Good News Blog

Great Stuff

Monday, Jan. 26, 2009

Saved: Rescued animals and the lives they transform

If you liked Dewey The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World and loved Marley and Me (the movie of which I’m not a big fan), you’ll adore Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform.

It’s an emotional collection of 28 real stories about pets which were rescued — and which in turn rescued their new owners or transformed their lives. Think of it as a Chicken Soup for the Soul about animal rescues.

One of the stories is about Don and Darlene Ahlstrom from Minnesota who adopted two Great Pyrenees.

The dogs had been found in a ditch, starving, left behind after having been severely beaten with an iron pipe or bat. A call for donations to help to provide care for them had donations pouring in at the Humane Society; donations and applications to adopt the dogs.

The Ahlstroms got them. They named them Hope and Chance and brought them back to their home; a hospice and adult foster care home. There, in the past 10 years, they’ve become part of daily life, encouraging and comforting many. Especially Hope, who before going outside checks into every resident each morning.

The dogs help people make the difficult move away from independent living. And sometimes they have a bond beyond the ones we can establish. One of the residents, Mildred, suffers from Alzheimer and seems far, far away; she usually sits in her wheel chair, staring away in the distance, not being there. But when Hope comes to sit with her she comes back, comes alive, and her hand reaches out to pet him gently.

Karin Winegar ended up doing 28 stories, collecting them coast to coast, but says she could easily have done ten thousand.

She says Hope and Chance’s story is typical of the stories in her book.

“It was exactly what we had in mind: reciprocal rescue. How an abused animal, rejected and abandoned, is rescued and really gives back more than it was given.

That’s what ‘Saved’ is about. It’s about reciprocity and the human-animal bond.

Our connection to animals is so primal to us and so joyful and necessary that even when we forget our spouses, we remember the animals.”

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008

Backgammon Online – Gammon?

As I promised in my last post Backgammon – Rules & Practice I’ve looked further into the free software to play backgammon games on

They provide clear, step-by-step instructions on downloading and installing the software. Once setup you can choose between practice mode and real money mode.

Real money mode is where you play for money, a little bit like in an online casino. No payment is required: signing up gives you $5 playing money. If you do make a deposit, then the first time you do so gives you  30% more money than you deposit!

Of course very different from a regular online casino, backgammon is not a pure chance game.

To better your chances of winning you have to learn how to play backgammon and especially online backgammon.

For most of us it is best to start with a refresher of the rules of how to play backgammon.  In a nutshell: “The objective of backgammon is to remove all 15 checkers from the board before your opponent does. This is done by first getting all of the checkers into your home board, and then removing all of your checkers according to the dice score. This stage of taking your checkers off of the board is called the bear-off. The winner of the game, according to backgammon rules, is the player that succeeds in bearing off all of his checkers first.”

And by the way, did you know that there is both backgammon and gammon?

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

Backgammon – Rules & Practice

I love playing board games like checkers, chess and backgammon. Only problem is that when it comes to backgammon I have no idea what I’m doing. What makes it even harder is that I have no-one around here that enjoys the game as well, so practice is out of the question.

Yesterday I decided that enough was enough; I went online to do some backgammon related searches. Of course Wikipedia’s backgammon entry came up time and time again but also some really interesting entries such as The WWW Backgammon Page – the first ever webpage on backgammon which has been online since 1994 (made by a then young Stephen Turner who now is CTO of ClickTracks).

Either way, through that search I found 1 on 1 Backgammon which features a whole slew of game guides for backgammon. They start easy with Learn How To Play Backgammon (which is where I think I should start again!), move through opening role moves and replies, and finish with heavy stuff like betting and game variants such as Tabula and Longgammon.

Hang on, did you just read the word betting? Betting?! Yes, betting. You can actually play backgammon online for money. Now, as you understand, a small part of backgammon is luck – but a larger part is strategy. Some of the online backgammon games are quite different so the community has created a site for that too; BGPrime where you can learn all the rules of online backgammon.

To practice the different types of backgammon games you can download free software from BGRoom (thanks for the tip, Dawes!).

I’ll be looking into these over the next couple of days and plan to write more about them later this weekend.

Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

Guide to Online Schools

Living in a somewhat remote location, one of the things I appreciate most from the web is the access to knowledge and information.

That holds true for simple work related research or looking up a step-by-step tutorial to figure out how to fix my kitchen sink. But increasingly it also holds true for real, hard knowledge: educational knowledge.

