Much as everyone hates it, we still have to discuss Raphael Edward Cruz. I know; I don’t want to, you don’t want to; everyone (including his constituents, at this point) would probably rather see him stay in Cancun and leave the salvation of Texas with Beto O’Rourke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and anyone willing to lend a hand. But Ted Bundy — er, Cruz — is an unfortunate symptom of a deeper problem.

In medicine, there is a distinction between “signs” and “symptoms” in diagnostic medicine. “Signs” are things that can be seen/detected by others (making them allegedly more-reliable); “symptoms” are what patients or caregivers report (giving them a subjective, less-reliable basis). Even though most people use the terms interchangeably, they aren’t, and most clinicians like to have both before making a diagnosis. The distinction is important, because, prior to this, most of Ted’s bad behavior could be seen through a subjective, positive light. If you want an example of that, you can go to Fox News for any number of bizarre rationalizations…


One of the first things you learn of when you get a chronic disease is that the “Just World” bias is very much at play and on display in 21st century America. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked about tobacco use since my first tumor, 17 years ago, I would be in a beachside villa right now. Realistically, this plays into a universal sense of victim-shaming and stigmatizing trauma survivors that’s every where. …


Very occasionally, I write stuff for specific friends. An Australian friend of mine pointed out that, since the Australian Government threatened legal action if Facebook continued its data-selection patterns with regards to news, they would censor that part of the app (or something; I was distracted by another video another Australian friend sent me of a saltie swimming up to a beach to devour a shark; which isn’t something you see every day)(unless you’re in Queensland, in which case it might just be another Thursday), so, she’s having a hard time finding out what’s happening in America. …


The lasting legacy of Donald, apart from inviting Nazis back into power, is that television news is both unwatchable, and must-be-seen. It’s not unlike a 747 crashing into a train carrying train transporting hazardous chemicals. On a ferry. On the Cuyahoga River. Horrible, but entertaining. So, it’s befitting that his second trial is just as gripping as Ivanka the Terrible’s presidency.

I was born in the Reagan Administration. Which is only consequential, because, within my own lifetime, I’ve literally lived long enough to see fact-checking become abandoned by most main-stream platforms. To be fair, it’s not like William “That depends upon what your definition of ‘is’ is” Clinton, or George “Iraq has weapons of mass distraction” Bush helped this, but, at some point in my conscious life, media stopped saying, “This asshole is clearly lying, cut the feed.” I think the massive volume of lies told by those in power combined with viewer competition with the Internet to create a perfect…


Q: Does it bother you, seeing other (stupid) stuff survivors do [like go out for yoga and essential oils in lieu of chemotherapy, or turn to dubious miracle cures]?

A: No, not really. I don’t think there a whole of of stupid survivors; certainly, a grim form of natural selection thins out the herd — I’ve never met a long-term survivor I would classify as being stupid. However, I do think most of us, starting treatment, don’t fully interrogate the gravity, discomfort, and horrible, depressing novelty of our situation (the most-frequently statement at all of my support groups is, “People who haven’t been here do not know what it’s like,” which, coming up on 36 months No Evidence of Disease, yeah; I’ve seen some insane stuff I could not…


Dear Reader, let me take you back to the halcyon days of Jan. 20, 2017

In those brief days between Donald slouching into office and his first major 140-character attempts at governance, most of us were aware that we’d accidently elected a Stephen King character to office, but we didn’t know exactly how terrified we should be, on a scale of “Cujo” to “Randall Flagg.” Then, a week into his tragicomic farce, he issued the now-infamous travel ban. That set the tone for the next four years, and elevated the threat level of this man from “creepy loner who lives down the block” to “Why is that man following me through town?” It was definitely…


As I wrote a while ago, Ripfort Tubbs (former president of the formerly-great nation, the United States of America) is dangerously bigoted, and, if not an outright Nazi, then, at least, Skinhead-adjacent. My warning at the time was that everyone in the majority should be extremely concerned, because social cannibalism never ends with the Vandals going home after deciding sacking Rome once was enough. No, murderous impulses tend to increase, and, eventually, consume everyone in society. 400,000 Americans and their families got a taste of that, which undoubtedly tipped the polls in Biden’s favor. …


Father-and-son Bondage Time

In the Western denial of harsh, unpleasant realities, we tend to greet crisis with moronic platitudes ("The Chinese word for 'crisis is ' opportunity") that allows us to offer unhelpful offers of help that don’t really solve anything (offers to go to a farmer’s market or bring a bunch of strangers over to "clean" the house without knowing what diseases they’ve been exposed to should be avoided). Which is a shame, because helping someone in crisis can be a form of intimacy.

I’m not going to claim that serious illness is the new sex, or who you…


I remember reading, a few weeks ago, that, although the words “envy” and “jealousy” are used mostly-interchangeably in English, they’re two distinctly different psychological concepts — “jealousy” is fear of losing something or someone you love; “envy” is the resentment you feel about something you don’t have but want. The difference between the two was brought to the fore of my mind this week, because a friend referred me to another newly-diagnosed glioblastoma survivor. I’m now slightly-past three years post-diagnosis (the average life expectancy is two years, max), and I recall when I got down to the nuts-and-bolts business of…


I remember… let’s say a few years ago, when I was 14 or 15, and a history teacher mentioned in class that Wagner inspired the Nazis. Even though I’ve never read Wagner, at that time, I was familiar enough with various European legends to know that, in the legend of Fafnir and other Norse mythologies from which Wagner stole, “Goose-stepping and death camps” had relatively few, if any, mentions. My teacher told me, “Billie, I think Hitler read a little too much into those stories.” Which was confusing for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is that…

Patrick Koske-McBride

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store