Category Archives: cancer

Father Larry Richards – Adoration & Healing

Day three of  Father Larry Richards’ mission centered around adoration, healing, and thanksgiving (You can look up older versions of this talk on YouTube.)  Our opening prayer centered on thanking Jesus for all that He has done in our lives.

We started by reading Revelation chapter 4, which was written by John.  It’s all about the Mass, which cannot be understood without understanding Revelation.  When we attend Mass, we are experiencing Heaven.  He read through John’s description of Heaven in chapter 4 and how everyone there is constantly singing praises to God.

Most of us Catholics always want something from God.  We want forgiveness, happiness, you name it.  We’re constantly saying, “gimmee, gimmee.”  But our main focus should be thanksgiving to God for His incredible mercy.  Jesus gave His life for us and that should be our focus.  We go to Mass to worship Him, glorify Him, praise Him, and thank Him, not to get something from Him.  After all, He gave us the most precious gift we can ever receive in His death on the cross.

Father Larry then spoke about Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after exposing the Eucharist.  The bishop of his diocese was not keen on adoration, but Father Larry wanted an adoration chapel in his church.  Despite the bishop’s refusal, he was able to eventually start holding perpetual adoration.

There were many naysayers, but he didn’t care.  He had faith that the adoration chapel would come to fruition and after that, he had faith that through the prayers of his parish in that chapel, the local abortion clinic would close.  After only a few months of perpetual adoration, the abortion clinic closed.  Then, when it opened again two years later, it was only open for two weeks before closing again.  There is now no abortion clinic in the entire diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania.  

It’s so easy to lose hope in evils like abortion as a Catholic living in the year 2017.  It seems to be so common today that some people give up in their fight to end abortion.  But part of the problem is that we lack the faith to truly believe that abortion can be ended as a result of our prayer.  God can do anything and we need to start believing that.  We don’t see miracles because we don’t believe in His power.

As a pastor, Father Larry challenges his parishioners.  He makes the men of his church attend the nightly hours of perpetual adoration since it is located in an urban area.  Anyone who is an extraordinary minister of the holy Eucharist must have a holy hour.  He says that if they do not have an extraordinary devotion to Jesus Christ, then they should not be distributing His flesh at Mass.  

His job is to get every parishioner to be a saint.  So is he demanding? Absolutely.  But when someone dies, will they really be upset that they had to spend on extra hour per week with Jesus?  A good pastor gets you to Heaven; he doesn’t just take your money and build things.

My mom’s parish in Connecticut has had a perpetual adoration chapel since Ash Wednesday of 2003 and she goes to her holy hour from 2 to 3 am on Tuesday mornings.  Through her witness, I have seen the tremendous blessings that have occurred as a result of her weekly holy hour.  It is not easy for her to wake up in the middle of the night to pray, but it has changed her life.  

Father Larry said the same thing, adding that churches with perpetual adoration have many more people who have discovered their vocation to the religious life.  He prays for an hour in adoration every day and he encouraged us to pray in adoration once a week.  He also says that he can tell a priest with a good pastor when he sees that pastor sitting in adoration.  Priests must pray for their parishes and if that is not the case, they are not doing their job.

When on the road, he likes to stop into churches that he passes to say a prayer.  Sometimes he finds locked churches.  This happened once in Illinois and six months later, the pastor contacted him to ask if Father Larry would hold his mission at their church.  He refused since they do not keep their church open to the public.  He explained that although his church is in an inner city, he still keeps the door open. Sure, he has security cameras, but it is important to have an open church so that people can go there to pray any time of the day.

He also told us how he was kicked out of seminary.  His preaching was “overly optimistic” and the Franciscans did not believe that he had a good grip on reality.  His first talk in the seminary was about how everyone was called to be a saint, but they wanted him to instead tell messages of God’s love for us.  His second talk was about our need for a daily prayer life and again, they asked him if that was actually realistic.  How would a person with a high-paying job have time for that?  He couldn’t believe that they were upset with him for that message.  How can we not have a daily prayer life and call ourselves Catholics?

So he was thrown out due to “an apparent lack of self knowledge” and a “Pollyanna attitude toward life.”  He didn’t like that term, Polyanna, so he had them change it.  The newer version said “excessively optimistic” attitude.

During seminary, he had a daily holy hour, and people thought that was too extreme.  They looked at him like he was crazy, but he knew how crucial daily prayer life was.  

