Greetings from the very top of the hill across from the cathedral in beautiful Todi, Italy, in Umbria, where we are visiting our Internet leukemia patient-advocate friend, Felice Bombaci, and his family. Felice takes imatinib pills for his CML and leads a full life. I remain in remission with a three-drug combination for my CLL and now daily ruxolitinib pills for my second cancer, myelofibrosis. Both of us are living full lives. And Felice and I agree that living for today is most important, with the hope for continuing good health for the future. The key to that long, full...

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Linda Lewis, former editor of More and Today's Parent magazines, Canada.(Photo credit: John Van Der Schilden) JOHN VAN DER SCHILDEN) The world lost a bright star in journalism recently when Canadian Linda Lewis, former leading magazine editor, died at 52 from complications of myelofibrosis. In reading her obituary it's clear she was a warm, caring person – mother of two – who loved life and, as the cancer diagnosis set in, the spontaneity of enjoying the moment. Linda's myelofibrosis had transformed into acute myeloid leukemia and that took her life. But one wonders if the stage was set years before...

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The buzz words “patient empowerment” are everywhere today – health blogs, marketing messages, websites, you name it! And the message is that if you just choose the right hospital,  or download the right app, you will suddenly be transformed into this incredibly powerful patient and all your worries will be solved. Not quite. What matters when you face a serious illness like cancer is becoming an engaged patient. That’s a person who gets better care, maybe even life saving or life extending care, because they educate themselves about their diagnosis and seek truly expert care. So, in this blog, I...

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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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August 2013
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