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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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Amish Attitude Adjustment

SharetheRoadGeaugaCountyOhioAmish_buggy
An Amish Horse and Buggy: Wikipedia
Traffic sign:  Ken Lund

 

Growing up in Indiana gave me a strong attachment to the  Amish people  and their unique culture.

Indiana has the second highest population of Amish after Ohio, which is where I was born.

Even after leaving and moving to California, the Amish were always of great interest to me.

My own grandfather, although of Prussian heritage,  looked and spoke very much like the Amish, his dialect of German was like the Old Order Amish and this may have encouraged my deep affection for them.

He was a master carpenter, as are many Amish men and took great pride in the quality of his work.

My abhorrence of guns, war and violence,  may or may not be a result of this.

Later, when my children were young, an Amish quilt was on every bed in our home, all hand-made.

Each time I went back to Indiana for a visit, going to one of the many Amish Communities, was always a part of my trip agenda.

The Amish are in many states across this country, including a few here in Florida,  but the highest population is in Ohio, at about 55,000, where the disturbing story on the news this morning was focused.

There has been a rash, or serious outbreak of measles in Ohio, said to be the most in this country since 1996 and it is believed to have come from within the Amish Community there.

People often believe, erroneously, that the Amish do not believe in any vaccines or immunizations for their children.

Some of them do, some do not, they have varying opinions on the subject, as do many who are not Amish.

The reason for most of the concern in this current measles outbreak is,  primarily because of the risk of it now becoming wide-spread throughout the Amish Community and then to others in nearby areas.

For so many years, both before and after growing up, I heard the snickers, saw the rudeness and listened to the cultural bias and complete ignorance from those on the outside,  towards these gentle, peaceable people.

This lack of understanding, or compassion for the Amish people and their culture, may have played some small part in the murder of  innocent Amish school children.

It seems incomprehensible, that when some people do not understand a cultural group, or a religion, they can and frequently do fear it to the point of spouting hurtful,  social insults, or even harming  those that they do not understand.

The Amish came to this country to escape abusive treatment, it is so disappointing that some here cannot allow them to pursue the religious freedom here that they seek.

So now that once again their community is in the glare of the public spotlight,  that they so constantly shy away from, could we instead of pointing fingers and playing the “blame game,”  perhaps offer instead a little kindness and warmth?

Long before all of the  movies,  the TV shows, the books,  exposés  and all of  the ugly Hollywood hype, the Amish came to America looking for a better life, for religious freedom, for peace.

This Country spends billions helping people all over the world, so why do we care so little for those who live right here in America, perhaps just down the street or across town?

If you don’t know anything about the Amish, won’t you please take the time to learn just a little?

The Amish really are pretty much just like you and me, they love their families and want peace in the world.

Right now, their Communities are hurting, how can you/we not show them some of the same concern that we do to those thousands of miles away?

Perhaps we could all use a little Amish attitude adjustment?

 

Places to learn more:

Amish Missionaries Implicated In Measles Outbreak In Ohio

Ohio Measles Outbreak Traced to Amish Mission Trip

Ohio cases among Amish drive bad year for measles across U.S.

8,000+ Amish Vaccinated As Measles Outbreak Continues

Ohio Amish bearing brunt of measles epidemic

 

 

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My Father

roberts

My father Robert M. Skirvin, Sr. in his uniform of the US Navy.

 

This is the first Memorial Day that I have known who my father was.

His identity was just learned this past Christmas Eve, after a lifetime of searching.

So on this day created to Honor all those who serve or have served this country in the military,

I am proud to,  at long last, be able to Honor him.

Robert Melville Skirvin, Sr. was born in Bloomington, Indiana and served in the United States Navy.

For all of you who put your lives in mortal danger, on a daily basis, while being separated from your family and loved ones for such long periods of time in service to your Country, we owe you everything, we owe you our very lives.

Memorial Day is not about hamburgers, it is about Heroes.

