Letters to the editor on cancer center, selling votes, Eastwood, ‘The Campaign,’ right to surgery, suicide, torture

09/09/2012 12:00 AM

09/07/2012 8:11 PM

NCI designation is a huge leap

I want to express my gratitude to the thousands of Kansans who helped the University of Kansas Cancer Center become the country’s newest National Cancer Institute-designated center, such as the 18 members in the Midwest Cancer Alliance including Via Christi Health, the Kansas Masonic Foundation and Masons from every corner of our state, and dozens of corporate and private donors. Without your support, this would not have been possible.

We are proud of what this accomplishment means in the fight against cancer in the heartland. As an NCI-designated center, we will continue to recruit top researchers, apply for federal funding and open more clinical trials only available at NCI-designated centers. We will continue to extend the science at the Cancer Center to communities across the state through the Midwest Cancer Alliance.

NCI designation is a huge leap in our battle against cancer, but it is not a destination. We have actively begun pursuing our next goal, the most elite designation a cancer center can have: comprehensive cancer center status. While this new quest will take all of us working together, it also will benefit many as we expand our research in cancer prevention and control, as well as cancer screening and education efforts, in communities across Kansas.



University of Kansas Cancer Center

Kansas City, Kan.

Selling our vote

The dirty little secret of capitalism is that wealth accumulates at the top, and those at the top spend it to manipulate those in the lower echelons of society. We’ve seen huge sums spent to cripple labor unions, defeat environmental protections, dilute social safety nets, reduce taxes and increase tax credits for the “1 percenters.”

Though much of this activity goes on under the supervision of outrageously priced lobbyists, for the next couple of months most of the expenditures visible to the average Joe will be made on campaign ads.

Should we blame the big spenders? Probably not.

It is a sad commentary on the American voter that so many Americans will base their votes on sound bites full of half-truths, badly distorted information or outright lies, instead of taking the time and making the effort to dig out the facts about the issues vital to their well-being.

Every American should vote. But if we’re too lazy or too apathetic or even too dogmatic to dig out enough balanced facts to make an informed decision, then we are, indeed, selling our vote to the candidate who can afford the most sound bites. And if we let ourselves do that, we deserve what we get.



Hold accountable

I agreed with one thing Clint Eastwood said at the Republican National Convention. He said it was time for politicians to be held accountable, to put up or shut up. If they can’t or won’t do what they promised or were hired to do, it is time for them to get out of office.

I am sure the Republican Party meant that toward President Obama, but I think all public officials, hired and paid by us, should be held accountable using the same work guidelines most of us deal with: performance reports. If you don’t do what you were hired to do, you are let go.

Don’t put everything in the lap of Obama; there are many to blame and who should take responsibility for what is going on in Washington, D.C. Then let’s see if they can make it on public assistance or unemployment benefits.



Comic reality

If you haven’t see the Will Ferrell comedy “The Campaign” and you’re turned off by the current political process, you need to put it on your must-see list.

Ferrell shows in comic terms how shameless politicians are in their attempts to smear their opponents in order to attain power and take credit for accomplishments that were really made by ordinary citizens.

The thing I liked best about “The Campaign” was that neither the Republicans nor Democrats were presented as “the good guys.” What the movie showed was what we often fail to realize in real life: Neither side really has our best interests at heart. They are fighting to hold office so that they can hold office.



Right to surgery

Even with the Affordable Care Act, some insurance companies continue playing games with consumers.

I experienced this personally 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was forced to jump over hurdles thrown in front of me by my insurance company in its attempt to minimize reimbursements to my health care providers and increase my out-of-pocket expenses. Since then, new laws have been passed to better protect patients, including one law specifically meant to protect women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.

Now, according to federal law, women cannot be denied coverage for reconstructive surgery after undergoing a mastectomy. Unfortunately, one of my good friends who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer was told by her insurance company that coverage for reconstructive surgery was not guaranteed should she choose to have a mastectomy.

I’m writing this for all women who may have the misfortune of falling victim to breast cancer. Please don’t allow yourself to be discouraged or manipulated by insurers. Whether you have private insurance, Medicare, Medi-caid or veterans’ medical benefits, you are guaranteed to have coverage for breast reconstruction – including to an unaffected breast if needed to achieve symmetry – should you choose to have a mastectomy as your cancer treatment option.



Prevent suicide

On a Saturday night in January, our 28-year-old daughter took her own life. After the shock of the first few months, we are left with learning to deal with the ongoing grief and emptiness in our lives. She left us with many questions that will remain forever unanswered.

According to most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 14 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide. The CDC reports that suicide is the second-leading cause of death of 25- to 34-year-olds. Also, suicide in the United States has been increasing since the year 2000.

Sept. 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week. Mental health and suicide prevention information is available from several sources, including the National Institute of Mental Health ( www.nimh.nih.gov). Knowing the warning signs and risk factors for suicide could help save the life of someone you love.



Not in our name

Thank you, Wichita Eagle editorial board, for spotlighting a most important topic (“Torture needs sunlight,” Aug. 17 Eagle Editorial). As the editorial noted, the Polish government wants an account of mistreatment of terrorism suspects detained by the United States at a secret Warsaw site. Some Polish and U.S. officials are against trials, which could make the torture procedures under President Bush public.

This is in keeping with President Obama’s oft-repeated statement that we must look forward, not backward. But is this so Obama won’t have to explain his continuation and extension of many of the same transgressions – including not closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, ordering drone attacks on civilians, and establishing a “kill” list targeting suspects anywhere in the world without due process?

Currently, Obama has failed to condemn the torturous treatment of Bradley Manning, alleged WikiLeaks whistle-blower, held in solitary confinement for 10 months and imprisoned for more than two years before being brought to trial.

Many will choose to hold their nose and vote for the “lesser of two evils,” but the editorial has opened our eyes wide. Now we must say, “Not in our name.”



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