The mystery of cancer
[Thanks for] Sally Franson's heartfelt and beautifully written article ("Hello, Cancer," 1/1/10). My 25-year-old niece died of melanoma many years ago. She had a cancerous mole removed when she was 19 or 20 and was fine until she turned 25, when it came back and spread. A myth grew in my family that she had the recurrence because "she didn't get all her check-ups like she was supposed to."
That didn't sound right to me, so I asked my sister if that were true. She said no, her daughter had diligently followed her doctor's orders.
I know from a firsthand tragedy about the need to explain "Why?" But some things remain out of our control. Why young, otherwise healthy people contract cancer has no explanation. My wish for Sally is that she has a long and wonderful life.
Last year, at age 36, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I had no family history nor risk factors. In fact, like Franson, I had anti-risk factors - a vegetarian nearly half my life, an athlete, etc.
I managed to get through my cancer with surgery that left me fairly unscathed - for now. Many friends have not been so lucky. An old childhood acquaintance died at age 31. Another close friend died at 38. A spouse of a college friend died at 33.
The list of twenty- and thirty-somethings with cancer keeps growing. It is an utter epidemic, yet we continually fail to implicate the obvious cause - carcinogens. Until we deal with the toxins in our environment - most our own creation - this catastrophe will just continue to worsen.
Thanks for publishing Sally's testimony. I am also a lucky Stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer survivor. My nine months of chemotherapy in 1995 and 1996 were a traumatic yet psychologically cleansing experience. Consciously conquering death, if only temporarily, has a way of obliterating distractions.
Every day of the past 13 years has been a bonus day to share with family and friends, and to teach, write and consult about what matters most to me - designing ethical organizations.
How nice it would be if others could realize the importance of every moment of every day without undergoing nine months of chemotherapy.
Denis Collins, professor, Edgewood College
Zoo exception to rule
Bill Lueders' summary of creeping costs that subtly impact our pocketbooks was revealing (Watchdog, 1/1/10). But it neglected to include Dane County's Henry Vilas Zoo.
Through the foresight of the Vilas family, the generosity of Friends of the Zoo members and donors, and its approximately one million annual visitors, the zoo is a national model of how a world-class institution can not just survive but thrive.
While the rise of other costs you listed ranged from 67% to 740% from 1990 to 2010, the cost of zoo admission and parking is the same today as it was in 1990, or, for that matter, 1911: free.
And two weeks ago, the Friends delivered a check in the amount of $349,620 to the county to assist in maintaining and expanding zoo operations.
Boris Frank, Executive director, Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society