This blog must go on hiatus for a time. This blogger has esophageal cancer. I am scheduled for surgery January 31 and anticipate a 3 month or so recovery.
I’ve thought of myself as a reasonably healthy guy, supported with regular doctor visits. And I’ve popped Tums for nearly 30 years. This is me in front of the Tums Building, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1991.
Who knew that antacids, constantly promoted by Big Pharma, could be masking important symptoms my body was trying to message. Or that cigarettes and alcohol in my younger years had created a rich breeding ground for esophageal cancer.
Sh*t happens. And I’ve usually learned a lot in the process. Seems the cancer was caught very early. I feel that I am in good hands with the surgical team at University of Maryland Medical Center. And I’m looking forward to a resurrection in the Springtime. In the meantime, here’s a science lesson to help prevent the next guy from getting esophageal cancer.
The digestive system breaks down food for the body to use. The esophagus is part of this system. It is a tube-shaped organ, almost 10 inches long, that moves solids and liquids from your throat to your stomach. It is located toward the back of your chest just in front of your spine.
The wall of the esophagus has four main layers.
The inner layer that has contact with food is called the mucosa.
The second layer of the esophageal wall is called the submucosa. It consists of connective tissue and blood and nerve cells. It also contains larger lymph vessels.
The third layer is called the muscularis propria. It is mostly made of muscle fibers. These muscles help move food down the esophagus.
The fourth layer is called the adventitia. It is mostly made of connective tissue. It covers the entire esophagus and connects the esophagus to nearby tissues.
Esophageal cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in the esophagus, a tube-like structure that runs from your throat to your stomach. Food goes from the mouth to the stomach through the esophagus. The cancer starts at the inner layer of the esophagus and can spread throughout the other layers of the esophagus and to other parts of the body (metastasis).
There are a number of factors which increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer. They include:
Smoking or other use of tobacco
Heavy alcohol use
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which contents and acid from the stomach back up into the esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that affects the lower part of the esophagus and can lead to esophageal cancer; Barrett’s esophagus may be caused by GERD. Over time, stomach acid in the esophagus can cause changes in the cells that increase risk for adenocarcinoma.
In addition, certain groups — men, the elderly, and people who are obese — are at greater risk for esophageal cancer. Risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is higher in white men, but squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is more common in Asian men and men of color.
Esophageal cancer is deadly and increasing rapidly
The type of esophageal cancer caused by reflux disease is increasing at a faster rate than any other cancer in the U.S. Sadly, only those who catch their cancer at the earliest stages are likely to be cured. So finding the cancer early is very important.
Only one in five patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer will survive five years because it is most often caught at late stages. The disease is often only discovered when patients have a hard time swallowing because of a large tumor in their esophagus.
Though considered a rare disease, esophageal cancer takes more American lives each year than melanoma skin cancer or cervical cancer.
In 2007, LIVESTRONG executed a global cancer research study intended to give people affected by cancer a chance to share their cancer experiences and their perspectives on the cancer problem— a problem that is too often shrouded by stigma and silence.
Six “lessons learned” were derived from the global research results:
Around the world, cancer continues to carry a significant amount of stigma; however, there are opportunities to capitalize upon shifting perceptions and positive change.
Awareness of cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and survival are on the rise; however, too many people still report that they feel uninformed when it comes to cancer.
Communication is critical to decreasing cancer-related stigma, raising cancer awareness, and disseminating cancer education. People with a personal history of cancer—especially well-known or celebrity survivors—and multiple mass media channels are key resources for dissemination.
The school system represents a potential venue for cancer education, and increasing cancer awareness among children may be an investment with high returns.
When facing cancer, people around the world want information and emotional support for themselves and their families.
Tobacco use and poor nutrition are widely acknowledged as cancer risks. Programs and policies that help people translate this awareness into action are needed.
Bob Duggan, acupuncturist, teacher, and visionary, died a little over a year ago. In the time since, the world has changed by his absence. We are all deprived of his wisdom and his leadership. Acupuncturists, patients, SOPHIA students (School of Philosophy and Healing in Action), the community at Penn North Neighborhood Center, to name a few, have lost a mentor. I learned a different way of being in this world when I worked with Bob for many years at Tai Sophia Institute (now MUIH).
Bob’s accomplishments were many, but his impact was in how he changed the world for the better, one person at a time. His promise to all of us was that in his presence, “life will show up as a warm, creative, vision of the future.” Here is a small glimpse of that vision, a selection of Bob’s writings and speakings, and a couple stories about him.
