Illness Misinformation

I was pleased to see an article about fundraising for leukemia research ["A Stranger's Selfless Strides," Loudoun Extra, Nov. 7] but dismayed to find factual errors.

The lead sentence contains the phrase "ALL, an incurable disease." The seventh paragraph says, "Although there is no known cure, remission is possible. . . ." ALL [acute lymphoblastic leukemia] is actually one of modern medicine's greatest success stories. More than three-fourths of children diagnosed with ALL in the United States are cured.

The National Cancer Institute Web site says: "Seventy-five percent to 80 percent of children with ALL survive at least five years from diagnosis with current treatments that incorporate systemic therapy (e.g. combination chemotherapy) and specific central nervous system (CNS) preventive therapy (i.e. intrathecal chemotherapy with or without cranial irradiation).

"Ten-year event-free survival of multiple large prospective trials conducted in different countries for children treated primarily in the 1980s is approximately 70 percent."

My daughter is a 12-year survivor of ALL, and I know hundreds of other long-term survivors of this disease. I worry that such misinformation will raise the anxiety levels of parents of newly diagnosed children.

Nancy Keene


A Demanding Job

This letter is in response to the article about school health clinic assistants ["School Clinic Assistants Want More Recognition," Loudoun Extra, Nov. 7]. I agree that they are both under-recognized and underpaid. I have been a substitute health clinic assistant and substitute teacher in several Sterling elementary schools for three years.

Both positions are demanding. However, being responsible for the health of all able and fragile students clearly places a degree of responsibility on the clinic worker that she/he is not compensated for.

Not only is the clinic worker subject to blood, vomit, head lice, urine and more, she also gives prescription medications per physician order, monitors blood sugar levels of diabetic children at least twice daily and must be ready at any time to administer glucose or insulin.

Life-threatening allergies of some students demand that epinephrine be available by injection in moments' notice. Several schools have students who require urinary catheterization twice daily. This is a sensitive and time-consuming procedure.

It is a nonstop day of coughs, stomachaches, scratches and nosebleeds that need attention in addition to the daily scheduled medications, inhalers, eye and hearing tests, etc. It's akin to being a nurse and a mom (or dad) to the entire student body.

I think the salary should be raised to reflect the responsibility these people take for the health of our children at school.

Theresa Todoroff


In Praise of Voters

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Northern Virginia tax referendum, it would appear from what is written in the major metropolitan newspapers that it is being hailed as a victory for "slow growthers." There is little or no mention of fiscal conservatives!

The Northern Virginia tax referendum was a huge win for both factions. Both factions stood up and went toe-to-toe with a heavily financed opponent with every ounce of blood and guts they could muster. Both should be proud of what they accomplished as a result of banding together when the conditions were mutually beneficial.

The media likes to have names such as fiscal conservatives and "slow growthers" for their readers to identify who is being talked about. I don't like it, but it has its purpose. Maybe the "slow growthers" have been organized a little longer, and the media has awarded them with a name and they have a little better name recognition than do the fiscal conservatives.

But hear ye, hear ye. There is a new grass-roots group growing in strength. Call them what you will, but they are standing up against inefficient, incompetent and blatantly wasteful government spending. Both groups worked hard to get the message of truth underlying the political pretty face Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and developers tried to put on this scam, and both groups can take credit for discrediting the measure in the eyes of the public.

But in the end, neither group can claim the victory. It was neither group's victory. The real victor, and the real claimant of the victory, is the voting public.

I salute them today. They are the ones who saw through the politics and the scam being foisted upon them, and they are the ones who in their hearts don't want the status quo of unmanaged sprawl and/or unwatched government spending. God bless the U.S.A.!

Phil Sandoe