Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Website publishes Woody Weingarten's fake interview with himself and his granddaughter

I was recently surprised — pleasantly — when the Local News Matters website published a make-believe interview about Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates that I conducted with myself and my granddaughter, the fantasy’s co-authors. 

Here’s a link to my shameless promotion, especially for those who enjoy a touch of whimsy or silliness: bit.ly/3pzw0xQ

Illustration by Joe Marciniak
In case you've missed my earlier blog items, our kids' book, written by two people 70 years apart in age and aimed at children 6 to 10, features a sorcerer, two fairies, spells, unicorns, and a magic carpet.

Among its highlights are an eight-year-old fairy winning her division of the Unicorn Racing Championships, baby chicks singing jazz instead of cheeping, a wizard making robot movie characters less scary, and two girls wanting to stop thunder-and-lightning storms, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes all over the planet.

More information is available at my new website — woodyweingarten.com

Incidentally, if any of you have already bought and read the book, I’d really appreciate your reviewing it on Amazon and Goodreads. 

Not incidentally, even though we’re already a couple of weeks into 2022, I wish you all the happiest new year you’ve ever experienced, one crammed with whimsy (faux and real).

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Experts say pandemic lockdowns caused increase in advanced cancers by curtailing screenings

Covid-19 apparently is responsible for many cancers dangerously advancing, physicians have warned, because the pandemic caused a large drop in screenings.

The main reason, according to a recent story in The New York Times by Reed Abelson, is that mammograms and other tests to detect potential cancers were canceled or severely delayed by lockdowns, an action that may have led to undiagnosed malignancies.

"Waves of surging Covid cases," the article says, "shuttered clinics and testing labs, or reduced hours at other places, resulting in steep declines in the number of screenings, including for breast and colorectal cancers, experts have said."

The Times piece quotes Dr. Lucio N. Gordan, president of the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, one of the country's biggest independent oncology groups, as saying that there is "no question…that we are seeing patients with more advanced" cancers.

Dr. Patrick Borgen
The "fear of Covid was more tangible than the fear of missing a screen that detected cancer," reports Dr. Patrick I. Borgen, chief of surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where he also heads its breast center, the story adds.

Borgen believes healthy people "stayed away to avoid contagion," the piece notes.

And when clinics and other places reopened, it goes on, "some patients…could not easily get an appointment because of pent-up demand. Others skipped regular testing or ignored worrisome symptoms because they were afraid of getting infected or, after losing their jobs, they couldn't afford the cost of a test…even patients at high risk because of their genetic makeup or because they previously had cancer have missed critical screenings."

Dr. Barbara L. McAneny
The Times article also quotes Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, past president of the American Medical Association and chief exec of New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants, many of whose patients stayed away, even if they did have insurance, because they couldn't afford the deductibles or co-pays. 

"We know cancers are out there," she reportedly says. "We're seeing that, particularly with our poorer folks who are living on the edge anyway, living paycheck to paycheck."

More information about screenings can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Writer says kids' fantasy will 'become a childhood classic' and calls it 'multigenerational magic'


A story in last week's Pacific Sun and North Bay Bohemian calls Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates “perhaps the sweetest kids’ book of the year-end possibly the decade.” The article by Jane Vick includes a reproduction of the cover, with a caption headlined “Multigenerational Magic,” and predicts that the fantasy “is sure to become a childhood classic.”

The plug by the Marin and Sonoma County weeklies, one traffic jam north of the Golden Gate Bridge, ensures that my co-writing granddaughter, our illustrator and I have a happy new year.

You can check it all out at https://pacificsun.com/literary-roundup-phenomenal-reads-for-2022/ or get more information from my website — woodyweingarten.com

My granddaughter and I, close despite a 70-year difference, had oodles of fun collaborating on the whimsical book, which features a sorcerer, two fairies, spells, unicorns and a magic carpet. Highlights include an eight-year-old fairy winning her division of the Unicorn Racing Championships, baby chicks singing jazz instead of cheeping, a wizard making robot movie characters less scary, and two girls wanting to stop thunder-and-lightning storms, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes all over the planet.

Joe Marciniak self-portrait
Not incidentally, the front of Grampy…, created by Joe Marciniak, was recently voted best 2021 children’s book cover design by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA).

For any of you who’ve already purchased the book and liked it, we’d love you to spread the word — via reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, via personal posts on Facebook or other social media (or sharing), via anything you figure can help the get the fantasy into the hands of more children 6 to 10.

I, Woody Weingarten, have also written a book that can be helpful for patients who are facing a life-threatening disease and their caregivers (male or female) — Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

New artificial intelligence technique may be able to predict breast cancer cases, research shows

Will AI be able to transform the mammogram and "allow patients to avoid aggressive treatments and even save the lives of countless people who get breast cancer"?

Professor Regina Barzilay
According to a recent story by Steven Zeitchik in The Washington Post, Regina Barzilay, an MIT professor and artificial-intelligence expert who endured chemotherapy, two lumpectomies and radiation for that cancer, as well as "all the brutal side effects that come along with those treatments," may have found "a marriage of tech and health care that could alter millions of lives without a single drop of medicine."

The Post article reports that Barzilay and Adam Yala, a student protege, "have built an AI that seems able to predict with unprecedented accuracy whether a healthy person will get breast cancer, in an innovation that could seriously disrupt how we think about the disease."

How it works was laid out in an piece in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: "By analyzing a mammogram's set of byzantine pixels and then cross-referencing them with thousands of older mammograms, the AI — known as Mirai — can product nearly half of all incidences of breast cancer up to five years before they happen."

