Having a serious illness can make one feel alone, but doesn’t have to. A common diagnosis can lead to new relationships that make long distances mean nothing and help you build strong new friendships. I‘m writing from Cape Town, South Africa where I’m on vacation with my wife, Esther, and where my daughter Ruthie works for a nonprofit. This city is 10,200 miles from my former home near Seattle and 5,300 miles from where I now live in Barcelona. In either case, it's a very long way. As many people who read this know, I am a loyal member of...

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Okay, we all know the phrase "The Luck of the Irish." That's why there's always hope that Notre Dame University will win a football game, even when they are way behind and it's in the fourth quarter. But let's look at heritage a bit differently in 2013 and at a time when, in cancer, patients are diagnosed earlier and, in many cases, living longer. So much is being said about genetics. For cancer patients it’s becoming more common to look at the genetic mutations that make up the composition of your version of a cancer. That's looking at when your...

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There are doctors and researchers around the world who are devoting their lives to curing cancer. In many areas they are making dramatic progress. Blood related cancers is such an area. But taming the beast of brain tumors has been much more daunting, in the same "arch enemy" class as pancreatic cancer. The other day these two deadly cancers were linked in an unusual way. One of brain cancer's biggest foes, Dr. Gregory Foltz a leading neurosurgeon and researcher in Seattle, lost his life to pancreatic cancer. It was a big loss for all of us, and we send our...

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A medical marvel broke new ground in cancer in 2001 - now there are concerns because some patients aren’t taking advantage of it. Dr. Brian Druker from Oregon Health and Science University's Knight Cancer Institute led the development of the first targeted therapy that took on cancer at a genetic level in 2001.The introduction of Imatinib, or Gleevec, for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), changed the diagnosis from a terminal illness to a chronic condition for most patients. It was groundbreaking cancer therapy – instead of traditional chemotherapy regimens patients would take a pill to extend and save their...

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When you are diagnosed with cancer your life is put on full stop. It may be for a moment, or an hour, or much longer. Depending upon the diagnosis and treatment plan, your living situation, and your emotional state, you may rebound quickly or not at all. My experience has been, for sure, that you and your family will take a financial hit. There is a very clear and sometimes devastating financial hardship when you are diagnosed with cancer. I got to thinking about this as I recently interviewed Dr. Veena Shankaran from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Dr. Shankaran...

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Photo courtesy of Jennifer Glass This time of year we hear the word "exciting" used a lot when it comes to cancer. Specialists and clinical investigators in many cancer conditions are upbeat as study results come out at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting (ASCO) in Chicago and the European Hematology Association meeting in Stockholm. Patient Power is conducting many interviews at these conferences where experts tell us what they are excited about – typically that a new therapy with fewer side effects is helping physicians better manage a cancer for their patients. That's good news, of course. But...

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Do you have resources to deal with cancer that go beyond understanding treatment? Patients like me certainly spend a lot of time talking about treatments, and research into better treatments, which makes a lot of sense. But that’s just part of the cancer journey. Patients and caregivers also have personal struggles, often a family struggle, to cope, move through the cancer experience and to maintain hope – as well as enjoy the best of every day as it comes. Physicians have little training to help us with that. It's not really their job. But there are others who can help...

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Photo credit: People.com Even before the Human Genome Project blossomed with a map of all the genes in the body some genes had been identified as putting people at high risk for serious diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer. Actress Angelina Jolie is making news because she chose to have both breasts removed, with reconstruction with breast implants following. She made that aggressive cancer prevention choice because she was told a test result showed she carried the "breast and ovarian cancer genes: BRCA1 and BRACA2. Her mother died of breast cancer. Breast removal in an otherwise healthy woman, and...

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Time is limited, and time is money, right? Doctors never seem to have enough time. As our population ages, there are more people in need of care and with spiraling higher costs doctors are required to see more patients per day. There's little time for chit chat. At the same time medical science is making the practice and the treatment of serious health problems more complex. There are competing diagnostic tests, competing treatments, and many clinical trials. And empowered patients and family members want to have a consultation with their doctor, no longer accepting an "edict" telling them "this is...

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The Human Genome Project was a really big deal, identifying the genes that make up our body. And quantum leaps in computing power, added to scientific discoveries, have been helping cancer specialists identify subtypes of disease, enabling drug developers to come up with ever more targeted therapies. More and more of these medicines for ever more narrow genetic subtypes of cancer are starting to blossom with the Food and Drug Administration anointing some with "breakthrough" status and the promise of quicker approvals. Major academic medical centers are now performing genetic analysis on the blood or biopsied tissue of new cancer...

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