Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

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More Than Frustrated


From November of 1988 to March of 1990, I battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For the most part, I did it alone. I felt isolated, ostrasized, and forgotten. I did without being up to participating in family functions or social events. There was no time or purpose to not focus on anything else other than beating my cancer. I am not bragging about how I got through it, nor am I looking for a medal or a chest to pin it on.

But now, after the same amount of time, I have done what I had to, to get through the Covid19 pandemic. I knew I could respect the mitigation efforts and abide by the recommendations. Again, because of my vulnerabilities, I needed to follow the efforts necessary. Just as I did with my battle with Hodgkin’s, I have been getting through Covid19 without one bitch about it.

We are now at a major crossroad. Having finally gotten a grasp on the pandemic, we are on the cusp of undoing everything that was accomplished. We have a vaccine that while it does not prevent contracting Covid19 or the ability to spread it, it does dramatically reduce the severity of the illness, and also dramatically reduces the number of deaths from Covid19. This is in spite of those who are blanketly “anti-vax”, politically inspired not to get the vaccine, legitimately concerned about the safety of the vaccine, and even those who still believe the virus is a hoax. There are still so many, and after over 600,000 dead Americans, I just do not get how you can deny it anymore.

As viruses do, Covid19 has mutated, to a much more contagious and dangerous strain. The good news is that the vaccine that was discovered seems able to protect people with almost the same level of protection. The results were obvious under the use of Emergency Authorization, we getting under 15,000 new cases per day, but even that was still too high. But considering that we were over 125,000 at one point over 200,000 new cases per day, this is not good news. This is also during a time when our country is “opening up.” We hit those high case numbers as were trying to mitigate, because we could not get enough people to care, and follow the recommendations. With the vaccinations, the numbers have finally decreased.

But this latest variant, is more contagious, and more powerful. And for those who are unvaccinated, all eyes are on us. I was included in that. I remained unvaccinated as I waited for science to catch up with just one simple study, that of immunocompromised patients. I know for a fact, that my body does not respond to vaccines without boosters. Pending the application from Pfizer, there was no protocol for a booster for Covid19. There are plenty of other fellow survivors in a similar situation as I am, they too have opted to wait. Others, have taken their chances and gotten both doses. Some of those have developed anti-bodies, some have no idea. I have made the conscious decision, not to live with the false sense of security. Plus, without the plan of a booster, two doses wasted on me could make a booster ineffective if too much time in between.

Here is the deal. There are more results from the vaccine than normal testing with the amount of people having received it, than would normally be studied. The fact is, the vaccine is safe. And while the beaurocratic process is the only thing that stood in the way of full approval (dealing with licensure), a full approval would at least chip away at one part of the population who has not been vaccinated. But the other notable fact, is that scientists have said, at the time, for the fully vaccinated, boosters were not necessary. Again, that did not address situations like mine.

So, with the exception of the first few months where I pretty much avoided everything public, I have learned to “live” among the Covid19 world. I have my ways of dealing with crowds, and unfortunately, those who feel the need to judge my concerns for my well-being. As an unfortunate meme came across my wall, bragging that they had gone 444 days without following mitigations, and still do not get Covid19, they failed to address the meme with, “but did they know anyone else who was not as lucky?” Chances are pretty good, not likely.

As for me, with the approval of the 3rd dose for the immuno-compromised, I did in fact begin the process. No surprise, it has been confirmed the vaccine did not work at all. I have no antibodies from either the vaccine, nor exposure. Again, I expected this. I am hoping that when I get the second dose, there will be at least a little bump from antibodies, because if not, then a 3rd dose will not necessarily guarantee anything for me. The bottom line, I will still have to take the precautions I have this entire time. Some call it “living in fear”. I call it living smart.

Here we are, the country pretty much back to normal operations, pre-pandemic. Most mitigations no longer in place except where federally allowed or privately owned, yet, still we have too many insisting for their own selfishness, that the mitigations should no longer be in place, some losing their minds to the level of public confrontations. A good portion of the US population has been vaccinated, so we are nowhere near where we need to be for “herd immunity.”

