I am just back from the Phoenix-metro area. It’s now the 5th largest in the United States and despite home foreclosures, there is still a feeling of growth in many areas. Gilbert, a nearby suburb, has expanded to over 200,000 people and a growing major medical center. I spent several days interviewing patients and staff about the soon-to-open, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hope is that by bringing MD Anderson’s world-renowned expertise, clinical trials and processes to this new center, cancer care around Phoenix and the southwest will be improved. Look for my video interviews coming soon. But, in...

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It was a bombshell that shouldn’t have been unexpected. Steve Jobs resigning. Anyone who saw him knew he was sick and, just watching him on television, it was obvious to me he was getting sicker. When you get so thin, when your color is not good, when you are probably taking heavy duty drugs that have side effects, you certainly don’t feel good. And when you don’t feel good it is tough to think clearly, and make decisions with certainty. That is not a good thing for the CEO of one of the most successful corporations. It is actually a...

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You heard about it first on Patient Power when, a couple of years ago, we interviewed Dr. Andrew Lowy, oncology surgeon at UC San Diego Medical Center. He explained how some patients with advanced cancer spread in their abdomen could benefit from an open surgery - perhaps as much as nine hours long - where, after snipping out visible cancer - the organs are bathed in heated chemotherapy for 90 minutes. You may recall the story of Jennifer Ambrose, a young mom from suburban Chicago, who developed cancer of the appendix. She tracked down Dr. Lowy after spotting him on...

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You have heard it countless times, “The War on Cancer.” President Nixon announced it. The National Cancer Institute has spearheaded what TV and radio commercials always talk about as “the fight against cancer.” Singular. But we really need to start thinking about it as a plural.  Wars on cancer. Fights against cancer. Taking it one step further, we need to see each person’s fight as an individual battle.  Not just individualized to the patient’s spirit or age or sense of hope, but individualized to his or her particular biology, matched up with the specific cancer and available treatments. That is...

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There are big companies like Quintiles that run clinical trials around the world. There are local clinics that specialize in clinical trials and make a lot of money at it. There are, of course, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers who depend upon the results to gain marketing approval for new products. People in all those groups know a lot about trials. But the perspective that counts is the view from you and me – patients. Most of us do not enroll in clinical trials. We don’t want to get too up close and personal with anything “experimental.” And often our...

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You know I am a cancer survivor – 15 years down the road from a leukemia diagnosis and enjoying a 10 year remission. So whenever something seems weird about my health it’s cancer coming back, right? Wrong! Just how wrong was proven last night. I am writing this from my hospital bed in Seattle. The first symptom of a possible problem came three days ago when I had soreness in my right calf. A pulled muscle? Maybe. But I had not noticed straining it. Back at the gym the next day I had soreness again but thought it was no...

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What? Just what am I talking about? Give me a minute. More and more people are telling me too often they are encountering doctors who 1) don’t look them in the eye 2) don’t listen to them 3) don’t touch them or get anywhere near them and 4) stay focused on their a) computer b) smartphone or c) iPad. More of us are saying we are “mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore” just like the character in the movie “Network” years ago. We find another doctor. I am happy to report that an increasing number...

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Since being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) 15 years ago, I’ve met a lot of other patients along the way. As time goes on, I realize how lucky I have been to never get very sick, to respond well to treatment, and to lead a full life today while taking no medicines. My original CLL crowd from years ago didn’t all do so well. Perhaps the genetics of their CLL were different and they’d been dealt a tougher “hand.” The other day I found out with finality that that was the case for a neighbor, Dr. Paul Benca. Paul...

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Greetings from Breckenridge, Colorado. At 10,000 feet, I am told it is the highest resort town in North America. The Rocky Mountain scenery is breathtaking. But there’s a problem for about one in four of us who visit here, especially people like me who live at sea level. We can get hit with high altitude sickness and a few days ago, I was one of the unlucky ones. What happens is your body isn’t used to the thin air and your blood has difficulty getting enough oxygen to your body. It usually happens at altitudes over 8,500 feet. You get...

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This has been a busy time for my family as my daughter, Ruthie, has just graduated from high school. Because we live in a close-knit, fairly small town, we were all zipping around in the days afterward attending graduation parties. We knew many of the 400 or so young people who graduated. In most cases they are blessed with good health and the prospect of a fun summer followed by a college education. But the health picture isn’t sunny for all of them. I heard this story at one of the parties this weekend: A leader of the senior class,...

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August 2011
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