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cancer

Seg. 1: The famously dry comedian is coming to Kansas City and we're here for it.

You might remember her as the comedian who did a set about getting cancer, but there's a lot more to her awkward sense of humor, which she'll be bringing to the Uptown later this month.

Seg. 2, beginning at 14:49: The restaurant owner/chef is mixing things up in the Kansas City food scene.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A proposal to ban all fruity and sweet vaping flavors in Kansas has upset both pro-vaping and anti-tobacco groups.

Hundreds of popular flavors would disappear. Menthol would remain. The flavor restrictions wouldn’t apply to traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Cancer survivors and their loved ones who attend meetings of the Prostate Network in Kansas City have talked for years about a radiation treatment called proton beam therapy.

They know it’s expensive and controversial. Some doctors and healthcare experts say it’s no more effective than standard X-ray radiation, and costs twice as much. But some of the network’s own members have used proton therapy and swear by the results.

University of Kansas Hospital

A patient who sued the University of Kansas Hospital for fraud and negligence, alleging she was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the hospital covered it up, quietly settled her case last year on confidential terms.

Although the settlement was sealed, KCUR has learned that the Kansas agency that provides excess insurance coverage for medical providers — insurance over and above the providers’ primary coverage — agreed to pay out $1.8 million on behalf of the hospital and the doctor who made the misdiagnosis.

Segment 1: One oncologist says cancer research is not progressing, and she offers new ideas.

Dr. Azra Raza says the public believes cancer research and treatments are advancing, but that's not the case. The death rate from the most common cancers is no lower now than it was 5o years ago. She suggests an alternative to radition and chemotherapy and says more interdisciplinary collaboration could advance the cause.

Segment 1: Research points to health dangers, but billions of pounds of Roundup are applied to plants each year.

Investigative journalist Carey Gillam has spent 20 years researching and reporting on the dangers of Monsanto's Roundup, and has seen the corporation attempt to discredit scientists and journalists. The product is increasingly popular, with global application increasing 16-fold since the 1990s. Gillam says, "it's not an understatement to say we're actually poisoning the planet."

KCUR 89.3 / StoryCorps

KCUR is part of StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative to bring together people of differing political opinions for real conversations. This is one we've chosen to highlight.

Northeast News publisher Michael Bushnell has to wrestle with politics in his work all the time. 

"I write an opinion column every week, and 9 times out of 10 it falls on the conservative side," Bushnell says. "But it's more common sense than it is anything else, I think."

University of Kansas Cancer Center

Officials with Medicare have decided to cover an innovative but extremely expensive cancer treatment, setting the stage for more patients to get it. That's good news for the University of Kansas Health System.

KU has been a pioneer in using the treatment, known as CAR T-cell therapy, which involves removing a patient’s T cells (a type of white blood cell) and genetically engineering them to recognize and attack the patient’s tumors. The cells are then put back into the patient’s body.

Christopher Smith for KHN

One Monday in February, 65-year-old Karen Endicott-Coyan gripped the wheel of her black 2014 Ford Taurus with both hands as she made the hour-long drive from her farm near Fort Scott to Chanute. With a rare form of multiple myeloma, she requires weekly chemotherapy injections to keep the cancer at bay.

She made the trip in pain, having skipped her morphine for the day to be able to drive safely. Since she sometimes “gets the pukes” after treatment, she had her neighbor and friend Shirley Palmer, 76, come along to drive her back.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado.

The national measles outbreak — numbering more than 1,000 cases so far — hasn't hit Kansas yet, but it has crept awfully close to home.

Chris Neal of Shooter Imaging / Kansas News Service

Thousands of Kansas children and teens go without vaccines that could save their lives.

A series of policy changes, though, could protect more Kansans against everything from cervical cancer to swift-acting meningococcal disease.

Karen Anthony

Kansas City soon could be home to the nation's first daycare designed specifically for children with weakened immune systems.

Children undergoing cancer treatment or with other health problems such as genetic disorders are sometimes stuck at home because pathogens at their schools or daycare centers are too dangerous, says Karen Anthony, president of the nonprofit overseeing the project.

The University of Kansas Health System

It’s been a busy few months for The University of Kansas Health System, formerly known as The University of Kansas Hospital.

Its new $100 million hospital at 107th Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park opens Monday following two years of construction.

That comes on the heels of its acquisition of the Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

And that came shortly after it purchased St. Francis Health in Topeka as part of a joint venture with Ardent Health Services.

Michael Goodyear / Wikimedia Commons

Two dozen companies recently settled accusations by the federal government that they paid kickbacks in return for referrals. Two of those companies have ties to an Overland Park radiation oncology clinic.

