I lost a good friend recently. So did a bunch of other colleagues who knew him. The Houston advertising world along with the ad industry in general lost a mentor, a valued servant, a true gentleman and an all-around good guy. We lost Dave Keith. Damn!
Dave was one of those unassuming figures you love to hook up with at a party. If you want to meet someone and Dave knows that person, hang on, ’cause he’ll proceed to briskly take you along with him to be introduced. He did this with me in Austin a few years back when the American Advertising Federation had their annual conference at the GSD&M headquarters.
I wanted to meet John Osborne, the then chairman of the AAF and the then president of BBDO’s New York office. In ad circles, this was a big friggin’ deal. Next thing I know, Dave goes right up to John, says “Hi” and introduces me. Trying not to step on my tongue, I somehow utter the words “It’s a pleasure, Mr. Osborne.” Then, the three of us proceed to have a nice chat. Surreal!
(Note: It was in this chat that I learned John was no relation to the “other” Osborne who represented the “O” in BBDO. Ironic that this John was president of that agency’s New York office.)
On this same trip while in Austin, Dave and I and some others were standing around at day’s end wondering about dinner. None of us were excited about attending what was planned that night. I asked Dave what he thought and he immediately suggested a great little seafood place not far away. He knows Austin like the back of his hand, having been actively involved in public affairs years ago. That evening, he and I spent time telling stories (him telling, me listening) of times (and politics) past and all the interesting figures he’d come to know in the world of advertising.
Meeting John Osborne and having dinner with Dave were the highlights of my trip.
I also had the pleasure of working with Dave (and other living legends) when putting together a visual homage for the 100th anniversary of the Houston Advertising Federation, the parent company of the American Advertising Federation Houston.
There was little Dave did not know about the ad club’s past history. When he got together with other “historians,” it was like listening to an oral history book of Houston advertising facts and behind the scenes stories. As Spock might say, “Fascinating!”
Of course, we didn’t have that much time to put all this stuff together. That didn’t bother Dave and the fellows. They went on and on. I figured at one point we’d probably complete the project in time for the next anniversary! The guys were in no hurry. They were having too much fun.
These are the memories that I will cherish forever. They’re about a man I didn’t know all that well or for that long. However, I knew Dave Keith well enough to know that my friendship with him is one of my most treasured keepsakes. One didn’t have to know Dave that well to really like the man. He was so personal. A straight shooter.
I will miss him as I know others will as well.
The Houston Ad Fed won’t be the same without you, Dave. You can bet on that.
Now, about that campaign you’re doing for St. Peter . . .
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. Hopefully, you are enjoying time with your family and loved ones on your special day. However, there are those in our midst who no longer enjoy the firm handshake or gentlemanly hug of a Dad. Their Dad is missing, no longer living in our present day. He is a memory.
It is with this in mind that I’d like to share a piece I wrote a number of years ago when I was reflecting back on my cherished time with my Dad, 25 years following his departure from this Earth.
In a pond. In the mind. In one’s sleep. On the calendar. The days linger on and the memories persist. It hits twenty-five. That’s hard to believe. It seems he was just here, sharing his wry smile and laughter. He loved to putter – both on and off the golf course. It seems that’s where I have some of the fondest memories of my Dad. August 20, 1978 was when we said good-bye. It has haunted me ever since.
Here’s the remainder of the piece . . .
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!
Happy Dad’s Day to All!!
I could not let this day go by without acknowledging our heroes of the past and present on this D-Day of June 6.
One of my enduring heroes, Charles Schultz of Peanuts fame, created several versions of remembrance for that day. I thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of his strips, this from June 6, 1996.
As one World War II veteran proudly noted, “Snoopy, our beloved beagle, bravely dog-paddling toward Normandy Beach.”
Thank you WWII Veterans everywhere.
Thank you Snoopy.
Thank you Charles Schultz.
Revised Posting for This Week
Caregiver CAREversations and Depression Seminars May Help with Your Anxiety and Stress
Whenever I can I like to offer up news about upcoming and/or recent events that educate and inform those interested concerning blood cancers, caregiving and all those related topics associated with them. I’m still right in the middle of dealing with these major topics so they are of significant concern and interest to me. I thought they would be for you, too.
Next week, at least here in the Houston, Texas area, are two different seminars dealing with caregiving concerns and depression from cancer treatment. Below is information highlighting each seminar.
|If you’re caring for a family member, friend or neighbor in need, you understand the challenges involved. That’s why AARP created CAREversations, a free event coming to your area that brings together family caregivers just like you. Attend this lightly facilitated event to share ideas, local resources and more to help you better provide for your loved one’s health, finances and overall quality of life. Register now to get ready for what’s next in your caregiving journey.|
Those interested in attending the Houston area seminar, here are the specifics.
