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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Marty Taft This is a personal story from my own family that, I believe, speaks to all of us as we age, face challenges and, hopefully, overcome them. The story is about my father-in-law, Marty Taft, a resident of Los Angeles and now 82-years young. Like many his age he has had health "interruptions." One came 20 years ago when he had a heart attack. Later came a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, like his father and brother. Fortunately, nothing stopped this former engineer as he was propelled into his senior years. About ten years ago, Marty became interested in...

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When someone is stricken with a serious illness their world is rocked. I know, it has happened to me with cancer twice. And, in this age of social media, you might well go searching online for information and posting your story of fear and uncertainty. The health-related communities are full of introductions from newly diagnosed patients or their loved ones. The community I found was lifesaving. But I wanted to make a comment and tell a story. The comment: when sick people do better, or even get well, they go on with their lives and they may no longer post...

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This month (September) is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. It's pretty personal for me since I have lived with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) since 1996. When I was diagnosed it was difficult to find the information I needed, and that was one of the key reasons I founded Patient Power. Along the way I have met and worked with some incredible fellow “blood buddies” who are living with conditions such as lymphoma, myeloma, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), myelofibrosis and more. Many are not only “powerful patients” but are also powerful patient advocates who have founded, run or contribute to leading organizations...

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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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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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I spent one day last week at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  I was there for a checkup, having first visited the center 16 years ago. There are several new buildings now and its much bigger, but the leukemia center is still on the 9th floor and many of the people who work there are still the same – only a bit older, just like me. One of the things I love about the leukemia center is that it hasn’t moved. The waiting room is sizeable but quickly becomes jammed with people. They have chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL,...

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Page last updated on April 25, 2019