Mammograms, outpatient care for mastectomy discussedAs a...


February 15, 1997

Mammograms, outpatient care for mastectomy discussed

As a breast cancer patient, I recently chose outpatient surgery at the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, returning home the same day following a modified radical mastectomy. I am grateful that my experience differed greatly from those decribed in Michael Dresser's article (Jan. 31, "Longer hospital stays sought").

Prior to the operation, my surgeon carefully explained the circumstances under which I could be an outpatient.

If I chose to have reconstructive surgery, that option would not be available to me, as this required a hospital stay of several days.

The doctor said that the final decision as to whether I would be an outpatient would be made in the recovery room following surgery. I would have to be walking, talking and digesting light food and liquids before I could be discharged. There would be home visits from a nurse, arranged through the hospital.

Happily, I recovered quickly from surgery and left the hospital within a few hours. Being in the comfort of my own home so soon after the operation felt reassuring, and the visiting nurse provided the professional support needed.

As a volunteer for the Johns Hopkins Breast Center following my mastectomy, I surveyed women who, like myself, had recently undergone breast surgery for cancer. Overall their perceptions of the outpatient surgery experience mirrored mine.

I fervently hope that the choice to have a mastectomy as an outpatient remains a personal decision between the patient and her doctor, despite the unpleasant experiences some women have encountered.

Carol Stacey


Mammograms should be mandatory for women ages 40 and older.

I am 70, a two-year breast cancer survivor. My cancer was found by a routine mammogram, but was undetected by ''feel'' because it was so tiny it could only be seen by the mammogram. I am lucky. I have had no physical therapy, medication, radiation or chemotherapy. I spent only 24 hours in the hospital. If it had not been for the mammogram, I don't know where I'd be today.

Let's hear it for early detection for all women over 40.

Marjorie Greenebaum


Feed the poor, or help them help themselves?

I have been enlightened by the ''Tax questions'' columns running in The Sun. The tax law is as much a vehicle for social engineering as for raising money. Now we learn unreimbursed expenses for volunteering in charitable organizations are tax deductible. The organization, however, must be medical, health or nutrition related. That means I can get a tax deduction for feeding the poor, but not for volunteering in a job training program to give the poor a way out of poverty.

This is indicative of our approach to poverty before welfare reform. Keep the poor healthy and fed. Let's not work too hard at helping them out of poverty. I have often felt the poor have become the sheltered pets of politicians who want to sound noble and compassionate. It may give us the warm fuzzies to volunteer for soup kitchens, but it does not address the problem of poverty.

I am not concerned about not getting this tax deduction; I volunteer in a job training program. I am concerned about a society that does not address root causes of poverty and makes addressing those problems a top priority. I am concerned that the poor are not treated as human beings of worth, dignity and potential -- as contributing members of our nation.

Paul H. Wragg


Lampoon of Jackson is refreshing angle

Thank you for Gregory Kane's uproarious lampoon of Jesse Jackson. His Feb. 1 column is a most refreshing media perspective for those of us who lead lives of quiet desperation (and cynicism of the American political process). Self-anointed political leaders like Mr. Jackson have always impressed me as self-aggrandizing egotists who are desperately in need of an honest day's work.

The media acts irresponsibly when it reverently courts such characters. Most of us are raised to believe that reverends are clergy members who lead their congregations in worship, not political pundits who posture for media time while criticizing or defending any fad that keeps them in the nation's spotlight.

William Kinsley


Use volunteers to open museums

When will the mayor of our city wake up to the fact that Baltimore has a valuable resource -- volunteers?

Rather than close our city museums one day a week, how about setting up a volunteer program and keep the museums open?

Two things just might happen:

The museums may stay open and serve the public.

Many Baltimore residents may have an opportunity to serve their city.

L. H. Kolman


Medicare users ought to pay more

A Jan. 30 Sun editorial, ''Medicare at a crossroads,'' recommended that wealthy beneficiaries pay larger premiums to save the program.

Why does everybody pick on rich people when more money is needed?

The rich didn't cause the problem of a shortage of funds. The fairest approach is to have the people who use the program most pay the largest premiums.

Karl Berger


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