Event: AARP Careversations – Houston, TX 4/25/19, 6:00 PM
Time: 6:00 PM Date: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Location: Maggiano’s Little Italy At Memorial City
Address: 602 Memorial City Mall, Houston, Texas 77024, USA
Registration for this and any other dates/locations can be handled by calling the AARP event registration line at 1-866-740-6947.
Those of you interested in the Depression seminar, also in Houston, here’s that information. Registration is required.
Managing Depression and Anxiety During and After Cancer Treatment
April 27, 2019
Westin Houston Memorial City
945 Gessner Rd
Houston, Texas , 77024
Program: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
This program will introduce ways to cope with the anxiety and depression
that often accompany cancer. Psychiatrist, Mary Hughes, Clinical Nurse Specialist,
Psychiatry Department, MD Anderson Cancer Center, will share
information on signs, symptoms, and treatment options for depression and anxiety.
The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period with the speaker.
We encourage you to invite your caregiver and family members.
If you have additional questions before completing your registration please contact Erika Pomares, Senior Patient Access Manager at 832.463.3613 or Erika.Pomares@LLS.org.
Whenever I attend a special seminar or workshop put on by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), I usually bring home the various literature they make available. Such was the case recently where they provided a presentation on Insomnia.
In addition to a paper handout about insomnia, their table folder included a booklet on Managing Stress. It’s a delightful little booklet with a bunch of useful info and some soon-to-be colored-in pages for relaxation. Numerous references and tips abound.
Alas, this is but one of many publications and resources available for download.
So, go browse, click, download and read the latest about what may be troubling you and your loved ones.
Cancer is a bitch. Time you do some ass-kickin’!
When I was baptized years ago, it was done in the Presbyterian Church USA. Though it was later in life for me, as opposed to being a young child, I was cool with it. I liked the Presbyterians and their beliefs. They didn’t seem so stuck on what happened eons ago or who said what. And they were pretty accepting about who walked into the front door or who stood behind the podium.
That has changed, unfortunately.
Over the years I’ve seen some very nasty and mean-spirited happenings and accusations occur in the churches I’ve attended. Alas, these are probably not limited to the “Prez People.”
In recent years I’ve seen the church become more divided over what the heck to do about homosexuality. Last I heard, the Presbyterians (USA) are still divided about not believing gay marriage and gay clergy belong in the church.
This doesn’t sit well with me. I believe one has to change with the times and be more accepting of one’s fellow man. Hmmmm, sounds familiar; kinda like what Jesus was preaching back in the day.
Well, I move over to the United Methodist Church after some years and start to like how I’m treated and the atmosphere. There’s a lady minister who is terrific. She’s very personable and a wonderful storyteller.
Then, she gets canned. Official word was she got transferred to a smaller church. Amazingly, this didn’t bother some people. It was good riddance. These were women!
During this same time, the whole church body was debating about, you guessed it, homosexuality and how to deal with gay marriage and clergy. A chasm had begun to get wider and more divisive.
As it happened, earlier this week at their national conference, the United Methodist Church voted against gay marriage and gay clergy, although they would be welcomed with open arms in the church. You can read the CNN account here.
It seems to this individual that both denominations have been and are still talking out of both sides of their mouths. “We’re accepting to all, except, well, to a point,” the Methodists seem to be saying.
This is not some private country club wherein the membership rolls are controlled and folks are voted in. This is a christian church where everyone is indeed welcome. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s how Jesus set it up.
Saying that gay couples are welcome to come into the church but not welcome to marry one another, let alone to become clergy is hypocritical to say the least.
The conservatives or traditionalists want the status quo to, well, remain the status quo. Unchanged. Unchallenged by today’s societal demands. That’s unrealistic. The fact that gay couples love one another may be revolting to some is, well, too bad. They do. Who are you to dictate who they can love and be with? Who are you to dictate who can be preaching on a Sunday as long as they are qualified to do so?
As some Methodist clergy have suggested, it would not surprise me to see the United Methodist Church break apart into more than one discipline. The Presbyterians seemed to be thinking the same way, although I don’t know about their current standing.
One thing is for sure, at least for a good number of United Methodist Church goers, their logo and tag line seem to now be brought into serious question:
. . . Can come at any time. It can come when you least expect it and even when you feel it coming on.
It’s a gradual horror. A nightmarish feeling that won’t easily go away, especially since most times, you’re not asleep.
It peers at me through my window, lurking as though a burglar has lost his way. This is no burglar, at least not in the traditional sense. I know it’s here, gradually seeping into my domain, my private place. I don’t even have to look up at the window; I already sense it.
