Prostate cancer awareness: Take it personally
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Many readers may have either had the disease, know someone who’s had it or tragically know a man who’s lost his life to it. Having touched all three of those bases, I’d like to address this subject from a personal standpoint.
For me, it began with the insistence of my “old school family doctor” and friend to begin carefully monitoring an incrementally rising, but not especially high, PSA score. “Dr. John” felt it was important to establish a “baseline” number and then watch for increases based on the percentage of any jumps.
After almost a decade of “watching,” John recommended I see a urologist, who urged having a biopsy done. That’s when the idea of having cancer in my early 50s suddenly became a real possibility. How could that be when I had no overt symptoms? I went for the test, and another one a few years later. Both came back showing nothing growing. The third time, however, was not a charm.
Plans needed to be made going forward. My wife and I carefully studied all the treatment options and chose laparoscopic surgery, to be done at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City.
When everything was confirmed we sat down with our children to go over the arrangements. It was a tough conversation, but she and I had confidence in my terrific surgeon and our decision. The operation was a complete success followed by a full recovery.
Having read articles on the possibility of this type of cancer running in some families, I brought male cousins into the loop. The emphasis was on following PSA results with a focus on the percentage of increase from previous scores. Shortly thereafter, two were diagnosed and very successfully treated for the disease.
A stunning, heartbreaking, little known statistic regarding this oft-times silent killer is how it has an especially outsized, negative impact on African Americans, who die at about two times the rate of their white peers.
Given advancements in testing, diagnosis and treatment, this disease is beatable. Have frank conversations with your wives, loved ones, doctors and men you’ve known who’ve had prostate cancer. If you’re a Black man, you need to be especially vigilant.
The trick is to not let this illness get too far ahead of you. Be proactive! September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. All men should take it seriously and personally.
Electrification survey a likely dud
The online survey being conducted by the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning to understand the extent of public support for electrification of Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jefferson Branch is nothing new.
It is available on the Village of Port Jefferson website. The idea has been periodically advocated since the 1960s by generations of elected officials with no success. In 1970, electrification was extended from Mineola to Huntington. In the 1980s, discussions took place between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, LIRR, Suffolk County and elected officials over which branch should be electrified first.
The Ronkonkoma Branch was selected over the Port Jefferson Branch. It took 35 years before completion of full double track-electrification between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma. The estimated cost to extend electrification east beyond Huntington today is $3.6 billion. This will increase over time.
Billions are necessary to pay for planning, design and engineering, environmental review, land acquisition for construction of power substations, expansion of commuter parking, relocation and/or consolidation of existing stations, new stations and platforms, new electric multiple-unit car storage yard, double tracking, third rail, signals and construction management.
From start to finish could require 15-20 years. For the project to proceed, it must be included within the MTA’s upcoming 2025-2044 Needs Assessment plan, due to be released in October.
To pay for future construction, the project would require a Federal Transit Administration Full Funding Grant Agreement under the national competitive discretionary Capital Investments Grant Core Capacity New Starts program. It would have to be matched by $2 billion or more of local MTA sources.
Even if the project is given a green light, based upon my past experiences on other FTA-MTA-LIRR projects, Port Jefferson Branch electrification will not be completed until 2040 or later.
Supporters should lobby Gov. Kathy Hochul [D], MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi if you ever want to see this project get underway within your lifetime.
Beyond nuclear deterrence
Joseph Levine’s letter [“Context for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Aug. 24] suggests that mutual assured destruction, or nuclear deterrence, will keep superpowers from launching preemptive nuclear strikes because of the prospect of devastating retaliation. This view reflects current U.S. policy and is held by many thoughtful persons, but there is a risk associated with this policy that deserves discussion.
The technological complexity of the current system of command and control of thousands of nuclear weapons on high alert capable of being launched within minutes leaves us vulnerable to disaster. A history of close calls involving accidents, computer failure, false alarms and human misjudgment shows the system is vulnerable and that its failure could lead to an accidental nuclear war.
In a world without nuclear weapons our nation, possessing overwhelming military superiority, could not be held at risk by an impoverished North Korea led by a dictator. The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has not been signed by the U.S. and other nations that possess nuclear weapons, but it is a step in the right direction toward a safer world.
Editor’s note: The writer is a distinguished service professor emeritus at Stony Brook University and a former Marine officer, who served as a member of the U.S. nuclear weapon negotiating delegations with the Soviet Union in Geneva, Switzerland, and at the U.N
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