Originally published — 7:23 p.m., June 8, 2007 Updated — 10:50 p.m., June 8, 2007
Editors note:Recent Gulf Coast High School graduate Gregory Lang has battled cancer since he was 3 years old. In February, doctors said Greg had about six months to live. Greg, his sister, Kaitlyn, and their late father, Gregory Weber Sr., suffer from a rare genetic condition, Li- Fraumeni syndrome, causing recurring cancer. The Naples Daily News is following his continuing story.
Gregory and Kaitlyn Lang are trading their childhoods for a chance at adulthood.
They will say farewell to typical teenage fare. Goodbye burgers, tacos and pizza. No more ice cream, cake or cookies.
The pair plans to forgo all temptation — meat, dairy, bread — for the rest of their lives.
Starting Sunday, they will go cold turkey — without the turkey.
Greg, 18, will make the trip to Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach out of necessity, to prolong his life with cancer past doctors’ grim prognosis.
His sister, 16-year-old Kaitlyn, who battled leukemia as a child, will adopt Hippocrates’ raw vegan eating program in hopes of never needing to fight again.
They share a common goal: to make their lives of strenuous sacrifice as long as possible. And for the next three weeks, they’ll share a room, a schedule and, maybe, some inspiration.
"This is a huge step for me, as a mom, because I’ve never left either one of their sides," Ann Lang said. "But I keep focusing on the end result, and I’m so proud of them.
"They need to do this for themselves. My holding their hands can’t help them anymore."
The alternative health-care center is nutritional boot camp. For three weeks, Kaitlyn and Greg will learn to dismiss their teenage cravings through a rigorous schedule of seminars, food preparation courses, workouts and meditation periods.
If the program is successful, Greg’s cancer could be reduced to a manageable state, increasing his life expectancy by months, years, or even decades.
If it’s not, Greg said, nothing, not even hope, will be lost.
"It won’t be a waste of time," Greg explained, his smooth, baby face stony with determination. "If it doesn’t work, for some reason, I’ll know I tried my best with that option, and I’ll have to try something else."
"That’s my baby," Ann said, beaming. "Always optimistic."
After receiving a terminal diagnosis in February, Greg sprung to action, weeding through dozens of options as stories of possible solutions poured in from generous strangers.
As the fatigue and back pain grew, from expanding cancer spots on his pelvis, femur and spine, Greg continued to balk at the idea of more chemotherapy. Previous chemotherapy treatments made Greg sick, and did little to improve his outlook.
The addition of chemotherapy chemicals to Greg’s already fragile body could destroy his immune system, rather than repair it.
"Chemo didn’t work the first time, and doing it now would be the same," he said. "Chemo is a poison. It doesn’t just kill the bad stuff, it kills the good stuff, too."
Greg weighed his options, and settled on the somewhat obscure Hippocrates program, which he learned about when a stranger sent information to Greg’s Gulf Coast High School principal.
"It just makes the most sense," he said. "It can’t hurt me at all. It can only help."
By weeding out all preservatives from his diet, doctors at Hippocrates hope to cleanse Greg’s body, boosting his immune system as he battles his disease. Adding an exercise routine will increase Greg’s energy levels, and hopefully his waning appetite.
"My goal is to help improve my situation," he explained. "I want to have some more time, as much time as possible, and improve the quality of that time.
"I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to make the change, because I know it’s how it has to be."
As her brother watched, Kaitlyn spent this week gorging herself on taboo foods: meatloaf, Chick-Fil-A, pasta.
"It’s so funny to see their two different personalities," Ann laughed. "Greg wants to stop eating those things now, because he figures, ‘Why bother?’ and Kaitlyn wants all she can get."
"I just want to keep going with it," Kaitlyn reasoned. "I never want to eat meat again, so I’m getting all I can now."
Unlike Greg, Kaitlyn had a difficult time deciding whether she would visit Hippocrates and adopt the fruit and veggie life plan.
