Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Recreation”

Labor Day – Unions… A Matter Of Life And Death

Ah yes, Labor Day.  The unofficial end of Summer.  The return to school.  A long weekend of parties and picnics.  And this year, unfortunately, a nightmare for the eastern coast of the United States and the Bahamas dealing with a major hurricane, Dorian.

Many believe that Labor Day is about just taking the day off, because you are a worker.  Officially, Labor Day is a Federal holiday, which we ALL enjoy, dedicated to the labor movement and organized labor, also known as “unions.”  That is right.  If you are anti-union, you can stop reading right now, and get to work.  Well, after you read this post, because my post today is more than just about a labor movement.  It meant the difference to me with life and death.

In November of 1988, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I was working at the time for an appliance parts distributor.  I thought I was lucky because I had health insurance.  The truth is, the insurance was not good enough.  But again, I was lucky, because I had an employer who cared.  I was not just a number, or an expense.  In today’s work culture, employees are nothing more than something to affect the bottom line.  My employer recognized that I needed better health insurance, and took the initiative and got it, because of me.  His decision however, actually benefited everyone in the company.  Everyone ended up with the better health insurance.

As time would go on, I would change jobs, and no longer in cancer treatment, I was no longer able to get any employer to give me health insurance because I was considered too much of a health risk, a liability.  That is, until March of 1997, when I was hired by a major pharmaceutical company.  As a new employee, following my probationary period, I would officially become a union member, the third generation involved in a union.  And with the benefit of being in a union, I automatically qualified for health insurance, something everyone else had denied me, because they could (at the time before the Affordable Care Act came to be).  A union health insurance plan is a “group” plan, which means that everyone gets covered.  Risks are combined with healthy individuals, and insurance companies hopefully were able to minimize their losses because of the large memberships.

So how did my union save my life?  I was roughly nine years out as a survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but my health was good.  I had gotten by without health insurance.  And for ten years after I joined my union, I remained pretty healthy.

But in 2008, I got the shock of my life, when it was discovered that the treatments I went through for my cancer, had been causing late effects that had finally developed to a point to require attention, in a big way.  I was diagnosed with a “widow maker” heart blockage caused by radiation therapy I had received eighteen years earlier.  Were in not for the great health coverage I now had, and the number of tests that needed to be done on a “healthy 42 year-old”, I would have died.  Over the years since, I have had to deal with several more medical emergencies that have come up, all from my cancer past.  But without having the health insurance provided by my company and union, I would not be typing this post.

I get why people want to demonize unions.  But I strongly support unions and what they do for workers.  Think about it.  Back in the 1950’s people did not have to work three jobs to make ends meet.  Today workers struggle doing similar work to the 1950’s for salaries that in no way kept up with the rate of inflation.  And in spite of CEO’s making millions, they still force employees to work for minimum wage, or less.  Because of unions, group insurance coverage was pretty much guaranteed without being discriminated against.  And just as important, an employee had backing to prevent being reprimanded for anything other than work performance, such as chronic health issues.  Of course, unions were the ones who fought to improve working conditions, overtime rates and so much more.

And without my membership in the Steelworker’s union, I definitely would not be here, right now, paying respect to the holiday that acknowledges the labor movement.

Happy Labor Day.


“Paul’s Heart” – 50,000 Views Strong!!!

Typically, people dread Mondays.  While I do not dread them, Mondays are not my favorite day of the week.  HOWEVER, today is a great Monday!  As the counter states, “Paul’s Heart” has had over 50,000 views officially this past weekend.  Among some of the other stats that I have completely not remembered, I have published 764 posts (765 including this one).  There are 252 more posts in draft form, and hundreds that are just prompts.  And then there are more than a dozen published stories and articles that I have share on this site.  So many readers have either commented or written me with questions, situations, seeking advice, or simply just to say, “yeah, I totally get that.”

Just some of the topics that I cover regularly:

  • cancer and survivorship
  • adoption
  • parenting
  • healthcare
  • discrimination
  • parental alienation
  • education
  • bullying

I am driven by the expression, “those who cannot do, teach.”  Because I am a cancer survivor, I cannot donate blood or organs.  Because of cancer treatments, I discovered the world of adoption.  I have taken on discrimination and won.  I do not tolerate bullying at all.

But my one goal with “Paul’s Heart” has not been met yet.  Actually writing a book.  I have begun the process many times, each with a different concept or approach.  The only conclusion that I can reach as to why, is that I have not experienced yet, that one key moment that will either be the beginning, the focus, or the conclusion of such an endeavor.

