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Keytruda, this is personal!

montegobayjamica
Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The perfect combination for skin cancer.
First melanoma came just 2 years later!

 

Unless you have had a melanoma, this story may have slipped right by you in the paper.

I on the other hand, did see it this morning, while going through the week’s papers to go out for recycling.

This new Cancer drug made by Merck, was just approved by the FDA and may save countless lives, mine included.

If you have seen my Bio picture, you may have noticed that I am fair skinned with blond hair and blue eyes.

A desirable combination some may say, just not in my case.

After my second melanoma was diagnosed many years ago, I was sent to an LA Cancer Specialist who was part of the Kaiser Foundation which I was covered by in California.

His words still ring in my ears to this day,  ” if you had stayed in Indiana with that skin and coloring,  you might have had a chance, but you came here and baked in the California sun and this is what happens. “

What followed were 8 more melanomas and a total of 22 moles removed.

Melanomas run in families and are genetically linked,  which puts my children at great risk now.

Lucky me, I have what is called Dysplastic nevus syndrome, which means that every mole on my body, and there are many, wants  to become a melanoma when it grows up.

I know when they are bad, I have spent a lifetime looking at mine and those of many others.

For the next 15 years, I was the star patient of the Chief of Dermatology in the Panorama City Kaiser Hospital.

He loved my case, it was such a challenge just to see what would happen next.

He was an excellent Doctor, we became good friends and I adored him.

But back to this new drug I have just learned about today, Keytruda.

If it does what it promises, many melanoma patients whose cancer spreads, may just have a fighting chance.

If melanoma is a new word to you, it is a deadly skin cancer and once it has spread to your lymph nodes, you are a goner.

The lymph system immediately sends all those nice little melanoma cells throughout your body.

BAM,  game over.

If you or a loved one has melanomas, which by the way has now become the deadliest form of skin cancer, for the love of God, tell them to ask their doctors about this new drug.

I will include many links below about skin cancers, melanomas especially and how to check your moles, this is critical if you are to  survive.

Also included will be the who, what, why and where of this new drug and what it will cost, as well as other helpful information.

I hesitated to write this today because it is so very personal, but what if one of you could be helped or even saved because of something you learned from this story?

That is why it is here.

I also want to address one more issue related to my melanomas and this will be especially personal and may shock you,  or bother you to read.

I apologize in advance for doing it, but as said in the paragraph before, some one might benefit from this information.

Several weeks ago, I made an appointment with a local doctor to go in for a check on my mole situation.

I know when they are bad, I have spent a lifetime looking at mine and those of many others.

And right now, I have a bad one and it needs to come off.

Anyway, I made an appointment and was set to see this doctor three days ago.

As always because procrastination is my middle name, I waited until the day before my appointment to fill out the new patient forms that had been mailed to me.

As I was wandering around in them, I started thinking, what if all of this is going to cost a small fortune?

I no longer had the wonderful “free coverage” of Kaiser Permanente in LA.

I am now responsible for any and all costs incurred in my health care.

Me!

So, I  called the number on an ad that had recently come from AARP with an invitation to enroll in their Supplemental Plan.

I had avoided this for several reasons in the past.

Here is what you do not know about this retired Treatment Nurse.

I despise, in no particular order, doctors, pills and medicine in general, when it comes to me.

I refuse to take pills for just about anything or everything.

I have not made a Doctor’s appointment since I left LA in 1999.

With my Cancer diagnosis, that is truly stupid.

But we simply did not have the money and I did not want to go hunting for a replacement for the wonderful man who took care of me in California.

I trusted no one!

So, I did nothing!

I hid my head in the sand and pretended that I would be fine.

Anyway, back to the supplemental plan from those nice people at AARP.

It all sounded good, I was ready to jump in and sign up.

I had a new Doctor lined up, an appointment made and a plan chosen to cover what Medicare did not.

Life was good.

So, then I went back to the forms and began to fill them out.

Uh oh!

Got to the page of what they accepted for payment or Insurance.

I had already asked about Medicare and they said that was accepted.

What I did not ask about was a supplemental.

Well you guessed it, there it was on the page of plans they took, they did not accept AARP.

Just to be completely sure, I called their office and asked.

She was adamant.

They did not take AARP as a supplement.

You must remember that for 30 years of my life I had Kaiser, they was never a charge for a single thing.

To say that I had grown complacent, is an understatement.

When I left LA and Kaiser in 1999, I was uncovered for the first time in my adult life.

What happened next was stupid, I admit it.

