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Trump's Plea to the Terminally Ill Reveals His Greatest Weakness

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On June 7, 2008 I watched in awe and jubilation as Barack Obama became the first African American presidential candidate. One month later, I was diagnosed with lymphoma – a blood cancer.

My first concern was living past August. Maybe even September. November was at least seven treatments, two biopsies, one wig, and four CT scans away.

I worried if, in my absence, my three brothers could take care of my aging parents as well as I would have. I wondered if the deed to our apartment, in my name only, would automatically pass to my husband or if I needed to write a will. I debated the appropriateness of leaving my wedding rings to my youngest, unwed brother.

I spent no time contemplating the ramifications of either political party’s platform, who had the stronger vice presidential candidate, or if I cared for their wives. The presidential election wasn’t even on my radar.

I’m embarrassed to admit I can’t remember if I voted. I don’t recall if I was home in New Jersey or visiting my parents in North Carolina. The mental haze caused by toxic chemicals and emotional trauma left most of that period a blur.

Which is why Mr. Trump’s words from last week are still bothering me. “I don’t care how sick you are. I don’t care if you just came back from the doctor and he gave you the worst possible prognosis, meaning it’s over. Doesn’t matter. Hang out till November 8. Get out and vote.”

For what, Mr. Trump? The terminally ill need comfort and compassion, not fear and isolation. They need to say their goodbyes, get their affairs in order, manage both their pain and that of their loved ones. They want to envision a life of comfort and safety for the family and friends they leave behind, not a war-torn country pocked with internment camps and families torn apart.

Your plea to the infirm, be it in jest or not, further shows your disregard for any life other than your own. I can personally attest to the torturous nature of chemotherapy. I can only imagine the experience of someone with Parkinson’s, the terrifying suffocation of COPD, the debilitating pain of ALS. To ask such individuals to “hang out” for your gain is the very definition of selfishness. And selfishness is not the quality I most desire in a leader.

I think the media has misjudged you. The labels they give you – xenophobe, chauvinist, racist – overcomplicate your motivations. Your disdain is not limited to those of a specific gender, race, or religion. Your motivations are simpler. Your words, which target your own potential constituents, expose your complete disregard for all life, for humanity.

In the hours I spent compiling these thoughts, you’ve already managed to make even more offensive statements, which will doubtlessly redirect the pundits’ conversation to your sexism. And while that’s important, it is but a symptom of your greater deficit – empathy. Only someone with a complete dearth of empathy could believe that the dying should dedicate their last breaths to your political campaign.

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Inmate Writes Letter Offering to Donate Bone Marrow to Judge Who Put Him in Jail

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Superior Court Judge Carl Fox has blood cancer. The 61-year-old former district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties in North Carolina is searching for a bone marrow donor, WRAL News reported. Many people have stepped up to help with Fox’s search by organizing and attending donor drives to help find a match on the “Save the Fox” Facebook group. The judge knows that the odds of finding a donor are slim, but hopes to raise some awareness and is touched by all the offers of help he’s received.

One of these offers of help came from an unexpected place — an inmate named Charles Alston who is serving time at the Franklin Correctional Center in Bunn, North Carolina. Alston offered to donate his bone marrow to Fox if he were to be a match.

Fox was the District Attorney who prosecuted Alston during his armed robbery trial that resulted in his 25-year sentence. Despite this, Alston says he harbors no ill will for Fox.

There is no hatred or animosity in my heart towards you,” Alston wrote in a letter to Fox. “I know you are in need of a matching donor for bone marrow. I may or may not be a match, but would have been willing to make the sacrifice if needed.”

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Read the whole letter here.

In fact, Alston believes that Fox may have saved his life by putting him in jail where he has turned his life around, and so he wanted to save Fox’s life in return, WRAL News reported. Unfortunately, inmates cannot be donors because of the increased risk of infectious disease, but Fox was still very touched by the gesture.

