What I want…

I want to read scientific studies. I want to write about my research and amusing daily happenings. I want to keep myself stable until a cure is found for myeloma. I want to spend time with my family and friends. I want to be a good English teacher. I want to laugh and enjoy life. I want more time. I want lots of things.


I don’t want to write about politics. With yesterday’s post, I was actually trying to move away from politics. But recent comments “force” me to post again on this topic. And I am not going to promise not to write about it again…only to break my promise. I am sure Keith or Rachel will inspire at least one more political post at some point this week. 😉


Hmmm, besides, it is MY blog, right? 😉


And what is a blog but an electronic diary? That’s how I use it. I never plan my posts. If I read something that inspires or enrages me or makes me happy, then that is what I post about. And it just so happens that right now I am thinking, reading, hearing and seeing A LOT about the upcoming U.S. presidential election. That won’t change until after the election. Then life will presumably return to normal. Presumably.


Okay, let’s get into some political stuff. Let’s say that the Democrats had a candidate similar to McCain, and the Republicans someone like Obama. Well, guess what? I would have voted Republican. Surprised? Well, when I was a U.S. resident, I voted occasionally for decent Republican candidates in local elections. I have always voted for the better person.


Oh, and I don’t just watch Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. I also watch Fox News, which I can get here in Italy, too.


So you see, I am not a mindless follower of the party line. I listen to both sides of an argument and make up my own mind. Always have, always will.


Nobody can tell me what to do, except for my cats. 🙂


A final consideration. If Sen. McCain is elected, I would never be able to move back to my own country. Not that I plan to, but I wouldn’t mind having the option…you never know. But under a McCain administration, I would never get health coverage due to my pre-existing condition. Under Sen. Obama’s plan I would instead not be denied coverage for having myeloma. Another point in the latter’s favour.


U.S. cancer patients need to think long and hard before casting their vote next week. Consider the folks who will be diagnosed with cancer before or without having good insurance coverage. What will happen to them? What will happen to you?


  1. Hi Margaret,

    I want to comment, if it’s ok, to your question on what will happen to folks with cancer who don’t have good insurance coverage.

    Before I go into our family’s experience, let me say that I respect your political opinions and this isn’t intended to be a political post. It’s just what has happened in our family.

    When Bob was diagnosed, we were fortunate to be able to afford health insurance. He applied for disability and was approved. (most people with a terminal cancer are.) He now has insurance under SSDI and hasn’t had to pay much out of pocket for his cancer care.

    On the other hand his sister long ago decided she wasn’t going to pay the high insurance premiums for health care, even though she owned her own business and was able to afford it. Then, she got colon cancer. She went to one of the charity hospitals in Louisiana and got excellent care there. After having colon surgery, she has been cancer free for a number of years now and still gets regular checkups. She did have to pay a part of her medical bills, though she was billed according to what her income was.

    I’m not saying the system is perfect, but it’s not entirely accurate that there is no healthcare in the US for someone who isn’t insured.

    I have a friend who works in the ER. She says that it is against the law to deny anyone emergency care. She said that they aren’t allowed to even ask the patient if they are able to pay or not…..Now don’t get me wrong, there are MANY who abuse this. They have the same people every week who go into the ER complaining of something or other just to get a pill. But, there IS emergency healthcare available for free if it’s needed.

    Like I said, there are two sides to every story. This has been our family’s experience. I can also say that people on welfare or who have low income have free health care for their children, at least this is the case in Louisiana and Texas. They are insured under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or C.H.I.P. I have a friend who has worked for a pediatrician for 30 years and although there is a lot of people abusing the system, all children are able to receive health care under this program. My daughter, who is a single mother, would qualify for this program but has health insurance at her work and will not apply for this program. She works and is able to provide health insurance for her and my grandson through her job. But it’s there if she should need it.

    I also wonder what kind of healthcare we would have under socialized health care….It seems as if most things that are run by the government don’t do so well. Just look at public housing. Look at FEMA…….disasters!

    Anyway, just thought I’d give my point of view…….Hope you don’t mind.


  2. I don’t mind at all, Val. I respect your opinions as well. I will listen to any side of any argument as long as we can all maintain a civil tone. And that is how your tone has always been. I hope mine has, too!