For example, recently the Berkeley University of California put 300 hours of video from their courses online. And a number of universities do similar via iTunes.

The drawback of such an education is of course that it doesn’t cumilate into anything tangible such as a degree. Without that you have the knowledge but not the big bucks that comes with that knowledge.

This is where online educaton comes in, often referred to as distance learning.

Distance learning can involve anything from synchroneous to asynchroneous access to your instructor. But in all cases it means doing real studying to get a real certificate.

The upshot of distance learning is of course that you do it from the convenience of your own home, using your computer and Internet connection, and that you do it at your own pace.

The downshot of it is that there are many “ceritifcate for sale” web sites out there. Basically you pay for “tuition”, you do some fake work using bogus information, and you receive a (worthless) certificate.

What you need are accredite online colleges and universities. The ones whose certficates are recognized as true and valueable.

Recently I had to advise a friend on this and … well… it’s harder than I thought. Search. Find online college. Search again using the name of this college. Read a lot of spam (fake comments) put out by that college. Try to find the real reviews. Strike it off the list. Move on to the next…

I was a solid amount of hours into this education search when I hit upon Guide to Online Schools. This site is amazing!

They’ve done this type of research for me and have listed 119 accredited online colleges and universities offering a total of 2500+ online degrees and courses.

For every online school, college or university the accreditation, which you can easily verify yourself, is listed. For example, take a look at their listing of the George Washington University:

George Washington University is accredited by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Here comes the catch: this is a resource site. They list the schools and online degree programs, cross reference them … and that’s it.

Interested in a course? *Click* and you are presented with a contact form to fill out which basically will have the school contact you. No gimmick here, no rip-off. Just a straightforward resource.

The range of online courses they’ve got listed is amazing (well, has to be with over 100 schools…). It ranges from “softy” social work to a criminal justice degree online course, all the way back to a online psychology degree.

If you’re not actively looking for an online degree you should still bookmark the site. Their Online Degrees & Online Learning Resources page is amazing.


Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2007

I asked the angels to protect it

The night was freezing.

It was just past midnight on Dec. 24, 1983, and 21-year-old Tim Anderson and a friend were driving to Illinois from Fort Wayne, the last leg on their trip home from the East Coast.

Snug inside her Arlington Heights, Ill., home, Tim’s mother, Joan Wester Anderson, was praying for his safe arrival.

Anderson and his friend were traveling on a rural road — a shortcut back to the interstate after dropping off a third friend — when the unthinkable happened.

The car sputtered, died and stalled. There were no lights, no traffic, and the wind chill was deadly.

The two young men sat, horrified, as the freezing cold began seeping in. Soon, they could barely feel their legs.

And at home, Tim’s mother, overcome with a foreboding of doom, still prayed.

“God,” Wester Anderson said. “Send someone to help them.”

What happened next inspired her to walk a new path, to begin writing a series of books about angels and their work here on Earth.

Her first, “Where Angels Walk,” was published in 1992 and hit the New York Times bestseller list. Her latest, “Guardian Angels: True Stories of Answered Prayers,” came out in 2006.

“That Christmas, everything went wrong,” she recalled. “We always said that was our worst Christmas ever, until we found out it was our best Christmas ever.”

Out of the snowy darkness, a tow truck appeared behind the two men. The driver, unrecognizable under his winter trappings, knocked on the door.

“Need a tow?” he asked.

The men gratefully accepted and gave directions back to their friend’s house. The driver pulled in front and hitched the car, pulling it behind him.

He pulled into the cul-de-sac, and Tim Anderson stumbled up to the door on near-frozen legs, asking his friend for money to pay the tow truck operator.

His friend looked puzzled.

Anderson turned around.

The truck was gone. There had been no sound of chains releasing, no goodbye.

And the only tracks in the snow were from his own car.

“I found out, later, finally, what happened,” Wester Anderson recalled. “And when (Tim) told me about the tow truck driver, I got a rush of goosebumps. And I’ve realized since then that whenever I’m sensing something that is God-related or inspired, I’ll get goosebumps. We have a tendency to rationalize things so much, I think God goes right for our souls.”

She believes God sent an angel to help her son. And she believes, too, that angels are everywhere, helping us when we need them most.

“God gave us beings to help us,” she said. “Angels save us, they protect us, they keep us out of danger. I think they help us all the time, but they don’t stay around to get involved — all the glory goes to God.”