In the meantime, I will keep writing about things I cannot do, but can help.  I will continue to be a voice for those that do not have the ability or confidence.  I will research and find answers, point in directions where to find answers.

I will also keep looking for, and printing guest stories from you, the readers.

From the bottom of my most grateful heart, thank you to all of you who have read, shared, and appreciated “Paul’s Heart” over the years.


Help For My Friend Danny

I am asking my readers to share this story.  It is not about money.  It is about getting my friend Danny the medical help necessary to recover from a horrific accident.  I must warn you, a picture will appear towards the end that is quite graphic, meant only to show the extent to how serious this injury is.

My friend Danny and I are from different sides of the country, and in fact, really have only met face to face one time.  But through the years, if I am counting right, going on ten years now, we have remained in touch with each other, offering laughs and support.  We share many things in common.  We both have daughters.  We both had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma many years ago.  And we both have to deal with late effects from the treatments that we were exposed to, in order to save our lives.  Many of those issues are similar as well.

One of the only differences I am aware of, and I am thankful for this, was Danny’s service in the military.  And if I am not mistaken, it was during his service that he faced his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Danny is one of the most positive people I will ever know.  He loves nature.  He spends as much time as he can with his family.  And he loves his sports.  He splits his loyalties between where he is from, and where he resides.

Of everything that Danny has been through, between cancer, issues from survivorship, his military record, nothing seems to have had as much of a permanent impact on Danny as what happened to him while attending a Seattle Mariners baseball game.

This was Danny’s view on June 5th.  And it would be the last time he would see it with perfect vision from both eyes.  A line drive foul ball struck Danny in his right eye, flush.  The picture is gruesome, and honestly, he is probably lucky that his injuries were not as severe.  A baseball thrown from a pitcher can be thrown between 80-100 mph on average.  A line drive of a ball from a bat travels much faster.  There is little time to react.

The three major sports all have some sort of protective netting to protect fans.

But the netting is only partial.  Behind the goal posts in Pro Football.  Only around the blue lines in a hockey arena on both sides of the ice.  And only behind home plate of a baseball game.  Sure as a fan, we all hope to have a shot of going home with a free souvenir like a hockey puck that gets tipped into the stands, or have a ballboy or ballgirl, toss a foul ball to a young fan.   Hockey players are sitting ducks on the bench as they wait for their turns to go out onto the ice, just as the fans behind them.  Sure the most powerful shots will be headed toward the goals, but that does not mean that a player or fan will not take a shot to the face with a puck.  Baseball is no different, as foul balls constantly head toward the player dugouts at crazy speeds, with the fans unprotected just beyond those dugouts.  But history shows, only until a tragedy hits, does any of the big three professional sports do anything to make good or prevent.  For hockey, it took a girl being killed.  Just a few weeks ago, a national story broke the hearts of everyone, when a little girl was hit in the head by a fly foul ball.  Our hearts wrenched as the player who hit the ball, broke down in tears.  Since then, we have heard nothing.  I say we, meaning the public.

But as a friend of Danny’s, only some of us heard what happened to him.  There was no news coverage.

Honestly, I have no idea how he is even dealing with this.  The status of his vision, or the eye itself is still not determined.  Bleeding has been an issue even a week later because of medications he takes for issues related to his cancer survivorship.  Even doctors right now are baffled how to provide any relief from the pressure, the pain, and the bleeding.

The response from the Seattle Mariners?

Some momentos, get well tokens if you will.

My friend Danny does not need an autographed baseball or picture or flowers.  He needs the Seattle Mariner organization to step up and help Danny find the medical care he needs to heal and recover.  If this was one of the Mariner players, like Santana or Bruce that took a shot like Danny did to the face, you know the Mariners would spare no expense to get the player the medical help needed.

Danny has health care, including from the VA for having served our country in the Army.  But what he does not have, and the Mariners can help with, is getting him the medical resources necessary to help him recover.

It’s great that baseball teams like the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers are among the first to finally extend the safety netting down the field.  I am curious that as the Mariners at one time had talked about extending some netting, January 31, 2018 ( news) why only to extend the netting to 11 feet high to the end of the dugouts.

Danny has many friends who are supporting him emotionally, and trying to rally the Mariners to do more than what they have.  Danny needs medical help.

Besides sharing this post, your are encouraged to write to Major League Baseball commissioner  Rob Manfred, contact the Seattle Mariners via email

Most importantly Danny, know that so many are behind you.  And we are all hoping for a full recovery.  But it should not take a tragedy like this (or worse) for the Mariners or MLB to do something.

Just moments after I published this post, Danny has been informed he will lose his eye.

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