Tag Archives: cancer

I will miss you, Gord.

Larva

Saw the Tragically Hip play the last date of their Man Machine Poem tour online. Thank goodness for the CBC for streaming the show for free online, especially for expats like myself. It was a bit of an odd online experience, as I was watching and messaging to my friends online during the show. I imagine it was like that for many Canadians around the world, a collective experience for one of the greatest acts the world doesn’t know.

I’ve been listening to the Hip since I was a teenager and I saw them play in Winnipeg during their Phantom Power tour back in 98. I have always admired Gord Downie’s ability to meld the Canadian experience with history, grief, love and hope. I believe whoever wrote Prime Minister’s Trudeau said it best, “Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years.” The band never exploded south of the border the way Canadian pop acts often do. They’ve done concerts, played in Woodstock, and was even featured in Saturday Night Live, but they just didn’t take off. The Tragically Hip was a band that it seems only Canadians truly got. I tried explaining this to my wife, and how acts like Avril Lavigne and Justin Bieber are not what Canada is about. And that often music acts like them take away from the soul of what is actually good and substantive Canadian music.

It was great to see the band play but ultimately it was sad knowing that this could very well be the last time Gord Downie plays with the band. Back in 2012, he talked about dealing with his wife’s breast cancer, and how it takes a toll not just on the person afflicted, but also to the people helping them through it. His wife recovered but her struggles have influenced the band’s album ‘Now For Plan A.’ And now Gord has been diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer. While the show was a celebration of the band’s history, it was also a sad farewell to a great artist. It was Canada saying goodbye to a dying man, a dying man that we love.

I still have not recovered from my mother dying from cancer. I can talk about the subject lightly and even joke about it now and then, but it is still a sore wound. I’m sure most people’s lives have been touched by the disease in one form or another. I myself have given up to the fact that I would probably die from cancer myself. The show over the weekend is a celebration of life in the face of inevitable death. However, it is also a reminder that cancer, death, will take away all of the beautiful things in life, all of them, and that we should appreciate them while we still have them.

Hug your loved ones, watch your favorite band, go out and play sports, do things while you still can. Love and appreciate things while you still have the chance. I guess that was the big take away from the weekend. And as a Canadian, I’m glad to have known the beauty that is the Tragically Hip.

You really missed out, America.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AIDS Cures on TV

Serial

My niece colors like a serial killer.

I saw Bill Maher interview Dr. Samir Chachoua, the doctor who is currently treating Charlie Sheen. He’s the doctor who advised him to get off his regular meds, use a treatment that he claims cures HIV (not therapy), and apparently even injected some of Sheen’s own blood to himself in order to assuage Sheen’s fears. It is a bit concerning that Bill Maher would give the doctor a media platform when prior to the interview, Charlie Sheen said in Dr. Oz’s show that his “numbers are back up” after getting on Dr. Chachoua’s treatment. Still, the booking was not much of a surprise. Bill Maher keeps giving questionable people platforms. He once talked to Sam Wurzelbacher or “Joe the Plumber” as if he was a serious person. He also basically birthed S.E. Cupp who often comes up with the most ridiculous points on issues.

But aside from the doctor’s many dubious claims on the program (“I’ve cured entire countries!,” “Sheen is HIV negative.”), I believe there’s value in the message that we shouldn’t be complicit with the status quo. We should have healthy skepticism of what’s being told as well as keep an open ear to what’s new. Is the current HIV and AIDS treatment truly the best science has to offer? Perhaps we should be looking at other options. I haven’t done much reading regarding Dr. Chachoua’s claims. But my skepticism goes both ways, to the established science which is married with corporate interests and to the unknown Dr. Chachoua. My skepticism for the doctor comes from Sheen himself. His numbers are back up. I already fear that he’s leading Sheen down the wrong path, whether the doctor knows it or not.