I called the office back and cancelled my appointment, saying that if they did not take AARP, I would have to cancel, not knowing how much the charges could amount to.

Dermatology care and treatment can be VERY expensive.

My appointment was for the next day, I said and there was no way I could go through that list of supplemental plans they do accept and pick one by then, I had to cancel.

I will not comment on her cold response, but it was not very kind.

Now, I have no Doctor, no appointment and must start all over looking for new ones of each~

I admit I was hot-headed about it, yes.

And procrastinating contributed greatly as well, but one thing sticks in my craw right now.

I have worked all of my life, since I was 9 with a paper route, paying into my SS.

I have never used it before now, so this first attempt being a most negative experience, is not a very good beginning.

Oh well, I will spend next week trying to sort it all out and get back on track.

I sincerely apologize for this ridiculous overindulgence of writing and beg for your forgiveness in having to read it.

BLAH,  BLAH,  BLAH!

Hopefully, I will not need this new drug, Kytruda, and yes this is personal.

 

Places to learn more:

FDA approves Keytruda for advanced melanoma

FDA approves first-of-its-kind melanoma drug

Melanoma

Dysplastic nevus syndrome

Genetic mutation linked to melanoma progression

‘A single mole caused cancer to spread through my body – now I only have months to live’

Merck Wins Approval to Sell the First in a new Type of Cancer Drug 
The costs are here!

FDA OKs Merck drug, 1st in new cancer drug class

UCLA Researcher Provides Insight Into the Impact of Pembrolizumab in Melanoma -

FDA approves new cancer-fighting drug

High melanoma risk found in airline crews exposed to high-altitude radiation

 

 

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Morgan Freeman, a Man For All Reasons and Seasons

Morgan-Freeman1
Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty
Picture credit: Still looking~

 

Seeing a story on the Weather Channel this morning about Morgan Freeman, was both a surprise, as well as a delightful joy.

It appeared to be mostly about his wide range of Humanitarian activism, but was also about the release of his newest film.

Dolphin Tale 2 is being released this week and Morgan is from the original cast and of course, returns as the kindly genius who created Winter’s artificial tail.

You see, Morgan Freeman is someone that I have deeply admired for many years and learning about all of his other passions today, only deepened that admiration.

It does not hurt that his calming, deep resonating voice is as smooth as melted butter.

Morgan who is 77 and lives primarily in Mississippi, does so much for many, it is hard to keep up.

I was not aware of some of his other environmental activities until seeing the story this morning on AMHQ.

Am I surprised?

No.

This quiet man of deep convictions, just goes about doing his job, giving unforgettable performances that will live in our memory banks forever:  Shawshank Redemption, Invictus,  Million Dollar Baby and  Seven.

Oh, this could go on forever….

Shawshank by the way, is still number one  on the IMDB all time favorite film list.

My favorite of his countless great roles, you may be shocked to learn, is when he has played God.

I would like to believe that God would be similar to the character that Freeman has portrayed of him and that he also has a wicked, or wry, sense of Humor.

It comes as little surprise, that just being an actor, is not quite enough to quench Freeman’s seemingly insatiable thirst for giving back.

To call him a world-class Humanitarian is a clear understatement of the man and his many missions.

Morgan’s opinion on Black History Month and Racism is commendable and well-known.

Freeman co-owns a Blues Club and as of this moment, is involved in all of these Organizations:

One Earth, Global Warming, The Grenada Relief Fund, Autism Speaks, Rebuilding Together and Oceana.

This multifaceted man who has meant so much, to so many, has achieved well deserved respect and admiration, that has grown exponentially over the years.

Morgan Freeman truly is a man for all reasons and seasons.

 

Places to learn more:

Morgan Freeman Bio – Wikipedia

Morgan Freeman’s Top 10 films

Morgan Freeman narrates new LGBT equality advertisement

Morgan Freeman on Ending Racism: ‘Stop Talking About It’

Morgan Freeman Global Warming PSA

Morgan Freeman fund for scholarships turns 15

Morgan Freeman proves he’s real-life action hero by landing malfunctioning plane 4 times

Morgan Freeman To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman to Receive an Honorary Degree from Boston University

Rebuilding Together PSA featuring Morgan Freeman

 

 

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Elevating Art in Atlanta

Artwork%20by%20Branden%20Collins%20-%20photo%20by%20Brian%20Smith
Artwork: Brandon Collins
Picture credit: Brian Smith

 

This Press Release was received in my email this morning and because we may actually drive up for it, depending on Doctor Appointments that month, I thought that I would share it here in the Global Culture Blog.

