Letters to the Editor

Widow spreads husband’s message: Male breast cancer is real but rare

The White House is illuminated pink in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1 2019, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Washington Monument is seen in the distance.
The White House is illuminated pink in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1 2019, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Washington Monument is seen in the distance. AP file photo

In 1983, my 37-year-old husband, Thurston Murray, was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. He underwent a modified radical mastectomy and 23 radiation treatments.

He did not shrink from his diagnosis as many men do; he embraced it.

He wrote to every major news magazine and was published (US News/World Report; Newsweek; Time). He interviewed with newspapers, television stations and the American Cancer Society website featured a story on him. He spoke to groups whenever asked. “If I help one person understand that this disease is real, then I will have felt purpose to my experience,” he said.

Researchers characterize male breast cancer as “statistically insignificant” due to its rarity. Less than 1% of breast cancer is diagnosed yearly in men. Thurston refused to be statistically insignificant. He touched many lives, male and female.

In 2017, Thurston passed away from another rare disease, but he survived breast cancer for 34 years, never having a recurrence. As his widow, I continue to tell his story so that, in his words, “If I help one person understand that this disease is real, then I will have felt purpose to my experience.”

Harris Murray

Lexington

It’s time to prioritize our children

I am a teacher, mother and grandmother, and I am always surrounded by amazing children. Their intelligence, willingness to learn and pure joy and liveliness are something to behold. When I read statistics that say 1 and 5 children around the world live in a conflict zone, it gives me pause.

How can we accept that the amount of school attacks around the world are among the highest ever recorded? How can stand by and do nothing as schools are deliberately shot at, bombed, torched and destroyed? How can we allow children to live in fear of their school being attacked by armed groups or being abducted from their place of learning? That is the reality of what is happening now, and the answer is that we can do something.

There is hope. We can urge Congressman Joe Wilson to sponsor a bipartisan resolution, House Resolution 277, which will help ensure children living in conflict zones can have access to safe and quality education.

Every child around the world deserves a future. Our elected officials can make a difference, but it is up to us to urge them to prioritize our most important assets – our amazing children.

Judy Ryan

Elgin

Hardee brings to mind little-known form of dementia

The recent editorial by The State titled “John Hardee took the wrong road that led him to prison” prompts me to write about a little-known form of dementia — known as frontotemporal dementia — that is characterized by a loss of judgment and an inability to control one’s impulses.

In May, the CBS program “60 Minutes” did a feature on frontotemporal dementia called “The Cruelest Disease You’ve Never Heard Of.”

I had never heard of frontotemporal dementia either until a family member was diagnosed with it. He was engaging in a number of inappropriate behaviors even though he knew the difference between right and wrong. It took extensive neurological tests and a lumbar puncture to reveal that he had frontotemporal dementia.

This disease has several variants: one takes a behavioral course and eventually takes away an individual’s personality — the other form affects speech and language and can result in ALS.

In the case of Hardee, I was struck by the judge’s observation that he had never seen anyone violate parole as quickly as Hardee had.

Hardee was a Rotarian who had never done anything wrong before; he was a man who had streets and highways named after him. Yet suddenly Hardee was repeatedly behaving in inappropriate ways.

Frontotemporal dementia is not a mental health condition, and inappropriate behaviors driven by frontotemporal dementia are not criminal. The reality is that these behaviors deserve careful scrutiny and dedicated caring over time.

Nancy Vineburgh

Bluffton

The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.

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