The other day I visited my Seattle oncologist. As I entered the elevator to leave, a familiar face turned toward me with a smile. I knew that I knew this man but his name escaped me and he looked different. But he certainly knew me. We entered the elevator together along with his companion, a woman. The smiling man looked a bit jaundiced and he had no hair. As I began to recall how I knew him it hit me his looks had changed – a lot. “What brings you here to the oncology floor?” I asked. The smiling man...

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A freight train is a comin’ and, unfortunately it may knock all too many of us flat. Researchers and experts can see the bright light on the engine and if you touch the tracks you can feel the rumble as it barrels towards us. I’m talking about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Our U.S. population is aging and one in three of us is expected to get hit with such severe memory loss that we will be disabled, even dysfunctional. So in this time of extreme economic uncertainty and slashing of research budgets what can we do to slow the train...

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The other day in the local supermarket I bumped into a neighbor who gave me bad news. She said a friend in town had been diagnosed with a stage four cancer and was in the midst of treatment. The patient is someone I am fond of and I was shocked to hear about her illness. That night I called and spoke with her husband, a very warm and caring man. He told me of the diagnosis, the referral to an oncologist and the move into standard treatment. I asked if they sought a second opinion. No. Did they ask about...

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Anyone with a serious diagnosis knows it not only scares you, it scares the people who care about you. Hopefully, over time, your condition gets better, as it has for me with leukemia. You feel better, are less worried, become more knowledgeable, and you begin to go on with your life. The illness may still be there, and you still you need checkups or some treatment. But you move on. But for your friends who may not nearly be so much in-the-know, they may still be a few steps back in “worryland.” This past weekend I experienced that when I...

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Discussing cancer with adults can be difficult, but most adults have some experience with cancer and can relate to this in some way. How you discuss cancer with children is more complex but I believe there is important good news to share. Last Saturday I was the invited speaker at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event at the high school in my hometown, Mercer Island, Washington. There are many such events happening right now across the nation. A couple of hundred young people ages 15-18 sat on the grass in the sun as we kicked off the afternoon...

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From day one, Patient Power has been about giving a voice to patients and addressing the real concerns and issues of patients and caregivers. That’s one reason we do regular visitor surveys, such as our current Spring 2012 survey. We constantly strive to better understand the people we serve; their needs and concerns; and the impact of what we provide. The initial results are fascinating and I wanted to share some here (click here to see the up-to-date results) . If you haven’t already participated in the survey, please add your voice right now. While 94 percent of survey respondents...

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Just recently I had the opportunity to attend the CLL LIVE gathering in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. I was a speaker there and it was a thrill, really, to meet several people I only knew from the Internet. I began connecting with other people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) online exactly 16 years ago when I was first diagnosed with the disease. Over the years I have read posts from hundreds of people around the world. In Niagara Falls I got to meet a few of them in person. It was like meeting old friends. While there I interviewed several...

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I am writing this in flight across Canada. West to East. At Niagara Falls I will join a gathering of patients. I have met few of them but know many. That’s the beauty of the connections we’ve made since the mid ‘90’s when I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The bits and bites of the Internet have served us. In milliseconds we’ve found friends…guides to help us, calm us, and just by connecting know there is hope. I am so thankful my diagnosis came at a time when this support had started. I am also thankful that, over time,...

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Pharmacists are among the most accessible of medical professionals, but sometimes we hesitate to consult with them about our medications, or we forget they are there to help.  Don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist!  Learn more…

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In a few days my cousin will have breast surgery. She doesn’t know if it will be a lumpectomy or more. That uncertainty is scary. The problem is that we are still not quite at the level of imaging and seeing inside the body that the doctor on Star Trek, “Bones,” was able to achieve with the magic wand-type device he could hold over a person and see what was wrong inside. Radiology has come a long way in the real world but in some areas the images leave doubt as to what is really inside the patient. That makes...

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June 2012
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