On another occasion, a parishioner told him that he should leave the priesthood because of his personality.  He was living in Pittsburgh, so he drove 45 minutes to Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, to pray at the Portiuncula Chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  He was in tears praying to Jesus, telling Him that he would leave the priesthood if that was what God wanted.  He then felt hands on his shoulders and a student said, “Father, thank you for being a priest.  We need you.”  God clearly met his needs, which happens for each of us when we pray to Him and share our needs with Him.

He then spoke to us about healing and healing services.  There have been people who were physically healed of their illnesses, but that is not God’s will for everyone.

Father Larry himself even had a mass on his lungs that doubled in size over the course of a month.  The day he had an MRI, he spent some time on his knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, prayed 10 Memorares (a mini-novena) and then soon received a phone call that the mass was completely gone.

Too many of us believe that sometimes healing works and other times it doesn’t.  But that is not the case.  Healing ALWAYS takes place, but it isn’t always in the way that we expect or desire.  We need to believe that and then we will more easily see God’s miracles in our lives.  

We also have to realize that the greatest healing is death.  Our end goal in life is to end up in Heaven.  This world isn’t our home; we’re just passing through on our journey to Heaven.  We become satisfied by worldly goods.  If we live in a nice home, we feel content, not realizing that the fleeting joys of this life are nothing compared to the ecstasy that is Heaven.

People sometimes say that they don’t understand how God can allow children to die, but an innocent child or baby who dies at only one year old is more blessed than the person who dies at 100 years old because they can skip most of life’s suffering and have a quicker path to Heaven.  That teaching is difficult to accept since we cannot fathom the joys of Heaven, but that is what Jesus has promised.  

Father Larry proposed an interesting analogy.  For nine months, we lived in our mother’s womb.  Everything came from her even though we couldn’t see her until we were born.  We’re in God’s womb, with everything coming from Him, but we can’t see Him until we are born into eternal life.  That is why the saints’ feast days are the days on which they died because that is the day that they entered Heaven.

Life doesn’t truly begin until Heaven and once we accept that teaching, we will stop being afraid of death.  It is what we do now that will determine where we will spend eternal life.  When we die, God will give us whatever it is we loved the most, but if that isn’t Jesus, then Heaven may not be our end.  If we hold onto too many worldly objects, people, and desires, we show God that He isn’t what we love the most.  That is why we need to show our commitment to Him every single day.  We must prove that He is the one we want and love the most.

That is a quite challenging concept.  We want success, love, acceptance, and other worldly pleasures, but none of that will gain us eternal life.  

After discussing adoration and healing, he took Jesus around the church in the Blessed Sacrament.  Having attended Franciscan University, this is something that I was familiar with, but some people may have never understood the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament until that evening.  

He told us that while he was going around with Jesus, he wanted us to make an act of faith.  He wanted us to cry out, “My Lord and my God” in our hearts.  To receive healing, faith is necessary, so of course we cannot be healed if we don’t believe it.  For any sacrament to work, we need faith.  We can go to Mass every Sunday and receive communion, but if we don’t believe in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist, nothing will ever change in our lives.  The same is true during adoration.  Do we really believe that Jesus is there with us?

He told us not to consider the healing that we wanted for ourselves, but to say, “God, whatever You want, I want” in order to let Him give us the healing that we need.

I saw many people wiping the tears off of their cheeks as Jesus passed them by.  Although I try to attend a weekly holy hour, and I have been to adoration many times, I, too, was moved with awe for Jesus’ love and mercy and I had tears falling down my own cheeks.  

After that, we blessed ourselves with the oil from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada.  After blessing ourselves, we said, “Saint Joseph, heal me.” And in the event that we receive a physical healing, we need to remember that we were not healed in order to enjoy the rest of our lives; we are healed in order to give greater glory to God.  We are healed so that we may serve others.

One of his last promises for us was that we would die.  We will all become dust, and we can be in that form forever, or we can live forever; it’s our own choice.  We can live our lives for Jesus Christ and spend eternity with Him, or we can avoid Jesus.

He then invited those of us who wanted to surrender our lives to Jesus to kneel down and repeat this prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and I am sorry for my sins.  Please forgive me.  Come into my heart, take control of my life, be my Lord and God and Savior. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and make me Your disciple.  I love You, Lord Jesus Christ, and I give You my life forever.  Amen.”

