Friday, March 9, 2012

Art Movement

I was just sitting in front of my computer screen, wanting to write something for this blog.  I was trying to be open to whatever wanted to surface.  And, almost involuntarily I typed.  "the other side of goodbye."

These lyrics by Warren Zevon have been floating in and out of my consciousness for awhile now and have surfaced in this blog before.(see Death, Zevon and The Wind written in January, 2011)

This is the full verse

Will you stay with me to the end?
When there is nothing left 
But you and me and the wind.
We'll never know till we try
To find the other side of goodbye
              - Warren Zevon The Wind

If something keeps coming to the top does that mean there's still work to be done with it or does it reflect a limited imagination?  Probably both.

We'll never know til we try to find the other side of goodbye.

These mysterious, evocative words make me feel almost the same way I feel when I look at a great painting.  I am overwhelmed with deep feeling but can't explain either the feeling or the reason it surfaced.

I remember being in the Prado museum in Madrid surrounded by some of the worlds greatest art but being deeply impacted by one painting in particular. The Portrait of a Cardinal by Raphael

     This cut and paste reproduction is a poor substitute indeed for the original.  The texture of the brush strokes and the deep crimson are significantly absent here.  Nevertheless, perhaps you can feel a bit of what I'm trying to say.  Which is more of a pondering than a pronouncement  Why do somethings grab us and shake us and not let go?  Are these qualities of attraction universal or only a reflection of some learned bias by the observer/reader?

Are Raphael and Zevon tapped into the same wellspring?

Probably.  What is that magic chord?  Where is it?

I will be forever grateful for art that touches my soul.  It seems to answer questions I didn't know how to ask and raise questions I'll never be able to answer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prostate Protestation

I've spent the past three days writing a response to an article that appeared in the local paper.  I found the process of doing this challenging but very satisfying.  It stirs up memories of how much I enjoyed being a media agitator in Phoenix.  Maybe there's a lesson here about finding my post retirement path. Here's the letter.

March 5, 2012

Press & Sun-Bulletin
P.O. Box 1270
Binghamton, NY 13902-1270

On March 2nd The Press & Sun Bulletin ran an article by Jennifer Micale entitled "Drive urges screenings for prostate cancer - Libous helps promote awareness campaign." 

The article announced the launching of the "I Turned Pro: Proactive on Prostate Cancer" campaign by Lourdes Hospital, UHS and state Sen. Thomas W. Libous. 

Prostate cancer is a major men's health issue and the goal of this campaign "to raise awareness of the disease, its diagnosis and treatment" is important and should be applauded.  My concern is that the campaign is strongly encouraging men over 50 to be screened by having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

I am a 64 year old male who has decided to discontinue having PSA tests.  My investigation of this issue has convinced me that there is a growing consensus in the medical community that PSA tests are, in most cases, not a good idea.  Current research is showing that, according to a recent article in theNew York Times,  "regular PSA testing does not save lives and can lead  to aggressive treatments that leave men impotent, incontinent or both."

In October, 2011 the  U.S. PreventiveServices Task Force (USPSTF)  issued a draft report   which "recommends against prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer. This recommendation applies to men in the U.S. population that do not have symptoms that are highly suspicious for prostate cancer, regardless of age, race, or family history. "

The report states that,"The evidence is convincing that for men aged 70 years and older, screening has no mortality benefit. For men aged 50 to 69 years, the evidence is convincing that the reduction in prostate cancer mortality 10 years after screening is small to none."

The report goes on to document harms related to screening and harms related to treament of screen detected cancer. 

"Adequate evidence also shows that up to 5 in 1,000 men will die within 1 month of prostate cancer surgery and between 10 and 70 men will have serious complications but survive. Radiotherapy and surgery result in adverse effects, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction in at least 200 to 300 of 1,000 men treated with these therapies. Radiotherapy is also associated with bowel dysfunction."

The awareness goals of the "I Turned Pro" campaign are honorable and important.  Its recommendation that men over 5O receive PSA screening should be revised to better reflect the current state of medical knowledge.

Ferd Haverly
1609 Buffalo Street
Endicott, New York 13760