Today’s New York Times had two articles in it that made my chemo-tainted blood boil: U.S. Scrambling To Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine and U.S Rejects Mayor’s Plan to Ban Use of Food Stamps to Buy Soda.
In the first article we learn that there has been an increase in shortages in drugs used to treat cancer, infections and other diseases. The shortages appear to be due to the consolidation of the generic drug industry that “compete only on price and have foreign plants that are rarely inspected”. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment who go to their appointments for an infusion are told to go home and wait for new supplies to arrive.
The second article informs us about an administrator of the U.S.D.A. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who explains that New York City’s proposed 2-year experiment to not allow people to buy sodas with food stamps in order to see if it would reduce obesity was “too large and complex” (no pun on my part intended) to implement and evaluate.
What is wrong here? Why are we so sick that we need all these drugs? Apparently, we can’t even make our own drugs cheap enough so we have to have them manufactured overseas. New York comes up with an incentive plan for people on food stamps to buy nutrient-rich, health-promoting foods to help prevent them from getting sick, so that they don’t need the drugs that we can’t get anyway. Our government whines, saying the plan is too hard to implement and evaluate.
It’s too hard to implement and evaluate? Somehow it’s not too hard for Amazon or Facebook to determine everything about me, my likes, dislikes and recommend products that I am likely to be interested in. And with the proper coding of categories and tags, my WordPress site easily sorts and separates a seemingly infinite number of subjects into any format I desire to display. But we can’t implement a program so that soda is tagged as not eligible for food stamps? Don’t we do that already with items that aren’t eligible for food stamps? We can’t figure out a way to evaluate the results? How hard can this be, really?
The bottom line is, we can’t rely on the government. The U.S.D.A. recently decided to give $40 million dollars to the chicken industry because of sagging profits and give the meat to food banks. How is it that the government finds money for industries such as this one? The already overly-subsidized chicken industry, which makes ‘cheap’ chicken, is responsible for a significant amount of environmental devastation, disease and horrific cruelty to animals. I don’t want my tax dollars supporting this kind of business. Why can’t the U.S.D.A. invest instead in implementing a program so that people can’t buy soda with food stamps? The U.S.D.A has concerns about the NYC plan’s “potential viability and effectiveness.” Are they serious? The U.S.D.A should be promoting organic, locally grown, plant foods – foods that we know provide the best nutrition. But the U.S.D.A can not objectively make decisions to promote health while it is also subsidizing and selling food products, i.e. meat, milk, eggs, and sugar that are proven not to be healthy.
When it comes to our own health and the health of our families, we need to get REAL.
The best thing to do is not to get cancer. Yes, I am serious, and it’s not as tough as it sounds. Since we know that nearly 70% of all cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking, eating and drinking habits, or a “sedentary lifestyle” we can significantly lower our risk of getting cancer by choosing health-promoting foods, i. e. whole, organic, fruits and vegetables, exercising, not smoking and consuming little or no alcoholic beverages.
But doing those things does not guarantee prevention, thanks to risk factors like toxic chemicals and environmental pollution. I know – I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer about 5 years ago. I am grateful for the medical treatment (3 surgeries, chemotherapy) I received, which clearly was an important factor in saving my life. I am on the fence about how I feel about chemotherapy. It may be unnecessary for some cancers, where diet and lifestyle changes would be more effective. Perhaps for others, it’s the best alternative we have. At least I was fortunate enough to get the chemo drugs when I needed them since there was no apparent shortage at that time.
Whether or not you can get adequate supplies of the chemo drug prescribed for you, there are things that you can do in order to increase your chances of survival and longevity.
You can focus on getting excellent nutrition. Whole, organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy green vegetables contain the nutrition we need to super-charge our immune systems and keep us healthy and strong. Knowing this, I crammed greens, in fresh-pressed green juices, green powder smoothies and salads, steamed, and concentrated in supplements. If you are feeling helpless because your doctor tells you to go home because your chemo drug is in short supply, there are things you can do. You can cram green foods along with other unrefined plant-foods. It can’t hurt and it just may save your life.
The U.S.D.A needs to have its priorities clarified. It should be responsible for nutrition and agricultural policies to maximize human health and longevity while protecting and nurturing our fragile environment. If this were the case, pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods and the factory farming of animals would all be a thing of the past. Giant agribusiness would lose its subsidies and small, organic farmers would receive support to insure their success, ultimately providing all Americans with the highest quality food. Food stamps would only be able to purchase health-promoting, nutritionally-dense, whole plant-foods, instead of the soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, ice cream, energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label (!) and bakery cakes that are currently eligible under the U.S.D.A Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
This has to change. When it does, we won’t have a shortage of chemo drugs because we won’t need them.