Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mike is dead. Long live Mike

Mike VI, October 2011
Mike VI lost his fight with cancer today, and the LSU community mourns.
He was a good boy.

Mike also brought untold joy to countless Tiger fans, and to anyone else who had the privilege of visiting this beautiful animal. He wasn't just a mascot, he was like your dog or cat at home -- part of the family.

He fought hard, and we will miss him terribly.

From The Advocate:

Mike, April 2015
As if to punctuate what has already been a tumultuous and emotional football season for LSU, Mike the Tiger – who many considered to be the living embodiment of the team's spirit – died on Tuesday at the age of 11.
Mike VI was euthanized by his attending veterinarian David Baker, ending what may be the world's most famous case of a tiger battling cancer.

"It's an emotional thing," said LSU sophomore Staci Shelby, shortly after hearing the news. "A lot of people associate the tiger with football and school spirit and things like that."

Over the past few months, Mike VI encountered a lot of firsts. He was already one of only two live tigers mascots for a university team in the nation. And in May, the famous feline was diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma in his face after caretakers noticed his eye was bulging.

It was thought to be the first such diagnosis of the rare, incurable cancer in a tiger.

Then Mike became the first such tiger to receive treatment for the cancer in an attempt to extend his life.

LSU Vet school officials, in conjunction with the Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, treated Mike in June with stereotactic radiotherapy, something that is often used for humans but had never been used on a tiger. Stereotactic radio therapy uses a beam of X-rays pinpointing the tumor while providing minimal damage to surrounding cells.

It was a massive undertaking, one that required an after-hours police escort, to anesthetize the 420-pound tiger and bring him across town to the hospital for the treatment.

The treatment was considered an initial success, as scans found the tumor had shrunk. Baker optimistically hoped Mike would live for another year or two.

But two weeks ago, just days after LSU coach Les Miles had been fired, Mike was treated for a sinus infection.

A scan found that the infection was attributed to the resumed growth of the tumor, which started blocking the sinus cavity. The cancer had also aggressively spread throughout the tiger's body. Smaller tumors were found on Mike's neck, hind leg, and throughout his lungs.

Medical staff determined that additional cancer treatments would not save Mike.


LSU sophomores and friends Ella Ruth Hill and Victoria Dekerlegand were in their mass communication class when they saw on their phones the news Mike had died.

They watched the news make its way around the room as other students whispered about the latest to one another.

After class the two were among the many who trickled by Mike's empty enclosure, adorned with cards, balloons and flowers from the tiger's many fans.

"With everything that's happened this season, with football and Les and everything, Mike is something that's so precious to the students, and he's so sweet," Hill said.

Dekerlegand added that a live tiger on campus makes LSU unique.

"Mike is a constant," she said. "Nobody else has a live tiger."

LSU Student Government announced it would host a memorial Wednesday in front of the habitat.

"Mike taught us how to fight like tigers and we are forever grateful for the opportunity to make him a part of our lives as LSU students," said Student Government President Zack Faircloth in a statement.

Mike was born on July 23, 2005 and came to LSU when he was two years old.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

There is no place like Nebraska

When the missus and I headed to Nebraska's spring game Saturday afternoon, little did we know that we'd end up seeing the best thing we'd ever witnessed in a football stadium.

College kids don't always put their best feet forward. That goes double for too many college athletes. But just when cynicism threatens to overcome one's jaded self, you see a bunch of college kids and their coaches do something extraordinary for a 7-year-old cancer patient -- one who had been befriended by former Husker running back Rex Burkhead when he was 5 and undergoing brain surgery. That led Burkhead to enlist his coaches and teammates into a Team Jack campaign, and now a larger effort to fight pediatric brain cancer.

But on Saturday, what this all meant was giving a little boy who has known much suffering a moment of great joy as 60,174 people in red went wild. I was yelling; my wife was crying.

It was wonderful.

Whether little Jack Hoffman lives to age 10 or -- may God will it -- to age 100, he will be a Husker fan for life. So will we lucky people who got to witness this moment of grace at Memorial Stadium.

Go Team Jack! Go Big Red!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The second-to-last refuge of scoundrels

If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, "policy" is the last way station before you get there.

And "policy" is why ditwad administrators at a ditwad school district in Carrollton, Ohio, won't let a high-school senior "walk" with his classmates at graduation this year.

You see, Austin Fisher has 16 unexcused absences this year -- the limit is 14 if you want to go to prom or participate in the graduation ceremony at Carrollton High School. And it doesn't matter why you're inexcusably absent.