Again, he reminded us about the two promises that he made to us at the beginning of the mission.  First, we would not be bored and second, our lives would be changed forever.  Upon surrendering or re-surrendering our lives to Christ, our lives were changed forever.

Father Larry says that he is set on fire by the same Holy Spirit that wants to set us on fire.  God wants us to end our mediocre lives and begin to change the world.  We can do it if we surrender to Him, maintain faith in Him, and heed His will for us.  God wants to use us in mighty ways, but we have to let Him.

In order to allow God to transform us into His disciples, we must do three things:

  1. Sit at the feet of the Master (daily prayer)
  2. Develop the attitude of the Master (be a servant)
  3. Be transformed into the Master (be another Christ…we are called to show the world Jesus)

And he told one last story about an American who was captured in a prisoner of war camp.  He was near a Japanese man who was being tortured for being a traitor.  The American man was a Christian who eventually knew that the Japanese man would die after a day of brutal torture.  He tried telling the Japanese man about Jesus and the Japanese man said that if Jesus was anything like the American man, he couldn’t wait to meet Him.

That’s what it means to be another Christ.  Can the people we encounter say that same thing?  Our husbands, wives, friends, parents, children, employers, employees, neighbors, strangers?  “If Jesus is anything like you, I can’t wait to meet Him.”

We must show Jesus to the world so that they can feel that desire to meet Him.

And ultimately, we must always remember to pray and to love.  That is the best summary of his mission.  Pray and love.  If we do that for the rest of our lives, we will be saints.  We are all called to be saints, which will happen as a result of prayer and love.
Father Larry also asked us to pray for him.  Since he goes around preaching God’s word, the devil goes after him.  He needs our prayers to help him to continue preaching the Truth, staying faithful, not doing anything contrary to the teachings of Christ, and not ever doing anything that brings scandal to the Church.

I wish I had been able to attend the first two days because Wednesday and Thursday were both amazing talks.  I highly suggest looking up some of Father Larry’s videos on YouTube, or his homilies on iTunes.

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My Bible study group (Young Adults in Faith) with Father Larry Richards

Kanrel Glass Water Bottles

I recently heard about the dangers of plastic water bottles.  I’ve been hearing about the dangers of regular water bottles for quite a while, but I hadn’t heard that even BPA-free bottles are harmful until recently.

Basically, the bottles that are BPA-free are safe if they are never introduced to UV light.  Upon being introduced to the UV rays, there is something called BPS that is actually just as dangerous as BPA (you can read about the science behind it here). It may even be MORE dangerous than BPA.  Since I often have my water bottles outside (sometimes for up to 9 hours when I have a long beach day), I realized that my plastic bottles were still going to cause problems.

Companies like CamelBak and Nalgene claim to be safe, but everyone would be better off avoiding plastic water bottles completely.  This website provides a list of the exact bottles that were tested after being exposed to UV light.  Here is the chart from that site:

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I looked into metal bottles, but I don’t really like them.  I like to be able to see how much water I have left.  It’s just a visual thing.

I’ve also heard how researchers aren’t completely sure if there is anything dangerous in some of the metal bottles.

Anyway, I found that there are glass water bottles.  I can sometimes be clumsy, so I’m still a bit nervous about the glass factor, but I found a bottle by the brand Kanrel that I really like so far.  I’ve had it for a few weeks now.

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The glass is pretty thick and then it has a silicone layer on the outside of the bottle.  I’m sure that the bottle would still break if I dropped it on a hard surface, but so far I’ve been okay.

What I really like is that they sell the bottle in blue or purple and 20-oz. or 32.-oz options.

I have been trying to drink more water, so I went with the 32-oz option.  My goal is to drink 2 bottles a day (for a total of 64 ounces), and more when I’m doing intense workouts.  I find that it’s easier to have a large bottle that I only need to fill twice in order to get the correct water intake each day.

The bottle is easy to clean.  It’s dishwasher safe.  I don’t have a dishwasher, so I haven’t actually tried that, but according to the company’s website, it should be fine.

Because it’s glass, the water always tastes like pure water.  Sometimes water in plastic bottles has a chemical taste to it.  Or other times, my plastic bottles would get dirty or too hot and they would also give the water a strange flavor.

So I am extremely happy with this glass water bottle, especially now that I don’t have to be exposed to BPA or BPS chemicals (at least when it comes to drinking water).

The Unjust Stigma that Surrounds HIV/AIDS

This conversation happened today:

Anonymous person: “Did you hear that Charlie Sheen has AIDS?”