A clear line has been discovered though with the vaccine, and it is a political line, politics over science. With so many refusing to get vaccinated over politics or anti-vaxx stance, it is not hard to see the increasing of cases of the new variant in the US. One glaring fact has been discovered. Over recent weeks, all deaths attributed to Covid19, were all unvaccinated victims. Hospitals again are seeing Covid19 populations explode, but again, in certain areas. One only has to look at the political makeup of a state, and you can guess, and then confirm, where the increase in cases is coming from. Florida, where I reside, is one of those states.

There was a comment made on my last post, which will not get published, as it contains clear false information, but needless to say, the writer disagreed with me, and by me, I mean the facts of agreeing with science and the processes involved.

As I said, we are at a crossroad at this point, and it is clear that the two roads are vaccinated and unvaccinated. And at this point of the pandemic, I am pretty sure we are seeing Charles Darwin’s theory of natural evolution play out. Those who have been vaccinated, will survive, even in the event of Covid19 breakthrough cases and likely variants, simply because we are trusting the process of science. And those who will choose to remain unvaccinated, will either survive natural exposure, or they will not. But the reasons behind the “will not” is what will prove Darwin correct.

I have lost countless acquaintances and friends to Covid19, and so many more having survived their infection. The number of people I am aware of that have not had Covid19 is shrinking, but still includes me. Tragically, I have lost a family member to Covid19. I am frustrated by the continued attempts of some to lessen the severity of this virus, comparing it to others and such, and for that reason, I am not repeating those kook conspiracies, because I believe that the more they get repeated, the more life keeps getting breathed into them.

Like I said, we will get to the end of this pandemic. It is a question now at this point, what will be the total of the unvaccinated who will die because of false beliefs and stances they chose to take, and lost. They are not patriots. They are not following “God’s will.” If you die from Covid19, and the reason you did so was because you chose not to get vaccinated (and I made sure to use the word chose out of respect for those who are unable to get vaccinated due to medical conditions), you are fools.

SQUIRREL!


In the movie up, the canine character, named “Doug,” is easily distracted by furry rodents, and lets us know in the movie, stopping his conversation mid-sentence, yelling “SQUIRREL!” focusing his sole attention on the squirrel, forgetting what he was in the middle of.

In 2009, I made a conscious decision, to enter local politics as a school board candidate. I had no experience as a politician, and the only personal connection that I had with government at that point, was that as a house page for the capital of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania when I was in 7th grade for Representative Joe Zeller. My platform for school board was clear and not political. My campaign would be about “anti bullying.” Sure, there would be other responsibilities associated with the position if I would get elected, but this was what was most important to me, at least in the beginning.

I would get scolded by both members of political parties as I was an independent, stating proudly, “because I hate politics and politicians.” But if I was going to give up a major part of my personal life time, I was going to make sure that I got done what was important, and not get tied up in the politics.

Even the campaign signs would reflect this was not about politics for me. I was willing to represent everyone. After all, bullying in schools had nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. After testing the waters for approximately a year, an official campaign was kicked off. And in true political fashion, it was not soon after, the political attacks came out all of us. Again, keep in mind, I had no political history, but that did not stop innuendo and rumors from getting tossed around. In fact, one of the incumbent’s mailers, actually depicted a picture of a gun, accusing myself and my campaign mates of committing “robbery” in the form of taxes. Offensive as it was, they were proud of their effort, shocking bragging about it in televised interviews.

I expected ugliness, just one of the reasons I hate politics and politicians. But it was the morning of election day that threw me for a loop. Unbeknownst to myself or my campaign, two days prior, an individual had circulated a flyer, by himself, in the parking lot of his church, a large Catholic church, listing all of us on our school board slate, making claims that we all supported abortion.

The issue of abortion had absolutely nothing to do with the school board director position really, because a policy already existed with the school district, pretty straight forward, and I supported it. But as none of us felt abortion had anything to do with the office we were campaigning for, we never discussed it. The fact is, I do not talk about my position publicly, and for the most part, privately.