For example, missing school to care for your cancer-stricken mother. Your terminally ill cancer-stricken mother. When you're all she's got.

WJW television, Fox 8 in Cleveland, reports:
Let Fish Walk.

The phrase is taking over the small town of Carrollton, from car windows to signs at local businesses. It’s a grassroots effort for 17-year-old Carrollton High School senior Austin Fisher, who has made it clear that his role as ‘student’ comes second to his role as ‘son.’

“He’s been my hero, my rock,” says Fisher’s mother, Teresa, as tears stream down her face.

Teresa has been battling breast cancer for six years. Last year doctors told her it was stage four–terminal. Through months of chemo and radiation, she leaned on Austin.

But being his mom’s lifeline meant sacrificing school.

“I missed a lot of school for that. Running her to cancer treatments, staying home when she was in bed–it’s just me and her at the house,” Austin explains.

The varsity baseball player, who worked two jobs when his mom was too sick to work at all, racked up 16 unexcused absences. That is two more than the Carrollton school policy will allow for a student to attend prom or walk at graduation.

The news was devastating.

“Those are the moments you cherish,” Teresa says. “I said, Austin, hold your head up, don’t be negative about it. I said, they’ll look at this situation, they’ll come around.”

But Austin says a meeting with his principal proved otherwise.

“They can’t change it. They said guidelines are guidelines. It won’t be changed. I can’t walk,” Austin explains.
A COUPLE of millennia ago, longstanding policy dictated that a woman caught in adultery be stoned to death. Jesus Christ thought better of that, stopped "policy" in its tracks and told the woman to "go and sin no more."

Of course, we know where stuff like that got Him.

Policy dictated it. Just like policy in the Carrollton school district is coming down like a ton of bricks on a teenage kid who knows WWJD . . . and then does it. Some things never change in this life.

I have a new strategy for the seniors of Carrollton High School -- "If Fish doesn't walk, none of us do."

Sometimes, life requires that you put your mortarboard and tassel where your mouth is. And, in the process, bring down the full weight of an entire town of enraged parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles down upon the temple of the holier than thou.

UPDATE: You can't make twits smart or scoundrels virtuous -- at least not in a day -- but you can turn the heat up so much on your average bureaucracy that it cries "UNCLE!" as a matter of self-preservation.

Late developments in the story come from The Repository newspaper in Canton, Ohio:
Austin said that although his story exploded in the last three days, he has known since January that he wouldn’t be permitted to walk at the ceremony.

Upon finding out, he said he immediately went to Principal Dave Davis, as did his mother, but Davis told them, “Rules are rules.”

Petitions were circulated in January, but were confiscated, Austin said.

On Monday, as the story went viral, classmates wore “Let Fish Walk” T-shirts to school.

That afternoon, Austin and Teri met with Fogler and the two building principals, Davis and Jason Eddy, along with an attorney for the district.

Teri agreed to not talk with the media as part of the agreement.

According to Austin, the group discussed the negative publicity the school has received.

“I never intended that,” he said emphatically.

He said the administrators argued the number of absences for the first semester to be 17 days, not 16.

In the end, the decision was reversed.
WHEN YOU genuinely scare chickenshits, they rarely go quietly (or penitently) into that good night, but they do go. That's because while they generally don't much care about doing good, they do dread looking bad.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because breast-cancer patients are un-American

I wonder whether all the tea-party "patriots" worried about "ObamaCare" are much worried about this "death panel"?

Probably not, because WellPoint's death panel is a respectable capitalist death panel, not one of Barack Obama's communistic ones.

I guess
Reuters reported the following story because it's based in Great Britain, and the Limeys are "socialists" just drooling all over themselves in anticipation of turning the United States into the simply-red USSA.

And MSNBC picked it up because, well . . . it's MSNBC, which rhymes with "Red TV."

the ticket:
One after another, shortly after a diagnosis of breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. First there was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. Later, Robin Beaton, a registered nurse from Texas. And then, most recently, there was Patricia Relling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky.

None of the women knew about the others. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders — more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as "rescission," for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters. The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.

The disclosures come to light after a recent investigation by Reuters showed that another health insurance company, Assurant Health, similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission. That company was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements.

In his push for the health care bill, President Barack Obama said the legislation would end such industry practices. Making the case for reform in a September address to Congress, Obama specifically cited the cancellation of Robin Beaton's health insurance. Aides to the president, who requested they not be identified, told Reuters that no one in the White House knew WellPoint was systematically singling out breast cancer patients like Beaton.

