I got an email yesterday from a work friend of my wife. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has pretty quickly scheduled surgery at her local hospital. She’d heard good things about the surgeon. Like any woman she wanted to cancer out as soon as possible. Putting inflammatory breast cancer aside for this discussion (because that is really a “three alarm fire” and needs immediate care), I wanted to remind readers that the leading experts agree that the breast cancer cells were probably developing over many months and that treatment decisions do not have to be made in...

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It hit the paper this week. The American Cancer Society is revising its position on screening for breast and prostate cancer because of concerns we may be identifying cancers that are almost benign or might even go away on their own, and that overtreatment is causing harm. We’ve already talked about this on many Patient Power programs. We spoke about how the PSA test might be overused and also how, even when cancer is spotted, watchful waiting or “active surveillance” might be the best course. When it comes to prostate cancer, the wisdom goes: most men will die with it...

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The Role of Powerful Patients in Healthcare Reform from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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37-year-old Rob McKeregan of Hillsboro, Oregon near Portland worked for years as a tow truck driver. In that line of work you do get called to traffic fatalities. It’s tough. The odds are the vast majority of people who died were not organ donors, either because they had not made it their wish or, even if they had, their family prevented it. Rob reflects on that a lot these days. While he has always been listed as a organ donor, most people are not. That takes a heavy toll because thousands of people die each year while waiting for an...

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The Impatient Patient from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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I have never had a mammogram. No doctor would recommend one for me, a 59-year-old male. But they would for any woman over 40. Yet many women don’t have them, or forget to keep having them yearly. So our partner, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, is spearheading a novel campaign in the Pacific Northwest to encourage mammograms among friends. They’ve launched a web site, http://www.mammogrampromise.org/, where celebrity women encourage you in a friend-to-friend style to promise to yourself and your friends to have the exam. You can win a prize by doing so. The website is cool and I hope...

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Is House M.D. Right About Internet Health? from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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My friend Eric Rothenberg is 42. Given that I am writing this on my 59th birthday, I see Eric as a very young man. Married, twin 14-year-old boys. Great wife, Edith, who I love and see at the gym at our little Mercer Island Country Club most days. The club is no deluxe place. A few workout rooms, a pool, tennis courts. But it is a community. And that community saved Eric’s life last Thursday night. Friday morning at 6 am another regular at the gym told me the story. Eric participated in the Thursday night men’s tennis league. He...

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Avoiding the Swine Flu from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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Being Jewish, this is an especially introspective time for me. We are just passing the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, and the few days between this holiday and the next, Yom Kippur, our day of atonement, typically get me thinking about why I do what I do – what’s the point? My friend and one of our rabbis, Yohanna Kinberg, brought things home to me as she commented on the story of creation, which we reread at this time of year. Quoting great Jewish thinkers of the past, Rabbi Kinberg spoke of our recognition of an imperfect world and our...

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