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 —

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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Actor Jeff Bridges, hospitalized five weeks, beats both Covid and lymphoma at virtually same time

Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges says his getting Covid made his lymph-system cancer seem like "a piece of cake."

According to recent online HuffPost story by Mary Papenfuss, Bridges — who survived has both the virus and the lymphoma, which is now in remission — thought he was "gettin' close to the pearly gates."

Jeff Bridges, wife and Oscar
The 71-year-old thespian said on his handwritten blog that he contracted the coronavirus during his cancer treatments, which ultimately — and dramatically — shrunk a 9x12-inch tumor "to the size of a marble."

The pandemic, Papenfuss' article states, caused him "moments of tremendous pain" causing him to cry out  "throughout  the night."

Extra oxygen reportedly was necessary for the actor to just walk around. The HuffPost story quotes Bridges as saying the sound of reminded him "of Darth Vader."

Covid-19, the HuffPost piece quotes the mid-September Bridges website post, "kicked my ass pretty good, but I'm double vaccinated and feeling much better." 

The vaccine, he suggested, was linked to his speedy improvement, with all his treatments now being "in the rearview mirror."

Bridges, who won the best actor Oscar in 2010 for "Crazy Heart" and had been nominated for half a dozen other Academy Awards, had been hospitalized for five weeks, he wrote, because his immune system was "shot from chemo."

His wife, Susan Geston, not incidentally, also was hospitalized — although only for five days — because she contracted Covid.

Bridges was elated, he indicated, to be released in time to walk Hayley, his daughter, down the aisle for her wedding and to dance with her "without oxygen."

More information about disease 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 male caregivers.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cancer vaccines are new type of immunotherapy that might help in fight against breast cancer

Virtually everyone's talking about vaccines, pro and con, regarding Covid-19 but other vaccines merit major attention as well.

According to an article by Cynthia Weiss of the Mayo Clinic News Network in today's daily Marin Independent Journal, cancer vaccines are "another type of immunotherapy that is being developed and tested for breast cancer."

Weiss' story goes on to say that such vaccines can "help train the immune system to see and 'memorize' antigens, or proteins, found on the surface of cancer cells, so that the immune system can fight these antigens if encountered in the future."

The vaccines, the piece adds, "are being studied in different breast cancer settings: treatment of current cancer; prevention of cancer recurrence; or to decrease the risk of cancer spreading to another part of the body, or metastasis."

Dr. Pooja Advani
Weiss' piece is a question-and-answer format with facts supplied by Dr. Pooja Advani, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and hematologist in Jacksonville, Florida.

Immunotherapy, not incidentally, is a comparatively new treatment for breast cancer that's also been used in treating lung and kidney cancers as well as melanomas. 

It "harnesses the body's immune system to help fight cancer," the Mayo Clinic information indicates.

Currently, Advani's information states, "immunotherapy is approved primarily for patients with metastatic or locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer, representing 10%-15% of breast cancer, with limited treatment options other than chemotherapy."

Immunotherapy is not immune to side effects, however. Typical ones, according to the story, "can include fatigue, chills, body aches, injection site pain, infusion-related reaction, headache, flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal symptoms."

And that's not all. Weiss' Q&A piece asserts that immunotherapy "also can affect live function tests; cause respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough and fever; cause symptoms of overactive or underachieve thyroid glad, or adrenal gland; and rash."

But most of those symptoms, it should be noted, "are mild to moderate and reversible, if detected early and treated in a timely manner."  

More information about recent 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 male caregivers.

Friday, October 8, 2021

After skin cancer surgery, Rachel Maddow is okay and is back to work as an MSNBC newscaster

Rachel Maddow
Leftist MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow apparently is okay after surgery for skin cancer.

According to a story by Kate Feldman in the New York Daily News, Maddow revealed this week that she'd undergone the operation last Friday, "which explained the Band-Aid on her neck and her few days off the air."

