Tag Archives: cancer

Triggers and Charlottesville: From the Whys to the Whats?

14 Aug

Triggers and Charlottesville:

From the Whys to the Whats?

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

When my son was diagnosed with childhood leukemia, I learned of a theory being studied to answer the question “Why?”

The thought behind the theory was the potential for cancer resides in many of us. Like a bullet, it rests harmlessly among the billions of cells from which we are comprised. At some point, an event occurs that “cocks the trigger.” Perhaps exposure to something in our food, or in the air.

In our case, we wondered if one of those inane plastic toy figures – like the soldiers in a box – that had fallen onto the baseboard heating unit in my son’s bedroom, was the trigger. We awoke in the dead of night to our fire alarms screaming, and dense oily smoke layering the upper half of his bedroom. The figurine had caught on fire. By the time we were awakened and I burst into his room, he had certainly breathed in the caustic smoke.

Or, perhaps it was the location of an electric power station, not half a block away. Studies were being done at the time on the effect of electromagnetism at a cellular level.

We wanted – needed – an explanation.

Why?

That question was never answered. Our attention, however, turned from the why to what we could do about his condition. At least that question had some answers.

Segue to Charlottesville and the conflagration that occurred over the weekend. Not so dissimilar from discovering you have cancer. And more readily predictable – especially the trigger theory part.

I wonder if Robert E. Lee were able to comment on the events of Saturday, what he would say. Lest he be cast as the trigger of this event, here are some of his recorded thoughts that contradict the fascist positions of the Alt-Right and the KKK:

  • In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral & political evil in any country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages.*
  • We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of anyone. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it is the path to peace and honor.*
  • What a cruel thing war is… to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.*
  • I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.*

*www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertele753002.html

This is not, in my opinion, a conflict of anything but fear, hate, and a reckless loathing of anyone who differs from those who believe in White Supremacy. It smacks of a position that runs inexplicably across economic and educational stratification. And, it is not random.†

It is taught. It is the we/they mentality that boggles common sense. And it has been an underlying tear in this country’s fabric since the beginning. It cannot be legislated away. It metastasizes wherever separate but superior exists. It incubates for decades – for generations – until it erupts in events like Jim Crow, Selma, Watts, Charlottesville.

In the musical South Pacific, Lieutenant Cable addresses racism (Oscar Hammerstein, II) through the lyrics of You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

The song, according to an article by Andrea Most that appeared in Theatre Journal in October 2000, was the “trigger” for lawmakers in the state of Georgia to introduce legislation outlawing any entertainment that contained “‘an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.’[2] One legislator said that ‘a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.’[2] Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener, upon whose stories South Pacific was based, recalled, ‘The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.’”**

**Andrea Most, “‘You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught’: The Politics of Race in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific” Theatre Journal 52, no. 3 (October 2000), 306.

In the cancer analogy, the triggers appear to be anything that threatens fearful people. And what is triggered seems to be anger and resentment at losing something that was once thought to be innate – the “superiority” of one race, one religion, one political spectrum.

From the beginning of time our ancestors have unknowingly set the stage for what occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend. Carefully taught to hate all the people your relatives hate. It is not in the DNA.

What are you and I going to do about it?

 

†In holding on to that anger and resentment, nothing can be accomplished in the way of progress – certainly not resolution. A mentor once used the illustration of how monkeys used to be caught. A clear glass cider jar was “seeded” with peanuts, and a rope tied to its finger ring near the opening, which was tied to a stake. Seeing the peanuts, the monkey would easily slip its paw through the opening to grab a peanut, balling its fist to hold the treat. When the monkey tried to pull his hand out, his fist was too large to come out of the opening. Because the monkey would not let go of his prized peanut, he was easily captured. The simple moral is we are captured by our own stubbornness to hold onto things we ought to let go.
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Graham’s Story, Part Five

28 Jul

Graham’s Story has drawn the most number of views from the most numbers of countries than anything else I have posted before. I am not surprised. My hope is that many are informed, and that many are encouraged as a result.

— L. Stewart Marsden

Greensboro News & Record, vol.75 no.350 December 16, 1982

Last July, 3-year-old Graham Marsden was diagnosed as having leukemia. Skip Marsden, his father, has written this series to tell his family’s story.

