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This column was prepared for the January 23, 2008 issue of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved. For the complete calendar of business
meetings and arts events in central New Jersey, go to www.princetoninfo.com/us1evts.html
Between the Lines
We owe you an apology: Due to a production glitch somewhere between our desktop publishing files and the printing press in Philadelphia, the day and date headlines that normally appear at the beginning of each day in our Preview calendar section did not appear in the January 16 issue. What did appear was a little block of white space where words such as "Thursday, January 17" should have been. Actually, Wednesday and Sunday appeared and the rest were AWOL.
We are hoping that the glitch has been corrected, but if it ever happens again, here’s what to do: the day-by-day listings always start with Wednesday, the day the issue is printed, in this case Wednesday, January 23. The first item under the date is always "In the Spotlight," our editor’s pick highlighting a particularly interesting event that day. If you must (and we’re crossing our fingers you won’t have to), simply count the "In the Spotlights" starting with Wednesday, January 23.
And, of course, bear in mind our digital event listings at www.princetoninfo.com.
I am writing in response to the letter published January 2 by Dean Christie of Delran, in which he questioned whether my story ("Fighting a Disease and Rethinking a Life," December 19) was typical, as well as whether "middle class" Americans in the "real world" would have access to the cancer treatment that I received. He stated that my saga was the "exception rather than the rule" for the typical American.
As my story indicated, I grew up in a middle class family in a middle class town in Ohio. I received my college education through scholarships, savings, and work. When Pat and I moved to New Jersey in 1974, it was a corporate move that we could not have afforded on our own. And Pat and I have certainly considered ourselves an "average" family in the town in which we have lived and worked. If I have gained any "socioeconomic/education" advantage over the years, it is not one that I was born with or given, but one that, I believe, I have worked for.
Regarding the role of my wife as caregiver, I may not have given enough credit in my story to the manager of the Coldwell Banker Princeton office and a number of the agents there who, over the past four years, have willingly given of their time so that, in Pat’s absence, we were able to service our real estate customers in a seamless fashion. I do agree with Mr. Christie that there may be cases where the role of caregiver conflicts with the ability to take time off from a job, but I have seen a large number of caregivers in the hospitals and infusion rooms. So I would expect that they are often able to make the arrangements to be with the patient when absolutely necessary.
Regarding the role of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Mr. Christie implied that I had access to resources that other patients may not have. I have talked to the director of communications at Sloan-Kettering and would like Mr. Christie to be aware of the fact that in 2006 more than 21,000 patients were admitted to the hospital and 411,160 outpatient visits were accommodated. It has also extended its reach by opening five satellite outpatient treatment centers in Westchester County, Long Island, and Basking Ridge so that it is more convenient for patients to have access. It also offers many additional community outreach initiatives (www.mskcc.org) and "since 1987 has had a financial assistance program in place to assist patients who qualify for this program. In 2006 Memorial Hospital provided more than $19 million in free care, and half of all cases in our financial assistance program resulted in zero fee determinations." This sounds to me like a cancer center that is reaching out to patients rather than limiting them. I would expect that the other major cancer centers in the area, such as the Cancer Center of New Jersey in New Brunswick, are making similar moves to support the demand.
And regarding the ability of middle class Americans to pay for cancer treatments, Mr. Christie should be aware that I am on Medicare as a primary provider, as are an additional 35 million or so Americans who are covered regardless of class. There are also millions of Americans on corporate or other medical plans. So, while we may not have universal health care in the U.S., I believe that many more Americans than he implies have access to the cancer care they need. According to the American Cancer Society Facts and Figures for 2007, "most cases occur in adults who are middle-aged or older. About 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in persons 55 and older." These are persons who are or soon would be on Medicare as a primary provider.
But we know that while Medicare is a substantial help it does not pay 100 percent of the bills. Mr. Christie should also be aware that there are payment assistance programs for people who are uninsured and underinsured. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services administers the Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program (www.state.nj.us/health/cc). I have previously commented on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering financial assistance program. And I am told that other hospitals have similar programs. So payment assistance may be available from various sources to help the "middle class" bridge the gap between Medicare coverage and the total costs of treatment.
I would agree with Mr. Christie that we are seeing an increasing immigration population that uses English as a second language. I would also share with him that an increasing number of cancer facilities have Spanish speaking people on their staff or else have their information translated into Spanish to help alleviate this situation.
I would therefore suggest that any friends of Mr. Christie who may have cancer, or any others who may have read his letter, not give up their quest for help simply because they feel that they do not fit the right "socioeconomic/education" mold, that they are "middle class," or that their "real world" status does not warrant their treatment. I would submit that there are often resources available to help, and you do have access to them.
Get the best treatment that you can. Take your cancer a day at a time and have hope.
On January 18, I had the pleasure of attending a spectacular concert in Richardson Auditorium honoring the 94th birthday of Princeton’s Bill Scheide (see U.S. 1’s January 16 issue). The Auditorium was sold out, and we were treated to the music of Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, played by the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie and brilliantly conducted by Mark Laycock.
This wonderful concert again demonstrated the power and artistry of maestro Laycock’s work as conductor, and once again raises the question of why the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, of which Mr. Laycock was Music Director for 21 years, so recklessly and foolishly let him go. The wild enthusiasm of the audience at the Scheide concert, and the many standing ovations given to maestro Laycock and the orchestra, clearly demonstrate what an artistic treasure Mr. Laycock has been in the world of classical music and the eagerness with which Princeton audiences would welcome him back.
I call upon the trustees of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra to reverse the decision they made in the spring of 2007 and return Mark Laycock to his well-earned place as Music Director of the Princeton Symphony. It is very easy to have done the wrong thing, but it is just as easy to do what is right. I call upon the trustees of the Princeton Symphony to have the courage and the decency to undo the damage done in 2007 and reinstate Mark Laycock as Music Director.
The Symphony’s musicians and its audiences eagerly await his return: all that the trustees need to do is ACT.
Marvin Harold Cheiten
I would like to express my appreciation to the people who came out for the 2008 Princeton Environmental Film Festival held January 2-6 and January 12 at the Princeton Public Library. It was an opportunity to watch films and talk with filmmakers as well as activists, architects, farmers, scientists, students, teachers, writers, and others who are focused on promoting environmentally responsible and innovative agriculture, architectural design, business practices, community building, and new energy technologies. We had a thoughtful dialogue and shared ideas about both the need to and the benefits of building an environmentally healthy and sustainable local and global environment.
Thanks to the Horizon Foundation for funding, U.S. 1 for its feature article on the festival, and to volunteers from businesses and individuals and organizations in the community. Last but not least thanks to the filmmakers who have created and offered compelling and enlightening films. The lists of films and books with environmental themes in the Princeton Public Library collection, as well as environmental resources, are online at www.princetonlibrary.org/peff.
I am happy to answer questions about how to get copies of films and public performance rights for screenings by schools, libraries, and other community organizations; please contact me at 609-924-9529, ext. 247 or by E-mail at email@example.com.
For additional information about getting involved in environmentally sustainable actions visit the Whole Earth Center on Harrison Street, and contact the Princeton Environmental Commission: www.sustainableprinceton.org.
Teen Services Librarian,
Princeton Public Library
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