When Cancer Stops Dragging Them Away
Aretha Franklin was the biggest contributor to the soundtrack of my life. In my early 20’s I found a mentor who happened to be deeply spiritual. Whenever I had a problem, he instructed me to pray. I had grown up in an evangelical home filled with violence. So, I would respond, “I won’t pray to a white, male, pissed off God.” But, he kept on me. One day, I blurted out, “Is it OK to pray to Aretha Franklin?” He laughed and said, “Go for it.” So, for five years, my spiritual path grew by praying to a woman whose very voice and persona proved there was a God. Whenever she came to Los Angeles, I did my best to be in the front row.
This past week, cancer dragged her away.
As I write, my eyes look out to the Self-Realization Fellowship Center in Pacific Palisades. Two years ago, we held a memorial service for one of my closest friends, Patricia Wisne. Patricia was the most gifted therapist I’ve ever known. I had referred many individuals to her and witnessed their emotional healing in profound and beautiful ways. Cancer dragged her away from all of us.
Based on statistics, everyone of my readers has been impacted by loved ones dying too soon and by witnessing the shattering misery that often accompanies their decline.
We are at a turning point in history. Medical technology is growing at a pace that is allowing early diagnosis and actual cures for certain types of cancer. I am also concerned with the white or black response many of us have towards the pharmaceutical and medical fields. For the individuals who are selflessly working on the front lines, they could use our appreciation.
I have the privilege of having a wide variety of clients and friends who work in medicine, pharmaceutical companies and research. The most successful of them are not doing it for the money. They are deeply invested in saving people’s lives and improving the quality of life for all of us. These are also the people who tell us we are at a point in history where cures are upon us.
I interviewed the world-famous cancer surgeon Susan Love on the day she resigned as the Director of the UCLA/Revlon breast center. In the last 20 years Susan has become one of the leading voices in patient education and advocacy. A little over a year ago, we were having dinner. I leaned forward and said, “This is the first time in my life where I am hearing the medical profession talking about a cure for cancer. What is that like for you?” Tears instantly welled up and she responded, “I feel so lucky to be alive right now, to witness this turning point.”
Our culture takes well-deserved potshots at the medical and pharmaceutical industries. But the dark side of the industry overshadows the brilliant, moral, and deeply invested individuals who devote their lives to meaningful cures.
Artificial Intelligence is also growing so rapidly that thousands of scientists are personally witnessing a watershed moment in history where our ability to cure disease is no longer progressing at a snail’s pace, we are witnessing exponential, game-changing growth.
So what is my point?
I am suggesting that all of us become more informed about life-saving medical technology. Right now, there are innovations that could save the people we love as well as each and every one of us. I’m suggesting that we take a more objective view of the pharmaceutical and medical professions. For every individual who corrupts the practice of healthcare through aggressive entrepreneurism, there are more who devote their lives to saving lives. For every medicine that spawns addiction, there are other products that are transforming our health.
Becoming informed will also bring investors to not be so quickly seduced by the likes of Elizabeth Holmes, who raised billions of dollars on a lie. If the investors had been objective and looked at her backstory, that money could have gone on to support legitimate breakthroughs albeit with individuals who often are not the very best salespeople.
Many of us know more about the capabilities of our auto mechanics than in selecting medical professionals. Research their backgrounds. Look for individuals with a long track-record of placing healing above entrepreneurism. That one move could save your life.
All of us have a vested interest in getting the government to overhaul, not dismantle, the FDA. As medical innovation accelerates, we need an organization that is drastically more effective in getting valuable breakthroughs to patients far more quickly. As this acceleration continues to grow, all of us ought to realize that building a better FDA benefits virtually everyone we know.
Finally, let’s set aside cynicism and contempt for healthcare with objectivity. Let’s become informed about our treatment options through investigation and learning. Above all, let’s appreciate the brilliant people who are devoting their lives to turning points in our health.
We are no longer helpless.
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