Graham's StoryPart 5:

The Treatment:

Alphabet Soup Of Medication

By Skip Marsden, Special to the News & Record

During the first 90 days of Graham’s treatment for leukemia, he has been in hospital on an inpatient basis for 21 days, has been given over 20 different kinds of drugs, has undergone five bone marrow tests and three spinal taps, has had at least 30 blood tests and 10 urinalyses, and has seen about 20 different physicians and countless nurses, physician’s assistants and various practitioners. The total cost for treatment for that time is between $15,000 and $16,000.

Chemotherapy is warfare. Concentrated, highly complex and often frustrating, a full battle is waged against cancer cells with one objective: total annihilation of the enemy. One microscopic blast cell anywhere in the body is enough to rekindle the devastating process of unbridled cell division.

The drugs are complicated. Prednisone, vincristine, L-Asparaginase, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, hydrocortisone, arabinosyl cytosine, mercaptopurine –  each administered in particular amounts, in particular sequences, with specific objectives.

Simply put, chemotherapy poisons the body – kills certain cells, or inhibits cell division, or denies cells certain proteins and vitamins. It is a delicate balance of weakening the body to the point that cancer cells become vulnerable, yet not so much so that the body cannot fend off disease and infection.

Graham’s chemotherapy is divided into three parts: Induction, Consolidation and Maintenance. The first two parts are the most rigorous, and occur during the first 20 weeks or so of the therapy. The third phase, Maintenance, is less difficult, and will cover a period of roughly 2.5 years. At the end of this time, if Graham has remained in remission, he will be taken off chemotherapy for a period of about two years, during which time regular bone marrows will be administered to ensure that he is OK. If he remains in remission without chemotherapy, he could be pronounced cured.

The purpose of the first part of chemotherapy, Induction, is to induce a remission. Remission is when no cancer cells can be found in either the blood or bone marrow. Graham was given two very strong drugs to induce remission: prednisone and vincristine. Prednisone kills lymphocytic cells, while vincristine prevents cell division in quickly dividing cells. Graham experienced a range of side effects, from moodiness and constipation to slight hair-thinning.

By August 9, Graham officially was declared in remission as a result of his bone marrow test. Maggie called me at work from the hospital with the news. That night I celebrated the victory royally!

Consolidation, the next phase, is a period in which high concentrations of drugs are administered over a span of about 16 to 18 weeks. The effort is made to destroy and/or deny the growth of any cancer cell that has managed to find a niche in the body to hide until after the chemical fireworks are over.

In comparison with the medications one is readily familiar with, these drugs are exotic and not without risk.

***

The fifth week of his treatment, Graham was given two very potent drugs plus a bone marrow. One drug, Cytoxan, attacks the nuclei of rapidly growing cells and injures them. The problem with the drug is that it attacks all fast growing cells, including normal cells – the lining of the mouth and stomach, hair cells. Graham was quite ill that night, throwing up well into the early morning.

L-Asparaginase, the other drug, was even more frightening. A series of 14 consecutive injections, one each day, were to be given. Our pediatrician in Greensboro had agreed to administer the drug. At Duke, Maggie was given several boxes of L-Asparaginase to deliver to him.

L-Asparaginase, acts specifically in starving leukemic cells of a protein necessary for cell division. Normal cells have the ability to synthesize the protein and are affected by the drug for a short time.

She was told at Duke that there possibly could be a very rare allergic reaction to the drug, but it was only moments before she left for the doctor’s office that she realized just how serious the reaction could be. Taking out one of the boxes of L-Asparaginase, Maggie read, WARNING: MAY CAUSE SUDDEN DEATH.

She tore open the box and read the accompanying medical report. The report was repeated: Allergic reactions to asparaginase are frequent and may occur during the primary course of therapy. They are not completely predictable on the basis of intradermal skin test. Anaphylaxis and death have occurred even in a hospital setting with experienced observers.

It was the kind of information one would rather not know. Driving Graham to the doctor’s office that day for treatment seemed nearly the same as playing Russian roulette.