Me: “No, I didn’t get a chance to look at the news yet.”

Anonymous person: “Oh yea, he has AIDS.  But you know, Charlie Sheen has always been a wild guy.  He was involved with prostitutes and he’s always had problems with substance abuse.”

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That is probably the way most people are discussing Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis.  But there are so many problems there.

First off, I’m not perfect.  I have been guilty of perpetuating the AIDS stigma as well, but I have now learned more of the truth behind it.  I’ll admit that when I used to hear that someone had AIDS, my first thoughts were that this person was either A) promiscuous, B) gay, or C) a drug user.  But now, I have learned more about it.  I do not want to continue making such rude assumptions.

Until making a point to research the difference between HIV and AIDS today, I didn’t really understand the difference.  HIV? AIDS? In my mind, it was the same thing.  That thing we always learned about in health class.  That disease affecting millions of Africans.  The reason our health teachers always teach us about condoms.

So here are some clarifications if you, like myself, were a contributing factor of the HIV/AIDS stigma.

AIDS and HIV are not the same thing.

HIV is the name of the virus that may one day turn into AIDS, which is a condition wherein a person has very low T-cells.

In third-world countries, HIV turns into AIDS much more quickly due to a lack of healthcare.  In developed nations, this is not the case.  Because of medical advancements, many people who have been infected with the HIV virus are able to keep their T-cell count under control.  It may take years for the virus to ever develop into AIDS.

According to the CDC, AIDS only develops once a person’s immune system has been damaged a significant amount.  At this point, people are more susceptible to other illnesses, which leads into my next point.

AIDS is not what kills infected people.

Once a person has developed AIDS, his T-cells are so low that his immune system is very weak.  It is very easy for him to acquire another illness, such as infections and cancers.

According to the CDC, a person who develops AIDS has about 3 years to live, with treatment.  Without treatment, a person will typically die in less than a year (which is why the AIDS crisis is such a problem in third-world nations where people cannot afford the necessary treatments).

If a person is on antiretroviral therapy (ART), he can actually live for decades with the HIV virus and without it developing into AIDS.

People don’t die from AIDS directly; they die as a result of the illnesses they acquire due to their compromised immune system.

A person does not need to be promiscuous to acquire HIV or AIDS.

HIV can absolutely be acquired through sexual intercourse.  And truthfully, that is often the cause of HIV.  But the moment we hear about someone being infected with HIV, we should not assume that this person was promiscuous.  Maybe he just had a blood transfusion that went badly.  There are other possibilities.

Even if a person was promiscuous, that gives us no right to judge him.

So let’s pretend that Charlie Sheen did get HIV as a result of promiscuity.  What does that change?

We don’t know how he acquired the virus.  If he got it as a result of a blood transfusion, would people be less judgmental?

We don’t know the details and we should not make assumptions.  I am sure that he is completely overwhelmed by his diagnosis, not to mention having to live with the disease in the public spotlight.

It is not our job to judge him.

Charlie Sheen isn’t perfect.  But neither am I and neither are you.  Even if he acquired the illness due to risky behaviors, he is still a human being who should have his dignity.

If you have AIDS, that doesn’t mean that you’re gay.

Do gay people sometimes have AIDS?  Yes.  Do heterosexual people have AIDS? Yes.

Can a gay person transmit the disease through sexual intercourse?  Yes, but the same is true for anyone partaking in sexual intercourse, regardless of sexual orientation.

AIDS is a sexually-transmitted disease.  It is not a homosexually-transmitted disease, despite what some people seem to believe.

If you are going to have sex with someone, there is the chance that you could become infected with HIV, unless you know that you both have been tested.  It doesn’t really matter if you are gay or straight.

Having AIDS also doesn’t mean that you have used drugs.

Can people get HIV through drug use?  Yep.  If a person uses dirty needles to shoot up heroin, he could acquire HIV.

But the same is true if I happened to cut open my leg while someone else had another open wound.  I could just as easily get HIV if our blood mixed as a person could from using a dirty needle.

We need to stop all of these stereotypes.

Let’s educate people rather than promoting stigmas.

HIV can obviously be transmitted as a result of drug use and sexual intercourse, so we need to educate people on these matters.

But we also need to teach people to respect everyone and to avoid judging them.

