R.I.P. Marilyn Buck

Marilyn_BuckMarilyn Buck was an anti-imperialist political prisoner and co-defendant of Dr. Mutulu Shakur.  She was paroled in August of 2010, only to die of cancer 20 days later.  Marilyn Buck was a health activist herself while incarcerated, starting an AIDS education program.

A summary of Marilyn’s case by Felix Shafer:

After MANY months of worsening symptoms during which she regularly requested and insisted on evaluation/treatment AND WAS DENIED, she finally received a cancer diagnosis around New Year 2010. Major surgery followed about three weeks later and Marilyn reported that she was told the doctors were optimistic that they’d removed the malignancy.

As far as we know, she had no follow up scans or any professional post surgical care by her doctors for well over a month. It’s difficult to see how this can be said to meet any standard of acceptable medical practice. She received help changing her postoperative dressing from fellow prisoners. The Bureau of Prisons was very slow to diagnose her. They were slow to move and treat her. On March 12th, she was informed the cancer had metastasized to her lungs.

Soon thereafter, Marilyn went to the Carswell federal medical facility in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. She would be transported from this medical prison to a local hospital for cancer treatment. Gaunt and fatigued she used oxygen to help with breathing.

Marilyn said, “so many women here are medicalized into the role of patient and the setup here is about making us this way. I do not want to become this. I think about how my mother kept herself out of the hospital until nearly the end because she didn’t want to become like that.” She went on to confirm that, “In the eight weeks after surgery in Stanford (Stanford University in California) when I had no follow up tests — the cancer ran wild.”

We do know that living for long periods in hostile institutional environments of deprivation and stress degrades the immune system, damages emotional well-being and can shorten the lifespan. Marilyn respected her doctor in Texas, felt that she had her best interests at heart and was giving her the right chemotherapy treatment. We do know that a stress-free, loving environment, excellent diet and adjunctive treatments were not available. We do know that personnel at Carswell made cruel comments to her expressing “surprise” that she was still alive.