A syringe of adrenaline was prepared prior to the shot of L-Asparaginase, to be plunged into Graham’s heart in case he reacted to the drug. The drug was given. Dr. Rubin stayed in the room with Graham, monitoring his heart rate rate and blood pressure. Thirty tense minutes of observation passed. Nothing happened.

The same scenario was repeated daily for two weeks. An allergic reaction was just as likely on the last day as on the first, but we all gradually relaxed after the first week of shots produced no negative response.

The shots were given on a rotating basis – first Graham’s right arm, then his left; then his right leg, and then his left. He complained about having to have so many shots, but he never indicated any resentment toward the doctor or us. He seemed to accept as fact that we loved him, and that the shots, painful as they were, were for his health.

Hair loss is one of the effects of chemotherapy. It is the most benign effect.
Photo by Joe Rodriguez

Hair loss came rapidly. We took Graham to look for hats to cover his balding head, and he picked out a Boston baseball cap (it was the last one on the rack, or we would have New York). Initially he didn’t want to wear the cap. Now, he would sleep with it if we didn’t insist he take it off during the night.

Our schedule for Consolidation should have ended between Christmas and the New Year. But Graham, like other leukemia patients, sometimes has to delay his chemotherapy because of problems encountered as a result of his treatment.

We began a 12-week period using a drug called methotrexate just before Halloween. The drug is given in his spinal tap on Monday, then repeated through an IV on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the attempt to root out foreign matter.

For some unknown reason, cancer cells can fool the protective barrier and enter the CNS, growing in the brain and nerve cells and causing serious problems. Unfortunately, the barrier effectively screens out the chemicals that fight cancer cells, so other means of administration of chemotherapy cannot be counted upon to keep the CNS protected from leukemic cells.

Graham reacted to the methotrexate, developing severe mouth sores. The sores caused a temperature, and he was unable to eat or drink. He soon became dangerously dehydrated. His lips cracked and bled. This occurred within a period of 36 hours, with constant contact by phone to Duke. The end result was a five-day stay at the hospital, with IVs pumping fluids back into his body and gentle treatment of the mouth sores.

***

During his latest stay in the hospital, Graham asked Maggie, “Why do I get shots all the time that make me sick?” She explained that he had leukemia, and that the shorts were necessary to make him better.

“I don’t want my leukemia to go away,” he said sadly.

“Why?” Maggie asked softly.

“Because I will get lots of shots and will get sick.” What he meant was that the cure for the disease made him feel a lot worse than the disease ever had.

This is an experience for my whole family, but more for Graham than any of us. Some say he’ll forget about the rough treatment when he is older, but I doubt it. I think he’ll remember this for the rest of his life. It’s too difficult a process for anyone to forget.

One of the products of this process is Graham himself. He is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. He has rejected none of the doctors or nurses who have treated him. He hasn’t withdrawn at all, except when he is feeling sick. He doesn’t scream when we tell him we’re going to Duke, or to Cone Hospital (although he knows those visits will mean at least a shot, and sometimes more pain).

What is happening, I think, is that a tremendously strong character is being revealed through this very tough experience, a character that will prevail long after all the shots and bone marrows and spinals are over. And that, after all, is the real hope.

Graham’s Story, Part Three

26 Jul

The following is reprinted by permission, and was originally released 30 years ago.  It is an anniversary that, at the time, I never knew we would celebrate. Please celebrate with us.

— L. Stewart Marsden

Greensboro News & Record, vol.75 no.348, December 14, 1982

Skip and Maggie Marsden discovered a year ago that their 3-year-old son, Graham, has leukemia. The Marsdens were crushed by the news. Although they always hope for Graham’s improvement, the Marsdens have coped with his illness and learned to face a new way of life. Skip wrote Graham’s Story hoping others might also benefit from his family’s experience.

Graham's StoryPart 3:

Getting To Know Leukemia:

Finally, However Faintly, A Ray of Hope Is Shining

By Skip Marsden, Special to the News & Record

Early Saturday morning at Duke, the Blood Lady awoke us, pressing Graham’s arm to take two or three vials of blood.

“I want you!” he called out to us, trying to jerk his arm from her grasp. She held tightly and pushed the needle into his skin, drawing red blood into the capsules. I couldn’t do what she does in a million years.