Many critics worry the new law will not lead to an end of these practices. Some state and federal regulators —- as well as investigators, congressional staffers and academic experts — say the health care legislation lacks teeth, at least in terms of enforcement or regulatory powers to either stop or even substantially reduce rescission.

"People have this idea that someone is going to flip a switch and rescission and other bad insurance practices are going to end," says Peter Harbage, a former health care adviser to the Clinton administration. "Insurers will find ways to undermine the protections in the new law, just as they did with the old law. Enforcement is the key."


The cancellation of her health insurance in June 2008 forced Robin Beaton to delay cancer surgery by five months. In that time, the tumor in her breast grew from 2 centimeters to 7 centimeters.

Two months before Beaton's policy was dropped, Patricia Relling also was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anthem Blue Cross of Kentucky, a WellPoint subsidiary, paid the bills for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

But the following January, after Relling suffered a life-threatening staph infection requiring two emergency surgeries in three days, Anthem balked and refused to pay more. They soon canceled her insurance entirely.

Unable to afford additional necessary surgeries for nearly 16 months, Relling ended up severely disabled and largely confined to her home. As a result of her crushing medical bills, the once well-to-do businesswoman is now dependent on food stamps.

"It's not like these companies don't like women because they are women," says Jeff Isaacs, the chief assistant Los Angeles City Attorney who runs the office's 300-lawyer criminal division. "But there are two things that really scare them and they are breast cancer and pregnancy. Breast cancer can really be a costly thing for them. Pregnancy is right up there too. Their worst-case scenario is that a child will be born with some disability and they will have to pay for that child's treatment over the course of a lifetime."
I AM SURE these women, in some manner intentionally not reported by the Brit commies -- you have heard that even the Tories on that benighted isle are "Red" Tories, right? -- really had this coming, and that raw, unrestrained capitalism once again has acted in a manner morally superior to any statist policy paradigm.

"Enlightened self-interest," "greed is good" and all that rot, wot?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Internet Monk, R.I.P.

Michael Spencer, known on the Web as the Internet Monk, died Monday night at his home in Kentucky.

What a terrible disease -- cancer -- stole from the Baptist minister's family, friends, students and readers, it has given back to Him who is the source of all blessings. And the work and life of the Internet Monk was a blessing, indeed.

HERE IS a snippet of the kind of wisdom and fearless cultural criticism we have lost with the passing of the Internet Monk. It's from a 2006 post of his on what he learned from the Chinese exchange students at the Baptist boarding school where he taught and ministered:
It’s impossible to know and talk with these Chinese students without catching their conviction in the superiority of their communist culture. As something of a student of Asian history, I understand how our Chinese students differ from other Asians in their cultural interactions with others. They do have a historical conviction of the superiority of their culture, and they see little need to demonstrate that to outsiders. To the Chinese, there is little doubt that their culture will be proven to be superior to all others.

Further, it is impossible to know these students without seeing that the Chinese communist revolution -- with all its many, many failures and evils -- is producing a generation of young people who have remarkable values, ethics, loyalty and devotion to their culture. I see little evidence in these students of much for a resistance movement to work with.

All of these students are atheists, and none are familiar with Christianity, but when we do talk about the area of core beliefs, they are quick to witness to the influence of their families and their country. They want to return to China and live for the benefit of their families and country. They are endlessly grateful to their country and, unlike some internationals, have no reluctance to say where they want to return and live.

I’ve concluded that Mao may have been a poor communist, but he was a brilliant Confucian. Our Chinese students demonstrate so many of the virtues of Confucius, and are clearly bemused at what they see in our American culture. No longer are they in awe of the capitalism of our country. Our students come from strongly capitalistic areas. (I took one student to a sub shop, and he said the sandwich was good, but far too expensive.) They want to make major contributions to their society and to find materialistic success, but they are not enamored with the vices and immaturities of their peers in the declining youth culture of America.

In many ways, these Chinese students are a revelation of American decline and a preview of future Chinese cultural success. China may not be our military equal, and their government may be repressive, but the products of a culture are an indication of where things are going. These 8 Chinese students will not go to college and run up credit cards, wreck the car, stay drunk, fail classes and waste their time. They will soon be engineers, pilots, doctors and scientists; leaders in their field.

And I doubt, very seriously, that they will be Christians. Not because I haven’t tried to live, teach and preach the Gospel. I have, and will continue to do so as will all of the Christians on our campus.

