Sunday, May 31, 2015

Author pushes one-day-at-a-time belief

Woody Weingarten's first TV interview, about 'Rollercoaster,' now available on YouTube

All we have is today.

So we absolutely must appreciate the here and now.

That one-day-at-a-time lesson became palpable to my wife, Nancy Fox, and me 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

We've done our best to implement it, each day, ever since.

Most often we succeed.

And I, Woody Weingarten, have made multiple references to that quest in my new VitalityPress book aimed at male caregivers, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

David Perry
I also commented about it during the wrap-up to my recent first foray into television, when I was interviewed by David Perry on his "Ten Percent" telecast on Comcast Hometown Network Channel 104, a cable station in San Francisco.

You can listen to that entire 8-minute, 45-second interview on YouTube — here and now.

Then you might want to test out a shorter, 90-second KCBS radio interview, or a considerably longer, 30-minute, 33-second Love Letters Live podcast.

Also available is a full-length newspaper feature, substantial blog interviews by a Texan and a San Franciscan, and a glowing review by Santa Fe author Hollis Walker.

Not to mention an extremely positive follow-up online piece by Janet Gallin, a tribute-recommendation by blogger Marilyn Miller, and a plug by a nonprofit organization, Zero Breast Cancer.

You also can find more information by delving deeper into this VitalityPress blog, by checking out the Marin-Man-to-Man support group for male caregivers of breast cancer patients — or, perhaps best of all, by ordering a copy of "Rollercoaster" from your local bookstore (or Amazon) or asking your local library to stock it.

I urge you to do it now. Remember, you only have today.

Oh, yeah, in case you want to know more about Nancy and her selfless attitudes, revel in her appearances on YouTube or KTVU.

You can do that here and now as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Warning: Be careful of fraudulent philanthropies

FTC says four cancer charities diverted $187 million of donors' money meant for patients

The Federal Trade Commission has called four cancer philanthropies a sham, claiming they bilked contributors of $187 million.

The charges were filed in a civil complaint.

No criminal charges were pending.

According to a recent article in the Washington Postthe charities' telemarketing and websites declared that the donations would pay for patients' pain meds, hospice services and other care. 

But, the FTC said, the bulk of the contributions actually benefitted the charities' three organizers, their friends and fundraisers — with less than 5 percent going to patients' needs.

A sidebar article by Ariana Eunjung Cha listed five reasons the government took so long to catch on. Among them:

• "The government is overwhelmed" by the sheer number of public charities — more than 1,050,000.

• The IRS has been "disincentivized from pursuing cases against charities."
Myra Miblowit of BCRF

• "The names of cancer charities, even legitimate ones, are confusingly similar to one another." The writer quotes Myra Biblowit, president of the respected Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as saying, "It is vitally important that donors utilize charity watchdog organizations to vet non-profits for transparency and efficiency."

"Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," my new VitalityPress book that's aimed at male caregivers, includes a chapter, "Where Men Can Find Help," that lists organizations (including the BCRF), books and other resources I have vetted as being legitimate and useful.

The Post's main story — carrying the triple byline of Peter Whoriskey, Brady Dennis and Ariana Eunjung Cha — reported that "the scheme was a family effort," with each of the four charities run by either James Reynolds Sr.; his son, James Reynolds Jr.; or the father's ex-wife, Rose Perkins.

The money in question was raised between 2008 and 2012 by the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, the Children's Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society.

An agreement calls for the three family members to be banned from fundraising and charity management, and for the dissolution of the Children's Cancer Fund and the Breast Cancer Society.

Friday, May 22, 2015

'Rollercoaster' author wary about cancer story

D.C. article outlines breast cancer myths — but doesn't the lore contain some truths?

Paige Winfield Cunningham
Despite the information explosion online and elsewhere, myths still exist about breast cancer.