Dr. Joanne Kurtzburg is a small, attractive woman with large, expressive eyes and a countenance etched with sympathy and compassion.

We repeated our story to her, and she examined Graham carefully. He looked much better than the night before. Color had returned to his face and lips, and his temperature and blood pressure were nearly normal.

Kurtzburg explained that the pediatric hematology/oncology group at Duke handled all malignancies and blood disorders in child patients. Graham’s symptoms and initial blood work pointed to leukemia but a bone marrow test would have to be done for a definitive diagnosis.

“Leukemia is cancer of the blood,” she explained. “Blood cells are made in the bone marrow, and sometimes something happens to alter the normal production process.

“In leukemia, white cells reproduce unchecked. They eventually crowd out red cells and platelets and other white cells. Over a time they spill into the bloodstream.

“With few red cells to carry oxygen or food, the body becomes anemic, and tires easily. Without platelets, a patient bruises easily, bleeds readily at the gums and cuticles. There is an increased probability of infection because of the imbalance in white cells. Complications are numerous.”

Then she spoke very slowly, emphasizing each word:

“Nothing you did or didn’t do caused this to happen to Graham. He didn’t catch it from a friend or family member; it wasn’t passed on to him genetically. It would not have made any difference in his treatment whether you had detected the disease symptoms a month ago or a month from now. There is no reason to carry any feelings of guilt or responsibility.”

We already knew these things intellectually, but emotionally Maggie and I had ripped ourselves open with the unanswerable whys and what-ifs. The absolution that came from hearing someone else tell us, almost order us to disregard the inner conflict, was a great relief.

“This is going to make a tremendous change in your lives and affect everyone around you,” she said. “You’re going to have to provide strength. All other serious problems from here out are not allowed.” She smiled.

What are the chances?

“Very good. We believe the bone marrow will show he has the type of leukemia that, if you have to have it, is being treated most successfully today. Nearly 90 percent of children who have this type will go into remission.”

How long will it take to get a remission?

“About three weeks. Sometimes less, sometimes longer. Today we’ll be starting Graham on a steroid called prednisone that will kill cancer cells in his blood and bone marrow very quickly.”

What are his chances of living once he’s in remission?

“That depends on the specific type of leukemia again. I can’t say for sure, but Graham probably has the most common variety of leukemia. More research has been done in this area in terms of chemotherapy, and consequently, we’ve had greater success. About 75 percent and more of patients currently being treated for this variety of leukemia are surviving five years and longer. Beyond that, we have very little reliable data, because there are few patients from the 1975 time period and before who have survived till now. The five-year survivors are the first wave of successful patients, and they may live 10, 20, 50 years without recurring problems.”

We wanted her to tell us Graham had a 99 percent chance of living forever, I suppose. We wanted pie-in-the-sky, over-the-rainbow hope.

“We will always tell you the truth. Graham’s chances are good. Your main objective is to take this one step at a time. You will receive all the help you need, all the information you want. But for the next 90 days or so, until we have had him in remission for a considerable time and have had a chance to fire the big artillery, all bets are off.

“Things will be tough, but I want you both to provide as normal a home atmosphere as possible. Go out, and leave him with sitters. Plan vacations and visits. Resume normal activities.”

“He was scheduled to start Montessori school in the fall,” Maggie offered.

“Good! Don’t change a thing. In fact, it is mandatory that Graham go to school this fall.”

Graham and the family dog

Graham and his best friend, Tyka, take a breather. Photo by Joe Rodriguez.

As we talked, our spirits lifted. We began to see a little daylight at the end of the tunnel.

The interim between Kurtzberg’s pep talk and the bone marrow test was filled with phone calls. I called my sister, mother-in-law and minister, filling them in on the “good news” we had just received.

Graham is responding well to stabilization efforts. His color is returning to normal. The stomach pain is from spleen enlargement, and fluids and drugs are helping it return to normal. Looks like he has the best type of leukemia for chances of remission and recovery.

I called my mother and father in Georgia, where they were visiting my brother and his family. It was a tough call.

