Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interviewing Patti Wood in January, 2010

Patti Woods and her husband Doug Wood are extraordinary people---I will write about them again here and elsewhere in more detail. They fight every day for what they believe in as they try to save our earth and the health of all living things.

In Patti's view (and I agree with her), it is clear that corporations and their ceaseless quest for profit (at any cost) are destroying the earth and making us sick. All living beings have a fundamental right to clean air, clean water, and unpolluted soil, and yet that right has been stripped from us. Our land, air, rivers and oceans are polluted; our children are dying/suffering from cancer and other diseases; our genes are damaged; and so much more. Most of us, understandably, don't want to think about the polluted world we live in because it is too frightening to contemplate.

Patti and I agreed that our politicians and political system have been corrupted by corporate greed. One major way to undo this corruption is through campaign finance reform. Without this, even the best intentioned politicians cannot act. I believe this is our only hope of real change and real protection. Otherwise, we will continue to live in a world dominated and controlled by corporate interests. In a world dominated by corporate power, our right to safe and clean water, air and soil will remain stripped from us.

At the end of our discussion, Patti talked about her daughter and the CT scan she was once given (unnecessarily) for abdominal pain. Patti described the shockingly high rate of radiation that her daughter received (unnecessarily) from that one test.

Suddenly, I found myself growing uneasy.  My stomach churned.

I told her I had been given many CT scans during and after my cancer treatment.

She grew quiet, for a moment.

"Where on your body?" She asked.
"Everywhere," I answered. "From the pelvis through the neck."
 (Hodgkin's is a cancer of the blood, so grows it everywhere.)
"How many CT scans tests did you have?" She asked.
"Too many to count," I replied. "Maybe nine times, maybe more. Before, during and after treatment."

I found myself growing quiet inside. Still.

After I said goodbye to Patti at the end of the interview, I panicked a bit.   I tried to forget what she'd said about the amount of radiation in a CT scan, but it didn't work.

So, a few hours later, I googled, "how much radiation from CT scans."

Here is what the 12/14/ 2009 USA Today newspaper article says:

CT scans deliver far more radiation than has been believed and may contribute to 29,000 new cancers each year, along with 14,500 deaths, suggest two studies in today's Archives of Internal Medicine. One study, led by the National Cancer Institute's Amy Berrington de Gonzalez, used existing exposure data to estimate how many cancers might be caused by CT scans.

Another study in the journal suggests the problem may even be worse. In that study, researchers found that people may be exposed to up to four times as much radiation as estimated by earlier studies.....

Young people are at highest risk from excess radiation, partly because they have many years ahead of them in which cancers could develop, Smith-Bindman says. Among 20-year-old women who get one coronary angiogram, a CT scan of the heart, one in 150 will develop cancer related to the procedure.

Another piece of information I found on the FDA Government website, which explains the amount of radiation in a CT test says:

Radiation Dose:
The effective doses from diagnostic CT procedures are typically estimated to be in the range of 1 to 10 mSv. This range is not much less than the lowest doses of 5 to 20 mSv received by some of the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs. (my Italics)

In my own case, from what I can glean, it would have been more than 8 mSv because of the locations of my tests; the abdomen x-ray is in the higher range and I received radiation from my abdomen to my neck. If what I have quoted is correct, then, I received the same or more radiation on a regular basis for several years (at least nine times), than survivors of atomic bombs in Japan.

And here I thought I was in the clear.  I've been cancer free for fifteen years.  For ten years after my chemotherapy treatment, there was the possibility that the chemo could cause leukemia.  I've passed the ten year mark for that.  I've also passed the ten year mark for my the Hodgkin's to come back, so I'm supposedly "cured."  Now her I've coming across this dispiriting news about the dangers of CT scans causing cancer.  Now the clock ticks again.  Hey, the clock ticks for us all, but I'm not happy about this news.   I'm not happy at all.

Wasn't there another way to test for my cancer? As lay people, we do not decide what kinds of tests our doctors use, or what our insurance will cover. One pharmaceutical or medical company elbows their way into the medical profession and their product becomes "protocol". The protocol may kill us in the end, and thus we, the terrified patients, do what our doctors tell us to. Meanwhile, our doctors, like our politicians and government, are controlled by big business.  I know my oncologist meant well.  He saved my life 15 years ago.

So, I'll say a personal prayer, yet again, for my daughter. I will try to believe that another cancer will not kill me, that I'll live long enough to watch my daughter graduate from college, get married, and  have healthy children of her own.  My own daughter lost three of her grandparents to cancer before her birth. May things look brighter for my and all of our future generations.

We can hope.

We can act. Vote. Petition. Write. Protest. Question.



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