Tuesday, 08 November 2011

new pastures

This is my first post on this site for quit a while. The reason is simple. Having been diagnosed with pancreas cancer some months ago my orientation changed. To support my new status, I created a new blog. 4 minute expressions.

The format is almost but not quite that of a personal journal. It is a record of my journey through these rough and unpredictable times.

I am just beginning to understand the nature of the disease and try to record at east some of what I know. The site is not morbid or depressing. It is just me. But it is also a move away from writing about politics, economics, business to something more personal and perhaps just as important.

As time goes by I find myself becoming more positive. My expectation is that I will somehow survive and carry on with my new life.

Please join me on the site. If you have cancer - especially of the pancreas - please get in touch. 4 minute expressions

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The roots of the organic food industry were sewn in the late 1960s with the dawn of a new wave of environmental awareness. 
The industry has since shown astonishing growth that has surprised its critics. According to the Organic Food: Global Industry Guide published in February 2009, the industry has a global value of $52 billion with a forecast to reach $83.1 billion by 2013.

The growth in organic foods from a fringe industry to a mainstream part of the food supply is partly the result of growing environmental awareness, partly the result of the growing scientific evidence of the superior nutritional value of organic food. 
... read more

Sunday, 11 September 2011


The treatment room is a room full of large black reclining chairs. On one wall is a large TV, always turned on, not always audible. The wall to the right of theTV has a window that faces onto an attractive garden. Once you have seen the doctor, you select your seat and wait for the nurses. The mixture is prepared by the pharmacist. I don't have a port. A port is a semi-permanent arrangement that eliminates the need to find a new vein every time. I have to settle for an IV. It can last a few hours. The mixture can burn as it goes through the veins but when it is over for another week, it is over. Then there is just the fatigue that follows a day or two later. A fatiguee unlike any other. You may only succumb. Then, life goes on.

Tuesday, 09 August 2011

A glimmer of hope

The Cancer post was written just over a month ago. Since then treatment has started. Apart from the treatment, I have encountered a lot of information about people making full recoveries from cancer.

The first glimmer of hope came about as a result of the chemotherapy. Apart from a feeling of total fatigue on day three, the side effects were minimal. More importantly, after only one treatment I was feeling much stronger.

Actually, the description of one treatment is not quite accurate. I had one "traditional" chemo treatment through an IV lasting about 3 hours. In addition, I have another "new generation" chemo therapy that I take in the form of a daily tablet. The traditional treatment attacks all fast acting cells in the body. The tablet targets only cancer cells. It attackes a specific form of protein that is found in malignant cells. It has few side effects. The main side effect is an extensive rash all over my body. It itches. It looks like achne.

The other ray of hope stems from what I have been reading. It seems that lots of people have cured themselves of cancer by maintaining a positive attitude, the will to live, relaxation, meditation and visualisations.

If others can do it, why not me?

Sunday, 07 August 2011


Everything was just fin on the morning of 1 June. It was my first day at a new job with one of the few companies that I would want to work. The company had planned three days of induction and the first was a lot of fun.

At about 10:00 p.m. I began to experience extreme pain in the upper abdomen. It was an enlarged spleen, possible with an infarction pressing against my left lung. The pain intensified and I was battling to breathe.

A voluntary medical rescue organization called Hatzollah put me on oxygen and got me to the hospital. My condition stabilized with the help of painkillers. Blood was taken and my chest x-rayed. The doctor on duty wanted to follow up on something from the blood tests. He suspected a possible clot on the lung.

I was sent home at 2:00 a.m. and asked to return at 6:30 for a CT scan of my chest. Several hours later, another doctor came to see me. There was no clot on the lung. “You have pneumonia,” he said. “1000 percent its pneumonia,” he continued. A massive prescription for penicillin and pain killers followed and I was sent home to recover.

Over the next few days, I lay in bed. I was very weak and able to eat only a mouthful to be able to take my medicines. By the 9th of June I had lost 4.5 kg. A visit to my GP revealed possible hepatitis.

More rest and an attempt to return to work followed. But now I began experiencing some pain in the right hand side of my abdomen and I was sent for an ultrasound scan of the entire area. A visit to a physician followed by a biopsy on some the lesions of the liver revealed malignant cells. It was cancer. The cancer originated in the pancreas and had spread to the liver.