I knew what they wanted to hear – that Graham was doing well and responding to treatment, that it looked like everything would turn out alright. That’s what my father always told me, no matter what the situation. He wasn’t religious, just a die-hard optimist. So I told them everything was going to be all right. And I began to believe it.

I could tell that giving bone marrows to small children who are incapable of understanding the necessity of so much pain was something interns and nurses do not like to do. Graham picked up on the feelings even before we entered the treatment room, and began pleading, “I want you!”

He lay on his stomach. One of the nurses held his legs, another his back. I sat inches from his head, holding his hands and trying to console him.

Dr. Michael Clayton, a young intern on duty, swabbed the small of Graham’s back with a brown-colored antiseptic, then pricked the skin several times with a syringe of local anesthetic. Graham whimpered, biting down hard on his bottom lip.

Clayton then carefully positioned a large, hollow needle apparatus over Graham’s back hip bone and pushed the needle deep into the bone.

Graham screamed, “I want you! I want you! I want you!,” his face turning vivid red with pain and rage.

The bone marrow did not pull into the syringe easily. I could see the immense resistance of the marrow as Clayton strained to draw it out.

“It’s become very thick because of the blast cells,” he explained.

Finally it came – brownish-red flecked with tiny, off-white bits. The syringe was pulled out and the hole covered with a Band-Aid. I picked Graham off the table. He wrapped himself in my arms, tears and sobbing gradually subsiding.

We met again with Dr. Kurtzberg later Saturday in the conference room. Opening the door, I experienced a sinking feeling very similar to the dread I felt as a small boy being called to the principal’s office.

Kurtzberg sat at the middle of the conference table, flanked on either side by interns. On the table before her were several books. The title of the top book said it all. “The Leukemic Child.”

We sat down.

She smiled sympathetically.

“Graham has acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL for short.  The bone marrow results are conclusive. That’s the bad news. The good news, as I mentioned before, is that the prognosis for Graham is very good. He’s the right age, with the right type of leukemia. What we’re waiting for now is to find out which variation of ALL Graham has. There are three: Type T, Type B, and Common.

“We strongly suspect, because of his blood count, that Graham has Common ALL. That means that his chances for long-term remission are the very best. To determine which variation he has, a sample of his bone marrow has been sent to a special lab, and we’ll know within a couple of days. In the meantime, all information we have on Graham is being sent to the POG center in Florida, where his chemotherapy protocol will be determined.”

What is POG?

“POG stands for Pediatric Oncology Group, and is made up of several hospitals and research centers around the nation. Information on patients and treatment results is pooled and constantly shared among member institutes.

“Basically, that means that Graham will receive the same care at Duke as he would at any other of the POG institutions.”

What’s going to happen now?

“We’re in what’s called the Induction Phase, where drugs like prednisone and vincristine will be given Graham in large doses. These drugs will kill blast cells and inhibit cancer-cell division. They will help us get him into remission.

What about the side effects?

“Constipation, soreness in the jaws.The prednisone is a steroid, and will make Graham hungry; vincristine will lessen his appetite.”

How long will be on chemotherapy?

“The program is currently mapped out over a three-year period. Protocols generally have three major parts: Induction, or going into remission; Consolidation, where we try to kill every last blast cell in the body; and Maintenance, during which things become a little less hectic.

“You both are going to learn more about leukemia over the next few months than you ever thought you’d know. In fact, you’ll probably know as much as we do by the time we’re through! But first things first. Let’s get a remission, and then go on from there.”

Maggie and I took the books and returned to the room. Graham was sound asleep, his splinted arm resting on a pillow, his face relaxed in sleep for the first time in many hours. Maggie sighed deeply as she watched him, and I moved to her side and wrapped my arm around her.

“Hey,” I whispered. “Happy anniversary!”

She turned and buried her face in my shoulder, tears tracking slowly down her cheeks.

Graham and Jessica

Dr. Graham and Patient Jessica. Photo by Joe Rodriguez.

Graham’s Story — an invitation

24 Jul

Graham examines his sister, Jessica.

To those of you who have read anything on my blog in the past, I invite you to read “Graham’s Story,” a six-part reprint of articles that appeared in The Greensboro News & Record in Greensboro, NC, thirty years ago.