    My experience with U.S. healthcare has been slightly (!) different.

    After graduating from college, I was lucky enough to be able to afford (minimum coverage) healthcare, in Massachusetts. One day I experienced terrible abdominal pains and was rushed to the ER (no names, but it was a big hospital). Before even hearing what was wrong with me (and I am sure I must have looked dreadful), the nurse at the sign-in desk wanted to see my health insurance card. Bent over with pain, I had to wait for the longest time in the waiting room while she checked my health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield, not some unknown little insurance company).

    I received very poor healthcare there. I was (finally) tested for a million different ailments even though I told the nurses and doctors that I was quite sure it was a urinary infection…and now, looking back on what happened, it seems like a very bad “Dr. House” episode where the House team gets it all wrong. It took soooo long to get a diagnosis…all that was needed was a simple urine test, which I was given only late in the game…and lo and behold, I was right: a urinary infection. All I needed was some antibiotics.


    I have had only excellent care here in Italy. I have super doctors, the best I have had in my entire life. Socialized medicine is not all bad, y’know. For instance, my brilliant Italian family doctor has always visited my parents (who come here every summer on tourist visas) for free. If they need medical attention, I call my GP immediately. He has even paid house visits whenever necessary, again at no charge, even though my parents are not patients of his.

    Of course, I live in Tuscany, a privileged region compared to others. Things are a bit different in some areas of the South.

    But Italy is also very good to its cancer patients. Here cancer patients don’t risk losing their jobs when something bad happens.

    Also, I used to have to pay what is called a “ticket,” which was a tiny portion of, say, my blood tests. Since 2005, when I received the official diagnosis of “mieloma multiplo,” I have been totally exempt from paying anything, even that small ticket. Of course, I pay income taxes here. And I am happy to do so, even though some months we don’t know how we are going to pay our bills (like this month, e.g.).

    Another quick story. A couple of summers ago, while my parents were here, my Dad developed a nasty (NASTY!) abscess on his leg. My family doctor visited him and sent him straight to the ER where he was treated and sent home. Dad returned to the Careggi Hospital ER several times, and in the end my parents paid…nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

    That’s Italy. That’s socialized medicine.

    Speaking of which. Whenever I return to the U.S., I–a U.S. citizen–buy private health insurance here that will cover me for the entire trip. Just to be on the safe side, I mean, in case I need medical attention in the States. In contrast, when Stefano and I went to England and France, we didn’t even consider getting health insurance…there simply was no need for it.

    So I have to get Italian health insurance in order to return to my own home country…irony of fate, don’t you think?


  3. I’ve seen Michael Moore’s movie on the US health care service and, boy, that was hard to swallow! Each time I go as a turist to the Usa I have to spend a lot of money to buy a medical insurance. You can go all over Europe (as an European) and you don’t have to pay for health care. Better, you can choose in which country to be cured. Your national health service will deal with the administrative side of your decision. Last, in Italy when you develop cancer you get what is called a total exemption. This means that you do not pay anything for medical assistance and tests. I believe it’s better here than in the Usa.

  4. Hello Margaret,
    You’re absolutely right – it is your blog!
    Nothing wrong with politics – a bit of light relief from myeloma.
    Sarah Palin is a phenomenon, but as an Englishman I’m bemused by what a ‘hockey mum’ is. Pit bulls and lipstick I know.
    Anyone enlighten me?

  5. Hi Mike,

    I don’t know if you are joking or serious about not knowing what a hockey mom is….but….here goes…

    A hockey mom is just like a soccer mom, she’s the mother of a hockey player!….Not complicated at all 🙂


  6. I would like to add some comments to Val P’s remarks. It is not correct to say that your sister-in-law or anyone else ever received FREE healthcare in the USA. People without insurance can still get treatment, and if they’re very fortunate, they get good, state-of-the-art, appropriate treatment.

    But there IS a bill. And every working, tax-paying citizen pays it. That is what makes ours the most expensive, least efficient health care provider, probably in the world.

    I understand why the idea of turning healthcare over to the Federal government would give anyone the willies, but there are other options and I think they should be explored before our “system” completely bankrupts us.

    (Margaret, you make Italy sound even more irresistible.)

