First Rule: Think About It

Another day dedicated to rest and recuperation – yippee only another four plus weeks to go.  I’m sure by then I’ll have an opinion about most of the woes that exist on planet earth.  Today started along these lines anyway, who knows about tomorrow.

Earlier today I had a telephone call from a friend of many years, who lives far, far away from me.  Just checking in, she said, need to know that you are on track, you know, on the mend.  I assured her I was, and key to my return to health was the consumption of lots and lots of water.  The prescription was for at least eight, eight ounce glasses a day.  Water, good nutrition, a bit of daily exercise accompanied by rest – that’ll do it.  Healing happens, that’s what the body tries to do, when it is able.  The problem is, I said to her, that doesn’t help my mind, not that my brain is anything special, but I find it difficult to stop thinking.  Curious type that she is, she asked me what was on my mind today.

Sooooo, today I was pondering over the millions and millions of dollars that are raised annually in support of cancer research.  This, the subject of cancer donations, is something that has been stuck in my craw since before Kevin’s death.  I found that after he died, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do the ‘in lieu of flowers donations to ….’ thing, especially not for the Cancer Society.  I don’t respect the fundraising branch of the Cancer Society, actually, I have serious concerns.

It may be suggested that without the fundraising done so rigorously throughout the world, and the subsequent raising of millions or even billions of dollars globally, then without this financial support the research and development (R & D) would be significantly impacted.  Consider this: what happens when R & D comes up with a product, a viable, potentially life-saving product?  It’s been discovered using public funds, or that’s the perception. That’s the campaign slogan or equivalent that the Cancer Society touts.  Help us find a cure.  That suggests R & D, to me it does anyway.

What happens when the R & D pays off, something proves viable, great promise and potential is identified.  Well, I suspect that the new medicine is likely closely guarded at least until it is patented.  Then some pharmaceutical company will own the rights to the product, the product that you and I (read general public) funded, right?  Then the pharmaceutical company will assign each medicinally determined unit or dosage with a value, ostensibly to recoup costs incurred during the what, oh yes, the R & D phase of the product’s development.  What were our fundraising efforts for?

Then these drugs are offered to the health care system, and depending on what type of health care plan you have, you may or may not qualify for certain drugs.  But wait, we all contributed, people from all walks of life, to finding a cure.  Now that we have this new product, supposedly effective, why is it that availability may be predicated on medical coverage?

Oh, people out there may say, no the donations help to pay for the infrastructure, the administration and the payroll.  I would suggest that if Big Pharma is reaping the benefits, then Big Pharma should pay for all that stuff.  I know pharmaceuticals are a ruthlessly competitive market – why is that do you suppose?  The answer is obvious: because one “wonder drug” has the potential to break the bank. (Check out the annual reported revenues of some of these companies.)  So, someone, and I have no idea who, decides that to keep the playing field level, it’s much better to have the general public pay for all the upfront, exploratory costs, because that’s the impartial, non-partisan way to do business.

I feel so much better.

The Endowment

When my husband, Kevin, died, I did an unusual thing.  In the obituary I indicated to friends and family that in lieu of flowers or donations, we, the family, had set up an endowment fund.  I chose this route for two reasons – first, the cancer society is one of the most exorbitantly funded research and development agencies in the world, from big Pharma to personal donations to government funding, this is a rich industry.  It is already well funded and quite frankly, I don’t believe that the monies resulting from charitable donations go to frontline research in the manner that I would want, they more likely serve to support the extensive administrative overhead.  So consequently, after Kevin died, I didn’t want donations to go to the Cancer Society.  I wanted to find a way to benefit our local community.  Second, and most importantly, I wanted to keep Kevin’s passion for the arts alive and vibrant, to create something tangible in his memory that would endure over time.  The generous contributions of friends and family have made this possible for at least the next 10 years and, as the donations continue to come in, potentially longer.  Remarkable, truly a remarkable response.

The Endowment Fund was established with our local art gallery.  The gallery made a tremendous effort and we were able to present the first award on October 8th.  It was a very well attended evening especially since there were two prizes being awarded: the Carmichael Landscape Prize of $2,500 and Kevin’s Emerging Artist award of $1,000.  The evening turned out even better when a local artist was awarded the Emerging Artist award, and truly, she earned it.  It was a lovely evening, but pulled at the heartstrings, since the very reason for why I was there was really the absolute worst reason.  I was there because Kevin had died and we had set up an award in his memory.  Cause and effect at it’s most basic level.

The emotional impact of these events tends to build up now.  I find that I can get through them for the most part, but they are cumulative. Looking back I realize I used to weep at things as they happened, no reprieve, the tears were not to be put off.  Now, I find that I can make it through an event or function, usually, and the tears find me later, at home.  The tears are different now too, as are the thoughts that go through my mind.  Now I have very specific memories that come to me.  After the art show my memories were of Kevin hunched over his easel, two months before he died, determined to finish a painting despite the fact that he couldn’t lift his right arm.  He adapted and put the canvas on the table and he finished the painting. Then my mind flit to another recent event, the birthday party that Kevin should have been at, and I remembered how, for his buddy’s last birthday in 2014, Kevin had given him a painting; I saw that painting last week at the party. Not exactly light thoughts to have right before bedtime.  Perhaps this is a good topic to discuss at my next grief counselling session – although I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to change it.