I doubt they will become Christians because they are seeing American Christianity, and it’s far more American than Christian. They’ve helped me to see my own cultural religion, and it’s been a disturbing revelation.

When they attend chapel, they frequently hear moralistic preaching. Their own Confucian and Maoist culture gives them morals and moralism, and produces a far more moral person than their typical American peer. They hear sermons on being a good person, staying off drugs, not having sex and staying in school. They were doing all this when they came here and will do it when they leave.

They see American Christians without a Bible most of the time. We have few spiritual disciplines and are hungry and thirsty for the things our culture values more than the gifts and callings of Christ. They hear us talk about Jesus, but the Jesus we talk about is not compelling enough to cause us to live truly sacrificial or revolutionary lives. I’ve noticed this with other Asians as well. When they hear us talking about our religion, they expect to see the same holiness and devotion they see in Buddhist monks, but in American Christians they simply see another American, with a slightly different set of consumer interests. Same American. Different t-shirt slogan. Our spirituality is clearly inferior.
MICHAEL SPENCER loved God, and he loved the truth much more than he feared tipping sacred cows. Actually, I think he kind of reveled in sacred-cow tipping.

That's a good thing.

And now, as my own church, the Catholic Church, sinks once more into the fever swamps of sex and lies -- weighted down by the millstones of its many clerical malefactors -- I find myself wishing for someone,
anyone with the simple faith and deep-seated integrity of an iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the hills of Kentucky to step up and say "Enough! In the name of God, enough!"

I find myself grieving that it no longer will be
that iconoclastic Baptist preacher in the Kentucky hills writing insightful pieces challenging his branch of Christianity and mine, too, to cast aside the pride and the prejudices standing between us and the risen Savior who beckons all.

Too often, we who claim to be followers of Jesus are instead worshipers of false gods. Followers of idols made in our own image. Devotees of spiritual fads proportionate in stupidity to that of the fools who birthed them.

And it is our grievous loss that the Internet Monk no longer will be there to call us on it. To hold us accountable for what we've done with the unfathomable, unmerited grace so hard won on our behalf one terrible day at Calvary.

Requiescat in pace, Michael.

UPDATE: Michael Spencer's obituary is here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Terrible news in the blogosphere

The Internet Monk always has been a blog I greatly admire.

Its proprietor, Michael Spencer, possesses the great gift of being able to write gracefully while making great sense.

TUESDAY, however, brought terrible news about this brother in Christ, who has been struggling with cancer. His wife, Denise, writes:
It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for the worst all along by giving us that intuition.

The combination of the cancer and the chemotherapy is keeping Michael in a very weakened state. He is in bed all day, getting up once or twice only to eat a “meal.” His meals consist mostly of Ensure, with occasional mugs of soup, dishes of ice cream and milkshakes. He’s still taking fluids well, currently preferring Sprite and ginger ale. His tastes do change slightly from time to time, and I try to be ready to jump in whatever direction they seem to be moving. He is in no pain at all, for which I am unspeakably grateful.
NEWS LIKE THIS always renders me with no good words with which to petition the Lord. I literally am reduced, without fail, to "Lord, have mercy."

Upon further reflection, it seems to me this isn't a bad prayer at all. God has His reasons for what he does and does not permit to befall any of us -- when he will and won't directly intervene in this fallen world's fallen workings.

We cannot understand the mind of God. As Flannery O'Connor once wrote:
Whatever you do anyway, remember that these things are mysteries and that if they were such that we could understand them, they wouldn’t be worth understanding. A God you understood would be less than yourself.
WHICH LEAVES ME with but my simple prayer for Michael Spencer and the rest of us, too.

Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

“Remember, man, you are dust . . ."

". . . and to dust you will return.”

Above is the iconic poster of actress Farrah Fawcett from three decades ago, back when lots of guys my age had it in a prominent place in their rooms. She was a young woman at the top of her celebrity game.

We were younger men just figuring out the game of life.

WE THOUGHT we would be forever young. And so would Farrah.

Who now is 62 and critically ill with cancer. From RadarOnline:
Farrah Fawcett has been hospitalized and is in bad shape, sources close to family and friends tell exclusively.

She has been battling cancer for three years and recently returned from Germany, where she had experimental stem-cell treatment. Sources told that she is critical but stable in a Los Angeles-area hospital. They also say she is unconscious and has been hospitalized for days.