Charlie Sheen has hidden his illness for the past four years because he is aware of the negativity associated with the illness.  Not only is he sick, but because he is sick with HIV in particular, he has to spend a great deal of energy simply trying to keep his secret.  He should only have to worry about maintaining his health, but until today, he couldn’t do that.

Celebrities with illnesses like cancer and Parkinson’s disease are able to deal with their illness without being shamed.  For Charlie Sheen, that is not the case, thanks to this silly stigma.

Why do we stigmatize AIDS, but not other illnesses?

If a person has AIDS, we assume the things I mentioned previously about my own ignorant assumptions towards people infected with HIV: that they are gay, promiscuous, or a drug user.

Why is this not true of other diseases?

Type-2 diabetes is preventable (or at least delayed) with a healthy lifestyle.  Yet we don’t usually meet someone who has diabetes and think, “well, it’s her own fault for eating so many donuts and sweets.”

Can you imagine if that was our reaction?  How cold and heartless.

Yet for some reason, HIV/AIDS is different.  We feel entitled to not only judge these people, but to completely disrespect their dignity.


 

So Charlie Sheen, I commend your courage and bravery.  I have no place to judge anything about your lifestyle.  Heck, I don’t even know much about you.

Unfortunately, I do know that people will no longer look at you the same.  People will utter nasty thoughts about you simply because of your admission of your illness.

You are unfortunate enough to have acquired an illness that may cause you more pain as a result of the opinion of the general public than from the actual symptoms, and that is a shame.

But you can at least breathe in a sigh of relief that your secret is out.  You can stop hiding.

And hopefully, maybe thanks in part to you coming into the limelight, people will begin to realize that HIV/AIDS is something that can affect anyone.  Maybe your story will help to enlighten those of us who don’t understand all that this illness entails.

 

 

 

#NoBraDay Needs to Go Away

It’s October.  Aka breast cancer awareness month.

I have no problem with breast cancer awareness (although I wish we would promote awareness for other types of cancer as well).

My problem is these ridiculous gimmicks that we use to promote this awareness.  I’ve already blogged about it (see link below), but I came home from work today and saw all of the articles promoting #NoBraDay for today, October 13th, and I just couldn’t help but to write about my thoughts on the matter.

Previous post: Why Do We Only Support Breast Cancer?

Maybe I’m just misinformed.  Maybe the lack of a bra somehow helps women to fight this terrible disease.  But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.  Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that #NoBraDay is an absolute slap in the face for women who have had to have a mastectomy as a result of their cancer.  There are many women who no longer have breasts.  So how must it make them feel to see women flaunting their assets in a strange, skewed attempt to “support” them?

This awesome Huffington Post article does just that – it’s written from the perspective of a woman who did lose her breasts due to her breast cancer.  And she seems to agree with many of my own thoughts on the issue.

To me, #NoBraDay sounds like another day to look at women as objects and to sexualize them.

I wore a bra today.  *GASP!*  I guess I don’t care about breast cancer!

Um, no.  Not quite.  I respect myself and I know that my lack of a bra will in no way, shape, or form, help people to fight cancer.  It’s ludicrous.

The men must think they’ve had such an awesome idea with this promotion.  Hey, we’ll tell them they’re supporting breast cancer if they don’t wear a bra and then we get to look at their boobs all day.  Do you think it could catch on?  

I am ashamed that females are actually buying into this.  (And no, I don’t really know whether a man came up with the idea)

Ladies, I am pretty sure that your Instagram photo showing your nipples is not helping to accomplish anything in terms of fighting breast cancer.

I want to say goodbye to:

-#NoBraDay

-I love boobies bracelets

-Save the ta-tas T-shirts

Let’s give the women who are fighting this illness some respect, please.  Instead, we’re only focusing on the sexual aspects of it.  Let’s fight breast cancer because we care about the lives of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, etc.  Not because we love boobs so much.  Let’s save lives, not just boobies.  (I mean, are we 12 years old, here anyway?)

Or maybe to raise awareness for testicular cancer we should have a day where athletes won’t wear jock straps.  #NoCupDay.  I’ll make “I love balls” bracelets.  My T-shirt will say “Save the balls.”  This hopefully sounds ridiculous.  And it should.  But somehow, #NoBraDay is a thing.  And it kills me.  I find it completely offensive and I hope that you do as well.

I don’t have any more time to waste on this.  It’s just so irritating. End rant.

Bikini Snowmobile Race?

I was watching the news this morning just to see what the road conditions would be since we have a 2-hr delay at work today.