It is about those who proudly put on the uniform of a branch of our military every single day and who give everything, so that we may all be free.

It is terrifying to ponder what this country,  or even the entire world,  would be like today, without the sacrifices that each of you unselfishly makes for us.

To all who serve, or have served, we Honor you on Memorial Day everywhere in America and indeed, throughout the World, for what you do and have done.

May God Bless you all~

And to the father that I never knew, I am so very proud that your were a part of this and although we never met, I love you.

 

 

 

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Crispus Attucks, Walkingfox and me, the connection~

Crispus_Attucks

Crispus Attucks  –   “The first to defy, the first to die”
The Poem by Irish Poet John Boyle O’Reilly
Picture credit: Public Domain

 

Crispus Attucks was the first to die,  along with four others, in the Boston Massacre of 1770, which became the impetus for the American Revolutionary War.

He was born in 1723 in Framingham, Massachusetts and died on March 5, 1770 in Boston.

Although he was born a slave, he later escaped, and as a runaway slave he would become a whaler for many years, as well as a rope maker.

Standing at  6′ 2 “,  Crispus was strong and muscular and a good fit to become a whaler.

His father was Prince Yonger,  who was born in Africa and later brought to America as a slave.

His mother Nancy Attucks,  was a Natick Indian from Massachusetts,  who was also forced into slavery, she was descended from John Attucks, of Massachusetts,  who was hanged during  King Philip’s War.

Crispus had a sister named Phebe and perhaps also a brother.

This was all happening at  the beginning of the American  Revolutionary War.

” Nancy Attucks, was an Indian and possible descendant of John Attucks, a member of the Natick Indian tribe. John Attucks was executed for treason in 1676 during the King Philip War.
The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer.”    from African-American Registry

On that eventful day in March of 1770, Attucks was at the front of a large group of Rebels, which resulted in a confrontation with British troops, that ended with him being killed along with four others.

John Adams, who would later become our second President,  would defend the soldiers who killed him, they were acquitted. This event would later be called the Boston Massacre by John’s cousin Samuel Adams.

This popular phrase was often heard after the trial, “Even a Red Coat can get a fair trial”

Attucks is buried in the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, a precedent set by him being buried with white men.

A Monument to Honor him, was erected in 1888 and stands in the Boston Common.

My vague connection to this man is:

After leaving LA and going to Connecticut to Walkingfox’s home to begin a new life, I found that he already had a wide circle of friends, from every state and every Nation in New England and these places, these names, these people, would all soon become quite familiar and important to me.

We have been to every state in New England as Walkingfox attempted to teach me about his people and their History, one of those trips was to Plymouth for  the Annual day of Mourning or as it is known in the non Native world, Thanksgiving.

We made two trips up to Plymouth for this event, before moving south to Florida. These were wonderful chances to be with others who also came to remember the History of this place. Warm people, warm memories.

plymouth1        sachem5

Left, Walkingfox at Plymouth Rock Monument and Right,  Wampanoag Moonanum James of UAINE

On that emotional day, we stood with others at the place where many captured Native  prisoners had been executed and their heads hung on posts,  in the center of the town. It was a very somber, sad day for all who stood in the frigid cold and prayed for those who had died there so long ago during the King Philip’s War.

firewomanwf       renatowalkingfox

Left, Firewoman was a Wampanoag and Right, Renato is Natick, both were very dear to us.

We have friends of the Natick and Wampanoag Nations that are referred to in this story
about Crispus Attucks, so as you can see, telling it and sharing it is all quite personal.

*One other personal footnote:
When I attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, our long time, biggest rival in Basketball,  was always Attucks High School, an all African-American school known for having the best players in our state and they nearly always beat us and made the state finals.*

 

These are some excellent places to learn more about this most special man:

African-American Registry

The Grio: Remembering Crispus Attucks

PBS:  Crispus Attucks

The Murder Of Crispus Attucks

Short and sweet, just the facts

Crispus Attucks Museum

 

 

 

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