This will be a really wonderful place and way to experience both the fantastic city of Atlanta, one of our very favorite cities and a Cultural Event that will probably be unlike anything that you have ever been to before~

Below is the Press Release, hope to see many of you up there in October.

We’ll be the ones being dragged around by an Airedale!

 

ELEVATE Invites Public To Explore A Social City With Arts Events From Oct 17-23

“This year’s ELEVATE contemporary art happenings in downtown Atlanta will be playful and interactive,” states Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“Our theme is ‘Social City’ and, with the help of more than 100 artists, we are creating an environment ripe for exploration, discovery and conversation.

You’ll have a chance to engage with living sculptures, interactive gadgetry, artist panels, portable art and dance performances, and quite a few surprises.

We’re throwing a huge art and music block party on Friday, October 17 and presenting events and exhibits daily all over downtown through Thursday, October 23.

All events are free and open to the public. Come get social with us!”

Here are just a few things you can experience during ELEVATE 2014:

Branden Collins will use ancient forms of masking and costuming from various cultures as reference points in his exhibit at Gallery 72. His artwork incorporates brilliant colors and tribal elements and encourages the viewer to come closer.

The Goat Farm, working with over 20 artists and designers, will transform ten dumpsters into built galleries, installations and sculptures.  Utilizing art, science, technology and micro-manufacturing they’ll create cozy, inviting spaces.

Among the galleries, located in hidden alleyways and nearby parks, visitors will discover a Secret Garden to make a wish or a Giant Synthesizer where they can make public music.

Strolling through downtown at lunchtime you may encounter La Passante.

These walking French parasols invite you to join them for an intimate poem and a brief respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, an unforgettable experience.

La Passante is co-sponsored by France Atlanta.

Joanie Le Mercier’s unique, light-based projection art will create optical illusions and “geometricize” areas of Atlanta’s urban landscape.  His works combines math with art and immerses the viewer in a journey that conjures space exploration.

Dance Truck will present dance and performance art, complete with lighting, music and all the trappings that you find on a traditional stage…in a most extraordinary mobile setting.

ELEVATE 2014 is being created with a wealth of talented artists and organizational collaboration.

Just to name a few: Casey Lynch, Dustin Chambers, Romy Maloon, Joanie Le Mercier, Jane Garver, Igor Korsunskiy, Kris Pilcher, Branden Collins, The Goat Farm, Mammal Gallery, Dance Truck, The French Consulate and Eyedrum.

Locations for this year’s ELEVATE are:
Woodruff Park, Gallery 72, Five Points Plaza and the Fairlie-Poplar District.

However, many exhibits will take place in unexpected, non-traditional locations around town and some art will be mobile.

Financial support for ELEVATE 2014 is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and FORD.

ELEVATE is a program of the City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

For more information,  visit their website:  http://www.elevateatlantaart.com/

and like them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ElevateAtlanta

 

Dog friendly places to stay and eat will be added here, as they are found, right up until the Event in October!

One place so far,  that has been confirmed as Dog Friendly,  is the Hotel Indigo, right downtown and across from the Fox Theatre.

More names to be here soon……..

 

As promised some updates.

 

Info on dog-friendly places in Atlanta:

http://atlantaeats.com/blog/pooch-friendly-patios/

http://www.bringfido.com/restaurant/city/atlanta_ga_us/

and here’s the Facebook page of Hotel Indigo:

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoATLMdtwn

 

 

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Winona LaDuke

winonababy
Winona LaDuke

 

For those of you who are not familiar with her, Winona LaDuke is the Executive Director of a group called Honor the Earth.

Last week they began a new campaign  called   “Love Water, Not Oil,”  that is vital, no critical,  to all Americans, not  just Native Americans.

What Fracking and Oil pipelines have done and will continue to do to the environment of this country, should be high on everybody’s agenda.

Once our water supplies and land are contaminated, it will take thousands of years to make them safe again.

Hopefully, you will keep this in mind, when you go to the polls to Vote this week and next:

” which candidates are supporting Fracking and Oil Pipelines and which ones are opposed to them? “

The condition of the water and land that you will  have this time next year depends on it.

Here is a brief Bio that I wrote about Winona several years ago.

She was and is,  an amazing woman, that I have the utmost respect for.

A side note that I find interesting about Winona, she and Robert Redford share the same birthday, August 18th!

