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March 2016

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Astroturfing

My brother sent me this 10 minute talk by investigative journalist Sheryl Attkisson and it changed my life, and scared the shit out of me. As a person who avidly researches, this floored me. I understand that information is widely manipulated, but I had no idea that it was this bad. It’s terrifying, and disgusting, and it makes sense. I hope you find it as interesting as I did, and half as disheartening. Think again about what you think you know, and who you think you can trust. “In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows  how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate,  or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.” So what do you do? How can you protect yourself? How do you know what to believe? How much further can you really get with a discerning mind if there’s so much conflict of interest, and little disclosure? Sheryl has some tips at the end to help you analyze distorted media. This is a major issue for me with research studies. There are drug companies that fund studies, or they donate [endowments] to [medical] schools within colleges. It’s blatantly a conflict of interest. Everything is so tainted, so tangled. Where’s the truth? How is it that our knowledge base that is our researchers, and scientists are so exploited? You could even go as far as say they’re bought. It’s getting uglier and uglier, and I don’t see how people can wade through the sludge to protect themselves. It’s just gross.

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No Model

A couple of months ago a patient told me that I’m a role model, and it completely freaked me out. That is a ton of responsibility. I don’t want to model anything other than my own behavior. How can I be a model for others, what if I have a recurrence? Will patients think they’re going to die too? That we’re all doomed? That’s how I feel sometimes when tumor friends have recurrences. I don’t want that on my hands. What if I just want to eat crap for a year and see what happens? You can’t do that if you’re a role model. When you’re a role model you’re held to a higher standard; there’s good behaviors that you’re supposed to exhibit. You’re supposed to lead by example. That’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s definitely too much stress. I’m not trying to be perfect, I’m just trying to be me. And sometimes that means mimosas and scones. And what brain tumor role model would encourage that? (Sugar on sugar on alcohol?!) A naughty one. One that shouldn’t be looked up to.  A couple of days ago I removed my favorite Buddhist saying and replaced it with this. I like to think I made it up, but probably not. Last night, a friend helped me see that I am not other people’s stories. That when I help, I don’t have to own what people are going through. I can assist in a time of need, hold their hand in a moment, but allow and encourage people to continue on without me. It feels a little bit like accelerated parenting. Help people find their wings by connecting them to other people and ideas and resources. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a lesson we all have to learn. In…

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