After her personal experience, Wester Anderson, a freelance writer and columnist, began researching angels and tentatively asking people for their own angel experiences.

Over time, she’s heard hundreds of stories, enough to fill her first book — and six more.

“At speaking engagements, I would tell Tim’s story, and when I was done, there would be a hush in the room,” she recalled. “And some people would roll their eyes … but others would get that look; I started calling it ‘The Look.’ And they would say, ‘Something happened to me … ’ ”

Wester Anderson, a Catholic, has done extensive research on angels since those early days.

“I don’t believe angels are the spirits of people who have died,” she said. “If you look at the description of angels in Scripture, in the Bible … it says angels are a separate creation. Angels are not human, they never were, and they never will be.”

She does believe, however, that each of us has a guardian angel that watches over us.

Angels play prominently in a local story featured in Wester Anderson’s latest book, one that focuses on both angels and answered prayers.

One of the chapters details the story of the Monsignor Frank Korba, pastor of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Munster.

He’ll happily tell it again and again.

“It’s one of my favorite stories,” he said. “And I know, people read things and think, ‘Oh, yeah, right,’ but I tell you — every word is true.”

The story recounts what happened when Korba inadvertently mailed an open envelope overstuffed with cash and checks — that week’s collection — to the church’s chancellery in Parma, Ohio.

He’d meant to take the envelope — already stamped and addressed — to the bank and exchange it for a cashier’s check; he dropped it into a mailbox in Munster with the rest of the outgoing mail instead.

Soon realizing his mistake, he tried desperately to get it back.

But the mail had already been picked up. He then rushed to the Gary post office, but had no luck there, either.

Panic-stricken, he prayed. Constantly. A staunch believer in angels, Korba asked God to send His angels to protect the envelope.

“There was probably $700 to $800 in cash in there, and another $1,000 in checks,” he recalled. “I prayed my head off.”

Hearing nothing from the local post offices, Korba finally made the inevitable, dreaded phone call to the Parma, Ohio, office, ready to apologize and explain.

There, he learned, the envelope — still open — had just arrived. Everything was intact.

“I asked the angels to protect it, and they did — from Munster to Gary to Cleveland to Parma,” he said. “I believe it was angels, and I believe it was a miracle.”

Although Wester Anderson, now living in Prospect Heights, isn’t planning any more angel books, the stories keep coming.

“The world has gotten spiritually darker, I think,” she said. “There’s so much anger and violence. I think of Billy Graham, who said in the ’70s, ‘In the coming dark times, angels will prove to be a light to many.’ I just thought that was very prophetic, because, I, for one, feel like we are in a dark time. I think people are calling upon God more frequently.”

Thursday, Mar. 23, 2006

Raise money for charity by searching

Web users can earn money for children’s charity NSPCC by performing searches through a new site.

Called Click’s Count, the site uses MSN search technology, and will see MSN donate money each time someone uses it to search.

The campaign is being supported by singer Simon Webbe, TV stars Sheree Murphy (Emmerdale and I’m a Celebrity), Shobna Gulati (Coronation St) and Claire Nasir (GMTV).

It is hoped the campaign, launches today, will raise thousands of pounds for the charity.

Elaine Dodds, NSPCC head of corporate fundraising said: “All the best fundraising ideas are simple and this one really couldn’t be simpler. Every day, millions of searches are carried out across the UK. Now, thanks to MSN, each search can also raise money for children who are in desperate need of help.”

To spread the word the URL can be emailed to others directly from the site, or people can sign up to use the ‘Clicks Count’ email autosignatures on the bottom of their emails.

MSN Search is hoping its charity search site will capture public imagination and is looking to roll it out as a permanent fundraising support service in the future.

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005

Cat litter smell thing of the past

Smart CAT Box inventor Sara Maguire and her husband Walter, operators of Providence House Manufacturing based in Seal Rock, have produced a cat box system that eliminates the need for traditional clay or clumping cat litters and allows the pet owner to neatly drain urine – or scoop solids – from the box right into the toilet.

Most noteworthy to indoor cat owners everywhere – the Smart CAT (Cat Advanced Technology) Box system is odorless and completely eliminates the “cat litter smell” that has plagued the homes of pet owners for decades.

The Maguires’ cat box revolution is made possible by two major advances: the use of a natural material in the cat box in place of traditional clay cat litter; and a drainage system that funnels liquid waste into a contained reservoir, which may be easily removed and drained without requiring the pet owner to come into contact with the contents.

