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Scotch Plains woman, faced with cancer, saw the world

By Tracee M. Herbaugh/ For the Star-Ledger

December 07, 2009, 7:40PM

SCOTCH PLAINS — In the sunroom of his home in Scotch Plains, retired U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Colonel Bernardo Canete flipped through a coffee table book titled “100 Wonders of the World,” stopping at the table of contents where check marks appear next to the destinations he and his wife have visited.

Among them: Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Hagia Sophia in Turkey, Petra in Jordan and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

un1203spobitlns2.JPGScotch Plains resident Teresita Canete spent her last three years fulfilling her dream of world travel. She’s seen here at the Egyptian pyramids. Diagnosed with cancer in 2002, the disease progressed and she died on Nov. 24.

Three years ago, facing a terminal illness, Teresita Canete quit her job, and she and her husband embarked on a quest to visit as many of the world’s great landmarks as they could. Before she died last month, she managed to see more than a dozen on four continents.

“Her goal was to hit all these places,” said Canete.

Teresita Canete died on Nov. 24 at age 63, after a seven-year battle with endometrial cancer.

A native of the Philippines, Teresita had nurtured a lifelong love of travel. But likely knowing her time to see the world was limited, she retired after almost 30 years as a nurse with the Veterans Administration in 2006 and began chemotherapy treatments.

Soon after she retired, Teresita, Bernardo and their two children went to Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca city nestled in the mountains of Peru.

As the chemotherapy progressed, her hair fell out, but that didn’t stop her from catching a flight to exotic destinations with her husband in between treatments. Teresita was influenced by the spirit of the author Jack Kerouac and said life without travel is only half-living.

“She just wanted to travel and do all of the things she always wanted to do,” her son, Rodney, said.

One of six children, Teresita was born on June 12, 1946 in Cebu, Philippines.

An avid reader, she cultivated her passion for learning and travel through literature.

“Even though she came from a wealthier family in the Philippines, it’s still is a Third World country, and people there don’t have a lot of money,” her son said. “Growing up, her travel was in books only.”

She obtained her nursing degree in 1968 and came to New York City three years later on an exchange program for health care professionals. The same year, her husband immigrated from Cebu in the Philippines.

They married in 1973 and later had two children, Rodney and Rachael. She earned a master’s degree in nursing from NYU and later joined the Army Reserves, where she served 21 years before retiring in 2005 with the rank of major.

Every year, she led her family on a trip. They visited the Caribbean and Europe and drove across the country in a van for two weeks.

But in the last three years of her life, the trips she and her husband took became more frequent. Because of personal and cultural reasons, Teresita was private about her illness. Friends and co-workers she knew for decades didn’t know she had cancer. But close friends had their suspicions she wasn’t well.

“I can’t think for her, but maybe she was thinking she was running out of time and she wanted to see as many places as she could,” said Carmen Lou, a family friend who knew Teresita for more than 40 years. “You know it’s the kind of thing where time is your enemy.”

Her last trip was a cruise from New York to Nova Scotia over the summer. She had plans for a January trip to the Philippines and Malaysia.

But, on Nov. 12 she checked into the hospital for complications of her illness, and almost two weeks later, she died.

At the time of her death, she had checked off 46 sites in the coffee table book, a Christmas gift from her son.

For now, her husband needs time before he considers continuing her quest to see all 100 of the wonders on the list.

“At this point in time, it hurts,” he said. “I would like to go, but I don’t think I can without her.”

© 2009 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

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Medical negligence suit nets family $7.5M

SETTLED | ‘All they had to do was look at the charts’

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January 14, 2010
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter
Thomas Quirk’s voice cracked as he recalled the horrific suffering of his wife of 39 years, his “Irish colleen,” in the months before her death from a perforated bowel — the result of medical negligence.

On Wednesday, the retired police officer and his two sons settled their wrongful-death lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Little Company of Mary Hospital and two other entities in the 2004 death of Patricia Quirk, 60, a mental health expert who advocated for mental health services in Chicago and at the state level for more than 15 years.

The West Lawn family’s $7.5 million settlement with the hospital, her doctor, Vera Petras, and Radiation Oncology S.C. set a Cook County record for a settlement in a wrongful death of an adult with no minor children, according to their lawyer.

“She was chairperson of all 19 community mental health advisory boards in the city of Chicago. She’d work 60 hours a week sometimes, and it was all volunteer work,” said Thomas Quirk, 69.

