Monday, July 25, 2011

Jack Layton has 2nd cancer

At today's news conference, 2011
Mr. Layton in 2008
While we must avoid the 'battling cancer' phrases, I am so sorry to hear the the Federal NDP Leader, Jack Layton, has been diagnosed with cancer again.

NDP Leader Jack Layton
speaks about his weight loss
due to prostate cancer during a news conference
 in Ottawa, Tuesday July 6, 2010
You can see from his photos that he is not a well man.

The speculation begins.

Twitter has been bleating madly: most with message of support and concern. But, as always, there will be those who speculate and spread rumours.

The bottom line is that dealing with a cancer diagnosis takes much energy, and stepping down is the right thing to do.

One cannot put a mere job, work or career ahead of health. His loved ones deserve more than the public and his party members.

I hope that he listens to his body. Fighting a Federal Election campaign must have taken its toll.

Certainly, those who live in poverty do not have many options. Many of our clients must work in hourly wages, while caring for failing family members. This is not the case for this well-loved, respected Member of Parliament. Who else would you want on your side than Olivia Chow, MP and a trooper, fighting for healthcare, and people. Her Town Hall on 'finding a physician.'
Ms. Chow fought hard for her mother:

For two weeks, while a surgical wound in her stomach grew raw and infected, Ontario's home-care system overlooked 83-year-old Ho Sze Chow.
That her daughter is Toronto MP Olivia Chow and her son-in-law is federal NDP Leader Jack Layton – both of whom understand how to manoeuvre through bureaucracies – made no difference.
Scheduled nursing visits were repeatedly skipped. Phone calls and complaints went nowhere.
It was, Chow concluded, a cautionary tale for the 770,000 Ontarians – hospital patients sent home early, the disabled and seniors trying to remain in their homes – expected to use home-care services this year.

"Advocates, nurses and health-care academics agree the province's home-care system is stressed. Health Ministry figures show the number of clients has jumped 75 per cent over the past four years, while funding has risen 30 per cent."

Home-care system stretched to limit - - Cached
22 Oct 2007 – That her daughter is Toronto MP Olivia Chow and her son-in-law is Jack Layton.... Toronto MP Olivia Chow's mother, Ho Sze Chow, 83, had to go to the ER .

For the rest of us, I hope we ask physicians the right questions.

Oncologists, especially, must be accountable to their patients to identify a treatment plan.
Patients, or their caregivers, must ask the hard questions to determine whether the treatment plan will potentially successful, and/or interfere with quality of life.

Essentially, with seniors there are

  • statistics that can predict the quality of the treatment,
  • its impact on the patient and caregivers,
  • and the probability of its success.
A patient and family must ask:
  • about treatment options - you need NOT have the treatment if you choose not to.
  • how far the disease has progressed (i.e., is it in the lymph nodes?)
  • what is the prognosis?
  • about the impact on the quality of life during treatment
  • about the impact on the quality of life after treatment
  • How can I avoid or relieve my symptoms?
  • How can I relieve pain? (Agitation or pain? Get a pain management kit if you are at that stage of the cancer.)
  • If removal of lymph nodes is suggested: what is the impact of lymphedema?
  • How much time you will gain and at what cost?
The impact of radiation can vary widely with patients, but one result of this treatment is the destruction of infection-fighting antibodies. My father fought a urinary tract infection undiagnosed in the emergency ward, and he was sent home incontinent and unable to function with the side effect of delirium.

The need to determine the outside resources available if, for example, the patient is incapacitated by radiation treatment or chemotherapy. In Ontario CCAC will help with this.

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