“I’m basically a lazy person, and I got tired of scooping the litter box every day,” said Sara. “It’s a good product, it really works.”

Sara designed the Smart CAT Box in 2004. The box is about the same size as a traditional litter box measuring 20 inches in length and 15-1/2 inches in width; and at 7-1/2 inches tall has added height as a result of its unique reservoir system. The box is actually divided into two boxes, one atop the other, with the top box including a slotted bottom that allows liquids to drain through to the slanted floor underneath and into the collection reservoir.

When Sara invented the system, she used wax-covered corncob pellets as a non-absorbent “litter,” the same material often used by breeders of Guinea pigs and other small animals as a pen liner; but it “just wasn’t right,” Sara said. “I kept searching and searching and I walked into Wal-Mart one day and saw safflower seeds sold as bird food.” She bought a bag to try in the Smart CAT box and worked, but not quite well enough.

Sara contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture and inquired as to whether they could direct her to a safflower research specialist – she was looking for a seed that was higher in oil than the variety readily available as bird food. The higher the oil content, the better able the seed is to shed liquid and the less likely it is to stick to any solid matter in the box.

She was put in touch with Dr. Jerald Bergman, a leading researcher with more than 30 years’ experience in the field of safflower breeding. Bergman holds exclusive genetic and patent rights to products developed through Safflower Technologies International based in Sidney, Mont., and after speaking with the Maguires about their invention, he gave them permission to his specialized seeds with their cat box system.

“Dr. Bergsman has the rights to the seed, no none else can use it without his permission,” Sara said. “What you find at Wal-Mart is good, it works; but the difference is the seeds at Wal-Mart are 38 percent oil, while the seed developed by Dr. Bergsman is 50 percent oil – it’s the stuff they press into safflower oil.”

Bergsman’s seed, patented as Nutrasaff, is also used in baby foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, lip balm, and snack food, among other products.

“And the cats like it better,” said Walter. “If the corncob is good, the (Wal-Mart) seeds are better, and this is the best.”

Solid pet waste may be easily scooped from the Nutrasaff safflower seeds. “They don’t stick,” Sara noted.

During a demonstration Sara performed for the News-Times, she poured 3/4 of a cup of water onto the Nutrasaff safflower seeds in the Smart CAT Box then removed the reservoir from the lower box. The reservoir is built to capture up to 24 ounces of liquid at a time, “enough capacity for one cat for several days, or for a few days for multiple cats,” the Maguires said.

When Sara removed the reservoir and poured the water back into the measuring cup, 3/4 of a cup of water was reclaimed.

The covered “drawer” locks into place for proper positioning and is designed to be removed rather easily. The unit includes a spout at one end to allow the pet owner to drain it into the toilet and replace it into the box without ever touching the liquid.

“(The seed) does not absorb odor, it does not absorb moisture, and it’s environmentally friendly,” Sara said. “When I was using scoopable litter, I was shoveling and scraping and scooping (the waste) up and where does the urine go? It stays in the litter. Now there’s a place for the urine to go.”

There are several other reasons for pet owners to make the switch from clumping litter to the Smart CAT Box system; namely, sodium bentonite, the clumping agent used to make clay litter “scoopable.” Sodium bentonite has characteristics similar to expandable cement and swells 15 to 18 times its size when introduced to moisture – the primary reason the label on the bag cautions the pet owner not to flush cat litter down the toilet. The substance is also used in construction for grouting, sealing, and as a plugging material.

When cats track clumping litter in their paws, they often lick the particles from their between their toes and ingest the sodium bentonite, which expands in their organs and constricts the intestines.

“Sodium benzoate, which they use to patch up holes in concrete and whatnot, the cats ingest it and their intestines get narrower and narrower until they get terribly constipated,” Sara said.

“A lot of vets agree we shouldn’t use it,” Walter said. He also noted there is heated discussion within the field of veterinary medicine as to whether or not the cumulative effects of sodium benzoate are enough to warrant an outright ban on the product.

While that subject remains debated, safflower seeds are proved safe for both pets and people.

“Even if they did ingest this, there’s no problem – it’s high in vitamins,” Sara said of the Nutrasaff safflower seeds.

