Swirling around the great debates about our economy, and real worries and financial turmoil, are the very basic issues of individuals in America getting the healthcare they need – and deserve. This was brought home to me yet again this past Saturday evening when, as a local board member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I attended their "Light the Night" walk in Tacoma, Washington. That's where I met 30-year-old Jamie Johnston. Jamie is a mother of a second-grade girl and a stay-at-home mom. She is also a 2-year AML leukemia survivor who had no health insurance. It all started...

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70,000 American young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year. For many, it took them quite awhile to get an accurate diagnosis since the first doctor they saw pooh-poohed the idea that a young adult could even have cancer. Too often they were told it was a sports injury…or the flu…or a nerve problem..or a worry that was "in their head." Possible, even likely, many times, but in their case not at all true. And the delay in diagnosis can be life-threatening. To add insult to injury, many young adults, when offered treatment do not hear about all the issues...

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The phone rang this morning on our new Patient Power Hotline (877-232-5445). On the line was a worried woman from Lawton, Oklahoma. She'd been diagnosed with malignant melanoma that had spread to her lymph nodes. She was waiting for more test results to learn how far the spread had gone. She had listened to our recent webcast with Dr. Patrick Hwu from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and had made some calls to get to us, the producers. First I told the woman I was not a physician but rather a patient. My advice was do not proceed...

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Most doctors are well meaning. They do not deliberately make mistakes or have their patients suffer. But within the past 11 days I suffered when two internists "got it wrong." It took a third doctor, a cancer specialist, to get it right and ease my pain. The story has lessons for you. It begins with a flight from Seattle to Detroit about 10 days ago. Toward the end of the long journey I had a slight sore throat on the right side. No big deal. Over the next two days, as I helped my oldest child, son Ari, get settled...

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I am writing this as the calm of the Labor Day holiday is about to fade in the rear view mirror. All too soon we will be sprinting into Fall with no respite until Thanksgiving. After a refreshing summer, it is time to get down to business. Later this week I will be in Houston for the annual meeting of M.D. Anderson's "Anderson Network" of survivors. I am honored they have asked me to participate in several events. I am eager to meet in person some of the inspiring patient-guests who have joined me on M.D. Anderson webcasts. Thinking about...

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Last week, in two webcasts I interviewed young men who had survived cancer and aggressive treatment that made all the difference. Cole Connealy, 22 and Ezra Fitz, 31, each underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. For Cole, in Portland, Oregon, it was the discovery of testicular cancer that had spread into his chest and his brain. For Ezra, from Brentwood, Tennessee, near Nashville, it was a tumor near the language center on the left side of his brain. Cole was just 16 when the extreme fatigue he was feeling turned out to be advanced cancer. He underwent 13 surgeries as part...

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There's more chatter lately (see the Seattle Times, The Newest Generation of Drugs: Who Can Afford Them?) about the cost of the growing list of biotech drugs "("biologics") that can lengthen your life and/or improve the quality of your life when you are living with an advanced cancer or a long-term chronic illness like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis ("RA"). In RA, for example, there are drugs like Orencia, Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade. In Hepatitis C, a rampant chronic illness, Intron-A can cost $3,473 per month. An advanced breast cancer drug, Tykerb, costs $3,021 a month. People with MS have...

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Dear Patient Power Friends: Comedian Bernie Mac ("Ocean's Eleven") died Saturday while hospitalized for what was said to be pneumonia. He had been living with a chronic lung condition, sarcoidosis, which he had previously said was in remission. We will miss Bernie as he was a talented and unique comedian. His death gets me thinking about lung health and I am sure we will do webcasts before long on pneumonia, sarcoidosis, and other lung conditions – asthma, of course. We have previously discussed COPD and even interviewed a woman with that condition who had a lung transplant. We've also covered...

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As I wrote last week, our family is just back from a summertime trip to Europe. Because of the low value of the U.S. Dollar we didn't encounter many Americans, but we did meet many Europeans on extended vacations. I was the one with the Blackberry. They were the ones who were truly relaxing. On the way home we changed planes in the Philadelphia airport, and once again we saw American business people on the run, and on some of their faces, stress just under the surface. Our friend Marshall Brumer, a young man (in my book anyway) at 44,...

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