Bob Duggan, Founder and President Emeritus, Maryland University of Integrative Health [EXCERPT]
Bob was a true pioneer in the field of integrative health and an assertive voice for wellness in America. He served as an educator, acupuncture practitioner, author, thought leader, and advocate, as well as an advisor to policymakers and organizations. . . .
Bob earned a master’s degree in human relations and community studies from New York University and a master’s degree in moral theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York. His master’s qualification in acupuncture was from the College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in the United Kingdom. Before focusing on health as a profession and a calling, Bob served as a priest in the U.S. and abroad.
Mentored from an early age by Ivan Illich, Bob often attributed his ability to challenge common assumptions and remain curious to Illich’s influence. This quote from Illich was highlighted in one of Bob’s books and was evidenced in much of Bob’s work: “In every society the dominant image of death determines the prevalent concept of health.”
Throughout his career, Bob advocated for patients and for the shifts necessary to create a wellness model of health. He testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, spoke at the National Institutes of Health and the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and presented at the first TEDx MidAtlantic Conference. He also served as chairman of the Maryland State Board of Acupuncture and as a board member for Howard County’s Horizon Foundation. He pioneered relationships with universities and health systems including Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.
A trailblazer for the acupuncture profession, in 1974, Bob and Dianne Connelly co-founded one of the first acupuncture clinics in the country, The Centre for Traditional Acupuncture in Columbia, Maryland. Joining them in this ambitious venture were their esteemed colleagues J. R. Worsley, Jack Daniel, Haig Ignatius, Erica Lazaro, and Warren Ross. From this early beginning, the Centre evolved into the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (TAI). TAI launched the nation’s second master’s degree in acupuncture in 1981, which then became the first to be accredited in 1985.
Bob went on to practice traditional acupuncture for 44 years. Over that time, he provided tens of thousands of treatments for patients who came to see him from around the nation. Bob also worked with Tai Sophia’s Community Health Initiative (CHI), which began by treating people with addictions at the Baltimore Detention Center and expanded to additional sites, including Penn North Neighborhood Center in inner-city Baltimore. Bob continued his work with Penn North until he became unable to do so. The work lives on through his family, alumni of Tai Sophia/MUIH, and others.
10 things I learned directly from Bob that make my life, and the lives of those around me, better every day.
by Lance David Isakov, M.Ac., L.Ac., (Village Wellness) October 7, 2016
1. Upset is optional: Choose not to live in the drama. We have a choice in how we relate to what’s happening and the perspective we take on it. The idea that we have a choice with how we respond to life’s circumstances brings freedom.
2. Allow yourself to be a beginner: It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, that’s how we learn. At any stage of life, allowing oneself to be a beginner opens up a bigger world of possibility, progress, and change.
3. Is it a problem or an opportunity?: This question provides a simple shift in perspective that gives you power to grow and learn rather than suffer.
4. Your symptom is your teacher: What if the body is wise? When it’s out of balance it sends a signal, or symptom. When we learn to listen to our symptoms we can truly heal. Understanding why you have a headache, for example, can lead you to empowered self awareness and healing. Often taking a medication masks the symptom but doesn’t grow your soul.
5. Will this serve the future generations?: This question reminds us to think big and remember that we matter. When speaking or acting, ask yourself “would this word or act make my ancestors proud?” and “will my words or act serve the future generations?”
6. Where do you feel it in your body? When you have an upset, ask yourself “where do I feel this in my body?” and allow the feeling. This is a simple and effective way to foster the connection between your mind and body and listen to it’s wisdom.
7. Listen: To truly listen means to pay more attention to the speaker than the thoughts in your own head.
8. Acknowledge others and be acknowledged. If someone said something nice to Bob, he would say, “I am practicing taking in acknowledgement, would you say that again so i can really take it in?” This is a powerful and challenging practice that creates so much beauty in the world – try it!
9. Word as Needle: Bob taught that the right words can have the same power of any acupuncture needle, medicine, herb, or drug.
10. Be who you are: How dare you not share the gifts you have with the world?
Common Sense for the Healing Arts, Essays by Robert M. Duggan (2003) [Selections]
I write this book to share the thought that our main task as we move between our birth and our death is to learn to live peacefully day-by-day. . . Living peacefully day-by-day demands common sense: eat moderately, breathe deeply, drink wisely, get plenty of sleep, accept life as it comes. And as we move through life, we have a marvelous resource — our symptoms, which remind us to slow down, be peaceful, to care for ourselves. It’s wondrous to me to think of the symptoms my body creates as my teachers. What especially keeps me going is knowing that life is about love, family, friends, community; about reaping the wisdom of the ancestors, then passing it on to our children and grandchildren.