It is the true-life account of how my then 2+ year old son, Graham, came to be diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, and how he and our family dealt with it.

To go to Part One of Graham’s Story, click here.

Graham’s Story to post beginning July 24, 2012

23 Jul

Exactly thirty years tomorrow, on July 24, my then two-plus year old son, Graham Ross Marsden, was diagnosed with suspected cancer: acute lymphocytic leukemia, ALL, to be exact.

Today, Graham lives with his wife, Sarah, and their two dogs in Reston, Virginia. She is part of the Reston homeowners association team, and he is at a director level with Northern Virginia Family Service.

That focused period of the battle for Graham’s life, about five years, is long past. But, rereading the words I wrote for this series that appeared in The Greensboro News & Record, in Greensboro, North Carolina, brings it all back home very quickly.

I wrote the story because I had to. It was a cathartic exercise that enabled me to walk through that arduous event.  I also had the satisfaction of knowing that many other parents in similar situations, whose stories never got told, would benefit as well.

Duke Pediatric Oncology Department reprinted the stories and made them available to the parents of cancer patients.

Parts of it appeared in a remedial reader in its first edition, “The Proficient Reader,” edited by Ira Epstein and Ernest Niertatka and published in 1984 by Houghton-Mifflin. I don’t think you can get a copy of that edition anymore.

News & Record staff photographer Joe Rodriguez shot the photos for the series. His wife, Mary, presented them to me in a special book for that Christmas. I still have them. They are the shots I present with the articles.

I invite you to follow the next six blogs beginning tomorrow. One blog per Part. Each of the stories appeared on the front page of the paper over six consecutive days beginning December 12, 1982.

The response was overwhelming.

L. Stewart Marsden, July 23, 2012

The Clocks Are Ticking

20 Apr

The Clocks Are Ticking
by L. Stewart Marsden

There’s a clock
that keeps stock
of the National Debt,
Seventeen trillion so far
and counting;

There’s a clock
keeping stock
of those fallen to cancer,
nearly two million this year
and mounting.

And deaths
from drunk driving?
Over 3,000’s the toll.
A significant number:
teens’n alcohol.

One ticking
the deaths from tobacco
every six seconds one gasps,
More than 40 mil smokers since this century began
have finally breathed out their last.

Every stat that exists
is measured like this
tick-tock, some more dire than others,
As the hands circumspect, ignored, I suspect
We’re too busy to see or be bothered.

But there’s a clock
that is keeping stock
of the loss of a national treasure
and the total sums there really do scare
me and others well beyond measure.

I believe that one day
we’ll be called to repay,
in the presence of all those dear children
whose lives were forfeited when the crimes were committed
and those babies we let slip away.

This is not a politically correct poem and I’m not trying to point fingers. Since 1980, worldwide, more than 1.25 billion abortions have been performed. Didja get that? One point two-five BILLION! It is a staggering statistic! More than a billion lives lost, not to war, not to disease nor starvation, not to catastrophic natural events such as tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes. Not to accidental death. The rate, worldwide, is more than one abortion per second. However many seconds it takes you to read this poem and footnote, that’s how many abortions have been performed PLUS about half again more!

The majority of these abortions are due to unwanted pregnancies. There is a simple solution to drastically reduce these numbers: birth control. Birth control may fly in the face of many religions, but, really, what WOULD Jesus do? Then there’s the guy who says “But I want to feel it, Baby!” Then, when baby begins, the guy is content to say, “Well, I didn’t think it would happen.” The operative words here are, “didn’t think.”

But, he will be glad to drop you off at some clinic so he won’t have to “father up.” I can identify. My brain was in my penis for quite some time. When people ask me “How many kids do you have?” I have to answer honestly, “Five that I know of.”

Don’t laugh. This truth is not funny. Bill Cosby does not have a routine about abortion to my knowledge. The popular TV show, “Two and a half  Men” should not be the standard men — or women — aim for.

It’s not a pretty reality. But I’d like you, regardless on your stand on abortion or women’s rights or the sanctity of life, to click here and visit the clock I’ve referenced in the poem above. Take a look at the various data and think about them. That’s all I ask. Just think.