While waiting for traffic and weather, they started talking about a bikini snowmobile race. The news anchors (both male and female) thought it was such a cute, funny idea. I’m sorry, but I absolutely disagree.

I wrote a previous post that was similar to this one (see it here: https://peppermintfrostblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/why-do-we-only-support-breast-cancer/).

In this post, I talked about all of the breast cancer awareness products:

1. “Save the ta-tas” bumper stickers, shirts, you name it. Because “ta-tas” is how I’d like someone to refer to my breasts. Right. In most scenarios, women would be disgusted by a man calling her breasts “ta-tas,” but throw on the pink label and suddenly it’s okay.

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2. “I love boobies” bracelets, shirts, etc. Again, add the pink ribbon and nobody can complain about the language.

3. October 13th – National No-Bra day. Maybe there’s something more to this one than I understand. But how does my not wearing a bra help fight breast cancer in any way? Sure, the men are quick to jump onto this bandwagon. They would love to see all of us without bras on in order to “support cancer.” But if I ever actually did this, I would be objectifying myself as a woman rather than lifting up the women who are suffering. I can assure you that I will never support National No-Bra Day. It’s not that I don’t support cancer; it’s that I have this thing called self-respect.

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Unfortunately, now there’s another item I must add:

4. Bikini snowmobile races. There’s a group called the Radar Racers and they have an annual bikini snowmobile run in St. Germain Wisconsin. Here’s the video:

The girl who speaks first jokes about how she can suck it up being cold to raise money for breast cancer. Then she even admits how many of the men come out just to watch the girls in bikinis. If you want to ride a snowmobile in your bikini that’s one thing, but actually having an event where this is what they have decided will raise the most money for breast cancer is really sad.

They race on 660 feet of snow track. I was just watching the X Games the other day. The men who ride the snowmobiles wear huge, thick jumpsuits to keep them protected. Obviously it’s a bit more intense since they’re going off jumps, but still, if any of these women fall off of their snowmobiles or if there’s ever an accident, they will absolutely be destroyed since there’s barely any protection on their bodies other than a helmet.

Regular female snowmobile rider:

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Bikini rider:

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Apparently, watching women race snowmobiles isn’t that enticing. But put them in bikinis and of course there are spectators. That’s because you’ve lowered them to nothing more than objects. For the men in the audience, it’s probably similar to going to a strip club, watching them remove their coats and layers when they’re about to ride, and then proceeding to race in itty bitty bikinis.

How can people really believe that it’s ultimately for the good of breast cancer? What’s next? We might as well put some breast cancer jars in strip clubs to raise money there. Prostitution in return for money for breast cancer awareness? Sure. Obviously I’m being hyperbolic, but these silly events that objectify women while covering that up by saying it’s all about breast cancer awareness simply drive me insane. No, you’re still just objectifying women. Putting the “breast cancer” stamp on it doesn’t change the situation. Our society has still not yet progressed enough to see women as anything other than boobs, butts, and objects of sexual gratification.

Lots of men deal with testicular cancer. So what should be done to help them? Make “I love weiners” bracelets? You couldn’t say “I love penis.” That’s a bit too extreme. So we need a silly nickname. For women we have “I love boobies,” so maybe “I love wee-wees.” Yep – let’s put that on a bracelet. And T-shirts. And bumper stickers. Then we have the “Save the ta-tas” gear. We can change that to “Save the ballsacks.” Yea. I’m sure girls will all go out to buy those t-shirts to support testicular cancer.

Then we’ll have the g-string snowmobile race for the men since all of the ladies will come out to watch that. We’re not objectifying the men; it’s just the easiest way to quickly raise money. Put them in a thong, bring in a crowd, and get some money raised.

It’s all just insane. And the fact that people view all of these breast cancer campaigns as normal is the worst part. We need to have higher standards. I absolutely believe in raising money for cancer awareness (though I wish we focused on all cancers rather than only breast cancer), but I don’t believe in lowering my standards to do so. You want me to buy pink products for breast cancer? Fine. But ask me to go without a bra for a day or put on a bikini and ride a snowmobile? No thanks.

Right to Refuse Chemotherapy?