The many claims Dr. Chachoua put out on Bill Maher’s show paints a great picture of possibility regarding curing AIDS and other disease, but the media tries to ridicule him and his treatment based on arthritic goats. While he may indeed be a “quack,” we should not dismiss the possibility of finding cures in the least likely of places, even arthritic goats. There is value in looking at all alternatives and not just surrendering to what the established truth is. Scientists right now are looking at sloth hair clippings for new antibiotics. However, it all must be evidence and results-based. And right now, I still haven’t looked at evidence that supports the doctor’s claims.

I guess the fear here is that this will produce another Jenny McCarthy: more “experts” that would convince people to forego proven treatments to their detriment. This is generally a symptom of the mistrust against authorities, and unfortunately in many cases, people rail against scientific authority for the wrong reasons. This is why there’s a resurgence of flat earthers and creationists along with the climate change deniers. The Charlie Sheen/Dr. Chachoua HIV thing could very well be explained as a similar reaction against established scientific authority. I am hoping it leads to more creative zeal regarding the treatment of diseases, not necessarily from Dr. Chachoua who may or may not be a “quack,” but to many people in the scientific community. I’m hoping it doesn’t result in a wave of AIDS denialism. So yeah, for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the doctor’s appearance on Bill Maher’s show.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nothing on TV

David Letterman announces that he will be retiring from the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN on the broadcast tonight, Thursday, April 3 (11:35pm-12:37am, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

David Letterman announces that he will be retiring from the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN on the broadcast tonight, Thursday, April 3 (11:35pm-12:37am, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

This hit me much like Seinfeld did on its last show. It’s just entertainment, but it breaks my heart a bit knowing that the Late show is now gone. It is a sadness not just for a show ending, but a bit of mourning since it serves as a marker for time past. We are now at an age, when the Late Show with David Letterman is no more. And to the more extreme, it is a reminder of the inevitable. Everything ends. Enjoy every sandwich.

I guess the next show’s end that would affect me as much would be Conan O’Brien’s show, that and the Howard Stern Show on satellite. Here’s hoping both shows last far long into the future.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AIDS for Cancer

contortionist

I saw the VICE News report on new cancer treatment recently. I have to say; some things about VICE turn me off. I believe some pieces on VICE are being “edgy” just for edginess’ sake and really have no redeeming value.  But overall, VICE News is amazing. They do wonderful journalism and are not hindered by the news media’s myopic attention on issues. I’m so glad that they’re now on HBO. While the Internet is more popular than traditional media, it helps to get the show out there on TV screens for people who don’t even know what VICE is.

I remember when I was twelve and I was reading about Taxol on LIFE Magazine and how it was the miracle drug that could wipe cancer off the planet. While many cancer patients’ lives were prolonged by Taxol, it wasn’t the miracle drug that the magazine article made it out to be. People still died from many forms of cancer. Along with the lack of a reliable cure for cancer, treatment was still expensive, and the chemicals and radiation would often harm patients just as much as the cancer would.

The use of viruses to treat cancer looks very exciting. It’s heartwarming to see the patients in the documentary basically snatched from death’s door and given new hope, even new cancer-free lives. It is a shame however that much of the research still struggles to find funding. It is a shame that so much money is being spent on other useless things instead of helping find a cure to deadly diseases. There’s so much brainpower and genius wasted on products that don’t really help humanity in comparison. I don’t care much about the new Apple watch. I care more about using the AIDS virus to kill cancer cells. How about we all pool our collective intellects and resources to solving that one problem for a year? I wonder how far we could go.

While the documentary makes me feel hopeful for the future, in many ways, it depresses me as well. What have I done with my life? How come I’m not helping cure cancer? How come I’m not putting money out there for cancer research? Maybe I should start putting my money where my mouth is. We should all be invested in this. It’ll affect us one way or another.

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer years ago. She was misdiagnosed by a careless physician for months, and by the time they confirmed it was pancreatic cancer, she only had a few months to live. Perhaps if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might still be alive today. Or perhaps if more people cared about curing cancer…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So Far So Good

Year_of_the_Sheep

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone. It’s the year of the sheep.

