I recently spent a lot of time talking with people who are on a mission to prevent colon cancer, which is our second biggest cancer killer, after lung cancer. Colon cancer is preventable if it’s caught early. In my mother’s case, it wasn’t, so I think about colon cancer a lot. This past Sunday, during colon cancer awareness month, I produced two live radio shows on this subject and got to meet people who, for differing reasons, want to encourage American adults to “get our rears in gear.” Katy Duggan is one example. While she is now a five-year survivor,...

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I am a pretty big sports fan. One thing I love about sports is the lessons it can provide about life. There are the obvious ones about the benefits of hard work or living to fight another day. But one hit me in the face these past few weekends as I watched the exciting NCAA basketball tournament, dubbed “March Madness” because anything can happen when 64 colleges and universities vie for the national collegiate basketball championship. This year was the best ever and illustrated a point that is important for any of us fighting a life-threatening disease: It’s not over...

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The drug companies get criticized all the time for the high cost of medicines. But I have to say thank you to them, from my point of view. As I approach the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis with CLL (on April 9, 1996) and continue to have “no evidence of disease,” I am very grateful that my need for treatment coincided with the availability of effective medicines. I received my treatment through a clinical trial and was fortunate that the research proved to benefit many of the recipients, including me. My drugs were Rituxan (rituximab), a monoclonal antibody, and Fludara...

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There were some tears around HealthTalk recently. The sister of two of our co-workers was told her fight against inflammatory breast cancer is not going well. Chemo, then surgery, then more chemo and radiation have not kept it from spreading to her brain. Recurring headaches were a warning sign, and a brain scan confirmed it. This was really bad news. The other day in Los Angeles, a family friend who had been treated for lung cancer heard something similar: metastases in his liver and some other vital organs. My co-workers’ sister started radiation today. The family friend is researching his...

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I have previously written about Dr. Dan Present and his spouse, Jane Present. Jane is a powerful positive force for Crohn’s and IBD in her own right. Recently they launched a web site called My IBD associated with their organization, the Foundation for Clinical Research in IBD. HealthTalk helped develop the site, which is a wonderful resource for families touched by IBD and a symbol of Jane and Dan’s life-long commitment to helping people get the best care. Fortunately, treatments and diagnostics are changing in IBD and, perhaps in Crohn’s especially, we are seeing the day when surgery is less...

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I am 55 and if I can take care of myself, I’d love to make it to 92 like my dad did. He eventually died of a complication from prostate cancer, so I think about that disease. I know it’s slow-growing, and some men die with it and not from it. But I do take it seriously. That was reinforced for me on my Patient Power radio show recently when I had as a guest 53-year-old Bob Ferguson. At age 50, he decided it was time for a complete physical. That included a digital rectal exam, which showed nothing, but...

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I know there are millions of Americans without health insurance. This is a severe problem in our country, and I hope we will have the political leadership to solve it. But those of us in the middle class and younger than Medicare age who are covered by a health plan may be finding another problem too: Our insurance plan is questioning the decisions made by our doctors. I, for example, am hitting a road block at the pharmacy with almost every new prescription. Each time, the doctors have to call the insurance company to defend what they are prescribing. In...

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The coroner in Quebec has sounded off, upset by the global media frenzy that suggested a 15-year-old girl died of an allergic reaction to her boyfriend’s kiss and residue in his mouth from the peanuts he ate hours before. According to the coroner, it was not a peanut allergy that killed the young woman but rather a shortage of oxygen to her brain. The cause of that is not something he is disclosing just yet, but he insists it was not a reaction to peanuts. That should be some comfort to people with severe allergies who worry whether triggers can...

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That day in April 1996 is still a vivid and unpleasant memory. That was the day my doctor told me I had leukemia, CLL, a disease I’d never heard of and had to work at understanding. Fortunately, over the almost 10 years since then, I connected with the very best experts in the field and was lucky enough to receive experimental therapy that has, so far, killed off millions of cancer cells and kept my leukemia at undetectable levels. I, like many of you, am in remission. But by no means do I think I am cured. I accept the...

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The other day, I had a lunch to remember - not the food, but the people. It was an organizing luncheon for the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization’s first Mother’s Day Walk in my home city of Seattle, an event like they have had for years in Chicago, Y-ME’s home base. Y-ME is a great partner to HealthTalk, and I have known the leadership for years. They have a wonderful hotline to serve patients,1-800-221-2141, that you can call 24 hours a day. I knew all that. What I didn’t know is that it was the mother of an old Seattle...

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March 2006
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