After Patricia Quirk was diagnosed with stage three endometrial cancer, she began radiation therapy at Little Company of Mary on March 26, 2003. The first 11 treatments went fine, according to the suit, then she was overradiated — 17 times — which ultimately perforated her bowel and caused a bacterial infection in her blood and her death.

“The prescription called for 180 centigrays of radiation. She received 270 centigrays, which represents a 50 percent overdose,” said the family attorney, Barry Goldberg. “It could have been caught very early. When the data recording says 280, verification of her charts by human beings would have caught it should be 180. All they had to do was look at the charts.”

Hospital officials could not be reached for comment.

“It’s about making sure this never happens to anyone else,” Thomas Quirk said.

  

 
Cancer Patient’s Medical Debt Ends in Brother’s Credit Card Debt Settlement Victory Over Bankruptcy 

Funding his terminally ill sister’s cancer treatment, Francisco Peinado got plundered by credit card debt and endless collection calls. However, a sympathetic debt relief program rescued the victim of unemployment and mountainous medical debt from becoming a casualty of medical bankruptcy, which based on a New York Times article, is growing.

(PRWEB) January 10, 2010 — After the news from the Debt Free League financial adviser, Francisco Peinado basked in a bittersweet moment. He painfully reminisced of his sister’s arduous bout with cancer. Yet, December 30, 2009 marked a remarkable accomplishment. He was debt-free.

Peinado, a new graduate of the National Debt Relief Stimulus Plan (http://debtfreeleague.com/our_guarantee.html), initially joined the debt relief program somewhat skeptical. Unable to find the right solution to his debt, he had spent two torturous years gasping for air.

First, he lost his job of 15 years. The unforeseen event put his finances on the rocks. Whatever employment he found was unsuitable for his financial obligations.

For the past two years, he waited on tables as his income kept fluctuating.

Paying the bills grew tiresome. Although he paid on time, pleading with creditors to lower his interest rates wasn’t working. They just slammed their doors, stating they couldn’t help. His situation needed urgent attention.

Then, came the icing on the cake… He made the difficult decision to incur more debt by funding his terminally ill sister’s cancer treatment. It dragged Peinado $21,819.19 deeper in credit card debt.

Like most bankruptcy (http://debtfreeleague.com/bankruptcy.html) filers, he was unable to pay the medical bills.

Illness or medical bills contributed to 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007, according to an American Journal of Medicine study.

A New York Times article also indicates the amount of personal bankruptcies due to illness, is growing. The actual growth remains a mystery since medical bills are frequently camouflaged as credit card debt.

Confronting the dilemma of rampant medical debt (http://debtfreeleague.com/medical_debt_reduction.html), the Obama administration pushed for reform to make health care more affordable. But, until a bill is passed, those with insurmountable medical debts will continue their pilgrimage into bankruptcy court.

After a phone consultation with a Debt Free league financial adviser, Peinado decided a different path.

He chose the debt settlement (http://debtfreeleague.com/debt_settlement.html) company’s unique bankruptcy alternative, which helps consumers and small business owners throughout the country overcome severe financial hardships like his.

Peinado felt comfort from the San Diego-based organization’s community involvement. Their personnel volunteered with aid during the 2007 San Diego wildfires, and are active participants with various charitable causes, such as the fight against AIDS, Leukemia, and domestic violence.

Excitedly, Peinado states “I was scared and hesitant to start with a debt settlement company. But, the friendly financial adviser gave me total confidence when stating: Debt Free League works in the spirit of FULL DISCLOSURE. Plus, their fees were the lowest I found. And the incredible savings on the debt settlement letters on their website were very impressive.”

The company also offered Peinado the possibility of a much greater savings than credit counseling (http://www.debtfreeleague.com/consumer_credit_counseling.html). Plus, they allowed him to enroll his medical bills.

The debt had been piling up since 2007 when his sister was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Her financially and emotionally-draining illness changed his life.

Uterine cancer, also referred to as endometrial cancer, is the most common gynecological cancer in American women. 35,000 new cases are reported each year. The cancer, which grows in the muscular wall of the uterus, is curable with early detection.

However, doctors detected her cancer at a late stage. Abnormal cells had metastasized beyond her lymph glands into her fallopian tubes. Thereafter, cancerous growths invaded most of her body.

She eventually passed away, leaving Peinado independently fighting with substantial credit card debt (http://debtfreeleague.com/faq.html) and belligerent debt collectors.

Each day, Peinado mourns his sister’s passing. But is hopeful that time will take away the pain. For now, he has no more worries about creditor harassment, or his debt.