The 48-year-old's partner of 22 years, photographer Susan Mikula, the article says, "a couple of months ago" noticed when they were at a minor league baseball game that a mole had changed. So Maddow visited a dermatologist who did a biopsy that determined that the mole was cancerous.

The surgery took place at NYU Langone.

Felman's story quotes Maddow as saying, "I am going to be absolutely fine. I'm going to be totally fine." — confirmed by a  USA Today quote from her, "They got it, they got it all…I have clear margins and everything."

Skin cancer, the Daily News piece notes, "is the most common of all cancers, affecting 1 in 5 Americans by the age of 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The most prevalent risk factors include indoor tanning, sun exposure and genetics."

When caught early, it says, "almost all forms of skin cancer are treatable" — and virtually all, the foundation says, are curable if diagnosed and treated early enough.

Dermatologists say sunscreen can be a preventative.

Says Maddow, according to the News, "It's only by the grace of Susan that I found mine in enough time that it was totally treatable.… I have been blowing off my appointments forever to get stuff like that checked because I've assumed it will always be fine."

Because "not everybody has a Susan," the story continues, the political commentator "urged people, especially those with moles, to get regular checks by doctors."

Maddow, USA Today reports, "has used her platform in  the past to stress health concerns. In November 2020 she delivered an impassioned warning about the danger off Covid-19 after her partner contracted the illness."

More information about surgeries and recovery 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, September 21, 2021

Inaccurate DNA test plagued woman for more than a decade after double mastectomy

A Missouri woman's years of mental anguish stemmed from a DNA testing mistake.

According to Maureen Boesen's online story in the HuffPost, she "made major decisions — like having a double mastectomy — based on a false positive. I was robbed of the chance to breastfeed my babies, and it broke my heart."

The Kansas City mother of three's recent guest article contends she "just couldn't get past the fact that my inaccurate test result meant I had been carrying around a devastatingly unnecessary burden for more than a decade."

Because she and her two sisters have an extensive family history of cancer (ovarian and breast), Boesen not only opted for the preventive bilateral mastectomy at age 23 but was planning to have a complete hysterectomy by the age of 35. A second DNA test, with its negative result, quashed that idea — especially after a third test also showed she didn't have the dangerous BRAC1 gene mutation that would mean a 75% lifetime risk of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of contracting ovarian cancer.

What was surprising, Boesen reported, was that the new results "were even more shocking and overwhelming than finding out I was positive. I was feeling so many emotions — confusion, sadness, anger, anxiety, depression, relief — all at once."

More information about false positives, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, and other prophylactic surgeries can be found in ˆRollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Lumpectomy and radiation treatments fix Minnesota senator's early-detected breast cancer

Sen. Amy Klobuchar admits she underwent treatment for early-stage breast cancer in January.

According to a story by Felicia Sonmez in The Washington Post today, the former 2020 Democrat presidential candidate said in a post on Medium, a platform for professionals, that she'd had a lumpectomy and radiation.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
The 61-year-old Minnesota politician said she was told by her doctors last month that the treatments had gone well and that her "chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person."

Sonmez's article says Klobuchar "urged Americans not to put off routine health screenings, noting that 'doctors are seeing patients who are being treated for more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier.'" 

She also noted that it is "easy to put off health screenings, just like I did. But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through. I am so fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early enough stage and to not need chemotherapy or other extensive treatments, which unfortunately is not the case for so many others."

The senator thanked her physicians, family and friends for their support during her surgery and radiation treatment, which she observed had coincided with the illness and death of her father, a Minneapolis journalist.

"Their support allowed me to continue my work with my colleagues on major pandemic and economic legislation," the story quotes her as saying, "as well as chairing the joint Senate Jan. 6 investigation and the For the People hearings while undergoing cancer treatment."

According to a story by Quint Forgey on today's Politico website, the three-term senior senator also admitted that "this has been scary at times, since cancer is the word all of us fear." Each day, she said, "is a gift."

Further information on early detection 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.