2017-05-12 / Community

My side of the bridge

Now for something to really hate
By Don Russell
Special to the Sentry

There is a ton of hate flying around out there. Not dislike, or utter disdain mind you, but absolute, pure hate. Some people hate our current president. Many of those not hating Donald Trump, hate names like Obama, Clinton or Pelosi. I have heard folks talk about their hate for ObamaCare, while others hate its soon-to-be-Senate-gutted replacement. (Side note: most without knowing what either plan really entails or its shortcomings, whether prospects of less insured, failed state exchanges, muddy tax breaks, or complicated pre-existing condition rules.)

Locally, some talk of their hate of the current far too left bent of the South Portland City Council and those Cloudy Skies peeps (I prefer moderate dislike and distrust myself). Many in town, some letter writers included, probably hate fossil fuels, oil companies and some part time columnists with equal fervor.

Other than despicable psychopaths like Hitler, I typically reserve my hate for constant, inanimate objects like bigotry, greed and arrogance. In today’s environment of hate upon hate, let me present something to really hate, for us all in unity to hate – cancer, particularly childhood cancers.

I would contend if we all, together, hate cancer in children as much as we collectively hate everything else, there would be less children with cancer. Now that is effective hate with a beautiful goal.

My dear mother, back in 1998 while fighting terminal brain cancer, visited Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for a meeting about experimental trial options and said to anyone wanting to listen, “I won’t be coming back. It’s not that I am scared, it’s just that I can’t look at the faces of all these sick kids again. Please put all your time and medicines and money into them.”

Right on mom.

Sadly, we all have some personal frame of reference and you don’t have to look far. A recent reminder for me was when I was forwarded the gut wrenching social media posts of a Texas mother whose 10-year-old son Drake is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for the second time. Search Facebook under “Stinky Joe’s #1 Pit Crew” page and be prepared to have your heart broken. I hope it also makes you mad as hell. The photos and testimony are tough, but vitally real. However, the image of this brave boy grinning with his medical team while wearing a “F**K Cancer” T-shirt gives me some faith. And yes, I believe kids with cancer can use as much damn profanity as they like.

Right on Drake.

Here is a hot plate of sobering facts to ponder over oatmeal and a daily blessing. Unlike many adult cancers, childhood cancer cannot be prevented and is immensely random. One of five kids with cancer die within five years. One of three kids with cancer will not live a normal life span. Cancer kills more children than any other childhood diseases combined. But yet, the research and funding is disgustingly little. Did you know that the led National Cancer Institute spends 96 percent of its budget on adult cancers and 4 percent on children? AIDS and breast cancer related research and charities receive annually on average more than 100 times that of childhood cancer organizations. Clearly, and I state such with respect, women and the LGBTQ communities are far better advocates and fundraisers for themselves than kids. Perhaps most troubling, research and development for new drugs from our pharmaceutical industry comprise 60 percent focus to adult cancer drugs and less than 1 percent for childhood cancers. Our big corporate drug giants don’t commit resources to kid cancer research because the adult cancer drug business is strategically viewed as far more profitable and less risky. Screw that. (Reference websites include flashesofhope.org and icareicure.org.)

Before North Korea and ISIS, before grossly politicized health care plans and balanced budgets, before pipelines and bumblebees, before recycling and even the homeless – let’s knockout cancer in kids first. Let’s hate cancer first. If we are truly this great society of minds and money, conviction and compassion, nothing should be more paramount.

If you have appreciated this column or any of the 10 over the past year, please consider sending a check or a note of encouragement to your favorite cancer related charity. If you need some ideas, here are some of my favorites to Google:

 Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland

 Portland Sea Dogs Strike Out Cancer in Kids program with Maine Medical Center

 Cancer Community Center in South Portland

 JimmyFund.org and their affiliation with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute of Boston

Don Russell is an associate broker with The Maine Real Estate Network, and founder of BrandME Marketing. He has proudly lived in South Portland for over 20 years. Contact him at don@brandme.net or send a letter to the editor to editor@inthe sentry.com. His column appears in the Sentry every month.

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