Currently viewing the tag: "death"


Lottery winner“Dr. Campos,” the office manager said in her best business voice, “Would you like to contribute ten dollars to the office lottery pool?”

Ugh…we aren’t going to win. Greater chance of getting struck by lightning, twice! But I couldn’t stand to let my colleagues get rich without me, not for ten dollars…so I bought in.

I am relieved we did not win. It is not that I am above the fantasy…but I know something: Nobody unprepared to handle such a massive sum of money will keep it for long, or at the very least, the work it takes to manage a jackpot will stagger them. Very few people realize this fact, but many lottery winners rue the day they hit the numbers.

“You know, my wife had said she wished that she had torn the ticket up. Well, I wish that we had torn the ticket up too.” ~ Jack Whittaker, West Virginia, Powerball lottery jackpot winner, $315 million

BlingSpending sprees are the first order of business. Gotta buy the bling, and the houses, and the boa constrictors, and the stripper pole…you know, lottery-winner necessities. But ask any big-name athlete or celeb who has squandered away millions (Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson), it goes fast…like water through the fingertips if you are not careful. About 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Today, after spending almost all her winnings — “big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends” — [Sharon Tirabassi] is back in the working class: riding the bus, working part-time, living in a rented house.

But not just the spending, the people coming out of the woodworks with hands outstretched. Numerous lottery winners talk about friends and family who have come asking for assistance, only to get offended if the new millionaires say no or ignore their calls. On Good Friday 2004, Sharon Tirabassi and her sister, Shavaughn, walked to a variety store to buy lottery tickets.  Shavaughn also wanted a renters’ guide, but at the first store there were none, so they moved on without buying tickets. Next store, same thing, no renters’ guides. They continued walking for several blocks, entered the third store, where Shavaughn grabbed a renters’ guide. She went to the counter and bought a Super Seven ticket. Sharon followed and bought her ticket.

When Sharon won the $10 million lotto, Shavaughn believed it was because of herself; it was her wanting the renter’s guide (and purchasing two random pick tickets before Sharon) that allowed Sharon to be in the right place at the right time. Without Shavaughn, there would be no lottery winnings. For this reason, Shavaughn thought she deserved a payout. Sharon gave her $500K. Shavaughn wanted more. Today the sisters no longer speak.

I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you’ve loved deep down, and they’re turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me.” ~ Sandra Hayes, split $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006

outstretched handsBesides the challenges of managing newly acquired wealth, many lottery winners make grave mistakes which affect their psychology and support networks. Some cut contact with old friends, family and their familiar neighborhood in order to move among the rich in a fantasy paradise. New neighbors are often not friendly to the ‘nouveau riche’ and as a result lotto winners have difficulty with social integration.

But the most macabre outcome for a number lottery winners is the death that seems to follow after hitting the jackpot. Take young Craigory Burch Jr., 20-year-old forklift driver-turned-lottery winner, who won nearly half a million dollars in Georgia; he did not live long to enjoy his winnings, as he was killed in a home invasion last month, only two months after purchasing a winning ticket.

Abraham Shakespeare Or take the story of Abraham Shakespeare of Sebring, Florida, $30 million lottery jackpot winner, found murdered and buried under a slab of cement in the backyard of his new lady acquaintance’s home.

Or Jack Whitaker, our $315 million jackpot winner from West Virginia, whose granddaughter was found dead, wrapped in a plastic sheet, dumped behind a junked van. The cause of death listed as ‘unknown’, but likely due to her drug lifestyle which Whittaker says is a direct result of his lottery winnings. He believes the Powerball win had become a curse upon his family. ”My granddaughter is dead because of the money,” he said.

According to a 2009 study by the Paris School of Economics, sudden windfalls can in fact increase one’s risk of death.

