Greta Christina could use your help

UPDATE: Greta says people have responded so generously that she doesn’t need more donations. But go wish her well if you haven’t already.

Our friend and colleague Greta Christina, on the heels of losing her father, just got handed some scary bad news:

The bad news is that I was just diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I got the initial biopsy results Saturday, and met with the oncologist Tuesday.

The good news about the bad news: To the degree that there is a “good” kind of cancer, this is the good kind: well-differentiated cells, Class 1, in a body part that I have no great need of and am fine with having removed. But it’s still, you know, cancer.

Greta is one of those people who’s always looking out for other folks; since I’ve started reading her I’ve seen her lend her voice to help a number of people who are having tough times. (I was one of those people this year, dealing with misfortune not even in the same league as what’s Greta’s been handed, but she helped me anyway.)

It’s her turn now. At her blog, she spells out a few ways people can help her get through the next couple of months. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s the shortcut: you can toss her some cash you’re not using here,  or sign up for a year’s worth of monthly $5.00 donations here. PayPal links aren’t working due to session data, it would seem, but you can get there via Greta’s post.

And as long as I have the microphone in my hand, knowing that with this readership chances are high that someone else reading this is facing something similar, here’s something to read on surviving cancer that’s helped quite a few people I know when they needed some calm reason and math.


  1. marksheffield says

    Best wishes for Greta. The American Cancer Society provides the following data on endometrial cancer prognosis:

    When all cases of endometrial cancer are looked at together, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 69%. But most of these cancers are found at an early stage, which has a 5-year survival rate of over 91%. (The earlier this cancer is found, and the lower the stage, the better the 5-year survival rate.

    So there’s reason to be hopeful and optimistic.

    This is a link to my video reading of the essay by Stephen Jay Gould, “The Median is not the Message” (the same that PZ linked), produced as a message for my father when he was diagnosed with cancer.


  2. robives says

    I’m just popping over to Greta’s blog to chip in but can I just ask; what kind of 3rd world country is the US when money is one of the first things you have to worry about when you are ill !?

  3. says

    I’m just popping over to Greta’s blog to chip in but can I just ask; what kind of 3rd world country is the US when money is one of the first things you have to worry about when you are ill !?

    I won’t say that money isn’t an issue over here.
    When my mum in law had breastcancer we gave her the money to have a really good wig made. What may sound like a luxery was actually very important for her mental health and her ability to participate in life without screaming “Cancer patient!!!” at first sight. And if you’re on welfare you’re stuck with the run-over racoon.
    When my aunt fell sick with lung-cancer money was an issue because she just can’t work anymore and it took time before she got disability. But it was no “I’m going to be starving homeless on the street” issue.
    Fuck that shit

  4. grumpy1942 says

    Did the $5/mo*12 thing. Wish I could do more.

    I survived a 7cm stage 3 lung cancer. Chemo and radiation. 2002.

  5. hillaryrettig says

    Thanks Chris – I have a relative who got a bad diagnosis this week and was trying to explain the statistical stuff, but SJG does it better. So this came right on time.

  6. carlie says

    And the big take-home from that article is that 78% of the people filing bankruptcy due to medical bills had health insurance. It’s not just that there are a lot of uninsured people in this country, it’s that the insurance that does exist sucks as well.

  7. khms says

    To give a slightly different perspective on this (and I don’t mean to say that any poster before me was wrong), when my sister died from cancer a few months ago, we had to refuse the inheritance because it was pretty much nothing but related bills, in spite of her having fine health insurance – she went with “alternate medicine” and related woo. Insurance doesn’t help much with that stuff.

    In fact, the way she borrowed money and didn’t pay it back, not telling why she needed one loan after the other, was similar enough to drug (or gambling) dependence that that was what I (wrongly) suspected. Is there such a thing as woo dependence?