It envelops me, not just my entire body but my soul as well. It knows no mercy. It does not discriminate. It doesn’t care. The lower it can take me down, the better it likes it. If it could smile, it would be that of a smirky style.
I’m caught in its grasp. Oh, yes, I can move, but slowly and with no motivation, no interest, no curiosity, no feeling except somewhat numb.
My mind is experiencing an endless trail of memories, mostly unpleasant and some bittersweet. It’s beautiful outside, so why don’t I feel like going out and experiencing it?
I pause and think, “I have to do something, but what?” I nod off.
If only that were the cure. I think, “Is there a cure?” I think not.
But wait, the pills . . .
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. Some days are worse than others. Some memories are more painful than others.
“It’s just as I suspected and we now have it confirmed from the latest tests. You have Leukemia. It’s a blood cancer, and it appears to be advanced,” he stated calmly.
“How the hell did I get it,” I responded, rather defiantly.
“We have no idea,” he intoned.
“Well, what the hell do we do about it,” I asked, relatively calmly.
“Well, here we have a few options,” he said. “You have CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, the second most common type of blood cancer, and quite manageable,” he reassured me.
He was my first specialist. That was back in 2014. I and the fight against cancer have come a long way since then. I am now in Complete Remission but take specialized medication orally daily.
Today, Monday February 4, 2019 is World Cancer Day.
In its honor, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is shining a light on the visionary researchers they support worldwide, who work tirelessly toward cancer cures and saving lives.
Meet Liran Shlush, MD, PhD, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Dr. Shlush is focused on identifying preleukemic stem cells in acute myeloid leukemia, a rapidly progressing disease that remains one of the most pressing challenges in blood cancers.
“Our work is leading the way to help identify those individuals who might be at risk of developing blood cancer before it happens. We do this by using state-of-the-art methods to identify molecular changes in blood cells of otherwise normal individuals. Ultimately, our goal is to identify those people who might be at risk to develop blood cancer and treat them as early as possible to improve outcomes,” says Dr. Shlush.
Dr. Shlush is among the beneficiaries of an impactful collaboration between LLS and the Swiss organization Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research.
Along with supporting and staying in touch with the multitude of researchers around the globe, the LLS produces a series of regular podcasts on a variety of subjects pertaining to cancer and the survival of it.
Recently, I listened to one pertaining to my cancer, CLL. Join Alicia and Lizette from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as they speak with Dr. Ann LaCasce, Program Director of the Dana-Farber/ Partners CancerCare Fellowship, the largest hematology/oncology training program in the country.
On this episode, CLL: Risk Factors, Resources and Research, Dr. LaCasce explains the difference between chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), CLL and its connection with Agent Orange exposure, resources available for Veterans, current and emerging therapies, clinical trials and the importance of medication adherence. Dr. LaCasce shares her excitement for what is to come for CLL treatment.
I participated in a three year clinical trial (a first for me) and took several of the meds Dr. LaCasce references in this podcast. I can relate!
In addition to this CLL podcast, the link gets you to various other bits of info about additional podcasts and resources. I suggest you subscribe to the series on whatever device you prefer. It will be worth your time. And possibly your life!
Like it or not, this “mess” is a continuing saga. In the US. Around the world. This may be the fourth and “final” post in this Demon series, but the opioid and addiction menace continues. I’m sure there will be various follow up posts dealing with this dilemma.
Some of us don’t like to read about it, while others suffer from it. Those supposedly not afflicted in some way, probably think the subject matter is boring. Illness and dependency of any kind are serious, sad, oft-times deadly, but never boring.
Still I find I must press myself to write on about these matters because I want to share my personal thoughts, trials, tribulations and fears, as well as that info gleaned from pertinent sources. In one way or another, all of us can relate.
These demons are persistent and sneaky. Depression can attack anyone. I know. Opioids prescribed by a physician can help. Again, I know. Addiction can easily take place in any of us. Fortunately, I don’t know first hand about this aspect, but I’ve walked that thin line. I do know how easy it is to become addicted to . . . whatever.
The AARP Bulletin ran a feature story by John Rosengren on the opioid mess and some of the startling highlights begin with:
- Almost one-third of all Medicare patients — nearly 12 million people — were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians in 2015.
- That same year, 2.7 million Americans over age 50 abused painkillers, meaning they took them for reasons or in amounts beyond what their doctors prescribed.
- The hospitalization rate due to opioid abuse has quintupled for those 65 and older in the past two decades.
I don’t think I’ve taken as many pills in my life as I have these past four to five years. Even before my cancer treatment of specialized chemotherapy (not the old fashioned kind) – pills and IV – I took medicine to treat a weird outbreak of lymphoma on both legs. About the same time I had surgery for skin cancer on most of my nose.