Segment 1: A local dance troupe performs an original piece based on people's experience with cancer.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group has collaborated with Gilda's Club Kansas City and will perform a piece about how people's lives are impacted by cancer. We talk to the choreographer, and we hear from patients, survivors and caregivers.

Richard Green / special to Kansas News Service

Amy Houston got the bad news — a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma — in 2009.

She started working 10-hour days in her corporate job to get Fridays off for chemotherapy. But that schedule no longer worked when the time came for daily radiation treatments. 

“I lost my job and therefore lost my medical insurance,” Houston said.

J. Robert Schraeder / Courtesy of The Coterie Theatre

Playwright Laurie Brooks has tackled challenging subjects for young adults — from the Salem witch trials to bullying. Her latest play, The Secret of Courage, explores a teenager facing a health crisis ... with a little help from a magical world.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Entrepreneurs Keely Edgington and Beau Williams, owners of a Westport bar called Julep, say that the Affordable Care Act has been an easy, inexpensive way for them to get health insurance. 

Having insurance has been critical for the married couple. Their daughter Lula was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 when she was nine months old. Even with insurance, the family needed help from friends and family to pay her medical costs.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Shawnee Mission Health has become the 17th member nationwide of the MD Anderson Cancer Network, joining forces with one of the top cancer centers in the United States.

The affiliation follows a year-long certification process by MD Anderson and is a big leap forward for Shawnee Mission Health’s cancer center, which opened not quite four years ago.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Emily Dumler, a Shawnee, Kansas, resident who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, successfully underwent immunotherapy more than two years ago.

Dumler was among the first people in the world to receive the treatment, which stimulates the immune system to fight cancer. But she had to travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to receive it.

Kevin Morgan

When Molly Hammer takes the stage in front of people who haven’t seen her, their first reaction may be curiosity.

Hammer is small, with a shock of bright red hair styled into a pageboy, her face serene under glaring white stage lights. In a venue where people know her, such as the Green Lady Lounge, her commanding presence creates an air you could manducate, and everyone in the cozy, dark booths seems to perk up a titch in anticipation.

University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital is denying allegations by a patient that it wrongly diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer and then covered it up.

In an answer filed this week, the hospital says that many of the allegations made by Wendy Ann Noon Berner “reference undisputable hearsay and speculation, and many would arguably constitute defamation” if they were not part of a lawsuit.

The hospital’s 18-page answer broadly disputes Berner’s allegations of malpractice and cover-up, and terms many of them “vague and ambiguous.”

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Emily Dumler, a 36-year-old mother of three, is petite, energetic and appears to be the very picture of health. To look at her, you’d never know that four years ago she was at death’s door.

Andy Marso / KCUR 89.3

The director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center says it will continue to pursue “comprehensive” status after the National Cancer Institute denied it that coveted designation this week.

“We’re just going to be absolutely fearless in moving forward with this initiative,” says Dr. Roy Jensen, who has led the KU Cancer Center since 2004.

University of Kansas Hospital

The once-anonymous patient at the center of a whistleblower action filed against KU Hospital by one of its own pathologists is now suing the hospital herself for fraud, negligence and civil conspiracy.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a new dimension to the urban-rural divide: death rates related to cancer.

Cancer death rates are falling nationwide, but they remain higher in rural areas (180 deaths per 100,000 persons) than in cities (158 deaths per 100,000 persons), according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Inside a yoga studio in midtown Kansas City, Ayurvedic medicine practitioner Sarah Kucera does a consultation for a client.

In some ways, the consultation isn’t that different from a regular doctor’s checkup. Kucera asks about the patient’s health history, diet and exercise regimen while typing notes on a laptop.

But there are differences. The Ayurvedic remedies that Kucera prescribes are mostly plant-based – things like herbs and oils which are thought to be beneficial to various parts of the body.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City artist Nedra Bonds has just endured months of chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy to treat breast cancer.

Given all she's been through, the fact that she's opening a retrospective exhibition of her life's work (to date) might carry extra poignancy.

"That had not occurred to me," says Bonds, who appears to focus her energies more outward than inward, such as when she responded to her diagnosis last year with a community art project.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Advocates of expanding Medicaid in Kansas are trumpeting new poll numbers that show them gaining ground despite what appear to be long odds of success.

The poll, conducted in December just before the start of the 2017 legislative session, indicated that 82 percent of Kansas voters supported expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which commissioned the survey.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Every Tuesday at 11 a.m., a big group gathers for "T'ai Chi for the Heart" at Turning Point, a healing center in Leawood, Kansas.

"We typically start with meditation, then we do our warm-ups and start T'ai Chi movements," says Al Hussar, who's been coming to the class for more than five years.

Hussar has diabetes, and he's supporting a wife with multiple sclerosis. Others in the room also suffer from chronic illnesses, or are supporting chronically ill loved ones.

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