At least that's the contention of Paige Winfield Cunningham, a health-care correspondent for the Washington Examiner, who recently wrote an article — distributed by the Washington Post — listing these five:

1. Breast cancer is mostly linked to family history.

2. Birth-control pills increase the risk of developing the disease. 
3. Larger breasts mean greater risk.
4. All women should do a monthly breast self-exam.
5. Breast cancer research needs more money. 

In my view, Cunningham's too-brief summations leave much to be desired, and contain distortions of the truth.

And could lead patients, caregivers and other supporters into dangerous non-actions.

For example, the writer claims women don't need to do monthly self-exams because statistically those examinations don't improve survival rates. Tell that to my wife: She found her breast cancer early because of self-exams in the shower. She might not be alive today otherwise.

Statistics should be used only as a guideline. 

Each person is an individual, and should make up her own mind regarding prevention and, if necessary, treatment.

My wife's choices are documented in my VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer" — which, although aimed at males, can be of use to female patients as well as caregivers. In "Rollercoaster," I, Woody Weingarten, show my wife's decisions but also provide an up-to-date look at research and meds, as well as a guide of where to find help. 

Cunningham's last myth, about funding, contains the notion that "compared with other types of cancer, breast cancer research is swimming in money…thanks to a highly effective public-awareness push that began way before any other anti-cancer efforts."

Why not, instead of implying that breast cancer money should go elsewhere, suggest other cancer organizations beef up their appeals? 

I could nit-pick with the way Cunningham presents each of the other three "myths" as well, though their assumptions are basically correct.

Quick, over-simplified lists aimed at gaining an audience generally aren't helpful to potential patients or caregivers, in my opinion — and could, in fact, be hazardous to their health. And that's true regarding any disease, especially life-threatening ones, not just breast cancer.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Television interview spotlights Woody Weingarten

'Rollercoaster' author debuts on TV, on Comcast — an interview also slated for YouTube 

No matter how hard I try, I'll never be another Kim Kardashian. 

I just don't know how to promote myself that well.

Besides, I've never made a sex tape.

And don't plan to.

Woody Weingarten (left) and David Perry.
Celebrity isn't what I'm looking for anyway. But I — Woody Weingarten — would graciously accept fame as an adjunct to selling thousands of copies of my VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer" — and, thereby, effectively spreading the message that male caregivers needn't remain an invisible part of the breast cancer equation.

David Perry, host and a longtime communications pro, did the interview for my debut, which covered not only my book but my leadership of the Marin Man to Man support group for 20 years.

The show is "Ten Percent" — on Comcast Hometown Network Channel 104, a cable station.

My part of what's known in the trade as Episode #173 follows an interview with Linda Crawford, executive director of the Presidio's Interfaith Center.

The program, taped in a San Francisco studio April 23, will be telecast repeatedly — at 11:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, May 18-22, 2015, and then again at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24.

And by midweek, it should also be available on YouTube, just in case you're not a Comcast subscriber.

David, producer of the show, which is aimed at the LGBT community in Northern California, was efficiently assisted by his coordinating producer Michael Micael.

They made the whole thing a breeze for me, so easy I came out saying, "Today, 'Ten Percent,' tomorrow, 'Good Morning America.'"

From my lips to the ears of God? Well, I can dream, can't I?

CEO and founder of David Perry & Associates, a "strategic communications firm," David specializes in community and government affairs, social media, public/media relations, and crisis communications.

The show, not incidentally, will also be able to be screened, 24/7, "On Demand" through Comcast (by choosing "Get Local" and "Comcast Hometown," which will take you to "Ten Percent").

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Do nail salons breed cancers, other health woes?

Chemicals in nail products threaten manicurists, clients with cancers and miscarriages

Can manicures be hazardous to your health?


According to The New York Times, new medical research shows links "between the chemicals that make nail and beauty products useful…and serious health problems."

The problems are not so distinct for customers, but they're apparently clear for "manicurists who handle the chemicals and breathe their fumes for hour on end, day after day."

In a May 8 article by Sarah Maslin Nir, the Times claimed "stories and tragedy abound at nail salons across the country, of children born slow or 'special,' of miscarriages and cancers, of coughs that will not go away and painful skin afflictions."