I saw an article on Yahoo about a 17-year-old girl, Cassandra, who has tried to refuse chemotherapy. You can view the article here: https://www.yahoo.com/health/should-a-17-year-old-be-allowed-to-choose-death-107518648817.html There’s another article from Fox News here: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/01/08/connecticut-supreme-court-upholds-ruling-that-teen-must-undergo-chemo/

She has hodgkin lymphoma, which, according to the Yahoo article, has an 85% survival rate for patients who undergo chemotherapy. However, Cassandra does not want to put poison into her body.

People are comparing this case to Brittany Maynard’s right to die case. But to me, there’s some major differences between the two.

Brittany took physician-prescribed medicine to commit suicide in order to end her suffering with brain cancer. She was blatantly attempting to end her life. She had no will to live any longer; she was done fighting. She wasn’t looking into any other sorts of treatment options.

Brittany Maynard
Brittany Maynard

Cassandra, on the other hand, is not asking for medicine to die. Instead, she just wants to avoid the poison that is chemotherapy and the side effects that accompany it. She isn’t fighting for the right to die; she’s fighting for the right to refuse treatment and to seek out alternative treatments. It upsets me that our government is trying to stop her.

Cassandra with her mother
Cassandra with her mother

Dying and refusing treatment, to me, are two very different situations.

The Connecticut Supreme Court has voted to force Cassandra to undergo chemotherapy. While I do not agree with Oregon’s “Right to Die” law that helped Brittany Maynard to end her life at 29 years old, I also don’t agree with the state of Connecticut forcing Cassandra into a specific treatment plan of chemotherapy.

I’m aware that part of the reason for the ruling is the psychological maturity of someone who is only 17 years old. The government believes that she is incapable of making such important decisions, even though they believe that she will have that ability once she reaches her 18th birthday and is legally considered an adult. But the problem to me is that she has not said that she wants to die. She wants to fight. She wants to battle this cancer, but she wants to do so on her own terms. She has the support of her family. It’s frustrating that the government has to get involved in this sort of situation.

This would be a different situation if it was just her mother who was forcing her to refuse treatment. But in this case, Cassandra is the one who, with her mother’s support, wants to find other options.

The article treats this situation as a life or death situation, but nothing that I have read shows that Cassandra wants to die. She just doesn’t want to experience chemotherapy. That is very different than Brittany’s story. Cassandra went through two sessions of chemotherapy before running away. She wants to look into alternatives. According to the Fox News article, “The single mother said she and her daughter want to seek alternative treatments that don’t include putting the “poison” of chemotherapy into her daughter’s body.”

I absolutely support Cassandra in not wanting to undergo chemotherapy. There are many alternative treatment methods for cancer patients. One includes the removal of sugar from one’s diet. It’s been proven that cancer cells require sugar to regenerate. Some people have had positive results when eliminating sugar from their diets. Cancer cells thrive on glucose, so there have been studies that have shown that when a cancer cell is starved of glucose, it dies. This treatment alone would probably not cure Cassandra of cancer completely, but it’s a start.

cancer cells
cancer cells

There are many other natural treatment methods, as well as some experimental treatment plans. I agree that Cassandra shouldn’t already give up and plan to die; however, if she wants to try to fight her cancer with some method other than chemotherapy, and she has the support of her family, then I believe that she has the right to do so.

Sometimes, in cases such as these, our government can be too overbearing. I am thankful for the many freedoms that we have in this country, but in situations like this, these freedoms become too limited.

Why Do We Only Support Breast Cancer?

I often wonder what makes breast cancer different from the other forms of cancer. I can go to any given store and find plenty of products with the pink ribbon to show that some of the proceeds will go towards supporting breast cancer. From cereal and canned soup to my workout gloves and running shirts, almost everything is manufactured in a pink shade to support breast cancer and/or the Susan G. Komen Fund. When watching a football game, I see athletes with pink cleats, gloves, and sweat bands. And this is awesome for breast cancer. According to NBC News, the Susan G. Komen fund raised $428 million dollars in the United States in 2012 alone.

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But what about all of the other forms of cancer?

You may think that it sounds like I don’t care about cancer patients, but that is absolutely incorrect. I am concerned that while we, for some reason, focus so much on breast cancer, people are dying of other forms of cancer every day. And these other forms of cancer receive fewer donations since so much of cancer donations goes toward breast cancer research.

What makes breast cancer more important than every other type of cancer?

This morning, I read an article that coincided with my previous thoughts. NBC News has an article http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/lung-cancer-nonsmokers-still-stained-stigma-n246441 about lung cancer and the fact that many Americans who acquire and/or die from this disease have never been smokers. The article is focused around the stigma regarding lung cancer, but the part that stands out to me is the discrepancy between breast cancer funding and lung cancer funding.

