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Posts tagged as “Chris Carlson”

Curing cancer?

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In a legislative body it is called asking for suspension of the day’s business in order to make a personal point. Today, I rise in like manner and ask a reader’s indulgence to hear me out.

The “Big C,” as some call cancer, can strike any one any time in one’s life cycle and just about any part of one’s body. Because actual cause is hard to pinpoint, for many it is seen as a “death sentence,” a disease without a cure. Many fear hearing the word ever cross their doctor’s lips. The same cancer can effect people differently, and move aggressively in one while slowly in another. Only God knows why.

Because of research advances and various techniques involved with early intervention, one’s cancer can often be stalled. Some call it “remission,” but one doesn’t hear the word “cured” too often anymore. Used to be if one went five years without a recurrence they were pronounced “cured.”

Too many instances of the “cured patient” being struck again have occurred, however. Used to be also that when one contracted cancer, after a battery of tests, most doctors, if asked, would give one an estimate on how long they had before all the sand is through the top half of their hour glass. That just doesn’t happen anymore.

For example, in November of 2005 when I was diagnosed with Stage IV (meaning “almost gone”) of a rare form of a neuroendocrine cancer, I was told I had six months left. I’m obviously still here ten years later.

Like most folks, once one gets over the initial shock, my wife and I did our research. We discovered the world’s best hospital for treating this type of cancer was M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. I bundled up all my CT’s, all my MRI’s, my blood tests, my colonoscopies, shipped them off to this world-renowned hospital and asked for them to see me and to provide a second opinion.

A few weeks later I received their answer---“no.” I was bluntly told I was too far gone, that it was hopeless, and I should go home to prepare to die. I was stunned. I’d never heard of one being denied a second opinion.

I called the managing partner of a large, prestigious Houston law firm---Bracewell & Patterson. One of his major clients was the Texas Medical Association. Thus, a call went to the director of M.D. Anderson from the head of the major medical association in Texas. The director refused to over-rule his doctors.

Things happen for a reason, however. On the advice of two friends I turned to a relative new Cancer Center, The Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah. I met with their team of doctors and we drew up an aggressive attack strategy which so far has worked for almost ten years.

I confess though I’ll never feel that M.D. Anderson is as good as they claim to be. Nor will I ever recommend them to anyone. When asked, I’ll suggest folks look into the Mayo Clinic or Huntsman.

This lament is prompted by a spate of ads currently running on major news channels like CNN in which MDA comes awfully close to claiming they can cure cancer. How else is one to interpret the last scene in which they strike through the word cancer following a succession of “talking heads” the last couple which say cancer has lost..

The field of cancer care is becoming increasingly competitive simply because there are vast profits to be made. This is no justification, however, for strongly implying that they have or will beat cancer.

I’ve had almost ten years of successively holding my always fatal form of cancer at bay. I’ve never claimed to have been cured nor in a state of remission, because I’m not. Like many others, it is a day to day, 24/7 battle. Some of us are lucky enough to keep fighting for a long time.

My experience suggests that unless and until doctors can alter one’s DNA before birth there will never be a cure for cancer. Why? Because I think all cancers are part and parcel of the natural dying process we all undergoe. We can stall, stymie, hold at bay for a long time in some cases, but in the end the Grim Reaper claims us all. In all candor people should understand cancer in that context. Acceptence of our mortality, strangely enough is one of the keys to enduring longer than predictions.

The folks at M.D. Anderson should be honest enough to say that.

First ladies

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e have all heard the cliches which describe the influence mothers and wives exercise over the men in their lives who hold public office or positions of prominense. Phrases such as “the hand that rocks the cradle,” “the power behind the throne,” and the ambiguous “pillow talk,” come to mind.

Most successful male political practitioners have around them either a strong mother, or a strong wife, or both.

In Idaho, some of her more successful governors either had or still have spouses that were critical elements in helping win elections and govern. Some First Ladies were or are key advisors to their husbands. Others saw or see their role as that of being a protective mother hen whose purpose is to fight for “get away time” for their spouse, for relaxation and recharging the batteries. Many First Ladies have exercised their influence by controlling the schedule.

None of these primary roles are mutually exclusive. Several First Ladies in Idaho functioned in several capacities for their spouse.

One of the best First Ladies in Idaho history, Lola Evans, was laid to rest in the Malad cemetary last week, next to her beloved husband, John V., who served as governor for ten straight years, from 1977 to 1987.

Lola Evans ranks in the top tier along with Carol Andrus and Grace Jordan. All three of these First Ladies made significant contributions to the success and well-being of their husbands, as did most of Idaho’s First Ladies. These three, though, were adept politicians in their own right. All three governors recognized their spouse had unerringly good instincts.

None were or are demure wall flowers hesitant to tell the governor of a “miscalculation.” All, though, kept their counsel in the home for all three share another quality---fierce loyalty to the spouse and zealous protection of the spouse and the family.

Early in my journalism career when I was the political reporter for the Idaho State Journal I made a passing reference to one of then State Senator Cecil Andrus’ daughters giving him an “in” with students at ISU because the daughter was dating the student body president.

Mrs. Andrus was not pleased and made certain I should have known references to candidate or officeholders spouse or children was “off limits” unless they were directly injected into a campaign. She wa absolutely correct. There was a reason why she learned her husband had hired me to be his press secretary only by reading the Idaho Statesman.

What made Lola Evans stand out was her fine sense of humor and her sense of adventure. One can learn much about another if they have to travel with them. Some call it “the four-day raft trip” test. Was the person a good traveling companion? Did one encounter an unexpected challenge that required poise and presence?

Mrs. Evans passed that test with flying colors. In 1975 I accompanied then Lt. Governor John Evans and Mrs. Evans on a week-long trade mission to Japan. Two nights before we left to return home I switched all of us from our five-star western hotel to a three-star genuine ryoken, a Japanese Inn.

From a soft queen-size bed to sleeping on the tatami mats; from western food to Japanese fare and no utinsels, just chop-sticks; from waitresses who spoke English to servers who spoke only Japanese---it was a stunning change.

Most First Ladies could not or would not have agreed to such a total change. Lola Evans took it in stride, thoroughly enjoyed herself and thanked me afterwards for taking the group out of a transplanted, homogenized faux wertern experience and instead providing them with a true cross-cultural experience.

When one recognizes that the spouse of an officeholder often has to carry almost all the child rearing responsibilities, keep the home presentable, be ready to prepare fine meals when the hubby suddenly brings home an unannounced guest, often do all the shopping and pay all the bills, and still is expected to stand by the guy at countless receptions and accompany him on the “rubber chicken” circuit, all while maintaining the right appearance, only then can one begin to appreciate what valuable asssets First Ladies like Lola Evans can be and were for their husbands.

Multi-tasking does not begin to describe the skill.

John Evans only lost one political race in his life (the last one). A full partner in his success was Lola Daniel Evans - the sine qua non of his career. May God’s angels convey her swiftly to the bosum of the Lord and a joyful reunion with her governor amidst the communion of Saints.