Older manicurists, it said, "warn women of child-bearing age away from the business, with its potent brew of polishes, solvents, hardeners and glues that nail workers handle daily."

The federal law that regulates cosmetics safety doesn't require companies to share data with the Food and Drug Administration.

Warnings basically have been ignored by manufacturers of the risky products, and the industry has 
vigorously fought regulation.

As a follow-up to the Times piece, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered emergency measures initiated to help quash the health hazards, educate workers of their rights, and fight apparent wage theft. He called for a task force to conduct probes and close salons that don't meet the new standards.

Among the changes he demanded are the mandatory wearing of gloves and masks, proper ventilation for the salons, and requiring bonds to ensure payments to workers.

Cancer in all its forms, of course, is the scourge of our time. Once contracted, it is likely to turn into an ordeal of ups and downs — such as I, Woody Weingarten, chronicled in my VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer" — which focuses on a male caregiver's journey through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and the aftermath of all those treatments.

My book also provides up-to-date coverage of breast cancer research and meds — as well as a guide to where help can be obtained.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blog praises Woody Weingarten's caregiving book

Veteran author, blogger thinks 'Rollercoaster' helps male caregivers cope with cancer

The main subject of a new Goodreads blog is that  "Rollercoaster" can assist male caregivers in dealing with breast cancer.

Veteran blogger-journalist-novelist-publicist Debbie Cohen writes about what "sometimes slips through the cracks" after diagnosis — a "male partner's concurrent need for assurance in his new role as…primary caregiver."
Debbie Cohen

She says that being "expected to be a pillar of strength…can be a frightening experience for many men. To help that fear, veteran journalist Woody Weingarten has written an important book titled "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

It's "exactly the type of book that Weingarten could have used himself," she notes. "He lost his first wife to breast cancer."

Although the book's focus is on breast cancer, her blog continues, "any caregivers, particularly those who are there for patients with AIDs, Alzheimers or, indeed, any life-threatening or altering disease, would benefit from it."

"Rollercoaster" is a memoir-chronicle, a love story, and an up-to-the-minute guide to research, meds, and where to get help.

Debbie's blog is appropriately titled "Why We Need More Books and Advocacy On Behalf of Male Caregivers."

Her first book, "Keeper of the Scale," which deals with body image and the power of female friendships in forming a "diet buddy" threesome.  It is available in both paperback and in ebook format.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Caregiving for cancer patients: parallel feelings?

Tom Hanks, 'Rollercoaster' author share need to give care to breast cancer patient wives

Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks has become an instant male caregiver.


Because his 58-year-old actress wife, Rita Wilson, recently choose to undergo a double mastectomy.

And reconstructive breast surgery.

She'd been diagnosed with breast cancer after a first test, a biopsy, had mistakenly come back negative.
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks

The disease and operations — according to the Daily Dish site of the San Francisco Chronicle — caused her to temporarily absent herself from "Fish in the Dark," a Broadway play she'd been appearing in.

She was quoted as telling People magazine she's "getting better every day" and expects "to make a full recovery."

Hanks now must deal with feelings similar to those I experienced when my wife underwent "slash, poison and burn" treatments for breast cancer 20 years ago — feelings detailed in my new VitalityPress book, "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer."

My book — aimed at husbands, boyfriends, fathers, sons and brothers of breast cancer patients — is a memoir-chronicle, a love story, and an up-to-the-minute guide to research, meds and where to get help.

It illustrates that, despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, there can be light at the end of the tunnel

According to the American Cancer Society, 13 percent of American women (one in every eight) will get breast cancer at some point, with three-quarters of them having no risk factors except that they’re female.

Wilson — who married Hanks in 1988 and subsequently appeared with him in "Sleepless in Seattle," "That Thing You Do!" and Larry Crowne" — took action after getting a second medical opinion, something she recommends to others as being "critical to your health."

Trust your instincts, she advised, adding that "early diagnosis is key."