I just got back from a long holiday. I also bought tickets to visit Canada this summer. It’ll be good to be back home again, just for a little bit. I have to say, getting negative results on my biopsy, working a little extra, and finally booking tickets for Canada… so far, things are going fine this year.

Now let’s hope that this all continues and things get better with other aspects of my life.

And yes, feel free to steal the image and put anything on the banner.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gooble Gobble

Thyroid

This is as close as I’ve ever come to a self portrait. It’s not anatomically correct, and no, I don’t have tentacles sticking out of me, but my goodness am I worried about my thyroid.

I’ve never done a self-portrait before, especially in the style of drawing that I do. A part of it is that I’m not really a big fan of my face. I find it narcissistic. And I don’t think so much of myself to the extent that I couldn’t afford narcissism. Another part is that a lot of what I write in my works is more personal and probably says more than a portrait would. A picture does not tell a thousand words. Pictures lie. Diaries however, while they may not be 100% truth, they show that particular person’s truth.

And speaking of my fears.

cancer

What a difference an article makes.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Year of Health Scare

buds

Last year, around the same time today, I got diagnosed with an enlarged thyroid. The doctors don’t quite know what to make of it and they said they would just put me under observation. “Come back in a year.” It’s been a year. I’ll see what’s going on this afternoon, fingers crossed.

After my diagnosis last year, I learned a couple of things. One is that my family has a history of it. My sister has an enlarged thyroid and she’s managing it with drugs. My mom had issues with her thyroid as well. I forgot all about it, but I do remember worrying about her having goiter when I was younger. In any case, according to test results, my hormone levels are fine so there’s really not much cause for concern for now.

The other thing I learned is that there’s a tendency for some Korean doctors to exaggerate the need for surgery when it comes to thyroid problems. Patients end up getting their thyroids removed, using drugs to manage their hormone levels, and harming themselves more in the long run. I guess it leads to more business for surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. So yeah, as immoral as it may seem, I have to exercise a bit of caveat emptor when it comes to medical diagnoses in this country.

It will be my mom’s birthday in a couple of days. Last year was horrible for me. It was started by the news regarding my health, and it just went downhill from there, one thing after another. God, I hope this year would be better.

Update: More tests, more bills. Despite the doctor’s reassurances, I feel more grim. Paying hospital bills hurts, but the waiting just adds more to the pain.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Drawing Again

crab

I’m finally making art again. I’ve been in a funk for a couple of months and was unable to make any art at all. It can be a bit of struggle, but what my professor once told me is true, “the hardest part about making art is the beginning.” It got harder and harder for me to start making art, and it’s good to finally get something going, maybe a series. Yay art!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anniversaries of All Kinds for Everyone

Gabo

Today’s my wedding anniversary. It’s also my parents’ wedding anniversary. I used to joke that I chose to get married the same day because it would be one less day to remember. But really, it’s in honor of my mother who passed away a couple of years before I got married. It’s a way of sharing one of the most special days of my life to the people I love and miss the most. Happy anniversary, Ma. We miss you.

And to my lovely wife, happy anniversary to you too.

My best friend messaged me this morning, wishing me happy anniversary and hoping that the day would be an excellent one. Unfortunately, just like 2014, it’s gotten a very inauspicious start. First off, I woke up with a strange sharp pain in my gut. Who knows what it is? Ulcer? Maybe… but I chose to ignore it for now. Just like my diagnosis of an enlarged thyroid earlier this year, it could be as serious as impending death or just something I could completely ignore. With my luck, it could be something worse… me being paranoid about it for years.

Then I turn on the computer and learn that my favorite author just died. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s works could be wildly misogynistic, in a sort of every-man-cheated-on-their-wives-back-then sort of way… but they’re also magical and romantic. He saw humanity and created worlds that would take us through the great heights of love to the lowest of human misery. They were both exotic and familiar at the same time. I was selfishly saddened by the news that his deteriorating health and failing memories a couple of years ago could make Memories of My Melancholy Whores his last book. But now I’m simply stunned at knowing that a great soul is no longer with us, not one who entertained us with his words, but one who painted windows into our humanity. It’s sad. And I’ll probably have to pick up his books again.