Kaitlyn suffers from the same genetic condition as her brother, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, turning the possibility of recurring cancer almost into a certainty. Because she is currently healthy, it may be more of a challenge for Kaitlyn to stay motivated.
"Mine’s a self-choice. He kind of has to do it," she said, motioning to Greg. "It’ll be tough, but I really want this, so I guess that will be my inspiration."
By choosing the responsibility of maintaining the stringent plan, the Gulf Coast 10th-grader is sacrificing her youth sooner than her brother, who graduated last month.
During her bout with leukemia at age 8, Kaitlyn put on extra weight, from the steroids she was forced to take. Dropping the few unwanted pounds will be the icing on the cake she can no longer eat.
"It’ll be hard, because I don’t want to give up eating the things my friends eat," she said. "I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, fighting cancer, and I want to finish what I’ve started."
The Hippocrates plan can’t be called a "diet." It’s a far cry from the popular Atkins or South Beach diets.
Adoption of the vegan eating regiment is nothing short of a lifestyle overhaul.
"You can’t go back," Kaitlyn said. "If you were to start eating meat or preservatives again right away, you would get sick."
"It’s going to be life-changing, like having a baby," Ann explained, as her children, and Greg’s 16-year-old girlfriend, Brianna Hanson, laughed at the analogy.
"Well, it is!" she cried out, hushing them. "It’s going to be completely different from everything you’ve ever known."
Ann, the kids’ adopted father, Tim Lang, and Brianna admitted they will be forced to make some big changes in compliance with Greg and Kaitlyn’s new lifestyle.
"I don’t think I’ll have a choice," Brianna giggled. "It’s going to be hard for (Greg and Kaitlyn), but it’s going to be really good for them."
"I think I’m going to learn from the kids," Ann seconded. "In time, we’ll ease into it, just like any other change."
Though they’ll be shirking their teenage eating habits, Greg and Kaitlyn won’t leave their childhoods completely behind. The twosome have already conspired to rig their wireless laptop computers so they can watch television while they are away.
"I think this will be a great re-bonding for them, without any outside clutter," Ann said, rolling her eyes as the restless teens battled for room on the family’s leather couch.
"They’ve gone through so much together in their lives. I’m glad they’ll have each other for this next step."
PGA - People's Global Action - started in 1997. It has been a tool and a diffuse structure coordinating groups and people sharing common struggles and practices, in accordance with various anticapitalist and anti-authoritarian principles (see the hallmarks below). PGA initiated the Intercontinental caravan in 1999, as well as international action days of actions against the G8, the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF... In Seattle, Genoa, Prague, and in a number of less mediatic events, PGA was a driving force behind numerous actions and reflections. Amidst counter-summits, social forums & various actions, groups close to the PGA are now looking for new drives to challenge stagnation.
A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation.
We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.
A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which
maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism.
An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.
In Europe, groups who identify with the PGA principles meet about once every two years, through the initiative of a "convenor" collective. Since 1997, these conferences have been the opportunity for several days of exchanging practices and knowledge, and of establishing bonds, which allow us to be better organized in common actions.
The last conferences were held in Leiden (Netherlands) in September 2001 and in Belgrade (Serbia) in July 2004. Each time, they drew hundreds of people together and generated contacts, exchanges and strategical reflections. This year, the Francophone group STAMP is the convenor and the next european gathering of PGA will take place from the 19h of August to the 3rd of September 2006.
STAMP started through a bunch of individuals involved with "sans-titre", a network of individuals involved in direct action, autonomy and self-managed spaces around France. They now would like to open up the organizing process to all, around the few following principles.
Decentralization and local grounding:
This gathering will take place in two stages:
1. Decentralised gatherings will be held between smaller groups of people (around a hundred) in various locations. During nine days, in five different places, we'll mix thematic discussions and workshops linking local issues with reflections and initiatives from participating European groups. Each space will also propose a collective practical project and common realisation (construction, action...). Several locations are anticipated, including Lyon, Toulouse, Lavaur, Dijon, Geneva...