Instead of adding used clay litter to landfills, users of the Smart CAT Box system may dispose of the seeds in the compost pile or in the yard. “If birds eat them, they’re safe,” Sara said, even after several months of use in the box. Gardeners are warned, however, that they may find themselves with a yard full of safflowers.

Another health concern related to clumping litters is the ingredient quartz silica – sand – which is a known carcinogen when inhaled by humans or pets. According to a study by Deborah Straw published in the book “Why is Cancer Killing Our Pets?,” the dust from clumping litter has been proved to cause respiratory distress in household cats.

The Maguires are still determining the amount of time one bunch of seeds will last before needing replacement; Sara said her two cats have used the same seeds for the past two months and there is still no odor or residue buildup.

When the time does come to “change” the seeds, Sara noted the product is washable: the seeds may be placed in a bucket with dishwasher soap, “swished around,” drained, and replaced into the system where they may be rinsed with fresh water that drains into the reservoir. “Pat them with a paper towel to get the excess moisture off and they’re ready,” she said. Pet owners who have discovered the Smart CAT Box system, “never go back” to traditional clay litter, she said.

Walt emphasized the entire product line is manufactured in the United States. A company in Anaheim, Calif., manufactures the Smart CAT Boxes and the safflower seeds are grown in Montana. An optional feature of the system is a wall insert with an opening in the front and five-inch walls on the remaining three sides that prevent cats from pawing the seeds out of the box and onto the floor. The insert, which is made in Albany, also includes a convenient hook for the scoop.

While many cat owners may agree eliminating the “cat litter smell” from the home is the best feature of the Smart CAT Box system, another reason Sara and Walter pursued their invention was to create a way for veterinarians to collect cat urine without causing distress to the cat, especially a concern for diabetic pets. Traditionally, vets had to literally squeeze the cat until the bladder emptied or puncture the bladder with a needle to extract urine – neither a very pleasant experience for the cat or the vet.

Dr. Steven Brown, DVM, of Newport is quoted on the Smart CAT Box website expressing his success with the system. “I’ve used a prototype in my practice over the last year and found it very helpful. It is very safe, very natural. … It has been very helpful in our practice,” he said.

The Maguires are investigating the possibility of placing their product in chain stores, such as PetCo and Pet Smart.

“I’ll tell you, Walt’s brains are behind all this,” Sara said.

“Well Sara comes up with the ideas and I just make them work,” Walter said.

Friday, Sep. 23, 2005

Great Stuff: This is True

Earlier this week I talked about Kidwarmers, an excellent free weekly newsletters to which I have been subscribed for years.

Kidwarmers deserves a mention in Good News Blog’s Great Stuff because it fits in so nicely: the stories are true and uplifting.

Randy Cassingham’s This is True is similar in nature. It is guranteed to put a smile on your face when you receive your weekly issue.

In This is True Randy paraphrases weird yet true news stories. How come? “Truth is stranger than fiction as fiction has to make sense”.

Before signing up (free!) you can have a look at some samples or browse the online online archive. Of course, in the end it is Randy himself who, in his unique style, best answers your question; why should I subscribe?.

Loads of stories, including ones that never made it into any newsletter, have been bundled by Randy in excellent, keep re-reading and laughing books such as This is True: Deputy Kills Man With Hammer : And 500 Other Bizarre-But-True Stories and Headlines from the World’s Press and This Is True: Cost of Being Poor Rising and 500 Other Bizarre-but-True Stories.

To finish this recommendation, here’s an example of just one out of the many stories each email contains:

The True Stella Awards : Honoring real cases of greedy opportunists, frivolous lawsuits, and the law run amok
Amazon discount!

The True Stella Awards : Honoring real cases of greedy opportunists, frivolous lawsuits, and the law run amok

Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2005

Great Stuff: Kidwarmers

Quick! How many newsletters have you subscribed to over the years? … OK, you don’t know. So – how many do you actually read? Read and enjoy?

In other words: how many newsletters would you resubcribe to if needed?

If you’re anything like me you’ve subscribed, willingly or not, to tens if not finally hundreds of newsletters. Some of them would never arrive, others died out – and then there is a whole bunch you lose as you change email address and… well, you never miss them.

But every Monday I receive one of those newsletters you do read. Gladly. Willingly. Happily.

It’s “Kidwarmers”, published nowadays by Heartwarmers (formerly aristatech). I’ve been subscribed literally for years. Took good care of that baby. Kept it out of the spam filters, updated my email address. Anything to stay subscribed.

