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Advocacy: One Warrior's Actions

On September 5, 2000, the word went out on some of the prostate cancer lists that a good friend, Ben Bunn, had finally succumbed to the disease that he had fought for years. Maynard Berkowitz, or "Berky," posted this to one of the lists, as part of a thread, "In Memory of Ben Bunn":

This is the third death that I have heard of just this week.

The first, Ben Bunn, then Eddie, the husband of Anne in S. Florida, and the one that hurt me the most was the passing on of Hannah Els.

Hannah's death was not prostate, but brain stem cancer. She was two and a half years old. Diagnosed at age 6 months, and lived in pain at the very end.

When I pass on, no big deal. I've lived a good life, and now at age 71, it's not really all that bad. But Hannah, she hasn't had time to live. I mourn her passing even more.

I never met Hannah, but I feel that I have known her for two and a half years.

Berky the Warrior
Folie &#agrave; Deux

A few hours later, I got this from Berky:


I am going to send the attached letter to 100 senators via snail mail, to 60 of the most widely read newspapers also by snail mail, and to every legislator in the US Congress via E-Mail.

I would not mind at all if you wanted to put it on Phoenix5.

The version that I will send to the newspapers is attached. The one to the senators and congresspersons is different only in the first paragraph.

Since I want to mail all of them at about the same time, I am printing them out right now. Then comes envelope stuffing. Maybe take me about a week or two. Labels are made out, and only the letters remain, but I can only work on it part time.

Berky the Warrior
Folie &#agrave; Deux

[the letter follows]

Maynard Z. Berkowitz
862 Mahogany Drive
Address Line 2
Minden, NV 89423
Home Phone 775-782-8569
September 19, 2000

Dear Editor,

The following is an open letter to all congresspersons. I hope you will see fit to publish it somewhere in your newspaper. You have permission to use my name and address if you wish.

I sit here, mulling over the death of a friend, a child two and a half years old, whom I have never met, and other deaths in this great land of ours, and I'm wondering why cancer, that kills so many Americans, is not a national priority.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 8.4 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer. Over 1.2 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year (2000), over 3,300 per day. Over 553 thousand deaths, just this year, and still its cure is not a national priority.

Since those 8.4 million Americans have mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, brothers, sisters, and other relatives, it would be safe to say that most Americans are touched by cancer, and it still is not a national priority.

From birth to death, an Americans chance of getting an invasive cancer is over 40%, and still its cure is not a national priority.

Those that are supposed to represent us appear to be more interested in giving our money away to foreign governments, or finding out if there is life on Mars than they are in life in their own house here and now.

As far as I am aware, no politician of any party has advocated an increase in spending for the purpose of research in finding a cure for cancer. There have been a few that have their own agendas to increase funding for specific cancers such as Dianne Feinstein for female cancers, but that is not enough.

My plea is for our elected officials know that the destruction of cancer should be, must be, at the top of our national priorities. Our expenditure for research for the cure of cancer must be doubled and redoubled again and again to ensure that cancer is no longer a threat to any persons life.

A cure will be found eventually. Why wait 10 or 20 years, why not today? Think about the number of lives that could be saved in 10 years, over 5 million.

Maynard Berkowitz

Berky can be reached at

Ben Bunn's story can be found here.

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