"If the data is validated, I think this is very exciting," Zeitchik's story quotes Janine T. Katzen, radiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine who specializes in breast imaging. It also quotes Dorraya El-Ashry, chief scientific officer for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as saying, "This is the next, very positive step forward. There is a lot of work to do. But this is very encouraging."

Meanwhile, breast cancer statistics are discouraging. "While many cancers, such as lung cancer, have been declining in the United States," the Post story says, "breast cancer rates have been going up — an annual average of half a percentage point between 2008 and 2017, according to the American Cancer Society."

More information on out-of-the-ordinary treatments can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at caregivers.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Independent publishers say cover of children's fantasy book by granddad, granddaughter is best

This whimsical cover of Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates, created by Joe Marciniak, has just been voted best 2021 children’s book cover design by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA).

The fantasy book aimed at 6- to 10-year-olds was co-authored by me, Woody Weingarten, and my granddaughter, Hannah Schifrin, who are chums despite a 70-year age difference. We had fun writing it — and are certain that youngsters will have just as much fun reading our story about a sorcerer, two fairies, spells, unicorns and a magic carpet.

Highlights include an eight-year-old winning her division of the Unicorn Racing Championships, baby chicks singing jazz instead of cheeping, a wizard who makes robot movie characters less scary, and two girls who can stop thunder-and-lightning storms, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes all over the planet.

For more information, just click on this link to my website: woodyweingarten.com.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Monsanto appeals a $25.2 million damage verdict against Roundup herbicide to Supreme Court

Monsanto has challenged a $25.2 million award to a cancer patient.

Edwin Hardeman
According to a recent story by Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle, the agribusiness giant told the Supreme Court that the damage verdict in favor of the patient, Edwin Hardeman, who sprayed Roundup on his North Bay properties "should never have gone to the jury." 

The basis of the claim by Bayer, Monsanto's parent company, is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had concluded that the herbicide, the world's most widely used, was safe.

However, an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer, had concluded in 2015, that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, "was a probable cause of human cancer, a finding endorsed by California health officials," the Chronicle piece says.

The court is expected to consider the appeal at its weekly conference Dec. 10.

Monsanto filed the appeal despite it agreeing to replace glyphosate "with another active ingredient for U.S. home and garden sales, starting in 2023, while continuing to market the current version for agricultural use," Egelko's story reports.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a May ruling that upheld Hardeman's damage award, "said the EPA's approval did not carry the force of law, and it did not preclude a judge or jury from deciding whether Monsanto had violated a California law requiring warnings against risks that are 'known or knowable.'" 

Hardeman was diagnosed with lymphoma, a sometimes fatal disease, in 2015 after having used Roundup for 26 years on properties in Galla and Santa Rosa.

A federal court jury in July 2019 found the weed-killer was a "substantial cause" of his cancer. It awarded him, according to Egelko's story, "damages for economic losses, pain and suffering and emotional distress, along with punitive damages against the company for selling a product it knew, or should have known, to be dangerous." 

The article also notes that "state courts, meanwhile, have upheld damages of $21.5 million to Dewayne 'Lee' Johnson, diagnosed with terminal cancer after spraying the herbicide as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District, and $82.2 million to Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, who sprayed Roundup on their crops for 30 years."

More information about consumer products that may cause disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Grandpa, grandkid publish 'Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates,' fantasy book for kids 6-10

It’s been five years since I, Woody Weingarten, and my granddaughter, Hannah Schifrin, close despite a 70-year difference, finished co-writing "Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates.” But we had to wait for the marvelous full-color illustrations to be done — and 2,149 tweaks. 

The fantasy, aimed hat 6 to 10-year-olds, is now available from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Nobel and a bunch of other places. You can check out what it's all about on my new website —   http://woodyweingarten.com.

The book tells of a sorcerer who frequently must get his granddaughter Lily and her best friend Penny out of trouble when the two eight-year-old fairies mess up their magic spells. 


Readers willing to let their imaginations run wild can learn about winning a division of the Unicorn Racing Championships, baby chicks that sing jazz instead of cheeping, a wizard who can make robot movie characters less scary, and two girls who want to stop “all the thunder-and-lightning storms, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes all over the planet.”


And — you can bet on it — more, much more.


It's a fun read.

I, of course, am also the author of "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a book I aimed at male caregivers.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Unnoticed breast cancer gene found to be almost as perilous as better known ones such as BRCA

Mutations of PALB2 can raise a woman's risk of breast cancer nearly as much as better known mutations like BRCA. 

According to a recent story by Susan Berger in The New York Times, doctors "are increasingly recomending that anyone who was tested before 2014 go through genetic testing again" — to look for the PALB2 gene, which also raises a patient"s chances of contracting ovarian and pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Peter Hulick

The Times article quotes Dr. Peter Hulick, medical director of the Mark R. Neaman Center for Personalized Medicine at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill., as saying that "raising awareness with physicians and patients is critical, otherwise patients are getting an incomplete genetic assessment." 

Earlier this year, the American College of Medical Genetics and Gonomics advised that "women with PALB2 mutations be surveilled similarly to patients with BRCA mutations, and that, depending on family history, mastectomies could be an option to reduce the risk in some patients," Berger's piece reports. 

The Times article further notes that guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancert Network, as well as the genetics organization,"suggest women with the PALB2 mutation should have breast MRIs and mammograms, alternating every six months." The guidance was based on peer-reviewed evidence by a global team of experts in cancer genetics.

Hulick also said, according to the story, that "the risk of developing breast cancer was 40 to 60 percent greater among women with the PALB2 mutation, similar to the risk from BRCA." 

More informatiom about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.