Saturday, May 26, 2018
Health

Carlton: What Stacy would want you to know

When someone you know dies unexpectedly and too young, you tend to make them larger than life, maybe to hold on to the best things about them.

But with Stacy Frank, there was no need. Stacy spoke for herself.

If you knew her you felt one way or the other about her — no gray area. She was a political wonk who took wonking up a notch, a fierce Democrat on the phone to friends mornings after absorbing her newspapers and cable news. She fished and boated and loved everything about Florida, except the politics and politicians who seem determined to hurt it.

Long before I met her I knew of her mother, Pat Frank, an icon in state and local politics and Hillsborough's current clerk of the courts. And I was a little afraid of her father, Dick Frank, a judge I covered when I was a new reporter. Stacy herself was a force, a petite woman in big gold earrings shaped like starfish, a lawyer who started her own cell tower business, a strong supporter of causes and candidates, and a friend to a whole lot of people.

By last September, she did not feel right — something respiratory. At first they thought bronchitis, then asthma. Three days after Christmas she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Except Stacy didn't smoke.

When people get very sick, we always say they fought, they were courageous, but she did and she was. On a voicemail message from last month, she is telling me that someone who had just done something politically dastardly was lucky she wasn't up to full speed, or she would, and I quote, go box their ears. She died weeks later, six months after she was diagnosed. She was 61.

Here is what Stacy Frank would want me to tell you:

That, according to a spokesman for the Moffitt Cancer Center, non-smokers are a growing percentage of lung cancer cases —15 to 20 percent and women in particular. That while high-risk current and former smokers can have early detection through low-dose CT scans, diagnosis is more difficult in people without a smoking history. That this means when diagnosis does come, for many it's already late stage. And that research is needed for early detection and "better outcomes" for people who did not smoke but got lung cancer anyway. Her family started a Stacy Frank Fund at Moffitt for donations for this.

Tonight her friends — and they are legion — her family, her allies, and those who just liked her will gather at the Tampa Museum of Art. No doubt there will be much telling of Stacy stories, of the seemingly contradictory things that made the whole of her: How she loved gathering people at her house at the beach but disliked actual sand. How she read the New York Times cover to cover, but always had the latest trashy tabloids on hand and loved a good Law & Order binge. How she was seen by some as fearsome, but took generosity to a new level for her people and her causes. How, at a recent gathering, a remarkable number of people said they thought they were her best friend, though in truth that was always Ladybird, her dog.

This week, campaign signs started sprouting around town like weeds. I actually reached for the phone to call her and ask which ones she thought worked and which were epic fails. I knew Stacy would have an opinion. Ditto Melania Trump's remarkably similar speech this week. Stacy would be burning up the phone lines.

When someone as alive as her is gone, you can't think it was for nothing. Stacy Frank would want you to know what she didn't, about a deadly smoker's disease that hits non-smokers, too. She would want something positive out of all the sadness. It's just how she lived, pushing to make it better.

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Arto Woods and his wife, Syvilla, had a good flight from Baltimore to Tampa in early May. En route, they talked about how convenient it would have been to fly directly into Orlando, where the conference that brought them to Florida was being held, bu...
Published: 05/25/18
Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Before I attended my first yoga retreat on a trip to see my sister in Oregon, I did exactly zero preparation. Turns out, that’s just fine, and it opened up the wider world of what a yoga getaway can give you.With four hours of yoga classes a day, my ...
Published: 05/25/18
Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music is the ultimate mood setter. Faster beats gets us pumped up to work out. A slower rhythm can set a romantic mood or help one unwind at the end of a long day.Music can also influence the kinds of food we crave. A study co-authored by a Universit...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18