Long-time love Ryan O’Neal has been by Farrah’s bedside, as has troubled son Redmond, who bolted from rehab earlier this week.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There may not be justice in this world. . . .

But those sons of bitches in the Bush Administration will get some in the next.

BECAUSE OF THIS (among other things), as reported by The Associated Press:

The anguish of Hurricane Katrina should have ended for Gina Bouffanie and her daughter when they left their FEMA trailer. But with each hospital visit and each labored breath her child takes, the young mother fears it has just begun.

"It's just the sickness. I can't get rid of it. It just keeps coming back," said Bouffanie, 27, who was pregnant with her now 15-month-old daughter, Lexi, while living in the trailer. "I'm just like, `Oh God, I wish like this would stop.' If I had known it would get her sick, I wouldn't have stayed in the trailer for so long."

The girl, diagnosed with severe asthma, must inhale medicine from a breathing device.

Doctors cannot conclusively link her asthma to the trailer. But they fear she is among tens of thousands of youngsters who may face lifelong health problems because the temporary housing supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency contained formaldehyde fumes up to five times the safe level.

The chemical, used in interior glue, was detected in many of the 143,000 trailers sent to the Gulf Coast in 2006. But a push to get residents out of them, spearheaded by FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not begin until this past February.

Members of Congress and CDC insiders say the agencies' delay in recognizing the danger is being compounded by studies that will be virtually useless and the lack of a plan to treat children as they grow.

"It's tragic that when people most need the protection, they are actually going from one disaster to a health disaster that might be considered worse," said Christopher De Rosa, assistant director for toxicology and risk assessment at the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC. "Given the longer-term implications of exposure that went on for a significant period of time, people should be followed through time for possible effects."

Formaldehyde is classified as a probable carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is no way to measure formaldelhyde in the bloodstream. Respiratory problems are an early sign of exposure.

Young children are at particular risk. Thousands who lived in trailers will be in the prime of life in the 10 to 15 years doctors believe it takes cancer to develop.

FEMA and CDC reports so far have drawn criticism.

A CDC study released May 8 examined records of 144 Mississippi children, some of whom lived in trailers and others who did not. But the study was confined to children who had at least one doctor's visit for respiratory illness before Katrina. It was largely inconclusive, finding children who went to doctors before the August 2005 storm were still visiting them two years after.

A bigger, five-year CDC study will include up to 5,000 children in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and CDC officials said it should begin next year. But members of Congress point to the decade or longer it could take for cancer to develop and say a five-year look is inadequate.

"Monitoring the health of a few thousand children over the course of a few years is a step in the right direction, but we need commitment," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Thompson has introduced legislation to force FEMA and CDC to provide health exams for trailer residents who believe formaldehyde made them ill. The bill is similar to $108 million legislation for workers who labored at the World Trade Center site.

Arch Carson, professor of occupational medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, said preliminary exams alone for trailer residents could cost more than the trade center bill. But he said class-action lawsuits over the formaldehyde - at least one has been filed - could be even more expensive, costing many billions of dollars.

"It would be best for the government to get its act together now," Carson said.

More than 22,000 FEMA trailers and mobile homes are still being used in Mississippi and Louisiana.
I DON'T HAVE words for this. Not anymore.

Except that this represents the why behind my jihad against Louisiana's endemic half-assedness, insouciance and incompetence. Because Louisiana is on her own.

And God bless the child that's got his -- or her -- own. Billie Holiday said.

Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said, and it still is news
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Money, you've got lots of friends
Crowding round the door
When you're gone, spending ends
They don't come no more
Rich relations give
Crust of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don't take too much
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
He just worry bout nothin'
Cause he's got his own

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Will cell-phone jones fry your brain?

If a prominent British cancer expert is right, young people are doomed. They basically live life with microwave ovens permanently attached to their ears.

scary story from London is in today's Independent (and note that the British term "mobile phone" equals the American term "cell phone"):
Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.
TALK ABOUT your sobering articles. I now am so glad that I have a big enough aversion to the telephone in general that I've never wanted to have a cell phone around, except for emergencies. Almost never use one of the damn things.

But I do fear for all the young people I know, for whom the cell-phone jones hardly could be more intractable than those for meth or nicotine. You just don't need to be that bloody "connected" -- you just don't.

There is value in being alone with your thoughts. That is, beyond reducing one's brain-cancer risk.

And the brain-cancer thing is horrific struff indeed. My father died of brain cancer. You don't want to go that way . . . and you don't want to see a loved one go that way.

Trust me on this one.