I was very touched by it … totally surprised,” Fox told WRAL News. “I never thought Charles Alston would’ve written me and offered me the right hand of fellowship and offer to do something to save my life. He had every reason to be angry with me, given where he is and the sentence he was given. It means even that much more he did that given the circumstances.”

 

 

 

Visit Delete Blood Cancer to learn more about becoming a donor and join the “Save the Fox” Facebook group for information on upcoming donor drives. 

h/t Reddit Uplifting

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What This Cancer Survivor Is Doing to Make Life Better for Disabled Animals

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Jenny Brown found comfort in a somewhat unlikely source while facing bone cancer as a child and subsequently losing the lower half of her right leg. Her cat Boogie stayed by her side.

Over the last decade, Brown’s found a way to give back to hundreds of animals who needed a helping hand of their own. She founded the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary 11 years ago with just a few chickens, and the organization has become so successful in rehabilitating and caring for disabled animals that they’ve recently expanded to a 150-acre camp in High Falls, New York. Brown documented the relocation in a short film, “She Was There For Me: The Story of Jenny Brown & Woodstock Farm Sanctuary,” and she also explains why the creatures hold such a special place in her heart.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Brown was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was just 10 years old; doctors amputated her leg to keep the cancer from spreading, and she underwent a number of grueling chemotherapy sessions. Brown credits Boogie for helping her cope, as well as giving her a new perspective on how we view animals.

“She would come and crawl up on my lap and lick my tears,” Brown says in the video. “And it wasn’t one or two occasions — that was the norm for her. She was the catalyst for a different way of thinking. She really did change my life. She changed how I viewed animals and made me realize that they have thoughts, feelings and emotions. They’re self-aware and they’re not here to do with what we please.”

“I’ve been through something other people haven’t been through and it made me stronger,” Brown adds. “I think Boogie, my cat, she’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary provides shelter to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats and rabbits who’ve been “rescued from cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment,” according to its website.

“For the first time in their lives, animals who have only known fear, isolation and suffering now enjoy warm and clean barns, nourishing food, veterinary care and love,” Brown says in the video below.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

Be sure to watch “She Was There For Me: The Story of Jenny Brown & Woodstock Farm Sanctuary” below, and visit the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s website to learn more about the organization.

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This Chart Proves Just How Small 4% of Something Really Is

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About 10,380 children under the age of 15 in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2015, according to Cancer.org. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children after accidents.

Despite this, of the $4.9 billion 2014 National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget, only 4 percent went to research around childhood cancer, according to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2).

To put that in perspective, this is what 4 percent of something looks like:


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According to Vickie Buenger, President of the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2), the number itself isn’t the only problem.

“Anytime we start talking about childhood cancer, it is appreciably different from adult cancer,” Buenger told The Mighty. “The causes of the cancers are different, the way they act in the body is different and the treatments for adults may or may not be helpful in children’s cancer because they are affected by different kinds of cancer.”

Because of this, treatment options for children with cancer are often limited and sometimes outdated. Buenger’s own daughter, Erin, who diagnosed with neuroblastoma and passed away in 2009, was at one point taking a medicine that Buenger’s grandmother took as a treatment for breast cancer in the 1970s. Buenger says her daughter spent close to three years of treatment on drugs that were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We were happy to have those drugs because they kept her alive. I don’t want to complain that we had those drugs,” Buenger told The Mighty. “I’m just saying there have only been four or five drugs developed specifically for children.”

Since 1980, only three drugs have been approved in the first instance for use in children, and only four additional new drugs have been approved for use by both adults and children, according to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancers.

This in part has to do with how cancer research is funded.

“The funding picture is incredibly different for adult and children cancers, the difference is that for adult cancers, except for the rarest, there’s also going to be efforts being made not just through federal dollars but also through pharmaceutical companies running clinical trials and trying to do development,” Buenger told The Mighty. “They are using corporate dollars as well as the federal dollars; more than half an annual budget is still being spent by the private sector. In childhood cancer, that is just not true.”