2. A centralised part will bring everyone together on one site, for four or five days, to allow everybody to share previous discussions and take decisions about the organization and future projects of PGA in Europe.
Non-specialization and "dishwashing-theory" mix:
During these meetings we want to favour non-specialization and the horizontal sharing of tasks. We would like to put particular attention on the collective organization of everyday life. Projects proposed by each conference space should allow us to exchange practical know-how, linked to the needs of the host locality.
A desire to strenghten links with Eastern Europe:
During the months leading up to the meeting, several travels will take place in these regions, in order to present the meeting and get to know local projects. Solutions will be investigated, in terms of visas and transport, to help people and collectives in precarious situations to travel here.
The organization of this gathering is a political and joyful project for us. It requires a lot of energies and commitment in order to become an open collective adventure, rather than the performance of a few "activism experts".
Regular organizational meetings will bring STAMP to different towns during the upcoming months. International meetings allow us to assess the advancement of this project and open up the organization to other people and groups of PGA Europe. The next one will take place the 21st and 22nd of April in Budapest.
About the contents...
Here are themes to be tackled around within the PGA encounters, some of which are rooted in some of the decentralized locations already. This list aims at opening perspectives, so that each participant can propose contents, workshops, texts... in the months preceding the conference.
development & preservation of autonomous spaces (squats, self-managed spaces, collective projects in cities and in the countryside);
gender issues, struggles against male domination & patriarchy;
industrial society, its relationship with space and the transformation of the social environment; the effect of industrial technology of human relationships;
social control, security and its politics, militarism and repression of protest; digital struggles:
digital struggles: Indymedia & the movement; alternative servers (riseup.net, squat.net), users' responsability & solidarity facing new repressions;
rejection of the State: experiences of self-management & direct democracy; market economy & consumerism versus alternative non market based economies;
struggles of workers and welfare claimants; anti-wage slavery; the fight against capitalism and its institutions (WTO, IMF, WB, EU, etc.); state of European capitalism (free exchange agreements, privatisation, etc.); the
current dead-end regarding anti-racism in our anti-capitalist/anti-establishment sphere. Post-colonialism, struggles around immigration, the abolition of borders;
capitalist management of resources and energy, impending environmental catastrophes, foreseenable alternatives and practical ecology;
the anarchist ghetto: militant politics & elitism; how to escape its insularity?
anti-essentialism and critique of the religious relation to « nature », as a shaper for our perception of age, gender, race; anti-speciesm & animal liberation.
"towards a new type of struggle?"
Confrontational direct action tactics and/or autonomy & practical alternatives building?
Co-existence or divorce with institutions, unions, NGO's and The Left
Our techniques and methods of organisation, actions and debates.
The question of class, gender and racism at the heart of our struggle
Links with other protests within a global "across the board" strategy
We are already looking for various resources, including funds, to help for travel/visas, as well as other logistic costs. Any initiative, from money, to mosquito repellent cream, screwdrivers or tofu...) is welcome. Donations can be made to "Accueil caravane" at:
STAMP c/o Longo Mai 04300 Limans France
A detailed list of locations, events and issues will be available soon.
The Maryland state legislature made history by becoming the first state in the nation to adopt Fair Share Health Care. Now, momentum is building in over 30 states to ensure large, profitable corporations pay their fair share for health care.
The Maryland vote is a huge victory in the campaign to change Wal-Mart. The public and their lawmakers sent Wal-Mart a strong message - either you choose to do the right thing and provide affordable health care to your workers, or we will make you pay your fair share for health care.
With our recent victory comes the next battle in the campaign to change Wal-Mart. And, this time, it is over whether or not Wal-Mart should be allowed to get into banking. If Wal-Mart wins, small businesses, community banks and consumers lose.
Just like in Maryland, you can make a huge difference in this fight. The Governor of Utah, where Wal-Mart has applied to become a bank, is accepting public comment on this issue. Please take action today and let the Utah Governor know you oppose the “Bank of Wal-Mart.”
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