While breast cancer raised $418 million in 2012 alone, lung cancer only raises $3 or $4 in any given year. That is a HUGE difference.

While there are about 108,000 new lung cancer diagnoses each year, about 72,000 people will die, as the survival rate is only 16%. That means that lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate, pancreatic, and colon cancers combined. Yet such a major portion of our donated money goes toward breast cancer alone. According to cancer.org, these are the survival rates for breast cancer, as it depends largely on the stage of cancer when it is detected:

5-year relative survival rate:
-Stage 0 – 100%
-Stage I – 100%
-Stage II – 93%
-Stage III – 72%
-Stage IV – 22%

Compare this to the lung cancer 5-year relative survival rate:
-Stage IA -49%
-Stage IB – 45%
-Stage IIA – 30%
-Stage IIB – 31%
-Stage IIIA – 14%
-Stage IIIB – 5%
-Stage IV – 1%

So even the lowest stage of lung cancer and fewer than half of the people diagnosed will survive.

According to the CDC, it is true that there are more occurrences of breast cancer in women (the top three types of cancer in women are breast, lung, and colorectal cancer. However, the top killer is lung cancer.

In men, the top killer is also lung cancer, followed by prostate, liver, and then colorectal cancer. Yet still, we choose to put such a high majority of our money and effort into breast cancer.

And I don’t mean to sound at all cavalier about this topic, but part of me wonders if it is because of the sex appeal that comes along with breasts. People love the silly phrases on products these days that support breast cancer. I cannot speak for anyone who has or is suffering from breast cancer. However, I think that these products are borderline offensive.

These are the products/campaigns I am referencing:

1. “Save the ta-tas” bumper stickers, shirts, you name it. Because “ta-tas” is how I’d like someone to refer to my breasts. Right. In most scenarios, women would be disgusted by a man calling her breasts “ta-tas,” but throw on the pink label and suddenly it’s okay.
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2. “I love boobies” bracelets, shirts, etc. Again, add the pink ribbon and nobody can complain about the language.
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3. October 13th – National No-Bra day. Maybe there’s something more to this one than I understand. But how does my not wearing a bra help fight breast cancer in any way? Sure, the men are quick to jump onto this bandwagon. They would love to see all of us without bras on in order to “support cancer.” But if I ever actually did this, I would be objectifying myself as a woman rather than lifting up the women who are suffering. I can assure you that I will never support National No-Bra Day. It’s not that I don’t support cancer; it’s that I have this thing called self-respect.
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4. And all of the other cutesie slogans that people create.
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Again, I want it to be clear that I understand how horrible it can be to have breast cancer, or any type of cancer for that matter. And if these products help to raise money, then I guess that’s a positive.

But to see my 15-year-old male students wearing “I love boobies” bracelets does not make me rejoice in the fact that they care about breast cancer. Because let’s be honest, most of them don’t. They like getting away with wearing a bracelet that in any other situation would be inappropriate. Because how, in a school, can we ban something like the “I love boobies” bracelet if they can readily prove it’s supporting a form of cancer? Tell a few students to remove them and I’m sure there would be some parent phone calls.

But are we only supporting breast cancer because people like breasts? Are we ignoring the more deadly lung cancer because there’s no sexy, risqué slogans?

And what about the men who acquire breast cancer? Men can get the disease and I bet it’s especially embarrassing to admit now that we have all of these silly breast cancer slogans about “boobies” and “ta-tas.”

When typing “cancer awareness” into Google images, the majority of the images are pink, in support, once again, of breast cancer. There are a few images showing the other colors of ribbons, which, by the way, most people probably don’t even know about:

-Lavendar – cancer in general/gynecological
-Yellow – sarcoma
-Dark blue – colon/colorectal
-Gray – brain
-Blue – prostate
-Purple – pancreatic
-Red – lymphoma
-Teal – ovarian
-White – bone
-Clear/pearl – lung

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What I would prefer to see, rather than all of the pink, is more of the rainbow. The rainbow ribbon helps to support all forms of cancer. Because, really, there’s no reason why the other forms of cancer should have so little support. Funding should go where it’s needed most, whether that’s for breast cancer, prostate cancer, or lung cancer.

Enough with saving the “boobies” and “ta-tas.” Let’s just start saving lives.