|Proboscis Monkey. He has enough to eat.|
25% of America's children don't.
The particular episode that sent us into into peals of laughter was the "World's Ugliest Animals," of which the unusually endowed proboscis monkey (left) was one example. Our goofy texting and commentary was in stark relief to this earlier exchange of messages:
R u watching 60 Minutes?
Feel so selfish.
I know. I felt the same way. And I keep thinking about all those wall st. types with all their billions and I think, really? It wouldn't take so much would it?
No. The change on their bureau would do.
We were talking about a Scott Pelley's story about a country where almost 25% of the children are in poverty. That country is America.
To add to the irony, or more accurately, the heartbreak, Pelley's interviews were conducted in Seminole County, Florida, adjacent to the 25,000 acres Walt Disney World occupies. Even Dickens couldn't have cooked that one up.
The social and ethical ramifications of hungry, homeless children is enough to take in. But there's more. There's always more.
More than twenty years ago, Samuel Broder, MD, one of the physicians who developed some of the first effective AIDS treatements (AZT) and former head of the National Cancer Institute, said, "Poverty is a carcinogen." This was pointed out in a moving and powerful post by J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and known simply as @DrLen.
Yes, being poor, hungry, un- or undereducated puts one at significant risk for cancer. While the largely well-educated (yes, WASPS like me) professional classes can afford the luxury of debating whether drinking out of a styrofoam cup or using cosmetics will up my risk for cancer - we are simultaneously living in a society where the largest number of children since the Great Depression are growing up hungry; many homeless. There are some things the greatest cancer advances ever imagined can never fix, and this is one of them. Only we can help fix this, by advocating for not just equitable health care, but a more equitable society where children don't have to worry that they are costing their parents too much money, or about not wanting their friends to know that their father stood on the street corner holding a sign.
Cancer is social. Cancer is economic. Cancer is political.
As Dr. Len wrote, "If we are serious about reducing the burden and suffering from cancer, why aren't we paying attention to those most in need?"
Why indeed. Last night these two separate stories -- the 60 Minutes feature and Dr. Len's blog -- ran through my thoughts and eventually had a head-on collision.
And I can't let it go.