Winona_duke_dream_reborn
Winona LaDuke at Dream Reborn Conference  April 6, 2008
Picture credit: Eclectek

 

Winona LaDuke, who was born in 1959 and grew up in Los Angeles,  is Anishinabe/Anishinaabekwe – Ojibwe and an enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the Makwa Dodaem – Bear Clan of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Her father, an Ojibwe was a supporting actor in westerns as well as an Indian activist and her mother, a Russian Jew from New York, was an art professor.

As a teenager LaDuke addressed the United Nations on mining issues.

After graduating from Harvard in 1982, she took a position as the principal of the High School on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

LaDuke is a Program Director of the Honor the Earth Fund and works nationally to promote and assist Native Environmental groups.

She is a Founding Director for White Earth Land Recovery Project: a reservation-based non-profit organization focusing on land, cultural and environmental issues.

LaDuke co-chairs the Indigenous Women’s Network and is Program Director of the Environmental Program at the Seventh Generation Fund.

LaDuke ran with Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000 as his Vice-Presidential candidate for the Green Party and worked to increase Native American voter registration and activism.

She has written on environmental racism and is the author of several books including: Last Standing Woman and  All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life

LaDuke spoke at the International Women’s Conference in Beijing, China on August 31, 1995.

Read excerpts from her speech

LaDuke teaches courses on Native Environmentalism at the University of Minnesota and other colleges and has campaigned for the reduction of nuclear waste.

In 1994, she was named by Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age.

She currently lives with her two children on the White Earth Reservation.

 

Places to learn more:

Native Americans Launch ‘Love Water Not Oil’ Ride To Protest Fracking Pipeline

Winona LaDuke – Wikipedia

Honor the Earth Website

Winona’s Facebook Page

Love Water Not Oil

First Nation Ride For Mother Earth Forms Norwegian/Indian Alliance

An Interview with Winona LaDuke

Honor the Earth – Wikipedia

 

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Not Working

Wattsriots-burning
The Watts Riots in LA in 1965
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

I have been watching the News for the past week with a very heavy heart,  as each day, as the events unfold in Ferguson, painful, ugly and difficult memories are brought back.

What is happening there,  is in many ways quite similar to what we in LA and the surrounding areas experienced with Rodney King, in the 1990’s.

And both of these are entirely too much like the LA Riots in Watts in the 1960’s.

Then there was the Trayvon Martin murder, here in Orlando and the Trial and the verdict that once again met with violent public reaction and out cries everywhere.

All of these tragic events, these sad places,  have touched my life, none in a good way.

That  week in  August of 1965 during the Watts Riots,  was a time of total violence and great turmoil and no one liked what was happening.

Few were sure, including the law enforcement, as to how to find a solution before the City was left in ashes.

In time, it did stop, but not before the deep scars were in place and bitter memories that would last for many, a lifetime.

Next came Rodney King, only this time it was brought right to my own front yard.

The Trial for those who brutalized King was held in my town of Simi Valley.

It was all such an ugly time for a tiny peaceful place.

It seemed to drag on forever and then the verdict came, that no one was prepared to handle, especially the Police.

I left West LA that day and drove towards home, wondering what may lie ahead.

I could not have been prepared for what came next.

As I tried to get off of the Freeway at my Exit, which was for the time of day that it was, unusually backed up onto the Freeway.

When I finally got to the bottom of the ramp, I saw why.

Every single car there was being stopped and examined by a uniformed patrolman, who asked to see ID proving that the person driving did indeed, live in this particular neighborhood.

This was a disturbing, frightening and very unpleasant experience.

My house was about a mile from the freeway and the troubled exit, but only two blocks from the hysterical scene that was happening at the Court House.

It looked like a war zone, or a movie set.

There were huge crowds of onlookers, countless TV crews, Police cars, SWAT crews, my God it was all just terrifying.

But our small town’s terror was about to be unleashed on all of the City, as the turmoil that day in Simi, quickly spread to all of LA and once again, as in the 60’s with Watts, the violence, looting, shootings and arrests, were soon out of control.

When it thankfully began to calm down many days later, we all wondered how and why this could just keep happening.

Why was it always black and white, white police, black victims?

Now once again, in Ferguson, this Country is experiencing another Racially inspired reaction, to what is now being called a racially motivated murder and the results are, as before, violent, dangerous, out of control crowds, venting their frustrations and setting the stage once again, for probably another ugly Trial.

God help us, why can’t we stop this pattern?

Why don’t we learn?

What will it take for this Country to mend our Racial wounds, to stop the Violence and to stop the Hate?

Why are so many, who should know better, doing all of the wrong things?

