The chances are fairly slim, but if I were ever to have something named after me, I would prefer a star in a galaxy far, far away — or a postcard-inducing beach — rather than an abscess.
I’m sure Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie was a rather pleasant chap who liked patting puppies and drawing unicorns — and by all reports was an outstanding surgeon and physiologist.
However, it is an interesting way to be remembered — some poor bugger’s abscess sticking out of his shin being named after you.
Today is World Cancer Day. This year’s theme is “Cancer Myths – Did you know?”, so it’s timely for me to put one prevalent cancer myth to rest.
Whether it’s someone on our Cancer Council Facebook page, our iheard myth-busting website, someone at a dinner party or a chatty taxi driver on the weekend, most of us at Cancer Council have at one time or another been asked the million dollar question: why haven’t we found a cure for cancer?
Taking it a step further are the conspiracy theorists who claim there is a cure for cancer but that the “cancer industry” covers it up. We would be delighted if cancer was eradicated overnight. Most people know someone who has had cancer – it affects one in two Australians by the age of 85 – and indeed personal experience of cancer is often a factor in people wanting to work for a cancer charity.
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Here in the oh-so-civilised West, we like to see ourselves as a rationally-minded bunch driven by reason and science.
Every winter, however, great snotty swathes of us become amateur alchemists and turn in sniffly desperation to the dark arts of Flu Voodoo.
According to the most cutting and edgy of medical research, there is no real cure for the average winter snotfest aside from a) time and b) a bit of luck.
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This is the first in a series of pieces The Punch will run featuring speakers from the upcoming Adelaide Festival of Ideas. This week, oncologist Ranjana Srivastava writes about the last days of a terminally-ill patient.
Surprisingly, it takes until mid-morning for the code blue call. The way he has declined, I would have expected him to have breathed his last by now.
Aghast at the code, I climb the stairs two at a time to get to Mr Johnson’s bed side. There he lies, surrounded by a throng of doctors, each moving to a different part of his body, to bring it back to life.
“Quick, is he breathing?” asks one. “The pulse, the pulse”, presses another, already plucking open the patient’s gown. “Mr. Johnson, wake up, wake up darling,” urges his lovely, white-haired nurse.
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A couple of Sundays ago in Port Moresby, Stephanie Copus-Campbell – the head of AusAID’s program in PNG – invited me and a colleague to accompany her on a regular Sunday activity.
Every Sunday, Stephanie goes to the local supermarket and buys $70 worth of oranges which she then takes to the AIDS ward at the Port Moresby hospital.
HIV infection rates are high in PNG and while antiretroviral drugs are available, people still come to this place to die.
This illness has gone on long enough. I can’t bear to see you suffer any more. I know you are going to say in your usual way, ‘don’t worry about me, I’ll be ok’, but it is becoming hard to see what the point of it all is anymore.
I am worried about you, really worried. You shouldn’t have to live through this. This cancer isn’t who you really are.
I really don’t think I can bring the kids again. The thought of them seeing you like this – with no hair, helpless to look after yourself, those blotches on your skin, your face screwed up in pain – is killing me.
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We all have to pay tax. And then we have to die.
These two fundamentals are well understood by most Australians - that’s what I surmise from our latest Auspoll. Somewhat astonishingly, to me anyway, a massive 76 per cent of Australians we asked this week said people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to choose euthanasia without breaking the law.
76 per cent is an extraordinary figure. It’s hard to get that for a tax cut. We thought we would find a modest majority on this question, but backing from four out of five Australians for the right to choose the timing and manner of our inevitable exit is very emphatic.
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Workers should never feel bad about taking a sickie if genuinely sick. Your first priority is you, your wellbeing and quality of life.
Unfortunately Australians are notorious for taking ‘sickie’for all the wrong reasons. If they are stuck down with flu they often choose to come to work so that they can preserve their sick leave for some non illness related purpose. This leads to increased “real” sick days by other employees whom they infect.
There are the self-proclaimed martyrs who say they never have a sick day even when they are sick. These same people often get angry at those who do genuinely take a day off.
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Sometimes you wonder whether you’re living in a parallel universe.
Like that South Park episode where Cartman is nice all the time, or in Seinfeld when Elaine meets Bizarro Jerry.
Or when the Federal Health Minister – who’s also the mother of a small child – won’t ban a toxic chemical that’s making babies sick.
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The strange thing about having swine flu is that it is more like meeting a pop culture icon than being told you’re sick.
After being examined by two doctors yesterday (the intern called for backup) I was told that I had the best accessory in the Winter 2009 collection – the H1N1 virus.
This terminology was obviously preferred by doctors who refuse to engage in the more tabloid pig or swine flu. It also would have sounded alarmist when paired with their sage advice which was basically “go back to bed and you’ll be right, young bloke like yourself” etc.
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Restaurants are defensive of their hygene in the same way that newspapers are defensive of the accuracy of their reporting. Phone up and complain and the last thing either will do is admit liability. And nowadays when people are treated shabbily they turn to the internet. Or me.
What surprises me is the number of emails and comments that come my way from diners who’ve returned home from some of Australia’s top restaurants only to fall ill. I have become, you might say, shit-central - and vomit-central - of the blog world.
The truth is for what I see is there is a good chance you may become ill eating out although not always is it the restaurant’s fault.
Apart from the food authorities in NSW, the food inspection Stasi can’t really be bothered to help diners.
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