We are seriously running out of living people to look up to.

(My entries are turning into Simpsons episodes. They start about one thing and completely end about another.)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

They don’t do humans.

Korean_drama

I don’t watch Korean dramas. Despite their global popularity and despite me being in the country, it’s just not my thing. My wife however often follows one or two dramas. I don’t really pay attention, but sometimes she’ll explain things to me or I’ll just absorb it through osmosis. One particular drama though has me seeing red. My wife stopped following it but will occasionally watch it or read what’s going on online. Now, I don’t know much about Korean dramas, but whoever’s writing “Princess Aurora” is a cynical, creatively bankrupt writer who has no concept of how human beings function in real life.

Here are some points (You don’t have to know the plot).

1. The male lead basically stalked the female lead and later won her affections. Not only does this encourage stalking, but is akin to my experience with Korean women and their stalker exes. “She will come back to me once she dumps him!”

2. The weaksauce male lead’s life is controlled by his three older spinster sisters. The writer must have a thing for weak men.

3. The female lead dumps the male lead, starts dating some sucker, then later dumps him and marries the lead. This sucker later ends up getting cancer, so the female lead gets a divorce and marries him.

4. The sucker who got cancer asks the male lead to help him recover because he’s the only man he trusts with his wife. Did I say he was a sucker? The two later become friends.

5. The sucker also chooses not to treat his cancer because he considers it a living being and a part of nature. The sucker however has no qualms about eating bacon. Heck, even a plant is more sentient than cancer!

6. The cancer spontaneously goes into remission. I suppose that happens SOMETIMES, but the writer basically took a shit on everyone who lost a loved one to cancer despite aggressive treatment. Maybe the cancer responded to idiocy.

7. My wife first got interested in the show because one of the side characters is bisexual and is involved in a love triangle between his gay live-in boyfriend and another girl, the writer’s niece. My wife thought it was interesting that a major Korean show is tackling gay issues on primetime. Although I pointed out that if she knew Korean women, not one of them would ever be with a gay man if they had a visual of what gay sex involves. (But then again, a lot of men in K-Pop look really gay to me.)

8. The gay character tried teaching his boyfriend’s mother how to “go-go dance.” He teaches her “the hustle” instead. What kind of homosexual doesn’t know the difference between “go-go dance” and “the hustle?”

9. This gay character decides to go to a temple, bow a thousand times everyday in front of Buddha, and becomes straight. The show basically says you can pray the gay away. So much for tackling gay issues. The writer just took a shit on gay people.

10. Come to think of it, the writer took a shit on human sexuality in general. Does this mean I can bow a thousand times everyday and become gay as well? Can I pray the straight away?

11. The formerly gay character is now dating one of the spinster sisters.

There are so many other hackneyed points in the show but this list would get too long. The writer is basically just writing the show in order to create buzz among Korean netizens. It is cynically manipulative. It’s like she’s going through a list of what would get the Internet talking about the show? What next? A tragic death? AIDS? Twerking?

My wife says most people realize this, but it’s like watching a really bad car accident. Now, I don’t mind watching garbage television and bad writing. I used to watch Sons of Anarchy before I realized it featured the most inept motorcycle gang in history. But it really gets my gourd when writing gets ridiculously bad and spreads misinformation about how human beings work. The thing about the gay character I feel was the worst. “Let’s all use a gay character to drive up ratings then basically say that being gay is an evil that can be cured with a bit of religion.” This is especially troubling since Koreans are still pretty much in the dark ages when it comes to certain aspects of human sexuality. This is a country where many claim “there are no gays,” AIDS is a foreign disease, and adultery is punishable by jail time.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But with Korean dramas being very popular, I hope they’re all not as bad and as hollow as this garbage.

Here’s some art so this post is not solely about Korean dramas!

The_Hunt

The Hunt!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,