“Positive individual income shocks produce changes in lifestyles which may well be prejudicial to health. Exogenously higher income“—that is, wealth that comes, poof, out of the blue—”produces unhealthy living.” ~ Anneli Rufus, Lotto Death Curse

Out Of MoneyAdd 46-year-old Urooj Khan, who was found poisoned with cyanide following a $1 million jackpot win. And 47-year-old Deborah McDonald who was run over by a car near Sandusky, Ohio, after leaving a bar where she had been celebrating her win on the Ohio Lottery’s official TV show. And the bus in 2003, carrying a group of Germans, which overturned, killing 28—they were on a trip to Spain that they had won in a lottery. And the list goes on and on…

No I am grateful that neither me nor my colleagues hit the numbers last month. We are here to provide service to the world, and any windfall of big-time money is not going to get us there; it will serve the least amount of people—not the staff, not the clients, and not the community. I played the game for $10 to stay cohesive with my mates, but in the end I had to sigh a big, fat, “Phew…” Tragedy prevented by mathematical improbability. And on to play another day.

Ready for some controversy? Here goes: Our illusion that death is “bad” is costing us oodles in unnecessary health care, prolonging pain and suffering, and preventing people from finding beauty in their inevitable transformation. According to a recent report, more and more Americans are being treated to death—that is, receiving costly and often ineffective care, instead of choosing to die in dignity and comfort.

More than 80% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to chronic and progressive illnesses such as cancer and heart failure. Of these, more than 80% say they would like to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of their lives; yet in actuality, Americans are being treated aggressively until their last dying breath.  Here are the numbers:

  • The average time spent in hospice and palliative care (focused on comfort without curing) is decreasing.  In 2008, one third of people receiving hospice care had it for one week or less.
  • Hospitalizations during the last six months of life are rising: from 1,302 per 1,000 Medicare recipients in 1996 to 1,441 in 2005, Dartmouth reports.
  • 12% of cancer patients who died in 1999 received chemo in the last two weeks of life, up from nearly 10 percent in 1993.
  • Almost 20% of patients with colorectal cancer that has spread are on at least their fourth chemotherapy drug. The same goes for roughly 12% of patients with metastatic breast cancer, and for 12% of those with lung cancer. The analysis is based on more than 60,000 cancer patients.

These numbers are particularly concerning since treating chronic illness in the last two years of life eats up nearly one-third of all Medicare dollars.

This controversy lies in that some people believe we should try to extend life under all circumstances. As long as an inkling of hope remains, some say, people should fight on. And the controversy is as much political as it is moral. During the debates over universal health coverage (Obamacare), opponents stressed that health care rationing would take place, and that “death panels” would be responsible for determining who received further care and who was left to die.

Although I find this notion and fear of death panels ridiculous, I do think that our obsession with life at all costs dishonors the magnificence of the human life cycle. We are born, we live, we die.  It has been said that the only thing certain in life is death, and in that we are all the same. Not one person walking the planet today will be alive in 150 years.  In fact, neither will our planet live forever, nor our sun—all things move on to the next transformation.

Does this mean people should not fight for their lives? Well, it depends. To a 92-year-old, I’d say, “For what?” However, to a 22-year-old diagnosed with lung cancer, I’d say yes…with a catch. If you have an inspired purpose, something driving you to live, I believe you can beat the odds. But the purpose must be a part of your essence, a drive so strong that not even the sands of time can keep you from completing it. It cannot be some fabricated deal you try to cut with your maker in an attempt to hold on; it must be in your heart, truly a part of you. Even then you won’t escape death for long. Death is inevitable for all of us—something for the young and healthy to think about regarding their own life’s purpose, and acting on your dreams…now!

No I don’t know for sure if having deep inspirational purpose will extend your life, but my intuition tells me it is so. I think about some of the lives we have had the honor of observing, like Michael Jackson’s or Tupac Shakur’s, believing that some people know when they are not long for this earth. When we observe how some people work long and hard at the ends of their lives to complete “unfinished business,” it humbles you to the magnificence of living on purpose.