But that morning, as I began my tour visiting elections polls, the very first voter I ran into, without even saying “good morning” to me, just blurted out, “what’s your position on abortion?” And as I tried to explain that abortion had nothing to do with our campaign, that we had a platform in great detail, it soon became clear, that instead of actually dealing with issues of the district, this last minute distraction, a “squirrel” was going to end up being a serious concern as that would become where the focus would end up.

A couple of years later, we were more prepared for the “abortion” position during the election, as nothing had changed on our part or our platform. But we were better prepared to deal with this distraction.

This kind of thing happens in all realms of politics, whether local, state, or federal. It is why I hate politics. Because this crap is what keeps things from getting done. This year has a new “squirrel,” “critical race theory,” or “CRT” for short. This one is a major “boogie man,” but is actually not new. Many years ago, something similar came up, but it did not have the controversial name. But the motive was clear. One political party, the Republican party, felt it no longer wanted black history taught in schools. Why? Because they felt it reflected poorly to teach our children just how ugly our past was, and that was starting our kids off with a bad attitude.

And honestly, it is not that black history was actually being taught in our schools in great detail to begin with. Sure, there were small mentions about slavery and Lincoln freed the slaves, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That was pretty much all I remember, and that was back in the 1980’s. It was not until over forty years later, that like many, I would learn about the Tulsa massacre, Juneteenth, and other dark historical events of the US in regard to black history. And that is all this is about, teaching history. But just as “affirmative action” was actually meant to help produce some racial equality, for many, it actually had the opposite effect. And those that were against it, are also likely against CRT today. And why?

We should all be upset with the senseless murders of unarmed black individuals, so many to mention. Instead, many, especially CRT supporters are quick to make excuses for the murders, putting the blames on the deceased. And because support for the victims has reached global levels. And this has made certain members of society feel uncomfortable. So the heat gets turned up to slow down and/or eliminate this support. And this is where CRT has become this year’s boogie man if running for public office. The problem is, the average voter has no idea what CRT actually is, and politicians do not either, or just simply do not care. They have found their platform to get votes.

My former running mates found out this year, this is their “abortion” issue to deal with this campaign. CRT. And what is actually being done with it? The CRT controversy has made its way all the way down from the federal level to the local level. Those hearing the cries have no idea what CRT even means, but give it their full attention because leaders tell them it is the worst fears coming true. The politicians taking advantage of this fear, are planning on riding everyone’s ignorance to either a new term or re-election.

But what if CRT was actually nothing about nothing? No, there is such as thing as critical race theory. But its literal purpose is directed toward the law, and therefore mainly taught in colleges if available at all. But certain politicians want us to believe it is happening in our schools, from grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. Politicians and spokespeople on certain networks pushing this fear want us to believe that:

  • a religion of secularism and guilt (a device meant to make whites feel quilty)
  • denial of critical thinking
  • working to change or overthrow infrastructure
  • overturn the advances of human civilization
  • teaching to hate the United States and to hate each other
  • anti-Christ indoctrinations
  • destroying society using gender, climate change and immigration
  • and even the Freudian Oedipal complex has been referenced with mixed race marriages

I have two daughters still in school, and I assure you, that none of this garbage is even being mentioned in school. I have asked them, what they do get taught as far as race goes, and I have been told “some history,” such as slavery, the Civil Rights movement, but really only as “matter of fact” or honorable mention. Nothing in great detail. There is no issue with teaching world history and the atrocities that other nations have in their past from the Holocaust to the war in Yemen just to name two.

But here, in the good ole ‘Murica, we have our own dark past with Native and black Americans just to name two races to this day, still facing hurdles, harassment, and violence. What is the big fear of teaching things such as:

  • the slave trade
  • slave holding
  • the Emancipation Proclamation
  • the Great Immigration
  • Juneteenth
  • 1919 Elaine Massacre
  • redlining
  • poll taxes
  • Jim Crow
  • segregation
  • the Little Rock Nine
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • the Kerner Commission
  • reconstruction
  • lynching
  • Opelousas, Louisiana
  • Colfax Massacre
  • Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
  • Emmett Till
  • The Creole Rebellion
  • April 1712 Revolt
  • Rosa Parks
  • Greensboro Four
  • The Civil Rights Movement

And that is not even all when it comes to black history in the United States. Everyone is to be assumed they know who Martin Luther King, Jr. is, so no need to teach about him either right? But what about other races? The Trail of Tears (Native American History), violence against Italians and Irish, and of course, Asian Americans, who most recently have been targeted because of the false correlation with Covid19 just because politically the false premise was pushed by some.

