December 25, 2007

Navajos need to rename cancer

Dine College on quest to rename Navajo cancer terms[T]here's the issue of how to describe cancer. For decades, Navajos have used a word that when translated into English means, “the sore that does not heal”--lood doo na'dziihii.

It's Black-Spencer's biggest barrier and a description she says leads Navajos to lose any hope for survival. Officials at Dine College's Shiprock campus want to change that.

“A lot of people have this misconception that it doesn't heal and once you have it, it's a death sentence,” said Edward Garrison, a biology and public health instructor, who is working on a glossary of cancer terms. “It's very unfortunate that some of these translations have become entrenched.”

1 comment:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Not knowing the status of Navajo health care, writerfella still can state that cancer fairly well is a death sentence for the average Native American, even in the 21st Century. For the past four years, ending in July 2007, the acting director of the Indian Health Service in George Bush's administration was one Dr. Charles Grim, DDS, whose great thesis consisted of making Native patients medically informed so they may avoid disease and thus through prevention eventually have less need for medical care. And the result he envisioned was that the Indian Health Service might be able to get out of the medical care business altogether, thus allowing the conversion of IHS clinics and hospitals into 'wellness centers' that would educate patients further and bring them greater health through prevention. Being a dentist, Dr. Grim much is aware that brushing twice a day and flossing and avoiding sugary treats and seeing him twice a year will help the patient avoid all or most all dental ills through prevention and thus stay healthy. How does writerflla know this? He watched Dr. Grim's appearance before a Congressional committee on C-SPAN in 2003 and heard the man's plan for the future of the IHS. But such regimens would have limited effect on the needs of Native patients for medical practices other than dentistry. Still, the committee applauded and Dr. Grim was confirmed almost unanimously.
writerfella's next oldest brother died in 2005 from an autoimmune condition, Polyangioma nervosa. How would his becoming medically informed have prevented his disease and death? Cancers are caused by cosmic radiation, environmental encounters, viruses, and even genetics. How is it that being medically informed will prevent such cancers? And then there is the fact that whatever effective treatments for cancer that might be available also are far beyond the economic reach of the average Native American and especially the IHS.
Sounds like the 'Grim Syndrome' is at work, in that the Navajo only are lacking in medical information that then prevents them from seeking treatment...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'