Governors, Police Chiefs, Judges, Lawyers,  everyone who should and could be using their years of wisdom and experience to calm things, seem to only be pouring fuel onto the already out of control fires.

For the lack of a better explanation, it seems that too often, these people care more about their political careers and futures, than doing what is right, or best, for what is happening right now.

Perhaps it is time for an uninvolved neutral, or third-party, to get involved in these kinds of tragedies because those who should know better and behave better, really could use some better ideas.

The ones they are using now, are just not working.

 

Places to learn more:

Watts Riot

Rodney King trial verdict announced

Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Governor Nixon orders National Guard to Ferguson

 

 

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Paul Newman, the Philanthropist

Paul_Newman_-_1963
Paul Newman in 1963
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

Philanthropists give me hope for us as a species.

These are the wonderful people who make an enormous amount of money and then choose to give it away, or at least share a great deal of with those in need.

Perhaps it was a direct result of the fact that we had some of his pasta sauce for dinner last night, that Paul Newman’s name immediately came to my mind for a post on Philanthropists.

This son of Jewish Hungarian/ Polish immigrants would become one of the most beloved and well-known celebrities of his time.

Sadly, Paul has left us now, but his great work and generous donations live on through his Global Organization, Newman’s Own, and this franchise, ” as of 2013, has donated in excess of $380 Million ”   –  Wikipedia

This movie star, actor, race car driver and political activist attracted legions of admirers all of his life, but he is dearest to my heart primarily because of his great concern and compassion for so many others, all of his life.

It doesn’t hurt that he is also a fellow Buckeye!

Paul’s life was full and rich and filled to the brim with accolades for films and racing, but to me, it was what he did away from the glitz of Fame, that made him such a remarkable human being.

A true mark of his infinite wisdom and great class, was in his choosing and remaining married to his beautiful wife, the quite talented actress Joanne Woodward for 50 years.

Newman, who was well-known for his quick wit and clever humor, never avoided sharing advice laced with humor, as with this great line about marital fidelity:
” Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home? ” -  Wikipedia

He did indeed have steak at home and it was Filet Mignon in my opinion.

Newman’s Own began in 1982 with writer, partner E. A. Hotchner and the extensive list of products that they now produce includes, everything from pasta sauce to pet food, as is aptly demonstrated with the newest Newman Company Branch that  includes Organics like,  pet products, snacks and coffee.

Newman’s name can now be found on everything from popcorn, to pet food and pizzas.

I am a great supporter of the Organic arm of his Company and we have tried many of the products and like the fact that with every purchase,  we are helping someone, somewhere.

The one common ingredient in all of the products that the Newman Companies provide and produce is: quality.

Aside from the multitude of great food products, this warm and generous soul began in 1988, a wonderful place for kids with serious illnesses with his “Hole in the Wall Gang  Camps.

Although for millions around the world, Paul Newman will always be remembered as the quintessential, glamorous and exciting, movie star/actor, to me, he was much, much more, he was Paul Newman, the Philanthropist.

 

Places to learn more:

Biography

Paul Newman

Paul Newman – IMDB

Newman’s Own

Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Serious Fun Children’s Network

An Obituary

 

 

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Enough Already!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE Politics, all Politics!

So for me to be driven, forced and bullied into creating a NEW Blog about this abhorred, loathed and despised subject, something BIG must have happened.

Well it did.

It seems to me that we, the public, the common people, the ones who pay all of the bills for this Government that appears to have more time off, than any other employees in the world, have little, or no say in what Politicians do, or don’t do.

After more than a week of daily phone abuse, yesterday was the very last straw, I could take no more.

Can you say Political ROBO calls?

Spending hours  on the phone with various Government Agencies and our Phone Company yielded ZERO results, because you see, no one is breaking any laws.

So, yesterday, I vented my fury over the complete lack of any semblance of control in our own home and began this NEW Political Blog:   http://politicalpanderings.wordpress.com/

As you will immediately gather by the graphics and appearance, yes it is somewhat satirical!

My hope is, that if you feel the same way, you will come and lend your voice, to what will be a Word Press version of a Blogging Smack Down, until Election Day in November.

If we are truly a country born of Freedom and Democracy, shouldn’t that include our right to peace in our own homes?

Am I the only one who is tired of being the whipping post for a few powerful politicians, who it seems, answer to no one?

They fear no form of legal reprisal and are running amuck at our expense, literally.

Reading the first post on this NEW Blog, should explain everything.

But for now, Enough Already!

 

 

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