Being an Observer
I have written and spoken frequently about the importance of being an observer, of seeing life exactly as it is and then bowing to it, accepting life fully, just as it is. The Tao, the Oneness of life, calls us to accept life, to live in the presence of life living us. It affirms that life is perfectly okay just as we find it. . . Living fully may simply be the the act of balancing two side of what seems a paradox, of balancing effort and effortlessness, being and doing, action and inaction, giving and receiving.
As I write, our nation in in the midst of a conflict in Kosovo. We are in opposition. Us versus Them. The people of our tradition versus people of another tradition, of one language versus those of another. . . Wonderful possibilities emerge as we begin to see the oneness. Most of the time, though, we dwell in an illusion of separateness . . . It’s generally accepted in our culture that we separate out who’s wrong and who’s right, who’s bad and who’s good. It’s hard for us to imagine how we would behave in a world where we didn’t place blame. What would it mean if we began looking for how one action begat another action begat another action? In such a world, how would we view the guns and addictions in the inner city? Would we see them as a call to the oneness?
Our nation’s founders . . based our democracy on respect for life as it appears, in diverse faiths and ideas, on compromise, and on service of the future. Now, however, more and more politicians ignore this heritage; they use oppositional tactics; they govern with an either/or, win/lose mentality in which those with the most power win. Many excellent leaders are recognizing this shift and are leaving the political arena in disgust or despair. Democracy is diminished when we become impervious about our own ideas and fail to accept life as it presents itself in others.
Evolving as Healers — An Interview with Bob Duggan of Tai Sophia Institute [EXCERPT]
Be Well World Staff, 2009
. . . Everyone is a healer. Because every word we speak . . . everything I say to Tim is either going to inspire Tim and open Tim up, or, if I get mean with Tim, Tim will contract and feel tight. But if he feels open and inspired, I think it is well-documented that his immune system is going to be stronger. If he’s upset and tight, he’s going to be much more vulnerable to closing down and to disease.
So, I think of the obligation of everyone to be a healer . . . everyone. The parents, the people in your office, and you with the people in your office. Yes, there are sometimes when a specific technique can be helpful. When I tore the quadriceps muscles on my knee, it was important that there was a surgeon to put it back together, and an anesthesiologist to keep me quiet while he did. But I did look to see that those individuals had healing qualities before I went to the surgery.
So that’s point number one, we all have to be healers. The technique is secondary to the healing. I take the tools, the acupuncture needle or the surgical scalpel, as an extension of the doctor. I take the herb given by Rebecca as an extension of Rebecca’s words and life force. I take the homeopathic preparation given by my daughter to my grandchild as empowered by her healing presence.
Breaking the Iron Triangle: Reducing Health-Care Costs in Corporate America
by Janene Holzberg (Baltimore Sun), December 30, 2012 [ABRIDGED]
Bob Duggan frequently refers to “our national disease-care system” when he talks about his new book, employing a term he has used across his 40-plus years as a healing-arts clinician and educator.
“We are spending fortunes and still not giving quality health care, and 40 million people have no access [to care] at all,” he said. “There would be no ‘fiscal cliff’ if unnecessary health-care expenses were eliminated.”
To bolster that argument, he quotes estimates that $1.2 trillion of the country’s annual health-care expenditures could be avoided if individuals made common-sense lifestyle changes.
Life expectancy in the United States is ranked 50th in the world, below most developed nations and some developing nations,” he said, attributing his statement to data published on the CIA World Factbook website.
Yet in 2009, U.S. federal, state and local governments, corporations and individuals together spent $2.5 trillion, or $8,047 per person, on health care, he writes, quoting National Health Expenditures 2009 Highlights.
“We must turn the medical conversation away from a war on disease and fear of our bodies, and expand our focus on learning and understanding ways of living well,” he writes.
“Moving from abstraction to embodied consciousness” with Robert Duggan
From the Audio Set: “Mysteries of Consciousness” Teleseminar Series, by Institute of Noetic Sciences, June 22, 2011
Abstraction may be our Original Sin. And “Consciousness” may be one of our most destructive abstractions. It seems odd to me to discuss consciousness when most individuals whom I encounter do not have an embodied sensory conscious awareness of their own body. A “headache” automatically becomes a problem to be tended with a pill rather than a moment of conscious awakening in which to remember that we have a “head” and that the complaint that it makes to us when we have our Observer awake may be teaching us to get more sleep, or water, or better quality food or less judgment about our neighbor or whatever. Is sensory awareness of the daily phenomena of life the only real consciousness . . . and when we are awake to that, we are awake to the whole?