In my mid-sixties, I was eventually diagnosed with Leukemia (CLL) and, via a three year clinical trial, took various treatments of experimental chemo medicine. That med saved my life: Venetoclax, which I still take.
I’m not trying to discuss my past medical history since nobody really cares about that, but I am admitting that I’ve been through a lot that I hadn’t previously experienced. Throw in my wife’s stroke and damaging my back when I tried to help her as she was having her stroke (I attempted to pick her up from the floor after she slipped from my grip, thus resulting in me fracturing a few vertebrae in my lower spine — oooooh, that really hurt, damn!), eventually led to me being on painkillers and subsequently a very good opioid.
Aside from the physical pain, there’s the mental aspect of dealing with cancer, being caregiver to my wife, living a lifestyle neither one of us wants and trying to still earn some kind of living when no one wants to hire someone over 50, let alone past 60.
You guessed it; that’s where depression, anger, frustration, anxiety and who-knows-what-else factors in. It would be too easy to say I’m going crazy. I’m not even sure how that would feel. Hey, as a writer, maybe I could sit down and interview my crazy self and compare how these two people coexist. That might be interesting; it may also be a potential script for a new Twilight Zone episode – for those of you of a certain age.
But with so many different things happening just involving Pam, my wife, that are bureaucratically stupid, my anger lashes out at Pam (not good or advisable) since I can’t fight what I can’t see. I’ve learned you can’t fight bureaucracy; you learn to deal with it. However, that doesn’t mean you accept it. I don’t.
In large part, this is where my opioid comes in. As I’ve mentioned before, I take Narco (Acetaminophen Hydrocodone 10-325) to help with the pain in my lower back but it also helps calm me. I’m also getting back on Duloxetine (Cymbalta) or Fluoxetine since these meds help keep a good balance in my brain to help keep me on a more even keel and less temperamental. I am not one for shouting matches but my circumstances these past few years have warranted medical help.
I sound like a potential addict, don’t I? I’m not, don’t worry, but it scares me as to how close one can come to becoming a statistic. According to the AARP report, nearly 14,000 people age 45-plus died from an opioid overdose in 2015 — 42 percent of all such deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The actual number is likely much higher. Overdoses in older people are often mislabeled as heart failure or falls.
Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths.
Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly. It’s the second factor that probably explains most of the increased number of overdoses last year.
Synthetic opioids are driving up overdose deaths. Strong synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its analogues have become mixed into black-market supplies of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and the class of anti-anxiety medicines known as benzodiazepines. Unlike heroin, which is derived from poppy plants, fentanyl can be manufactured in a laboratory, and it is often easier to transport because it is more concentrated.
According to the C.D.C. estimates, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose sharply, while deaths from heroin, prescription opioid pills and methadone fell.
Where is treatment in all this? It has become increasingly difficult to quit “cold turkey” as in a smoking addiction. Talk therapy alone is not the answer. Medication and therapy? Could make for some odd bedfellows. But, hey, if it works . . .
In Oakland, CA, the Highland Hospital E.R. offers patients suffering from opioid addiction a dose of buprenorphine, a weak opioid that activates the same receptors in the brain that other opioids do, but doesn’t cause a high if taken as prescribed. It’s one of three medications approved in the United States to treat opioid addiction and works by easing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Highland, a clattering big-city hospital where security wands constantly beep as new patients get scanned for weapons, is among a small group of institutions that have started initiating opioid addiction treatment in the E.R. Their aim is to plug a gaping hole in a medical system that consistently fails to provide treatment on demand, or any evidence-based treatment at all, even as more than two million Americans suffer from opioid addiction.
Highland has provided buprenorphine to roughly equal numbers of blacks and whites, with Latinos, Asians and other ethnic groups filling out the rest. Many of those patients are homeless and most are on Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor that, crucially for Dr. Herring’s program, California expanded under the Affordable Care Act. Buprenorphine can cost more than $500 a month, putting it out of reach for many of the uninsured.
Since February 2017, Highland’s E.R. has offered buprenorphine to more than 375 emergency room patients. Two-thirds of them accepted it, along with an initial appointment for ongoing treatment at the hospital’s addiction clinic.
The demons within are relentless. They never give up in their zealous attempts to get us hooked. What’s more, we can become hooked without even being fully aware of it. Let’s face it, we humans are great at denial.
I hope this series of posts, or at least one of them, has gotten your attention and made you aware that these demons are everywhere. Depression, opioids and addiction of any sort are not to be messed with. Each one on its own can be deadly if not treated. More often than not, we usually experience more than one of them at a time. This makes it even more serious and mandatory to get help before someone plans a funeral.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a confidential help line that can connect you with treatment services in your state. Call 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357).