program “The Big C” for tackling a dicey subject with heart & humor.
My dear friend Sue, who made sure I knew that she owes her life to her surgeon and the excellent treatment and care she received that put her in the Happy 2/3 majority of Cancer Survivors. Again, my best wishes for her continued success and for a long, joyous and healthy life.