CJ Schwarz is my wife. She’s also a mother, a neighbor, a social worker, an acupuncturist, a friend. One of her talents is painting which she took up about three years ago. Her paintings are mostly of subjects CJ and I encountered together (or at least I lived with the painting for the time it took to create). She was inspired by my mother, a professional painter, during the 8 years they knew each other. Mom always took great glee in showing CJ her latest project and sharpening her ability to see.
I paint by instinct and observation. I have always had an appreciation for Nature in its many forms. As a child I spent hours outdoors playing and many a time watching insects, examining flowers and admiring the spring and summer plants and trees. Landscapes and animals are my favorite subject matter. I am captivated by the colors, the light and shapes of a location.
Having always loved animals, I like to pay particularly close attention to an animal’s eyes in painting them. I hope to communicate the animal’s personality and what they might be thinking of in the moment. Lila is an extremely bright dog belonging to a friend of mine. I was captivated by the intensity of her eyes and her beautiful coat.
One can never truly capture the beauty of nature but, hopefully these paintings reflect some of its essence. Nature is not separate from us – we are nature.
The Korean War began June 25, 1950 in response to North Korea’s launch of a full-scale invasion across the 38th Parallel into South Korea. My father, William Harry Schwarz of Baltimore MD, had just graduated on June 10th from Virginia Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He married my mother (Jane Frances Imbach) on June 17th.
On August 14, 1950, Dad was called to active duty as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion, 2nd Army, Ft. Meade MD.
John Swinglish was a great man. I met him in 1973 when we were both involved with the Catholic Peace Fellowship near Catholic University in DC. During this time, he put his life on the line to oppose the Vietnam War.
I lost track of him about 10 years ago until I learned he died suddenly in early April. His friends will miss him for the quality of his friendship, his easy rapport, and unmistakable laugh. The world is a better place for his witness. It is a story that must not be forgotten.
[Posted 5/12/17; Updated 8/26/17, 9/19/17]
John Swinglish was found dead at his home in Odenton, MD from “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” on April 12, 2017. He was 73. John was born March 25, 1944. He was adopted by Aloysius and Jean Swinglish and grew up in Lakewood, OH near Cleveland where he attended St. Edward High School. In the early 1960s he enlisted in the Navy and served with Attack Squadron VA-42 at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA.
Following his military service, John came to Washington DC to work for a defense contractor doing research on nuclear guided-missile destroyers. But he became more and more disillusioned with the country’s war effort and became active with the Catholic Peace Fellowship at DC’s Emmaus House around 1968, attempting to influence the Catholic Church to re-establish its priorities.
In 1971, John was indicted, along with 27 other antiwar activists, for conspiracy to break into a Selective Service office in Camden, NJ and destruction of government property. The group came to be known as the Camden 28. Following a landmark trial that lasted 63 days, the 28 were found not guilty on all charges. The acquittals represented the first legal victory for the antiwar movement in five years of such draft board actions and prosecutions. The jury’s verdict moved Supreme Court Justice William Brennan to call the proceeding “one of the great trials of the 20th century.”
Following the trial, John returned to DC and transformed Emmaus House into a neighborhood social service center which he directed until 1982. On September 11, 1976, John married Mimi Darragh of McDonald, Pennsylvania. They divorced about seven years later and there were no children.
John later worked for the American Red Cross, providing emergency and disaster services, and founded his own photography business specializing in weddings and family events. He said, “I’ve finally figured out a way to get people to pay me to go to wild parties every week. It’s really not a bad life.” John was a featured narrator in the film, The Camden 28, which was released in 2007. He promoted the film widely and was proud of his contribution. He also contributed to the documentary Hit and Stay, released in 2014, about the efforts of the Catholic Left.
John was active in the Center of Light Church in Bowie and assisted with the youth groups there. He was a life-long reader and frequent writer and enjoyed road trips and Bowie Baysox games. After retiring, he devoted his life to befriending dogs of all kind as a dog sitter. John had a stroke in 2010 and was challenged by various ailments through the remaining years of his life.