    (For contrast, both parents and I have probably gotten a lot more money from health insurance than we ever paid in (let’s see – one diabetic epileptic, one broken spine, and one more diabetic), and apart from a short time when mother was in the hospital at the other end of the republic and I still had to figure out how to work with her double insurance (state and private) to make them fork over a quarter million Deutsche Mark, health money was never a problem.)

  8. badgersdaughter says

    This is the single biggest reason that made me change my politics from conservative to liberal. The just society, and its obligation to support its members. The failure to support one person in need is the failure of the entire society.

    I have health insurance and I still have bills I am worried about paying. The providers can bill me whatever they want, whether it is correct or not, and I’m on the hook for whatever they say. I have insurance. I have a good job. And I’m worried I can’t renew my prescriptions next month.

    When will this end and we get some decent care? Isn’t “the general welfare” what a functioning government is for?

  9. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    While medical treatment itself is largely free in the UK, the government is currently embarked on a vicious attack on sick and disabled people, who are all being “reassessed” for their fitness to work. If judged fit, they are shifted to a different (and of course lower) benefit, and if they fail to jump through numerous “genuinely looking for work” hoops, even that will be cut. People with multiple disabilities, serious psychiatric illness, and even terminal cancer have been judged “Fit for work” by Atos, the scumbag company to which the interviews have been contracted. A high proportion of their judgements are overturned on appeal, but may simply be repeated at a new interview.

  10. allencdexter says

    ” Isn’t ‘the general welfare’ what a functioning government is for?”

    Not when it means the millionaires and billionaires who have hijacked our country might have to do with fewer exotic vacation homes or financially obscene vacations. You see, all they have to do is attach that hated catch-all term “socialism” to anything that includes their hyped “christian” concern and love for their fellow man, and it suddenly becomes the greatest of all evils and satanic.

  11. quine says

    Regarding the Gould article, I believe the part about attitude and cancer has been debunked (it seems like this idea peaked in the late 70s and the article was written in 1985).

    Attitude clearly matters in fighting cancer…. in general, those with positive attitudes … tend to live longer.

    Based on what we know now about how cancer starts and grows, there is no reason to believe that emotions can cause cancer or help it grow.

    American Cancer Society

    Among other effects, this belief allows society to blame the victim for having caused the cancer (by “wanting” it) or having prevented its cure (by not becoming a sufficiently happy, fearless, and loving person).

  12. Sastra says

    Yeah, I was going to make the same point as quine at #20.

    Attitude clearly matters in fighting cancer. We don’t know why (from my old-style materialistic perspective, I suspect that mental states feed back upon the immune system). But match people with the same cancer for age, class, health, socioeconomic status, and, in general, those with positive attitudes, with a strong will and purpose for living, with commitment to struggle, with an active response to aiding their own treatment and not just a passive acceptance of anything doctors say, tend to live longer.

    Statistically speaking, Gould is wrong here … an argument he would appreciate. We have new and better data than he had. The “materialist perspective” is not challenged by the science. It’s only challenged by the general public.

    Attitude won’t change the progress or ultimate outcome of your cancer. It only makes a difference there in that it helps to have a positive attitude about taking your meds (or doing research to make sure the diagnosis and recommendations are appropriate.) Emotions alone will not “boost the immune system.”

    A few months later I asked Sir Peter Medawar, my personal scientific guru and a Nobelist in immunology, what the best prescription for success against cancer might be. “A sanguine personality,” he replied.

    But Medawar might still be right: it depends on what you mean by “success against cancer.” Quality of life still counts. A sanguine personality will help you be sanguine towards whatever you have to go through, and whatever result you get. Being calm, happy, and positive is valuable for its OWN sake.

    Just because thinking good thoughts won’t have a particular physical effect doesn’t mean that the emotional effect (if you want to put it in those terms) doesn’t matter. Of course it WILL have a physical effect, too. It may just not be targeted on the specific spot you’d really, really like it to influence.

    I have a lot of hope for a happy outcome for Greta, given what she wrote. But my hope isn’t sending her any “positive energy” to fight her cancer. Expressions of sympathy — and cash — go further.