Because children are often diagnosed with rare diseases and the profit pot for pharmaceutical companies developing a drug for a pediatric cancer patient is limited, most of the breakthroughs come from the funding given to childhood cancers by the NCI — the 4 percent.

This means that not only are childhood cancers getting a small portion of federal funding, but they are more dependent on this small portion because developing cures for children’s diseases is seen as less profitable than cures for adults. The financial motivation to develop drugs for children just isn’t there.

“It’s not a matter of raising the [4 percent] number or even doubling it, although that would be nice,” Buenger told The Mighty. “It’s about thinking as a community… My goal as an advocate is making sure children have all kinds of reasons to be a priority so we dont think of them as second-class citizens and we don’t give them 50-year-old medicine. We need to incentivize private industry to think about developing drugs for kids and we need to be a higher priority at the NCI.”

Childhood cancer advocates argue that pediatric cancer should be a higher priority both because other cancers have private funding options and because children have more years of productive life following diagnosis.

“I don’t want to play cancer olympics where we say children are worth more or adults are worth more because I think we’re all affected by cancer,” Buenger told The Mighty. “The 4 percent is the starting point to a question that really has to do with priority for children to take advantage of the great science going on in the United States… We can do better as a nation than we’re doing.”

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Construction Workers Leave Touching Message for Little Girl With Cancer

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Vivian, 2, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia this past winter, and because of her compromised immune system, she has had to spend a lot of time in isolation at the hospital, USA Today reported.

Ironworkers Travis Barnes and Greg Combs happened to be working on a construction project visible from Vivian’s ninth floor window at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Each morning they would wave and smile at the child.

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Vivian looked forward to it each day, her mother, Ginger Keith, says in the video below.

Then, one day, Vivian and her mother looked out the window to find not just their favorite waving construction workers, but a note. Barnes and Combs had written “Get well soon” on a beam for Vivian.

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I was thinking about my own kids and how precious life is,” Combs told USA Today. “It makes me happy that something so simple like that could make somebody’s day better.”

Now that Vivian is out of isolation, she finally got to meet her construction worker friends in person.

See their interaction and get more on the story from the video below: 

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How This Hospital Made Young Cancer Patients' Happy Places Come

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Staff at the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) often ask patients to find their “happy place.” This practice, called “guided imagery,” is a coping mechanism that can help release endorphins and manage pain, according to the CHOA blog.

But in the weeks leading up to September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, CHOA has been asking five of its patients about their happy places for a different reason — the hospital, with the help of an illustrator, planned to bring these happy places to life.

For 13-year-old Hunter who was diagnosed with brain cancer, a happy place is somewhere you go when you’re scared, mad or nervous. In Hunter’s world, there’s a walrus wizard, flying pandas and dolphins you can use as taxis.

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Justice, 16, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Her happy place helps her late at night when anxiety and fear keep her awake. In her happy place, Justice has an extravagant picnic outside an Italian castle near the sea.

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Last February, 11-year-old Mya got her diagnosis of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.

Eventually, she had to  undergo a procedure to amputate her left leg just above the knee. Mya’s happy place is sunny Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the famous Christ the Redeemer statue behind her and the ocean breeze around her.

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Alex Richards was 4 years old when he was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. Alex spent many years going through chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant as well as numerous spinal taps and other procedures. Now, he’s cancer free.

Alex’s happy place? His home. The sports fan likes to picture himself watching football and hockey on his own TV with his own toys around him.

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Lauren, 11, had a tumor in her brain, but after years of treatment, she’s now cancer free.

“When I was getting anxious or scared, Mommy would say ‘Go to your happy place, go to your happy place,’” Lauren told CHOA.

Lauren would picture a sparkly world where there are lots of flowers, barbies, puppies and even some free-roaming unicorns.

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Watch the making of the these happy places in the video below:  

Visit the CHOA blog for more on the story. 

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