John was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Jan Weiskittel of Columbia Station, Ohio. He is survived by Jan’s children Laura McDermott, Larry Weiskittel, Bob Weiskittel, Kati Emrick, and Joe Weiskittel, all of Ohio; Sharyn Carrasco of Texas; and Patti Leonard of Illinois. John is also survived by his goddaughter, Carrie Noel-Nosbaum of Silver Spring, MD. A memorial service was held on August 26, 2017 at the home of Ray and Ruth Noel-Nosbaum, Silver Spring, MD.
by Harry Schwarz, gleaned from a number of sources
The Shrine 6, arrested for nonviolent resistance
On Monday night, November 10, 1969 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the U.S. bishops [attending a meeting in Washington DC of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops] were attending a Mass in honor of the military. Billed as a “Peace Mass,” it featured military men carrying guns and swords around the Shrine as if it were one of their armories.
Outside, members of the Center for Christian Renewal and the Catholic Peace Fellowship were distributing leaflets and displaying large photographs depicting Viet Nam war atrocities. The leaflets protested “the prelates of the church which claims to have been founded by Jesus Christ walking hand in hand with the ‘Masters of War’ through the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.” The Christian Peace Message being distributed further protested the contemporary U.S. bishops acting as “the voice of Christ today,” yet choosing to “lie low, safely refraining from any strong statement condemning the hate, killing, and total dehumanization of our war-programmed society.”
The peace messengers had been displaying the photographs and distributing the leaflets for about· a half an hour when they were told by a Shrine usher that he was authorized by the administrator of the Shrine to halt any demonstrating or leafleting on Shrine property. A police officer then read the D.C. Code stating that they were subject to arrest if they did not stop at the usher’s request. “Our argument was that we, as Catholics, have a right to speak out on moral issues on Catholic Church property,” stated John Swinglish; “however, at his request, we did cease distributing literature, and we removed the photographs.”
Approximately fifteen minutes later, Joseph Coleman and John Swinglish, of the Catholic Peace Fellowship were arrested while standing in front of the shrine talking to two other members. The Shrine usher and police officer approached them and told them to leave since they were in possession of the peace literature. They refused to leave, stating that they “are Catholics and have a right to be on church property.” The usher stated that he had the right to tell anyone whom he did not want on Shrine property to leave. The officer read the D.C. Code and asked Coleman and Swinglish if they were going to leave. When they refused, they were arrested.
from The Catholic Peace Fellowship Bulletin, June 1970
The Camden 28
From a pamphlet that the defendants published about themselves
“We are twenty-eight men and women who, together with other resisters across the country, are trying with our lives to say no to the madness we see perpetrated by our government in the name of the American people the madness of our Vietnam policy, of the arms race, of our neglected cities and inhuman prisons. We do not believe that it is criminal to destroy pieces of paper which are used to bind men to involuntary servitude, which train these men to kill, and which send them to possibility die in an unjust, immoral, and illegal war. We stand for life and freedom and the building of communities of true friendship. We will continue to speak out and act for peace and justice, knowing that our spirit of resistance cannot be jailed or broken.”
Written, directed, and produced by Anthony Giacchino
The Camden 28 recalls a 1971 raid on a Camden, N.J., draft board office by “Catholic Left” activists protesting the Vietnam War and its effects on urban America. Arrested on site in a clearly planned sting, The Camden 28 reveals the story behind the arrests — a provocative tale of government intrigue and personal betrayal — and the ensuing legal battle, which Supreme Court Justice William Brennan called “one of the great trials of the 20th century.” Thirty-five years later, the participants take stock of the motives, fears, and costs of their activism — and its relevance to America today.
My grandparents, John and Marie Schwarz, were Baltimore antique dealers from at least 1925, until my grandmother liquidated the business in 1985. John took over the family business when he was about 25, located on Antique Row, 827 N. Howard Street, and moved it some years later to 2013/2015 North Charles Street. My grandfather was known throughout the Mid Atlantic and New England as a leading expert in the decorative arts and assisted in the development of that portion of the American collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Papa John and Dede brought together all of our extended family, and I grew up having great times hanging at their antique store. So many magical and fascinating googahs and places to hide for small people. I honored my grandparents for their business savvy and was counted on to help with accounting at times. I delivered holiday orders one December when I was 20, learned my way around Baltimore, and was introduced to some of its wealthiest neighborhoods. I was even with them at times as they traveled New England, buying antiques at small shops and auctions.
My grandmother continued managing the business after Papa John died in 1966, with the help of their daughter, Ann Keene. Antique furniture has infused all of our family. It enriches my artistic sense.
My mother, Jane Imbach Schwarz, is an artist. While I never inherited her skills in the fine arts, I am imbued with her spirit and fascination with our world. I loved her for her commitment to being a great artist, an inspirational teacher, for her social ease, and for the way she conquered her struggles.We’d have heated arguments precisely because we understood each other’s point of view, and I’d always get her jokes.