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robertogreco : cancer   12

The centripetal force of life
"I don't quite know what I'm doing to myself these days. Last night was an episode of The Americans in which a marriage was ending, another family was trying to keep itself intact, and a young boy struggles to move on after his entire family dies. This morning, I watched an episode of Mad Men in which a mother tries to reconcile her differences with her daughter in the face of impending separation. And then, the absolute cake topper, a story by Matthew Teague [http://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a34905/matthew-teague-wife-cancer-essay/ ] that absolutely wrecked me. It's about his cancer-stricken wife and the friend who comes and rescues an entire family, which is perhaps the truest and most direct thing I've ever read about cancer and death and love and friendship.
Since we had met, when she was still a teenager, I had loved her with my whole self. Only now can I look back on the fullness of our affection; at the time I could see nothing but one wound at a time, a hole the size of a dime, into which I needed to pack a fistful of material. Love wasn't something I felt anymore. It was just something I did. When I finished, I would lie next to her and use sterile cotton balls to soak up her tears. When she finally slept, I would slip out of bed and go into our closet, the most isolated room in the house. Inside, I would wrap a blanket around my head, stuff it into my mouth, lie down and bury my head in a pile of dirty clothes, and scream.

There are very specific parts of all those stories that I identify with. I struggle with friendship. And with family. I worry about my children, about my relationships with them. I worry about being a good parent, about being a good parenting partner with their mom. How much of me do I really want to impart to them? I want them to be better than me, but I can't tell them or show them how to do that because I'm me. I took my best shot at being better and me is all I came up with. What if I'm just giving them the bad parts, without even realizing it? God, this is way too much for a Monday."
parenting  cv  fathers  jasonkottke  children  self-doubt  humans  humanness  relationships  friendships  fatherhood  families  kindness  matthewteague  death  health  cancer  marriage  selflessness  love 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer - NYTimes.com
"A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
cancer  death  life  neuroscience  living  oliversacks  2015  legacy  individuality  davidhume  health  dying  mortality  audacity  clarity  goodbyes  perspective  humanism  privilege  adventure  consciousness 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mary Oliver — Listening to the World | On Being
"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing."



"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things."

[Spoken: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/wild-geese-by-mary-oliver ]
maryoliver  onbeing  wisdom  poetry  2015  poems  writing  place  religion  rumi  spirituality  life  living  howwewrite  discipline  creativity  language  process  staugustine  attention  reporting  empathy  fieldguides  clarity  death  god  belief  cancer  kindness  goodness  nature  prayer  loneliness  imagination  geese  animals  slow  posthumanism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
What is the blue light from our screens really doing to our eyes? — Tech News and Analysis
"An eye doctor says he’s recently seen a few 35-year-old patients whose lenses, which are typically clear all the way up until around age 40, are so cloudy they resemble 75-year-olds’. A sleep doctor says kids as young as toddlers are suffering from chronic insomnia, which in turn affects their behavior and performance at school and daycare. A scientist finds that women who work night shifts are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who sleep at night.

What do all these anecdotes have in common? Nighttime exposure to the blue light emanating from our screens."



"The latest research, in fact, overwhelmingly suggests that delayed production of melatonin due to blue light exposure at night is causing far more problems than insomnia, from diabetes and certain types of cancer to lupus and migraine headaches. Optometrists are even seeing high levels of retinal stress in young people that could lead to the early onset of macular degeneration, which in extreme cases can cause near blindness."



"For those who like to read the scientific literature directly, here’s a quick tour of some of the latest findings, and a search on blue light and melatonin via the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed search tool can yield larger results:

• Room light not only suppresses melatonin production, but it could also impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure and glucose homeostasis
• Blue light is considered a “carcinogenic pollution” that in mice correlates with higher cancer rates
• A lack of melatonin is linked to higher rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, while blocking those blue rays with amber glasses is linked to lower cancer rates
• Exposure to blue light in people appears to have an impact on mood
• Lower melatonin in mice is linked with higher rates of depression
• Too much light exposure can cause retinal toxicity
• Blue light exposure may be playing a role in the higher incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration seen today"
biology  health  light  eyes  eyesight  insomnia  sleep  2014  screens  bluelight  mood  depression  cataracts  melatonin  cancer 
september 2014 by robertogreco
FASST on Vimeo
"Ezra died the evening of May 24, 2014.
Shot and edited by Sam Newman (samueldnewman.com)
Additional footage by Keef (vimeo.com/madebyhand)
Music: "As I Roved Out" by Sam Amidon (samamidon.com/)
Special appearances by Georges Rouan and Sketchbook Crafts (sketchbookcrafts.com)
For more information, visit fastboycycles.com and teachingcancertocry.com "
ezracaldwell  bikes  biking  life  living  death  craft  film  video  documentary  cancer  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Lance Armstrong and Livestrong | Lance Armstrong | OutsideOnline.com
"If Lance Armstrong went to jail and Livestrong went away, that would be a huge setback in our war against cancer, right? Not exactly, because the famous nonprofit donates almost ­nothing to scientific research. BILL GIFFORD looks at where the money goes and finds a mix of fine ideas, millions of dollars aimed at “awareness,” and a few very blurry lines."
misrepresentation  fraud  awareness  via:rodcorp  billgifford  fundraising  charity  nonprofits  2012  cancer  livestrong  critique  lancearmstrong  gregmortenson  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  capitalism  power  control 
august 2012 by robertogreco
On quack cancer cures, and "alternative medicine" as religion - Boing Boing
"today, he explores the idea of "alternative medicine" as a faith-based religion.

"What we are doing (or trying to do)," writes Orac, is to rely on science rather than faith."

"The longer I study alternative medicine and alternative medical systems, the more it becomes clear to me that they show far more similarity to religion than they do to science. It’s true that alt-med apologists dress up their beliefs in language that sounds scientific, but when you scratch the patina of scientific language off, it doesn’t take long to find the religious imagery, often facilitated by the more conventional religious beliefs (i.e, Christianity) of the believer. We see the same thing with respect to evolution denial. So why not with denial of scientific medicine? A nonscientific world view that is based on faith in things that can’t be seen is often not confined to church."
faith  religion  alternativemedicine  science  belief  2012  xenijardin  medicine  quacks  cancer 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Cancer, 'Fixies' And Flickr Friendships : The Picture Show : NPR
"I still have never met Ezra in person, but I find it amazing. Amazing that in this age of compromised privacy and the collective angst we feel over sharing (or not sharing) and password protection, beautiful stories like Ezra's are out there, honest, raw and public — for all the world to see.

It makes me love the Internet even more. How it equalizes, democratizes, eulogizes and preserves some very wonderful things. Like eulogies that we can all write on our own.

That is a beautiful thing, my friends. I only wish my mother could have shared her own with the world, too."
online  web  internet  strangers  friendship  2011  flickr  relationships  cv  cancer  health  privacy  sharing  community 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Cancer-causing box springs? [Interesting, but the update (quoted here) is why I'm bookmarking]
"So, you know when you run across something about some current scientific theory or hypothesis on a blog or in a magazine or newspaper or even in a scientific journal, there's a fair chance that whatever the article says is misleading, misstated, or even incorrect. That's just how it is and if you didn't know, now you do. Take this stuff with a grain of salt. It's why I use phrases like "suspected cause" instead of something like "box springs and FM radio proven to cause cancer".
kottke  skepticism  science  media  truth  hypotheses  cancer  boxsprings  medicine  quacks 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Cancer Specialist: Sun Exposure Does Not Cause Melanoma | KPBS.org
""As the incidence of melanoma has risen it's also paralleled a change in behavior that's going on all across the world, and that is people are working indoors."
health  cancer  outdoors  melanoma  skincancer  sun 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Let's Change the Game
"Let’s Change the Game is a competition to design an ARG (alternate reality game) to help the work of Cancer Research UK. The winning designers will receive funding to develop and run their game, and will be mentored by some of the best ARG designers in
activism  cancer  gamedesign  games  play  competitions  arg  charity  innovation 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Wired News - AP News: Graveyard Shift Work Linked to Cancer
"However, scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock. The hormone melatonin, which can suppress tumor development, is normally produced at night."
sleep  health  cancer  research  light 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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