As far as dying is concerned, it is true that we all have opinions on how we will handle the inevitable, until it is our time to go. Our survival instinct—the one hard-wired into all living things—makes it very challenging to accept death as we imagine within our philosophical belief system, but we can all ultimately appreciate that transformation is all there is; and one day everyone of us will move on to the next experience. We can fear it, or we can see the beauty in the transition and be grateful. Death is the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of a new one.

*This post is dedicated to my role model and inspiration, Nate Pressman, a lover of life and God.  You are dignified and beautiful in all your forms, Grandpa; and you will be with us, around us, always. We love you.


As important as practicing healthy habits is, discontinuing (or better yet never starting) poor health habits can add years to your life–twelve to be exact; this according to the findings of a recent study. Let’s see, twelve years ago I was…DANG that’s a long time! Check it:

The study tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years, and looked at the following four bad health habits:

  • smoking
  • drinking too much
  • inactivity
  • poor diet

Researchers found that people partaking in these habits had a substantially increased risk of death, and they seemed 12 years older than people in the healthiest group. Doh!

Of the research subjects having all four habits (314 people), 29% died through the study period. The subjects having none of the habits (394), only 8% had died. The people involved in the study were adults aged 18 and older, but 44 years old on average. The most common cause of death among subjects was heart disease and cancer, both caused by the unhealthy habits studied.

The healthiest group included never-smokers and those who had quit; teetotalers, women who had fewer than two drinks daily and men who had fewer than three; those who got at least two hours of physical activity weekly; and those who ate fruits and vegetables at least three times per day.

“You don’t need to be extreme” to be in the healthy category, said lead researcher Elisabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo. “These behaviors add up, so together it’s quite good. It should be possible for most people to manage to do it.”

Tis true. It is one of the major premises in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health. Healthy habits are cumulative. Start slowly and add habits one by one. For example, start with bodywork, like chiropractic care, and get out of pain. Once pain starts to subside, start exercising. Cut out sodas next. Then start eating more fruits and vegetables, and so on. It doesn’t have to all be done at once. Pick up a few healthy habits, then go for the more challenging ones, like quitting smoking or drinking or mainlining speed. Having a foundation of a handful of healthy habits will get you through a lot easier than trying to kick a habit cold turkey with nothing to fill the void.

By reducing faulty health habits you could add twelve years to your life–no small amount once you start getting up there. Add to that a few healthy habits and woo-boy you might even tack on another twelve. Think of that. What will you do with the time?


Hey you! Yeah…you. Don’t be a sitting duck. Get off your a$$ and move around. Sitting for too long can get you killed, literally. Several studies suggest that prolonged sitting can cause obesity, heart disease and even death. And let’s not forget hemorrhoids.

According to an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity is not enough–sitting too long causes the genes that regulate glucose and fat in the body start to shut down. Whether the sitting is done in a classroom, a car, or in front of the T.V. or computer is inconsequential. What matters is time.

In a Canadian study published last year, 17,000 people were followed for twelve years: Those that sat the most had a higher death risk, independent of whether they exercised or not. Holy hematochezia! That means…aw man, I’m in trouble.

I’m not the only American needing to worry: A 2003-2004 U.S. survey found that Americans spend more than half their time sitting, from working at their desks to sitting in cars. Although preliminary, these studies point out the dangers of taking too much of a load off.

Well, I must say I’m truly listening to this one. Although I am a highly active person, I also sit a lot. And the results of these preliminary studies make sense to me. The human body is made to move–movement is a part of our very survival. Not in just the obvious way as a means of catching food or escaping predators, but as a way to detect changes in the environment. Our moving parts have receptors–sensory devices that sense the world around us. When these are not used (through movement) regularly, the function of the body is disrupted. Chiropractors know this; we do our part to keep these moving parts moving through adjusting subluxations (stuck joints). But actual movement also need to be carried out. Sitting on your rump is not movement.

So if you want to win the lottery, you’ve gotta buy a ticket. And if you want to get the most out of your movable body, well you figure it out. But may I suggest you not be a sitting duck?


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