Breast Cancer Month

Breast cancer is something that has affected many of us, some in more personal ways to others, but regardless, just about everyone knows someone who has either suffered from it, lost someone to it, or even had a scare.

Myself, I lost my mother to breast cancer. In less than 18 months she went from being perfectly healthy, to first having a lump removed, then the entire breast, then finally passing while on the waiting list to have the second breast removed.

She led a busy life raising two kids mostly on her own, teaching, being the first one to volunteer for whatever task needed completing at whatever activity us kids were doing, getting up at 5am to take me to training, work all day, drive in to Auckland hospital for her radiotherapy, drive back out west to take me training again, then get home and cook dinner. IF she didn’t have a meeting to go to about something or other first.

From there, radiotherapy and chemo took a massive toll on her. Cancer is an awful way to die. She lost about 40% of her bodyweight. She could barely eat, yet she continued to run around after us. In the month or two before she died, she was practically bedridden. She was utterly heartbroken that her 13 year old son had to empty her bedpan for her. And yet, throughout all this, she kept a positive attitude. She refused to believe she was going to die, to the point of refusing to sign her updated will. A week before she died she contacted her boss to say that whilst she was too ill to return to work for Term 1, she was confident that she would in Term 2.

She died suddenly in bed at home at 7am on Jan 14th 1993. She was 42. A few years later, her sister also was taken by breast cancer at a similar age. Make no mistake, it is a terrible, drawn out way to die.

One of the main goals of mine is to increase awareness amongst all my female friends and acquaintances of the importance of regular self examinations. Early detection and diagnosis gives the best chance of total recovery in the worst case scenario of a malignant tumour. If my mum had discovered her lump even 6 months earlier, she most likely would still be here today, let alone had it happened today with improved medical treatments.

It’s not something that is hard to do and takes no time at all. I urge you to please, just do it. Those of you close to me know how I’m still affected by her death even today. Barely a day goes by where I don’t miss her.

Donate to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation here.

Health System Woes

So some of you have probably noticed the articles in the Herald over the last few days about poor service at North Shore Hospital:

‘Shoddy’ hospital accused over death
How the hospital failed my daughter

And a few other bits and pieces:
‘Critical’ doctor shortage at Starship Hospital
Hospitals fearful of doctors’ strikes

And I can add to this my own observations from recent weeks – my stepmother went in for hip surgery after a fall, and the day after surgery suffered 2 blood clots causing a pulmonary embolism and a major stroke, stopping her heart. She spent 6 days in ICU, the first 24 hours of that of life support, then was moved to the stroke ward. ICU staff and care level was nothing short of brilliant. Seriously amazing care, so much so that Dad is arranging a fairly substantial donation to the unit. All well and good so far.

Once in the ward where she stayed fro another week and a half, the care level dropped dramatically. Despite spending as much of the day there as he could, Dad never ONCE saw a doctor. Sure, the patient did – but they felt all they needed to do was explain things to her – the women who just had a major stroke, has suffered major permanent brain damage, is doped up, confused, and has no short term memory. He asked for a meeting with them several times, even waited hours and hours for someone to show up, and nothing. Alarms on the machines she was still hooked up to were left ignored (the one pumping blood thinners to avoid further stroke being one), and they couldn’t even get food orders right – because of the stroke-induced paralysis, she had to have soft, moist food – mush basically. Instead, they send up dry, cold, chicken drumsticks.

After a week and a half of this, she was deemed medically stable enough to move to a bed that opened up in the Waitakere Stroke ward. Even though it’s a hospital run by the same DHB, the level of care was immediately a hundred times better. Within TWO hours of being there, she had been assigned a primary care nurse, met the physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist, and had an assessment by the head doctor. TWO HOURS. All these staff made a point to introduce themselves to the family, explain roughly what they would be doing, and in the case of the head doctor, told us a few things she picked up right away that North Shore missed. Like the reason she was having chest pains? They weren’t sitting her totally upright to eat, so she was getting heart burn. Severe enough heartburn to cut through the morphine and oxycontin she was on. How simple is that? Oh, and North Shore also failed to send though her complete notes also, just a summary sheet. Handy eh? A few other complications from minor to serious were picked up, but even Waitakere staff were dumbfounded, let alone us. Doctor also told us that just the day before, she was the only doctor covering both Waitakere and North Shore. Smart huh?

So, after that story, you’ll be glad to know the government is on top of the situation, right? They are going to get it ALL sorted out!

The Health Ministry’s new chief believes it is possible to cut doctor and nurse positions without compromising health services.

Kevin Woods, head of Scotland’s National Health Service, will take over as New Zealand’s Director-General of Health in early 2011, the State Services Commission announced today.

Dr Woods has headed the NHS in Scotland since 2005.

Earlier this year, he oversaw the axing of 1500 nurse positions in Scotland.

At the time, he was asked by a Government committee whether it was possible to still provide quality health services with “significantly fewer” doctors and nurses.

“Yes, we believe we can,” Dr Woods said.

“We see our pursuit of quality also linked to our policy to improve efficiency. We’ve invested considerable amounts in equipping the health service with the tools to do that and yes, we do believe we can continue to make progress.”

Yerp, that’s the way to improve health services, slash the number of health professionals. Useless parasites that they are!  (Hat tip to MojoBob for that line)

Super Simple Cover Letter

I sure like the look of where this interview is heading.

I sure like the look of where this interview is heading.

I always have people asking me for help with cover letters. I don’t know why, since I’ve had maybe 2 formal interviews in my life, but here we are. This is my quick and simple cover letter. Don’t ask me if it works or not, but it will save me typing it out again in future.

Dear $RECRUITER/$HR/$BOSS (Use real name here if available)

I wish to tender my application for $ROLE, advertised in $PUBLICATION on $DATE.
I believe I am a suitable candidate for the role because of my experience in $PASTROLE1 and $PASTROLE2, give me strong skills in $AREA1, $AREA2 and $AREA3.
Attached is my curriculum vitae with further details, I look forward to hearing from you with regards to an interview.


DonateNZ – The “Who”, “How” and “Why”

Claire is a friend of mine who, along with her family, has put almost everything into getting DonateNZ off the ground. DonateNZ is a charity that runs a website that connects people with something to donate and needy organisations who can make use of that something.

Her latest blog post is an explanation of what they’ve gone through to get it where it is today, and what they struggle with. Well worth a read, and a great cause to support.

DonateNZ – The “Who”, “How” and “Why”