Awareness: The Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program

I am a survivor of both breast cancer and cervical cancer. I feel very lucky to have gotten treatment. (No one should feel lucky to receive life saving treatment in the most exception country in the whole, wide world.) We had just purchased a health care insurance policy when I discovered a lump in my right breast. The insurance company decided that my cancer was pre-existing and would not treat it. Because California has the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) I received life saving care. This was in both 2003 and 2004. The breast cancer returned in 2004.

Last year in August, the program decided that I was no longer eligible since my cancer was cured (97% success rate for my particular disease). So, I had all of the tests I could think of before my insurance disappeared. It was discovered that I had cervical cancer. I was actually lucky to have been almost canceled since it pushed me into getting a pap smear. The cervical cancer was in the earliest of stages and I am fine. And I was able to keep my medi-cal (medicaid) insurance. All I have to do is make it to 65 (14 months away) and I will be covered by medicare should anything happen to my medi-cal coverage.

So, if you know someone who needs care for either breast or cervical cancer and has no insurance, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) is available in most states. It is easier to get into these programs because the folks who lobbied for it made the eligibility wider than is normally found in medicaid. My information might be outdated since the GOP has been waging their war against both cancer victims and women. Check with your individual state to see the status of this important health care solution.  If you or someone you know needs care, please check it out. It can save lives. It saved mine. You can also find more links about breast cancer here.

This diary is modified and expanded via a comment I put on Dakine01′ diary about breast cancer awareness. Thank you, Mr.Dakine!

Chevron Refinery Fire: Poor Community Still Sickened by the Oil Industry


I had a fantastic Sunday. My second grandchild was born in the morning at Marin General Hospital. He is a sweet little tyke who coos, eats, sleeps, pees and poos. I can already tell he is a genius.

In the evening of my grandson’s first day on the planet, the people of Richmond, CA were wondering how long they had left on this whirling orb. Richmond is just across the bay from Marin County and the Chevron refinery fire was blazing. You can get to the refinery from the hospital where little Lorenzo was born in about fifteen minutes. Richmond, California is quite the contrast to Marin County. Richmond is one of the poorest towns in the Bay Area. Marin County is one of the richest counties in the country.

As I was researching articles to find more facts about the population of Richmond, I came across this article in Scientific American, Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: Living with Industry. It was published on June 4th of this year. Quite timely.

For 100 years, people, mostly blacks, have lived next door to the booming Chevron Richmond Refinery built by Standard Oil, a plant so huge it can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Hundreds of tanks holding millions of barrels of raw crude dot 2,900 acres of property on a hilly peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Five thousand miles of pipeline there move gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other chemical products.

and

Decades of toxic emissions from industries — as well as lung-penetrating diesel particles spewed by truck routes and rail lines running next door to neighborhoods — may be taking a toll on residents’ health. The people of Richmond, particularly African Americans, are at significantly higher risk of dying from heart disease and strokes and more likely to go to hospitals for asthma than other county residents. Health experts say their environment likely is playing a major role.

While most coastal cities breathe ocean breezes mixed with traffic exhaust, people in north and central Richmond are exposed to a greater array of contaminants, many of them at higher concentrations. Included are benzene, mercury and other hazardous air pollutants that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and neurological effects. People can’t escape the fumes indoors, either. One study showed that some of the industrial pollutants are inside Richmond homes.

The description above is how these people are affected on a daily basis. On Monday, the refinery spewed out heavier toxins and deadly smoke. Lucky for Chevron the effects probably won’t show up for years to come.

During WWII, a community of black people moved to the Bay Area to work at the shipyards. They were forced to live in segregated Richmond. They had no choice. They stayed due to a lack of education and decent paying jobs and because that was now their home. They became the involuntary canaries in the coal mine for the rest of the Bay Area. This is classic environmental racism.

I wonder if the powerful have any notion about their own vulnerabilities to the horrors they have created for the sake of four thousand square foot homes and private schools. Marin County is only a waft away from the Chevron refinery in Richmond. Do they think their own children won’t be affected? Do they think an earthquake will only dump the oil on the side of the bay were the dark people live?

And look for Chevron to say that the reason for the fire was because they had not been allowed to go forward with plans for a new, updated refinery. This new plan would bring in a much more toxic and thick oil and create even worse conditions for the residents of Richmond, and the rest of California. The section that burned on Monday was not to be part of these renovations but Chevron will try to game the system and insist it is time to build whatever they say is necessary.

Yesterday, gas prices had already gone up by thirty cents a gallon. When gas goes up, so does food. That means that the poor of Richmond will eat less.

I wonder how life in the Gulf of Mexico is doing about now.

Poor Community Still Sickened by the Oil Industry (Chevron Refinery Fire)


I had a fantastic Sunday. My second grandchild was born in the morning at Marin General Hospital. He is a sweet little tyke who coos, eats, sleeps, pees and poos. I can already tell he is a genius.

In the evening of my grandson’s first day on the planet, the people of Richmond, CA were wondering how long they had left on this whirling orb. Richmond is just across the bay from Marin County and the Chevron refinery fire was blazing. You can get to the refinery from the hospital where little Lorenzo was born in about fifteen minutes. Richmond, California is quite the contrast to Marin County. Richmond is one of the poorest towns in the Bay Area. Marin County is one of the richest counties in the country.

As I was researching articles to find more facts about the population of Richmond, I came across this article in Scientific American, Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: Living with Industry. It was published on June 4th of this year. Quite timely.

For 100 years, people, mostly blacks, have lived next door to the booming Chevron Richmond Refinery built by Standard Oil, a plant so huge it can process 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Hundreds of tanks holding millions of barrels of raw crude dot 2,900 acres of property on a hilly peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Five thousand miles of pipeline there move gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other chemical products.

and
(more…)

Police Women of Television Land

Last night after an hour of vegging out in front of my computer, I moved on to the television. As I surfed the channels, I landed on a reality show about female police officers. I only saw about five minutes of the episode.

