Sunday, March 9, 2014

Shame On AARP

As a reluctant senior, I find that I read the AARP magazine and their bulletin getting a perverse pleasure in seeing who else is getting older too! Who can forget getting their very first AARP invitation at 49 ½ and thinking, NO! I can't be that old!!! AARP? Its a sobering thought to realize in a very few months you will be considered, at 50, to be a senior.

However, as I have written earlier, I am recovering from prostrate cancer surgery, something I find no man wants to talk about. They need to check out the statistics in the letter below for a sober reality check. I can't even begin to express my outrage when I started reading the AARP Bulletin yesterday that came in the mail. One of the tests they pooh pooh was a PSA check, something that has only been available since only the mid-90's and saved or at least extended many a man's life. They included 9 others as well, many I sadly must admit I was also familiar with and that have kept me  and I have no doubt many others alive.

Here is my letter to the CEO of AARP. If you haven't read the article, "10 Tests To Avoid" by Elizabeth Agnvall,  I urge that you do. I also hope that, like me, you express your concerns about printing such material in the face of the facts. The address is here I hope you use it!

Mr. A. Barry Rand, CEO

601 E Street, NW

Washington DC 20049

Dear Mr. Rand,

I just read the recent article in the AARP BULLETIN – “10 Tests To Avoid.” Shame on AARP for printing such an article.

I am in the process of recovering from prostrate cancer surgery. I am 68. In January of 2013 I had my normal physical exam that included a DRE (digital rectal exam) and a PSA test. While my PSA was a little elevated at 3.8 my doctor was not worried. However, because of what turned out to be colitis, a blood test in August showed that my PSA had climbed to 4.2. My doctor became concerned and referred me to a urologist. In my September exam he found a lump. A biopsy was scheduled and on my 68th birthday I found out that I had prostrate cancer. It was T2B with a Gleason score of 8 meaning it was very aggressive.

After many meetings with doctors, reading and yes praying, I finally decided to have surgery through the City of Hope, here in Southern California, in January 2014. While the pathology report was generally good there may have been a breach of the capsule. When I asked my surgeon about time, “So I didn’t have much time to decide then?” “None,” he replied. Now I am in watchful waiting. There is a 40% chance the cancer will return in 5 years. I would receive radiation.

Going to a cancer group I have discovered many stories such as this. A young person with cancer that oftentimes by a fluke was discovered. I guess the author of that article hadn’t done much research. Here are some facts to ponder:

Estimated New Cancer Cases in 2014

                                                            MEN                            WOMEN
Colon Cancer                                      71,830                         65,000
Lung Cancer                                        116,000                       108,210
Breast Cancer                                                                          232,670
Prostrate Cancer                                  233,000

Of male prostrate cancers, 98,010 will be younger than 65, 135,000 will be older.

Estimated New Cancer Deaths in 2014

                                                            MEN                            WOMEN
Colon Cancer                                      26,270                         24,040
Lung Cancer                                        86,930                         72,330
Breast Cancer                                                                          40,000
Prostrate Cancer                                  29,480

As a patient with stenosis of the lower back and with a blood disorder that has caused two massive pulmonary embolisms, I am also familiar with several of the other 10 steps to avoid. In fact, if it wasn’t for most of those very tests to avoid, I wouldn’t be alive.

As you can imagine that when the cancer word was uttered I hunkered down and read everything I could on the subject, something your author clearly did not. ALL men should be checked by the age of 50 though a dear friend was just diagnosed at 48. African American men should start at 40 as they have the highest prostrate cancer rate of all races. Any man with a family history should be checked from the age of 40. These two tests, the PSA and DRE can save many men’s lives.

Listening to survivors, so far, of breast cancer, they tell similar stories. They went in yearly and then missed a year. When they went back the cancer was there.

Americans are so averse to doing what can be done to prevent something. They are very good at attempting to fix what is broken. How can anyone, especially a professional, say that tests are not needed when the cost to cure cancer must be what, 10 times the cost of prevention or early discovery?

After reading this article, I now question the validity of AARP, what it stands for and how they represent me. I have a feeling that AARP has become just another regulatory agency that instead of protecting the public protects the people it was meant to police.

Please remove me from your rolls. I don’t need to read or be involved with clap track such as this. I was a journalism major many years ago and the author of this piece would have gotten a D- at best for such research in any of my classes. To have you feature such an article is beyond the pale.


Alan Krug

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