I have always heard that Northwestern Mutual Life (“The Quiet Company”) was a grade A company. And for years I have been happy to have a disability insurance policy and a term life one with them. I got those policies back in the early 1990’s and it was a good thing I did. In 1996 my health changed. I was diagnosed with leukemia. I knew I was very lucky to have insurance in place because, as many told me, “you’ll never get insurance now!” Now flash forward 14 years and 10 years after receiving treatment in a phase II clinical...

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The news wasn’t good this week for women concerned about breast cancer. First came the story that some women were diagnosed with breast cancer, very early stage, had treatment – including disfiguring surgery – and then found out they never had cancer in the first place. The pathologist goofed, maybe even a second pathologist also misread the biopsies. How does this happen? Not surprisingly it comes back to the clinical experience of the doctor. Properly diagnosing breast cancer, whether through radiology scans or pathology biopsies is not always easy. And in many communities the general radiologists and pathologists just don’t...

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Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Food and Drug Administration's cancer drug office They have a tough job, those government doctors, scientists, and bureaucrats who are charged with assessing the safety and effectiveness of proposed new medical products. As you know, they rely largely on studies presented by the applicants. The FDA has the power to not approve a new drug or product or even pull it off the market. Right now it is considering limiting or, pulling GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug, Avandia, because of newly discovered data that it may have caused heart attack in some patients – data mysteriously...

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Why does one patient, like Mike Katz of New York City, live 20 years with multiple myeloma and is still doing well while a neighbor, Dale, with the same diagnosis, has been given just a short time to live after three years? Why am I living well 10 years after treatment for leukemia when others, who received the same treatment, are no longer with us? We are starting to unlock some of the answers as doctors test our bodies to understand the exact biology of our cancers and aim personalized treatment at the offending cancer cells. But so much is...

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The book publishing world, largely based in New York City, is in trouble. The fragmentation of the market by electronics large and small has chopped former readers into so many pieces. How can a publisher make a blockbuster buck anymore? The answer may come in translations of Swedish fiction from a newly found novelist, now dead, to non-fiction ghostwritten for a face everyone knows from the evening news. In a whirlwind face-to-face series of meeting with publishers on a very recent sunny Tuesday in Manhattan I got a glimpse of their angst and did my best to convince them that...

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Esther and I went away this past weekend for a much needed break from kids, the normal routine, and pets that can wake us up when daylight arrives here in the Pacific Northwest at 5 am. We stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast called The Blue Goose in the small town of Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island northwest of Seattle. It was restful and, with great sunny weather, rejuvenating. At a bed and breakfast, of course, you typically chat with other people over coffee, egg soufflé, and bran muffins. The experience can be tiresome and too chatty. But sometimes...

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The Issues From ASCO from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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What's Old is New at ASCO from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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Shifting the Focus to Patients at Medical Conventions from Patient Power® on Vimeo.

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I am on the first stop of a two city tour of medical conventions seeking news and perspectives for patients. Destination #1 has been San Francisco and the 2010 meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). The meeting has attracted 15,000 urologists from the U.S. and overseas to learn the latest in conditions like incontinence, pelvic floor problems, bladder pain syndrome, bladder cancer and prostate cancer. The exhibit hall is filled mostly with surgical equipment, imaging and surgical device companies. A few pharmas are here: the makers of pills for erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate, and overactive bladder. One interesting one...

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