Sunday, March 12, 2017

In Memory of Melinda Sue Casey

Melinda Sue Casey survived for 16 years after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Born in 1955, she died on February 20, 2017.

For many years she taught the children of migrant workers in Oxnard, California.  She retired for health reasons at age 45 and took up volunteer work.

She was a member of St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in Malibu.

Her survival for 16 years rather than the predicted 4 years was the result of "one-part medicine, but the lion's share was heart and spirit," her obituary reports.

My heart aches for her, just 61 years old at her passing, because I too received the CA diagnosis.

Mine was stage 2, not stage 3 or 4.

Mine was three years ago this coming April.  

We cannot know the length of our days, but we can remember that "Dust we are, and to dust we shall return" (Genesis 3:19).

I also like this verse:

"Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them"... before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Vaccine Against Lung Cancer

Cuba is using a vaccine against lung cancer.

Well, if you grow and sell tobacco, it's in your best interest to have a vaccine.

May the US offer this vaccine soon--because lung cancer is the leading killer among cancers.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

In Memory of Denver Hutt

Denver Allison Hutt was one of a large circle of friends who graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2005, including my daughter Marie.

Most are working, living with friends or married.  

This was Denver's work after she graduated from Indiana University:  
the executive director of The Speak Easy for more than three years, helping launch the Broad Ripple worksite and turn it into a thriving center for entrepreneurs to collaborate and grow their ideas into businesses.

Her partner was Tom Hanley, who launched a youth-wellness nonprofit called Nine13sports.

Denver's rewarding life in Indianapolis was interrupted by ovarian cancer in 2013.  It finally took her life on January 16, 2016.

Her obituary:

A tribute to her by Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully:

Marie's friend Grace flew to Minneapolis to speak at her memorial service.

In her last blog post, on January 3 titled "I'm angry," Denver said:

  I won’t leave you with a “you should be thankful” plea; you already know that. I will ask that you smile at strangers more this week. Be kind simply because you are a kind person. Judge a little less. Hold the door open.

May we not rest in peace unless we are doing these things.

My deepest sympathy to Denver's parents and family. 

Thank you to my friend Rebecca Bender in Indianapolis for the link to these articles in the Indianapolis Star. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

In memory of Lily Meza

Lily Meza, a classmate of my daughter Ellen since their days at Edison Language Academy, died on January 14, 2016, at age 30.

She graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2003 and worked as a nanny and freelance photographer, traveling to China and Greece.

In 2013 she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma.  She would have turned 31 on February 12.

Angiosarcoma is a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels.  8% of these cancers occur in the breast.

"Primary breast angiosarcomas occur most commonly in women between the ages of 20-40 years, and typically present as an ill-defined breast mass.  Secondary angiosarcomas usually occur in older women years following the treatment of breast cancer."
Born in Mexico, she was brought to California as a child.  Her lack of papers complicated her efforts to get health care.

My deepest sympathy to Lily's parents and wider family.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Of Breath, Air and Lungs

Paul Kalanithi 

When Breath Becomes Air is the title of the new memoir written by Paul Kalanithi, who died in 2014 at age 37 of lung cancer.

May we all reflect on our lives as much as this young man did.

When discovered, his lung cancer was advanced.  

Why weren't there any earlier signs?

This disease is so silent.

He had postponed fun in order to go to medical school and become a surgeon.  

By the time he was ready to live, he had to prepare to die.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the US.

Since 1987, it has killed more women than breast cancer per year.

My friend Kathy McTaggart was one of those killed.  

Like Paul Kalanithi's cancer, her cancer was not discovered until it had spread to other organs.

If we have a persistent cough or flagging energy, check it out.  In some cases it's a sign of lung cancer.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In Memory of Faith Sand

The Athenaeum, Cal Tech, Pasadena

Beautiful memorial service today for Faith Annette Sand, whose cancer began with melanoma on her leg in 1998 or 1999.  She had surgery in 2002.

In December 2013, she had back pain and learned that her melanoma had metastasized.

Although it was then stage 4, she survived nearly another 1 1/2 years, dying on August 5, 2015.

I visited her for the last time on May 1, 2015, when she took me to lunch with her husband and step-son at The Athenaeum, the faculty dining room of California Institute of Technology, not far from her home in Pasadena.

Born in Minneapolis in 1939, Faith graduated from Wheaton College in 1961 and did mission work in Brazil for fifteen years.

Faith founded a publishing house, Hope Publishing, and in 1994 she published my book, Abortion--My Choice, God's Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories.

The public memorial service was held November 7, 2015, at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church, part of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles.

Her daughter Heidi Pidcoke read the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila and said Faith like St. Teresa was a rebel, writer and mystic. 

"Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away, God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices."  --Teresa of Avila

Faith and her husband Albert Cohen had donated a stained glass window portrait of Teresa of Avila to St. Athanasius.

See also the post in my feminist blog,

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ovarian CA Treatment Underused

The cancers that don't announce themselves are the hardest to treat, usually found in stage 2 or 3.

Here's an article about a new and effective treatment that some doctors don't know much about and some patients never hear about.

It involves giving the chemotherapy not into the vein but as a wash in the body cavity containing the organs.  This makes sense to apply it directly to areas where the cancer is most likely to have metastasized.  

Thank you to Denise Grady of the New York Times for this report.