“To date, my sister’s death bears a heavy burden on me. But that’s destiny. My real outrage was the heartless debt collectors and their collection calls. If it weren’t for the National Debt Relief Stimulus Plan, the irritable stress would have pushed me into bankruptcy,” declares Peinado.

He figured he’d get out of debt in the course of twenty eight months, as the program initially estimated. Yet, he jovially achieved financial freedom in 12 months.

Peinado adds, “Debt Free League helped me save $13,657! They are a total reality and are the best path to start a new stress-free life without debt or financial obligations.”

Starting the 2010 New Year, the organization continued strong, aiding people to improve their financial misfortunes. For one client (whose name was omitted due to confidentiality), they were able to settle an $18,878.96 Chase Bank credit card balance for a debt total payoff of $2,831.84.

The 14 percent settlement represents a monumental achievement for the debt settlement industry (http://debtfreeleague.com/our_company.html), where the average client saves 50 percent.

The $16,047.12 the program saved can be a major life improvement for anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck. On the reverse, by continuing the minimum payment, a cardholder can be enslaved for many years, repaying as much as triple the original balance, over $56,000.

(Debt Free League client, Francisco Peinado gave permission to publish his story.)

About Debt Free League:                        

Debt Free League (http://www.debtfreeleague.com/) is the pioneer of the National Debt Relief Stimulus Plan. The debt settlement organization employs in-house, debt negotiation specialists. Their professional debt arbitrators help consumers and small business owners resolve financial hardships via negotiation of personal, medical, and business debt settlements. Free phone consultations are available by calling the company’s hot line at (800) 213-9968. They also provide bilingual services through their Spanish affiliate, Libre de Deudas (http://www.sealibrededeudas.com/).

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http://www.debtfreeleague.com/
800-213-9968

 

 

 
 
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Women’s bodies not for drug trials

By Susanna Rodell 

 

8:44 p.m. Wednesday, January 6, 2010

 

In 1979, my mother died of endometrial cancer, almost certainly caused by the huge doses of estrogen she had taken for a decade at the recommendation of her doctor to hold off the “symptoms” of menopause.

Twenty years later, before I had even reached that milestone myself, my doctor started suggesting that I begin what was then called hormone replacement therapy. I told her I wasn’t interested, but she wouldn’t let up, insisting I was in danger of osteoporosis and a host of other ills if I didn’t sign up for the drugs. I asked her to provide the scientific evidence on which she based that judgment. Within days, I received a letter in the mail telling me that she no longer wished to have me as a patient. I’d been fired.

Now Connie Barton, an Illinois woman who went along with a similar suggestion from her doctor, has won $75 million in punitive damages and $3.75 million in compensatory damages from Pfizer. Barton took the drug Prempro, produced by Wyeth (which was absorbed by Pfizer this year) for five years until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her the hormones would help prevent dementia and heart disease. She convinced a jury they caused her cancer.

Ever since doctors have figured out how to manipulate hormones, with their power to switch whole bodily systems on and off, it seems they have felt obliged to use that power. Pick your metaphor: Pandora’s box, stolen knowledge from the tree in the Garden. Certainly there have been benefits, the biggest of them perhaps in the form of birth control.

But the twin temptations of profit and control over women also have led to irresponsible — often deadly — misuse of hormonal therapies. Women have gone along, creating generations of guinea pigs whose lives have been damaged by experimental hormonal therapies. Will Barton’s victory (which Pfizer says it will appeal) change any of this?

In the mid-1970s, I gave birth to my first child. My pregnancy lasted longer than the “standard” 40 weeks, and my doctor began lobbying hard to induce labor. A host of dangers lurked, I was told, if the baby went too far overdue. I resisted, and my beautiful baby girl was born three weeks after her due date, plump and healthy. My subsequent three children were all born after drug-free labors and all after pregnancies that lasted at least 42 weeks.

Today, the use of powerful hormones to induce labor is as popular as ever, with doctors warning of dire outcomes once the 40-week deadline passes. All too often the drug (usually Pitocin) causes unnaturally strong and painful contractions. The mother-to-be is then offered more drugs to relieve the pain, resulting in a slowed-down labor, fetal distress and an emergency Caesarean section. A young woman I spoke to recently told me none of her friends had had a normal labor; all had been caught in the induction/Caesarean vortex.

I’m from the Second Wave generation, the women with the well-thumbed copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the ones who educated ourselves about the workings of our bodies, talked back to our gynecologists and revived the profession of midwifery.

