Betsy Light: double mastectomy

Dateline: Mon 13 Dec 2010

Former Indianapolis Star dance and film critic Betsy Light, also a features writer, underwent a double mastectomy in New York City on Nov. 23. She says she is actively fighting cancer and is appealing to friends and former colleagues in Indianapolis to help, if possible, with her medical bills.

"My IRA is exhausted, and I am in credit card hell," Betsy said in a phone conversation last week. "I need financial support."

Betsy worked for the Star from August of 1981 to May of 1993. She also taught yoga in this community, and she introduced the concept of offering yoga at various big corporations in the city, she says. Now she is hoping that some of the organizations she supported -- dance and or/yoga -- might come to her aid with fund-raisers.

She is living a frugal lifestyle in New York City now, and she has no internet access. She hopes to relocate soon to Ann Arbor, Mich., where she says there is a clinic that could continue to offer her treatment.

If anyone would like to contribute to help her become solvent, here's the drill -- same as a year ago when this blog first publicized her plight

A tax-deductible check can be made out to her nonprofit organization, The Susan Betsy Light Charitable Fund.

Send contributions in care of the above fund to:

Legacy Banks

25 Main St.

Lenox, MA 01240

if anyone would like to talk with her, she welcomes phone calls. Shoot me an email at, and I will send you her current phone number.

Betsy is very talented, and her reviews and feature stories were always exceedingly well-written.  What a shame that her level of competence does not pay the bills in this brutal economy.


hendy [Member] said:

Bad news. Hope she heals soon and inexpensively.

2010-12-13 19:34:30

Tell The Truth [Member] said:


Nah, we don't need no stinkin health care reform. System works perfectly well.

2010-12-14 05:50:17

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Best Health Care system In The World."

For the docs and those who can afford them.

Up the insurance companies! Up the pols who enable them!

And while I am on a snark: the feel good story for today is the infant who will receive a half-million dollar procedure for a rare genetic defect, paid by insurance (i.e., you); there will follow I suspect a lifetime of expensive medical care also underwritten by policy holders if not taxpayers.

Sorry to get off subject. I always enjoyed Betsy's reviews and regret she finds herself in these circumstances, which I might add lurk outside all our doors.

2010-12-14 07:00:32

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

I always enjoyed Betsy's intensity and the depth with which she covered arts, particularly dance. Thanks for the info, Ruthie. I sure hate hearing such news, but I am thankful she is still with us and strong enough to fight this awful, awful disease.

2010-12-14 15:44:49

hendy [Member] said:

The baby has a rare heart defect. Leave her on a rock to die, Tom? Miserable insurance anyway? What if that was your grandaughter? Or do I miss your intent?

2010-12-14 22:34:06

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Hendy, I believe many medical procedures are performed by doctors out of sheer curiosity to see if they can do it.

I am acquainted with a longtime school nurse. She surprised me with her strong feelings about the extreme efforts made to save very premature babies. She says medical science can save them, so they do. At about a quarter of a million dollars a kid. Very many of the children then end up with severe disabilities. They are mainstreamed in schools, putting an economic and emotional burden on school systems. My friend the nurse was responsible for caring for these kids during school, and it was physically and emotionally taxing. (I once heard a superintendant say his school system was onc disabled child away from insolvency). These children have a half life. They should not be mainstreamed... but that's another issue.

Just because medicine can do it doesn't man they should. (And what's the long term prognosis for the infant receiving this new procedure? Does this set a precedent for more such procedures, which may lengthen life spans only a little? If the baby's outlook is for a normal lifespan without any disabillities, then the procedure has merit.)

A family member recently died after 6 months of painful cancer treatment. This is usually the outcome with liver cancer that metastisizes: months of expensive and painful treatment to no good end.

Do I believe in the Hemlock Society? You bet. Do I think that medicine should not exercise extreme measures to save all newborns? You bet.

I believe in amneocentisis, condoms, family planning and abortion for medical-- and other-- reasons.

I believe in medicine that makes people healthy. I don't believe in medicine that just keeps people alive.

2010-12-15 07:50:19

hendy [Member] said:

Birth control ought to be up to the birth controllers. We agree there. I know a number of surgeons, and none of them fit the description you provide. There are a couple of cowboys in there, but it's because they've been rewarded with success for having roped in something where people had little statistical chance of success.

There are a few docs that use a 'manufacturing process' where they aren't trauma surgeons, and this seems to bode well for them. Would it be better, especially in the neonatal stages, to abort? Trickier question, and I've not had to face it. Others might have had much different lives.

Leaving babies on rocks, however, is too brutal, and it's done thousands of times a day in SE Asia. These are healthy babies. They're just undesirable in a testosterone-dominated world. Where the values are different, how are you supposed to be able to tell what conditions are 'tenable' and untenable?

Would you have suggested that I be aborted because of my inherited, congenital blood clotting disorder? My father died from it; I have 4x the chance of doing so. So, am I on your list, or not? Do I live, sir, or shall I fall on my sword for the sin of being the DNA that I am?

2010-12-15 09:42:35

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"So, am I on your list, or not?"

Depends on how much medical care you required at birth, and if you became a fully functioning adult as a result.

My goodness, I know there will be countless "but for" exceptions, examples of extreme preeemies and otherwise birth defected who, thanks to extreme intervention, became A Tribute To Society. Those are the feel good examples, rather outweighed I suspect by the permanently disabeld and institutionalized.

Don't make it personal. I merely questioned all the huzzahing over an insurance company agreeing to pony up some $300K so an infant could have a rare medical procedure. If these "rare" procedures become more commonplace, what then? Who pays?
I'm guessing that the cost of saving very premature babies has grown large overall, as new techniques come on line. Who pays now and over the long haul?

You are otherwise apparently healthy, Hendy, despite a genetic abnormality. So I'm not talking about you: I'm posing the question as it relates to the gigantic costs involved in saving preemies or extremely disabled infants. (And it has been suggested that some members of the medical community do not apply extreme measures to save some of these kids, acknowledging that it is more humane to let nature take its course.)

I do not believe that every life is equally worth saving any more than I believe that life begins at ejaculation.

2010-12-15 10:35:42

hendy [Member] said:

Don't make it personal????

My Factor 5 Leiden does nothing at birth. The mother who may have passed on the gene might be in serious danger of toxemia or blood clots thru the gestation cycle. If both parents carry the gene, I won't suffer death by a thousand cuts, rather must monitor myself extensively and inject rat poison directly into my stomach: I'm not kidding. I don't have both parent's + genes, so, I only have to watch it, seriously.

So, do I pass, or must I be a mandatory abortion? How am I different than Holbrooke, whose aorta burst in aneurism, than that little baby, whose heart was messed up by heavens-knows-what? Should I be shot if I start smoking? Take long plane trips and get DVT? I've done both of those. I still fly merrily across the planet each year, exercising like mad. And if I get pulmonary occlusion, is it ok if my insurance company does the surgery to get rid of the clot? How about if it goes up my carotid to my brain? Still qualified?

How about my uncle, who has to do the injections. Covered because he's a heterozygous gene recipient? You play God, and you ain't her. Do I pay for others? Yes, it's my civic and moral responsibility. Gladly. With glee that it can make a difference.

2010-12-15 11:30:49

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