Dr. Oz's Colonoscopy Chronicles

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For a 21-year-old recently diagnosed with dysgerminoma (a form of ovarian cancer) currently undergoing chemotherapy, Dr. Mehmet Oz's article was a breath of fresh air in a stuffy hospital ward [Taking Cancer Seriously, June 27]. One of the hardest elements of chemotherapy treatment is feeling alone and misunderstood because of the unintended ignorance of the people around you. As a fit, healthy nonsmoker with no family history of cancer, I find it saddening and frustrating when others question me as to what I did wrong. Thank you, Oz, for rooting for me and for being so forward about your experience.

Most of my male friends and I (all now of a certain age) rely on experiences and advice from one another before listening to our spouses' demands that we do something about our nagging problems. Women are seemingly used to medical examinations and know more about the placement and behavior of internal organs. Oz alerts us cowardly men to step forward and seek professional advice.

In the third world, such modern medical procedures, preventions and cures are unknown to many. We have a local saying, Bawal magkasakit, which means, "Don't get sick." Medical expenses and professional fees will cost you a fortune and your life savings.

Sorry, guys. Having lost a dear friend to colon cancer and being a breast cancer survivor, I must say that Oz's cancer "scare" was a nonstory. We can all relate to how it would feel to have a cancer scare. But the true stories lie with those who have faced the real deal. Sadly, many of those stricken with cancer are no longer with us to recount them. That is reason enough to have the necessary cancer screenings.
Dianne Stuckman, GIBSONIA, PA., U.S.

Cancer Treatment Declined
Questioning why some cancer patients reject their doctor's advice [The Refuseniks, June 27], Ruth Davis Konigsberg identifies an important, yet frequently overlooked aspect of doctor-patient communication: patient-centeredness. Doctors generally adopt a paternalistic, doctor-centered approach. But tuning in to the patient's world not only creates opportunities for the patient to express concerns and expectations (and reasons for refusing treatment), but the doctor is also provided with insight into the patient's emotional state, thus allowing for appropriate intervention.
M. Silbert, CAPE TOWN

After my father was diagnosed with Stage IIIB esophageal cancer at age 78, he refused the recommended chemotherapy, to the frustration of oncologists, who predicted he'd be dead within a year. In July he will be 80. He drives himself to the gym every morning at 5 and does his own grocery shopping. It is hard for him to swallow certain foods, but he has adapted. A recent PET scan showed no spread of the cancer. His family found it hard to come to terms with his decision, but eventually we understood that if the "cure" is a daily routine of nausea and weakness, with no guarantee of success, what kind of life is that? Whether my father has six months left or six years, I want him to go out on his terms.
Jackie Altman, ARLINGTON, VA., U.S.

Turkey's E.U. Odds
Incredibly, Rana Foroohar attributes European pessimism or aversion about Turkey joining the E.U. simply to "Islamophobia" [Turkey's Man of the People, June 27]. Does she not know that Turkey is now said to have more journalists in prison than either China or Iran? Previously optimistic European politicians wishing to promote human rights in Turkey have been refused access to imprisoned journalists. They are now more pessimistic than ever about Turkey joining the E.U. Does TIME really believe that under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule, fair elections and a fair referendum can be held, and that Turkey is a working example of Muslim democracy?

Turkey's economic development and societal transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. Istanbul has re-emerged as a draw for lovers of the arts, history, fashion, high culture and fine food. Contrast this with the unfolding tragedy of Turkey's neighbor Greece, a member of the euro zone and the E.U., and one wonders why Turkey would at all be bothered with membership to such a club.

Your article fails to mention a key element affecting Turkey's future: the illegal 
 occupation by the Turkish army of sovereign E.U. territory in Cyprus. Nonsolution in Cyprus is largely due to the intransigence of the Turkish army, which since the 1950s was the main promoter there of communal division, and it has blighted Ankara's hope of accession to the E.U. Erdogan could make a major contribution to regional convergence and prove that genuine parliamentary control over the army has at last been established by helping to sponsor a solution that results in all Cypriots enjoying the full human and legal rights of E.U. citizenship.
Martin Packard, OXFORD, ENGLAND