I assumed that my daughters’ generation would give birth differently, just as I assumed mine would be on guard against the arguments that sold HRT drugs to my mother. What happened?

Well, some of us may have had the motivation to read up on the dangers of chemical intervention in our reproductive systems, but in a consumer economy, marketing still rules. Big pharma does a great job of pushing the view of natural female functions as pathology.

Even the critics of broad prescription of hormones to “treat” menopause will say it’s a good idea to relieve discomforts like hot flashes. I’ve been there. Hot flashes aren’t all that much fun, but they’re not exactly life-threatening.

The docs and the drug companies aren’t interested in the simple, the inexpensive and the noninvasive, and too few women question their prescriptions. The ability to manipulate our hormones has become knowledge as dangerous to us as that original revelation in the Garden of Eden. Eve is as vulnerable as ever.

 

Susanna Rodell lives in Atlanta.

 

Women’s bodies not for drug trials

By Susanna Rodell 

8:44 p.m. Wednesday, January 6, 2010 

In 1979, my mother died of endometrial cancer, almost certainly caused by the huge doses of estrogen she had taken for a decade at the recommendation of her doctor to hold off the “symptoms” of menopause.

Twenty years later, before I had even reached that milestone myself, my doctor started suggesting that I begin what was then called hormone replacement therapy. I told her I wasn’t interested, but she wouldn’t let up, insisting I was in danger of osteoporosis and a host of other ills if I didn’t sign up for the drugs. I asked her to provide the scientific evidence on which she based that judgment. Within days, I received a letter in the mail telling me that she no longer wished to have me as a patient. I’d been fired.

Now Connie Barton, an Illinois woman who went along with a similar suggestion from her doctor, has won $75 million in punitive damages and $3.75 million in compensatory damages from Pfizer. Barton took the drug Prempro, produced by Wyeth (which was absorbed by Pfizer this year) for five years until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her the hormones would help prevent dementia and heart disease. She convinced a jury they caused her cancer.

Ever since doctors have figured out how to manipulate hormones, with their power to switch whole bodily systems on and off, it seems they have felt obliged to use that power. Pick your metaphor: Pandora’s box, stolen knowledge from the tree in the Garden. Certainly there have been benefits, the biggest of them perhaps in the form of birth control.

But the twin temptations of profit and control over women also have led to irresponsible — often deadly — misuse of hormonal therapies. Women have gone along, creating generations of guinea pigs whose lives have been damaged by experimental hormonal therapies. Will Barton’s victory (which Pfizer says it will appeal) change any of this?

In the mid-1970s, I gave birth to my first child. My pregnancy lasted longer than the “standard” 40 weeks, and my doctor began lobbying hard to induce labor. A host of dangers lurked, I was told, if the baby went too far overdue. I resisted, and my beautiful baby girl was born three weeks after her due date, plump and healthy. My subsequent three children were all born after drug-free labors and all after pregnancies that lasted at least 42 weeks.

Today, the use of powerful hormones to induce labor is as popular as ever, with doctors warning of dire outcomes once the 40-week deadline passes. All too often the drug (usually Pitocin) causes unnaturally strong and painful contractions. The mother-to-be is then offered more drugs to relieve the pain, resulting in a slowed-down labor, fetal distress and an emergency Caesarean section. A young woman I spoke to recently told me none of her friends had had a normal labor; all had been caught in the induction/Caesarean vortex.

I’m from the Second Wave generation, the women with the well-thumbed copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the ones who educated ourselves about the workings of our bodies, talked back to our gynecologists and revived the profession of midwifery.

I assumed that my daughters’ generation would give birth differently, just as I assumed mine would be on guard against the arguments that sold HRT drugs to my mother. What happened?

Well, some of us may have had the motivation to read up on the dangers of chemical intervention in our reproductive systems, but in a consumer economy, marketing still rules. Big pharma does a great job of pushing the view of natural female functions as pathology.

Even the critics of broad prescription of hormones to “treat” menopause will say it’s a good idea to relieve discomforts like hot flashes. I’ve been there. Hot flashes aren’t all that much fun, but they’re not exactly life-threatening.

The docs and the drug companies aren’t interested in the simple, the inexpensive and the noninvasive, and too few women question their prescriptions. The ability to manipulate our hormones has become knowledge as dangerous to us as that original revelation in the Garden of Eden. Eve is as vulnerable as ever.

Susanna Rodell lives in Atlanta.

February 2, 2010

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