  7. Yes Nancy….I agree that working, tax paying citizens pay the REST of the bill. I did say that she had to pay a part of her bill, acording to her income……

    Who do you think will be responsible for paying the bill if healthcare is run by the government? You got it…..the tax payer! Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Italy pay a lot more in taxes for their socialized health care system?

    Nothing is free in this world…..It will have to be paid for one way or another…..

  8. Before you strap yourself to the Obama anchor, consider the fate of the biotech industry in the US, and what socialized medicine will do to cancer patients.

    One only need to google ‘NICE’ and cancer drugs to see that the latest and the best are just not available in the UK. (Or Canada, for that matter.)

    Rituximab? Forget it! The latest in kidney cancer drugs? No way!

    Once you make health care part of the federal budget, then it must compete against defense, education, welfare and all the other budgeted items.

    Health care will suffer.

    If I lived in England, I’d be dead now, since rituximab has (twice) saved my life.

    Be careful what you wish for. (And if you think that Obama doesn’t favor government-owned health care, you are just not paying attention. Remember ‘Hillary Care’?

  9. Hi Scott,

    You are right, there are issues here in England with NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) and also with differences between Local Health Authorities in the supply of drugs – even after they have received national approval.
    Despite the problems, no one here thinks we should abolish the NHS. The only argument is about how it should be run. In the UK we regard the Health Service as just an important part of government business as the police force.
    For me the bigger issue is the allocation of government resources and, in particular, the vast amounts spent on defence (or should it be called “attack” if you are fighting on foreign soil?). I ask myself how much my government could have achieved if it had not decided to join the US in fighting an expensive and illegal war in Iraq. I also ask myself if anything is going to change if the next President of the US is an ex-military man. And five years in the Hanoi Hilton is unlikely to be the best foreign policy experience.


  10. Paul,

    Perhaps you would feel differently about fighting on foreign soil if your country had been attacked like ours was on 9/11. This was brought to us and I do believe we have to be pro-active and not sit around waiting for another attack!

    You haven’t walked in our shoes. Did YOU lose anyone in any of the attacks made upon our country? You seem to have a lot to say about something I don’t believe you can relate to. I don’t see anyone here putting your country down, do you?

    I seem to be spending a lot of time trying to defend the country that I love dearly! All I really wanted was to learn as much as I can about this cancer that is killing my husband. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place for that.


    Val Prather
    Mason, Texas
    Proud American

  11. Dear Val,

    I don’t think anyone now believes that Iraq posed a military threat to the US. The truth is that both our governments lied to us about “weapons of mass destruction” and the cost has been enormous.

    Many people believe that 9/11 could even have been prevented by covert operations and a major military exercise would not have been necessary. As a result of the Iraqi war many innocent people have been killed and some of their surviving families will no doubt become terrorists of the future. And of course, we should not forget the brave servicemen who have been critically injured or lost their lives. I cry for them and their families.

    You say we have not lost anyone in the UK as a result of terrorism but you have forgotten that there were several hundred British subjects killed on 9/11. And then we had the London bombings of 7/7 when 52 people were killed and 700 injured. We should also not forget the Madrid bombings when 191 people were killed and nearly 2,000 wounded. I feel very anxious now when my son goes into London. Terrorism is not unique to the US. In fact, we have only just recovered from 30 years of IRA terrorism here. The way to stop it is through negotiation and covert operations, not almighty force.

    Future US government policy is critical to us all and that’s why I think Margaret first addressed it. Perhaps you need the perspective of an American living abroad. We don’t hate the US or its people and, as I have said before, there was a huge amount of sympathy after 9/11 that GB2 has wasted. It’s the people running your country that we don’t like. What we want is to see the US acting like a World LEADER rather than a World RULER.

    And as Scott has pointed out, this is not an irrelevance for us cancer patients (and all other people with health problems). Wouldn’t it be great if our governments could spend more money on keeping people alive and less on killing people. Isn’t that what you want for your husband?

    Having said all this, I have no wish to upset anyone who is already in a stressful situation and I wish you and your husband well. I have said all I want to say and I desperately hope that we get the right result next week. It is as important to the rest of the World as it is to the US.

    With best wishes,

  12. Paul I completeley agree with your post. If all the money spent in the Iraq mess could have been destined to cancer research, I guess that by now several kinds of cancer would be history.

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