The main character was a female police officer. She is a small attractive women who seemed quite fearless. She had spotted a woman driving a car who picked up a man from the side of the road. Since I wasn’t exactly paying attention, I believe that the man saw the police car. He ducked down in the back of the car. Apparently, this is enough to pull over and arrest people in this particular town. As the story unfolded, the police officer eventually busted the man for weed and the woman for driving without a license. (no license, no voting? but that is another issue)

I have to admit to sometimes watching these kinds of programs. The prison shows are particularly haunting. They are also very dark, as in most of the people are not white. If you don’t think we live in a third world country yet all you have to do is turn on your television and surf. Isn’t it telling that one of the major cable news channels has prison shows on all weekend long?

What did I really see on this police inspired reality show? Was it a brave young woman helping to clean up a nasty, crime ridden city? Or was it the continued destruction of a community via overly severe marijuana laws? How many young black men are in prison because they sold weed? When the policewoman handcuffed the young black man, who was she really doing a favor? Certainly you can argue that he should not have been holding weed or potentially selling it. But you also can argue that selling drugs is one of the very few options that he has to make money. Or maybe he was a really bad person who needed to go away.

By having these kinds of programs saturate the tv market, it reinforces the notion that we live in a terrible, violent culture that we need protection from. That without the strong push back from the authorities, we would all be grossly unsafe. The continual images of racing police cars and the noise of jail cells clanking shut entertains us, scares us, and reinforces the need for a severe police dominated culture. The divisions between communities is intensified by this kind of programming. It strengthens the for-profit prison systems. It pacifies us. We are a more controllable populace if we believe that having millions of American citizens navigating through the judicial and / or prison systems is justified and moral. We are a more controllable populace if we are sitting in our houses watching the tube, eating chips, and being entertained by the misery of others. We are more controllable if we can envision ourselves behind prison bars.

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Maurice Sendak, RIP

 

Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
? Maurice Sendak

When my girls were young, I would read “Where the Wild Things Are” to them every night. It never got old. It never got tired. There is an openness to it that makes it timeless and ageless. Mr. Sendak didn’t believe in childhood. He believed in human beings.

I said anything I wanted because I don’t believe in children I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.
? Maurice Sendak

I am overcome with nostalgia and sweet melancholy. I remember being a young mother with babes. It was the most profound time of my life. That is, until this year. Both of my babes have or are having their own little ones. And I will most definitely read “Where the Wild Things Are” to my beautiful grandsons.

Here is a video from Bill Moyers interviewing Maurice Sendak.

Rest in Peace and Thank You, Mr. Sendak.

Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.
? Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Here is a video from Bill Moyers interviewing Maurice Sendak:

Hieronymus Bosch General Hospital


Last Thursday I received a call from my daughter. She is four and a half months pregnant and had started spotting. It wasn’t the first time but the worry that it engendered in everyone sent her off to the emergency room at Marin General Hospital. I got in my car and made the trip through the rain and arrived at the hospital around nine in the evening.

I was worried that my daughter was not ok. I pulled the car into the dark, wet parking lot and took five minutes to put my pretend brave face on. I walked into an emergency room that was slammed with patients. A child sat in a chair holding his broken arm. People were scattered around the waiting room in various seating arrangements. Wheelchairs held the weary and broken. There were probably forty people in the place. It was like purgatory. Waiting to be seen. Waiting to go home.

I spied Amy’s boyfriend, Rico. Next to him sat his father. I recognized him from pictures I had seen at the couples apartment. Rico introduced us and we hugged. He seemed like a very nice person. I sat between them and Rico updated me. Amy was in a room behind the “do not enter” double doors being attended to by nurses, doctors, scanners, readers of scans, phlebotomists, and more.

The double doors opened and an attendant wheeled a young man out into the waiting room. He looked tired and had a badly swollen leg. I took the opportunity to slip past them and into the back. I walked down the hall and found Amy in Room 10. As soon as I saw her I felt she and the baby were going to be fine. The first thing I said to her was “You look beautiful”. She smiled and said “Thanks, Mom”. (more…)

Occupy Sacto

John from Sacramento and I went to Occupy Sacto today to see what kind of supplies they might need. We met Larue there.

As we walked to the park I could see that not many people were there. It was drizzling and chilly. They were just beginning to serve lunch to a group of veterans. Most of the vets looked to be homeless. Most of the Occupy folks are starting to look frayed and tired. But they do persevere.

I asked them why they thought that fewer people were showing up. One young woman told me that because Sacramento has such a vast suburban population that people who would normally demonstrate cannot get there. Gas is too expensive. And mass transit, well, it sucks. They really need gas cards.

Occupy Sacto is not sleeping in the park because they don’t want to do so without a permit. But they found they could sleep right across the street at the city hall. Different rules for different places. But they can’t have tents or sleeping bags. They can only have a blanket. Some of them have been there for weeks under these circumstances.

When I told them that we were from Firedoglake and were there to help, more than one person gave me a big hug. One woman almost didn’t let go. They could hardly believe what we were saying. They said that usually they have to beg on bended knee for supplies. It was very touching. And it felt good to be able to do something so tangible.

I also found out an interesting fact today. It is illegal to be homeless in Sacramento. Rather, it is illegal to camp in Sac. This makes the homeless criminals. They get a ticket which they can’t pay. Then they are arrested and sent to jail. This means they have a record and makes it even harder to find work. That is the same as making it illegal to be destitute.

Two very different worlds are getting to know one another. The occupiers and the homeless are camping together around the country. They are all teaching and learning.

I had a great day.