The prognosis is poor. There is no cure. One in three respond to chemo. My chemotherapy will be starting on Friday. I hope that I will be amongst the one in three. I hope that I will be amongst the one in a million that survive longer than the one in three.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why can't we give peace a chance?

In 1969 John Lennon released a song that became an anthem of the peace movement. The song's lyrics simply point to the human need to give peace a chance. It was part of his contribution to the peace movement. In another song, John Lennon sings that "war is over if you want it".
Forty two years later and there are wars on almost every continent. In every case it can be argued that there is something that people want more than peace. They want power. They want to dominate each other. They want their own particular view of life to prevail over another view. Sometimes people fight for freedom.
Instead of an end to fear, premature deaths and destruction, millions of people around the world live in fear.
Perhaps the biggest benefactors of war are the arms manufacturers. The more people play at war, the more money they make. Sometimes both sides use weapons built in the same factory. The deaths of others can help build wealth.
What happened to the dream?

Friday, 29 April 2011

Twenty minute meals

Many people shy away from cooking for themselves because cooking is thought to be a very time consuming business. But there are many ways to make good, healthy and delicious meals in no more than twenty minutes.
One great meal that can be made in twenty minutes is stir-fry meat and vegetables with pasta or noodles. Any type of or Chinese noodles or pasta will do for this recipe. The process of producing either Chinese noodles or pasta is virtually identical. When buying the pasta or noodles make sure that you buy a quality product. The ingredients of the pasta should be durum wheat semolina.
Many cuts of meat are suitable for stir-fry. Chicken provides a good low-cholesterol alternative to red meats. Many supermarkets and butchers sell beef and chicken ready cut into long thin strips specifically for stir frying.
Lemon juice is one of the best marinades available for meat. Squeeze a juicy lemon over the meat before you start and let it stand. Add a little soya sauce the Chinese or Japanese soya sauces are best to add flavour and colour.
You may use a variety of vegetables as part of the stir fry. The main rule is to cut everything into thin long strips - about the same length as the meat. Carrots, baby marrows, sweet peppers, spring onions, red cabbage, mushrooms and bean sprouts add colour and flavour to the meal. Pineapple cut into strips adds sweetness and counterbalances the herbs and chillies. Cut a fresh tomato into strips and keep in a separate bowl as these are added at the end. Add some parsley and any other available herbs to the mixture.
Olive oil is ideal for stir frying. Use only enough to cover the surface of the pan. For flavour, crush a few cloves of garlic into the olive oil. Fresh herbs - parsley, coriander, rocket, and rosemary - may be chopped and squeezed into the oil as well. Optionally, add some freshly chopped chilli, ginger and paprika. Add some whole or ground coriander seeds and ground black pepper.
Heat the oil over a gentle heat while a large pot of salted water is heated to boiling point.
Once the water boils add the pasta and stir. Turn the heat of the stir-fry pan or wok to full. When the pan becomes very hot add the meat and stir. Add the vegetables and stir. As soon as the meat or chicken changes colour (within 60 to 90 seconds) it is ready to eat! Add the fresh tomato and stir in some soy sauce.
Some excellent soy sauces are available at Chinese shops at very low cost. The best of these do not contain MSG. A dark soy sauce imparts a rich dark colour to your food.
Cover the pan and remove from the heat. Once the pasta is ready, drain the water and add a little olive oil. Toss well and add the stir-fry mixture. Mix well and distribute generous portions. Serve with a fresh green salad.
The longest part of the preparation is in the chopping of the meat and vegetables. Both are usually available ready chopped. Use the pre-prepared ingredients with pleasure as long as they are fresh.
Stir-fried food is lightly cooked retaining all of the flavour and nutrients of the ingredients. Once you have pre-prepared meat and vegetables and boiling water the entire meal can be prepared in less than ten minutes or as long as it takes to cook the pasta.
Experiment with different vegetables, herbs and spices.
A variation is to mix the herbs and spices with the soy sauce into a paste. Cook this gently with the tomatoes and add to the mixture at the end.