Letters to the Editor

"How can a woman simultaneously battle cancer and her medical bills and/or insurance company?"

CANCER RENTS A ROOM

I, too, am a breast cancer survivorI was diagnosed in 1999 at age 39 with a small tumor; had the usual surgery, chemo, and radiation; and since August 2002 have been living with metastatic cancer that has spread into my bones ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10].

I can relate to Jeanne Sather's soapbox about the language of cancer. I view my cancer as a tenant I have reluctantly given space to. As long as it stays quiet and behaves itself, I will give it room in my body. This was a hard place to come to, but it suits me better than the images of battles and fighting. I thrive on more gentle images. Plus, I had to accept that the cancer is me as much as my nearsighted eyes.

Kudos for printing a story on breast cancer that focuses on living with this disease and doesn't shy away from talk about painful treatment, death, and loss.

Jill Cohen

Seattle

HELP FOR SISTER

I would like to thank Jeanne Sather for sharing the things she wants others to know before she dies ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. My 35-year-old sister was just diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, and she has three young children. We are waiting for the results of her PET scan before a treatment decision can be made. Swedish Cancer Institute has mentioned a clinical trial they would like her to participate in, but she has many questions. Reading about Jeanne's fears and collection of soapboxes gave me insight and ways to assist my sister down the road ahead. I plan to share this article with my sister, family, and friends.

Val Epperson

Seattle

DEALING WITH DEATH-PHOBIA

Thank you for the profile of Jeanne Sather ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. And thank you to Jeanne for her openness and honesty. It is so saddening to me to live in a society that is so "death-phobic," and I share her disdain for the euphemisms and unwillingness to talk about death and dying, despite the fact that it is the only thing that is guaranteed to happen to all of us.

In response to her request for an alternative to the "battle with cancer" for an obituary, I would like to suggest the following: "She died with honor and dignity following a rich and full life with cancer."

Becky Resnick

Seattle

NOT SLEEPING

Thank you for Jeanne Sather's article ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. I'm so inspired by her story and her message. She reminded me so poignantly that I only have this brief time with my own son and partner.

I hope she receives the support she needs as she continues to walk toward her fear. Though her life may be shortened, it appears that she won't be sleeping through it.

Catherine de Marin

Redmond

SQUANDERING OUR DAYS

I appreciate the piece by Jeanne Sather ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. It's hard to say much without sounding like someone she sounds off about on her soapboxes. The only words of comfort I can think of are to realize that in one day you can experience and enjoy life more than many will do in their whole useless lives.

My wife suffered from cancer for two years until the end. The process was horrible for her. In addition to watching her own life slip away, she had to worry about the future of her son. All the while, she held on to the thin, feeble, and very lucrative thread of hope that is chemo.

In the end, all the words of condolence or hope in a higher power fall empty and silent. The fact is she's gone and we miss her. I tried to get her to quit work and go sailing with me, but instead she persevered "courageously," trying to live a "normal" life.

There should be no comfort in being a survivor or someone who believes they are free of this disease. In a myriad of ways, any of us could go tomorrow. And yet as a society we seem to carry on as if we have a future, all the while squandering what future we may have and wasting the days we do have in a greedy rush to the bottom.

I have serious questions about the causes and rates of cancer, and I'm constantly frustrated and angry over the prevailing attitude that it's just something that happens. It's become big business now, and I have a feeling that those in the business don't really concern themselves with the cause. To me it's quite simple: If one part per million of an industrial chemical is dangerous, then 0.5 parts per million doesn't suddenly make it safe. It's time to realize that we are all in danger, and that our lifestyles and the corporate profits we hope to retire on are killing us.

In addition to running stories like the one by Sather, perhaps the Weekly could run one about the possible causes of this disease.

Steve Purcell

Seattle

TRADE RIBBONS FOR HEALTH CARE

That was a truly great, sad, inspirational piece from the mother of two with breast cancer ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. She makes a valid point about the pink ribbons. Instead, we should all lobby for national health care! How can a woman simultaneously battle cancer and her medical bills and/or insurance company? Thanks for printing her story.

Connie Morken

Scottsdale, AZ

PINK EQUALS GREEN

Jeanne Sather says that she hates pink ribbons but then states plainly that "Clinical trials are essential to cancer research" ["Running With Fear," Dec. 10]. Pink ribbons are primarily about raising awareness about the disease in order to raise money to fund that research. They may represent support and solidarity for some, but they ultimately just say: "I gave money toward breast cancer research, and so should you."

I also wrote an alternative obituary for her to help her get around that unfortunate "battle" metaphor: "Jeanne Sather died of cancer after ruining a good point about health care with her incessant whining."

Tara Dudley

Seattle

BOEING'S SELF-DESTRUCTION

The articles about Boeing in the Weekly were a big hit with its employees, although many of us interpret the stories in the larger context of our new business culture ["Bad News Boeing," Dec. 3]. In the last eight years, we've seen a 180-degree shift in business strategy from long-term thinking to short-term thinking.

Boeing serves as an excellent case study of the national trend toward "shareholder value." Boeing executives' attention has become intensely focused on short-term financial performance.

The aerospace industry is remarkable for its complex, heavily engineered products, with high demands for trust and confidence, very long service lives, and unit costs often beyond $100 million. These factors amplify risk-taking decisions in our industry.

Most companies make products for customers to buy, with financial performance as an outcome. Post-merger Boeing's ardor drives it to please shareholders first, then customers. That is, Boeing business strategy starts by commanding an above-average profit margin, which then determines the allowed range of products, markets, and investments in productive resources.

Above-average margins, without a basis in competitive advantage, are usually a sign of harvestintentional or not. Boeing has consumed much of its accumulated substance in market share, customer satisfaction, employee morale, airplane backlog, industrial capacity, and human capital. The history of McDonnell Douglas tells us that the next test will come in the form of competence and performancecan Boeing deliver competitive products while consuming itself to please investors?

Stan Sorscher

Seattle

The writer is on the staff of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) union.

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