“Kidwarmers”, and you can read each and every issue here in its online archive, is a plain text email newsletter featuring those cute things kids say. It’s a lot like Kids Say the Darndest Things.

Yup, it’s free. And yup, that means that it’s paid for through advertising. 2-4 ads in the form of a few short lines of text. Nothing intusive, nothing abusive.

Through good times and bad times, Kidwarmers has managed to put a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart ever since I subscribed to it 5 years ago.

Let me leave you with a few quotes – and the recommendation to go get it!

Xavier, 3, was sitting on the living room floor when his grandpa caught him picking his nose. “Let’s go into the bathroom and wipe it off,” his grandpa said. “Don’t worry about it, Pawpaw,” Xaviar said. “I’ll just put it back!”Glenn, 4, went to a community Christmas display. The grounds were decorated with many lights, elves, reindeer, etc. When they approached the manger scene, it was guarded by an 8-foot golden-haired angel. Glen exclaimed, “Oh, Mom, that must be Hark!”

Mariah, 8, was spinning a tall-tale about her homework. Her mother said, “Now, Mariah, you know where you will go for lying…” Paul, 5, Mariah’s little brother chimed in, “Yeah, Congress!”

Macie, 4, came to visit her newborn cousin, Hanna, for the first time. During the visit it became Hanna’s feeding time. Because Hanna is breastfed, Macie had a lot of questions, such as “Where is her bottle? Where does she get the milk?” Trying to find an easy answer, Macie’s grandmother pointed to the dog and her nursing puppies. “See how the puppies eat from their mommy?” she said. “That is how Hanna gets her milk, too!” Macie was greatly concerned. “From the dog?!!” Macie asked.

Sunday, Jun. 26, 2005

Great Stuff: How to best treat a patient? With “Cancer Etiquette”

While talking to a close friend on the phone, Rosanne Kalick revealed she would need a double mastectomy because of breast cancer.

“Well, at least you’ll be symmetrical,” the friend said, trying to make light of the situation.

Kalick was taken aback. It was her second time going through cancer treatment — she already had endured multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, several years prior to developing breast cancer — and she thought her friends would have learned by now. She was wrong.

“I thought, maybe something is going on here,” says Kalick, of White Plains, N.Y. “Cancer etiquette: That phrase flashed through my mind.”

She reached out to other cancer survivors and discovered that they, too, had endured insensitive comments and awkward gestures. But she couldn’t find much published information on the topic.

Having been a librarian for many years, she decided to write a book. “Cancer Etiquette: What to Say, What to Do When Someone You Know or Love Has Cancer” (Bookmasters, $19.95), a four-year effort, was published in May.

It is packed with stories from survivors and practical communication strategies for friends and family, including when to make a joke, when to use religious comments or when to simply say nothing at all.

Kalick also delves into appropriate humor, gifts and other methods to comfort, along with explaining the surprising physical and mental changes cancer can bring.

“A bottle of moisturizer, for example, is not only good for a woman’s skin, often dry from chemotherapy, it serves as a reminder that she is still a woman,” Kalick writes in the book.

Some of her advice is based on experience, but she says she talked to about 1,000 people for the book, using the Internet and databases to find sources.

Kalick explains that just a few decades ago, a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence, and talking about cancer was taboo.

Even now, with survivors living longer and new treatments always on the horizon, some of the old fears still surface, particularly in the way people react to the news that a friend or loved one has cancer.

Much of “Cancer Etiquette” revolves around the level of intimacy between the person diagnosed with cancer and the person trying to comfort him or her.

A co-worker, for example, might not appreciate a joke about the extended vacation he’ll have during chemotherapy. But a spouse might.

Cancer Etiquette: What to Say, What to Do When Someone You Know or Love Has Cancer
Amazon discount!

Cancer Etiquette: What to Say, What to Do When Someone You Know or Love Has Cancer
“If you did not speak about an individual’s sex life, breast size or baldness before the diagnosis, what makes you think it is appropriate to ask those questions now?” Kalick writes.

The occasional gaffe is going to happen, even when the person’s intentions are innocent, Kalick says. Cancer is a complex, frightening disease.

In the long run, it’s not the gaffes that matter; it’s the connection between people. Seldom does someone want to endure cancer alone.

“There are no magic words,” Kalick writes. “The magic is that friends and family are generally there for us.”

Inside Good News Blog