We are a great country, one of the best. But we also have an ugly past, which clearly certain aspects continue today. And it has nothing to do with CRT that politicians are pushing to scare everyone, because blocking the education of our nation’s past is not enough, we simply still have people who believe in the ways of the past. And every time there is a discovery of a mass grave site, a murder of an unarmed black person, swastikas painted on a synogogue, or an Asian American is assaulted because the perp cannot differentiate between science and racism, every time, it is going to be because we did not learn from our history that these acts are wrong. Those of us who have learned, have no problem denouncing the violence against any human being, regardless of color or race. We have no problem calling it out by name, because we learned that it was wrong. Those in our personal lives also knew that it was wrong, but unfortunately, there are still those in households who still believe the year is 1950. And it is their thoughts that have been passed down to the generations pushing the boogie man of CRT.

Teachers are not teaching the horrific things that were mentioned above from the particular network. And they barely get to teach history at all and that was before all the attacks on them from politicians, and now angry parents who most do not even know why they are pissed off about it.

But the argument against CRT, is a quick and easy talking point for politicians to use for their campaigns. In the end, nothing will have changed, but people will have been foolishly scared to vote a particular way. And that is unfortunate.

In Recognition Of World Cancer Day


Today is World Cancer Day, established back in 2000.  It is a day that many cancer patients and survivors take time to recognize, that they are not alone in their fight.  It is a day of hope for awareness and support.

I am approaching my 31st year in remission of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma next month.  I am the lone survivor of cancer of four other family members, who faced other forms of cancer.

In my decades of survivorship, I have been blessed not only with longevity in spite of cancer, I have met literally thousands of other cancer survivors in one form or another.  I am even fortunate to know of other survivors who are decades ahead of me in lifespan.

I have witnessed the progress of diagnostics, treatments, follow-up protocols, as well as the increase in rates of survivorship.  In less than 30 years, my modes of treatment are considered obsolete.

I have faced my share of health issues that are caused by my treatments from long ago.  But that has not stopped me from living life.  I do what I am able and I enjoy it.  Sure I miss many of the things that I used to do, but I have found other things to do instead.

But my biggest blessings are my daughters, my reason for every tomorrow I get to experience.

I have not only gotten to become a father, I have been able to watch them grow.  And now, I prepare to witness their next phases of their lives.  I never take this for granted.

I have also experienced my share of sorrow as I mentioned multiple family members I have lost, but also friends and other acquaintances.

No matter where you are in the world of cancer, a patient, a survivor, a caregiver, or if you have been someone fortunate to never have been touched by cancer, please keep everyone in your mind and hearts, not just on this day, but every day.  No struggles are the same, and successes are not necessarily guaranteed.  That is why we have to capitalize each possible moment we have with each other.  Because it can all change with three simple words… “you have cancer.”

In closing, I found some inspirational quotes that I would like to share on this day, that I found on the web site, IndiaTVnews.com:

“Working out is my way of saying to cancer, ‘You’re trying to invade my body; you’re trying to take me away from my daughters, but I’m stronger than you. And I’m going to hit harder than you.” – Stuart Scott

“There’s no one way to tell how our experiences change us or shape us. Not all transformations are visible. What I’ve learnt is to never let it hold me back. I’d rather dress up and show up!” –Sonali Bendre

“Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me.” – Ingrid Bergman

On this day, those who are now facing cancer, perhaps just diagnosed, you can get through this.  For those who are close to completing treatments or have done so, YOU DID IT!  For those in remission, I say this, a popular expression I have used over the years, “as I continue down the road of remission, I will keep looking in my rear view mirror to make sure that you are still following me.”  And for those who have longevity greater than mine, you are my true inspiration for not only lays ahead for me, but drives me to want that as well.

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