November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Whole Paycheck

I want to be reasonable

During the last eight years – plus a few more before I was even diagnosed with cancer – I’ve traveled all over the map of holistic health (though I’ve made sure to steer clear of shoving coffee grounds up my ass.) The final upshot of all this quack-sifting-soul-searching-alternative-seeking-cancer-questing is that in the end, I want to be reasonable. I know, reasonable is so boring, no pizzazz, no glam, but cancer made me do it. Cancer made me a more rational human being. So what does reasonable actually look like in the health and diet department?

I have chosen to reduce my overall meat intake and limit it to only organic meat. That is fine, but the emotional impact is killing me: My mom has schlepped around Pittsburgh for the last week in search of an organic turkey. This is the woman who helped me wheel my IV pole to the bathroom, who slept on a dumpster dived futon on my floor during treatment, and now I’m making her haul ass all over town and dole out some serious cash for an organic turkey? The pilgrims might have had gratitude, the cancer community might have gratitude, and even though I am an American and I do have cancer, I’m a friggen Jew: It’s Thanksgiving and I’ve got guilt.

Organic turkey five-finger discount
Tara Parker-Pope wrote a piece this week in the New York Times Well-Blog about the cost of an organic thanksgiving. According to researchers at, an organic thanksgiving meal costs $100 more than a non-organic one. We are talking an organic 20 pound Turkey costing $99 instead of $23. Global financial fiasco looming in the air or not, it would likely take the guy working behind the meat counter at Whole Paycheck a two-day shift, after taxes, to buy his organic Thanksgiving turkey.

Maybe just maybe if you have a huge purse you could do an organic turkey five-finger discount, and there is always the option of panhandling outside the Whole Paycheck for some turkey-day change. But I’d rather not. It is easy to say eat organic meat, go green, be healthy. But many cancer patients cannot even afford to walk in the door of Whole Paycheck. Co-pays and prescriptions outweigh criminies and persimmons. In the alternative medicine world, and in the scientific research world, it is easy to package up hope in the form of a potential cure, but in the long run if nobody can afford it, well, what’s the point?

Nancy Rosenthal rocks
My mom is having 15 people over for thanksgiving. Half of them will feast on a 10 lb regular turkey and suffer the chemical consequences, while the other half of us will feast on a 10 lb organic turkey that she ended up buying, yes, at Whole Paycheck. So maybe it isn’t cancer after all that made me a reasonable person. It was probably my amazing Jewish mother.

I think being thankful on Thanksgiving or because you have cancer is entirely overrated, and border line pathetic. I think people should be grateful regardless of the day on the calendar or their disease status. Cancer or no cancer, Thanksgiving or not, what would I do without my mom? She’s the best!

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  1. Sasha Says:
    November 28th, 2008 at 4:50 PM


    I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday. Please give my love to your amazing Jewish mom (and dad, and brother.) Sasha

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