Archives For Discrimination


It has been a few weeks since I wrote anything!

The Accident

My husband and I took a much-needed vacation for ten days in Hawaii. It was at least 7 days until we both could unwind enough to get into the ‘hang loose’ groove.

Then on day 7, my husband slipped on some wet tiles in the lobby of our hotel and hit his head on a large tree pot and saw stars. I had food poisoning that night. The next day was beautiful weather and slathered in sunscreen under an umbrella, we sat on chaise lounges on the beach enjoying the surf. Continue Reading…


February 4th has been declared “World Cancer Day”.

At first I was skeptical, thinking – Yikes, another awareness campaign!. Also, I was disheartened when I learned that Chevrolet would donate $1 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for every person that changed his or her social media profile to purple. Another color (purple already taken by pancreatic cancer and a host of other cancers and maladies but also used for general cancer awareness), another corporation that needs a marketing opportunity and social engagement, probably requiring emails and phone numbers too, to sell more cars. I was thinking why couldn’t these corporations just donate money to cancer research and not funnel money through the ACS and not have to make a big marketing production? With a twenty year personal history here, I wondered, am I just jaded, skeptical about all the hype?

What is World Cancer Day?

Interestingly, as I dug around, I was quite impressed. World Cancer Day was started in 2013 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It is a membership organization that exists to help the global health community accelerate the fight against cancer. (Hopefully this will not mortph into the Global Cancer Society the way American Cancer Control morphed into ACS – yes, as I said, jaded).

Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, UICC has a growing membership of over 800 organizations across 155 countries. This membership features the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes and patient groups. Together with its members, key partners, the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum and others, UICC is tackling the growing cancer crisis on a global scale. Pretty impressive I think! (See

So, What is World Cancer Day?

According to the UICC it…”is the one singular initiative under which the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. It takes place every year on the 4th of February. World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.”

So what is “World Cancer Day 2014” about?

2014 ‘World Cancer Day’ is about globally ‘Debunking Myths’. Here are the ‘Myths’ and their positions.



Talking about cancer challenges negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate myths about cancer, cause fear and stigma and prevent people from seeking early detection and treatment.

Governments, communities, employers and media all have a role to play to challenge perceptions about cancer to create a culture where people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.


Investing in prevention and early detection of cancer is cheaper than dealing with the consequences



The success of early detection programmes can be measured by a reduction in the stage of the cancer at diagnosis with earlier diagnosis associated with a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.


The provision of a skilled and supported cancer workforce is critical to the success of early detection programs for cancer.



The implementation of policies and programs that support a life-course approach to prevention, and strengthen the capacity of individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles choices can bring about behavioral change, which can help prevent cancer.


Broadening the future internationally-agreed development goals to include proven economically-sound interventions that span the entire cancer control and care continuum can strengthen health systems and increase capacity to respond to all of the challenges to development.

The onus is now on the cancer community to push for cancer to be mainstreamed in the post-2015 development agenda.



Cancer is not just a health matter. It has wide-reaching social, economic and human rights implications, and is a significant barrier to achieving inclusive and equitable development. Inequality is deepening – social and environmental factors and the double disease burden of exposures in many low- and middle-income countries are keeping the ‘bottom billion’ locked in chronic poverty and threatening national economies.


Cost-effective interventions must be made available in an equitable manner through access to information and education about cancer at the primary health care level, as well as early detection programs and affordable, quality medicines, vaccines and technologies, delivered as part of national cancer control plans. 
Social protection measures, including universal health coverage, are essential to ensure that all individuals and families have full access to healthcare and opportunities to prevent and control cancer.

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”

–       The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

See ( for more information and all that is going on. This is where you can sign up for a ‘cancer free world’.

My Takeaway

Most impressive is the overall global organization of UICC. Who wouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon to support their objectives? Hopefully they will do it without Madison Avenue-type marketing and purple washing!

My only question to the UICC IS:


WCD Goals

FYI: See my first blog post on whether The ‘Nation’ of Cancer is really The Fifth World!

What do you think about all of this?

On July 4, 2013 I came across an essay that was featured in The New York Times Health section – Well Blog written by Mikkail A Sekeres, M.D. entitled “Keeping Cancer a Secret”. In the essay the doctor tells of his relationship with his patient that he has treated for two years with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone marrow cancer. During the course of the examination the doctor learns that the patient has not told his children or his grandchildren about his diagnosis because he didn’t want to burden them. He didn’t tell his employees because he didn’t want them to worry that the boss was sick. The doctor then postulates on why people keep cancer a secret: it’s personal business, a fear of professional discrimination, or altruistic i.e. not wanting others to bear the emotional weight of knowing. He goes on to say “Keeping such a diagnosis hushed, a secret from those who love and care for us, is an unfair burden we shouldn’t allow cancer to dictate, too”. Reading this article disturbed me and I believe points to a much bigger problem in our society – the stigma and shame still associated with a diagnosis of cancer.

(Source: )

Back in the Old Days – The Origin of Wrong Thinking!

In 1913 fifteen prominent physicians and business leaders in New York City founded the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC). At that time, a cancer diagnosis amounted to near certain death. Rarely mentioned in public, this taboo disease was steeped in fear and denial. Physicians sometimes did not tell their patients they had cancer, and patients often did not tell their friends and families if they had been diagnosed. The ASCC set about writing educational articles for popular magazines and professional journals; publishing Campaign Notes, a monthly bulletin of cancer information; and recruiting physicians throughout the country to help educate the public about the warning signs of cancer. This was the first concerted effort to bring cancer out of the shadows.

In 1936, Marjorie G. Illig, an ASCC field representative and chair of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Committee on Public Health proposed creating a legion of volunteers whose sole purpose was to wage war on cancer. They called themselves the Women’s Field Army, its’ recruits donned khaki uniforms, complete with insignia of rank and achievement. They went out into the streets to raise money and educate the public.

In 1935, there were 15,000 people active in ‘cancer control’ throughout the United States. At the close of 1938, there were 150,000. In 1945, the ASCC was reorganized as the American Cancer Society (ACS). According to the ACS website, after WWII “the nation could at last focus its attention on the public health enemy at home”. In 1946, philanthropist Mary Lasker and her colleagues raised more than $4 million for the Society – $1 million of which was used to establish and fund the Society’s cancer research program. In 1947, they began their famous ‘cancer signals’ campaign, a public education effort about the signs and symptoms of cancer.

(Excerpted from Source: )

My Family History

As a child I learned my grandmother died in the mid 1950’s of cancer before I was born but no one talked about it so we didn’t know what type of cancer she had. I understand it was common at the time not to keep good records or even disclose this information within families. When I was older I surmised that my grandmother probably had some form of pelvic cancer since I learned that she had radium implants inserted through her vagina. That’s all I knew. Was it bladder, uterine, ovarian? Nobody talked about it. People diagnosed with cancer and succumbing to the disease often had ‘natural causes’ reported on their death certificates. So I was curious — when did doctors begin to document a cancer diagnosis?

The History of Cancer Registries

  • 1926 — First hospital registry at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT
  • 1935 & 1946 — First central cancer registries (Connecticut and California)
  • 1956 — American College of Surgeons requires a cancer registry for approved cancer programs
  • 1971 — National Cancer Act budgets monies to the National Cancer Institute for research, detection and treatment of cancer
  • 1973— Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of NCI establishes the first national cancer registry
  • 1992—Congress establishes a National Program of Cancer Registries (Public Law 102-515)
  • 1993 — State laws make cancer a reportable disease


The Big ‘C’ Continue Reading…