Dear Tom (I am calling you that instead of “Mr. Brokaw" because, like millions of Americans, I feel like I know you personally), I read that you have announced you have cancer, multiple myeloma, and that you and your doctors are optimistic. At 74, no one knows how much time they have left, but I am writing to tell you as a two-time cancer survivor myself, and a medical journalist who covers myeloma, that this is truly a “good time” to have this cancer. It was a lot tougher for your peer, Peter Jennings of ABC, who died of lung...

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Dear Tom (I am calling you that instead of “Mr. Brokaw” because, like millions of Americans, I feel like I know you personally), I read that you have announced you have cancer, multiple myeloma, and that you and your doctors are optimistic. At 74, no one knows how much time they have left, but I am writing to tell you as a two-time cancer survivor myself, and a medical journalist who covers myeloma, that this is truly a “good time” to have this cancer. It was a lot tougher for your peer, Peter Jennings of ABC, who died of lung...

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This week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as expected, approved ibrutinib, now known as Imbruvica, for CLL patients who have tried at least one prior therapy. It gives the hope of being a one-pill-a-day treatment and giving a new lease of life for some of the sickest CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) patients and could, over time, be a good choice for a wider group of patients. My friend, Dr. Brian Koffman, is one such patient who attended, as a family doctor and patient, the 2011 conference of the American Society of Hematology in search of a clinical trial...

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This week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as expected, approved ibrutinib, now known as Imbruvica, for CLL patients who have tried at least one prior therapy. It gives the hope of being a one-pill-a-day treatment and giving a new lease of life for some of the sickest CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) patients and could, over time, be a good choice for a wider group of patients. My friend, Dr. Brian Koffman, is one such patient who attended, as a family doctor and patient, the 2011 conference of the American Society of Hematology in search of a clinical trial...

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For so many years, if you were told you had cancer, you equated that with death. And the path to that death was usually paved with treatments that caused pain, trauma, and cast a pall on your daily emotional and physical life. Cancer meant sadness – for you and the people who cared about you. But for an increasing number of people today, the story is different. Medical science is starting to “get it right.” While still many cancers cannot yet be cured, people can live longer and live well. And yes, they can enjoy good times and laugh. To...

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Dr. Michael Keating and CLL Patient Shari Brenner who brings him a homemade cake at every visit For so many years, if you were told you had cancer, you equated that with death. And the path to that death was usually paved with treatments that caused pain, trauma, and cast a pall on your daily emotional and physical life. Cancer meant sadness – for you and the people who cared about you. But for an increasing number of people today, the story is different. Medical science is starting to “get it right.” While still many cancers cannot yet be cured,...

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Andrew Schorr and hematologist Dr. Haifa Al-Ali at her clinic in Leipzig, Germany As we have written many times here, the pace of research and discovery in many cancer types is accelerating. I wish it was for all cancers, but I take heart in that it is for some. Two of which I have: CLL and myelofibrosis. I thought I was in the minority of people who are on a daily quest for “what’s new.” But a preliminary look at the results from our ongoing Patient Power 2014 Survey shows I am far from alone. Many patients today not only seek information at time of diagnosis, they...

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As we have written many times here, the pace of research and discovery in many cancer types is accelerating. I wish it was for all cancers, but I take heart in that it is for some. Two of which I have: CLL and myelofibrosis. I thought I was in the minority of people who are on a daily quest for “what’s new.” But a preliminary look at the results from our ongoing Patient Power 2014 Survey shows I am far from alone. Many patients today not only seek information at time of diagnosis, they continue to seek information daily, or even weekly, for as long as 10 years after...

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A recent article by Bill Keller in The New York Times told the story of a woman fighting advanced cancer in New York. Bill raised the question of whether we cancer patients should see ourselves in a war with constant or recurring battles or see it differently. He wondered if, when cancer appears to be getting the best of us, we should step back, recognize our mortality and not always make the most aggressive choice. This is all part of a shift. Are we fighting a “war on cancer” or are we chipping away at its ravages, as a society...

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As we kick off 2014 and look back on 2013 and earlier we take stock of who we are. What have we become and why? What’s significant in our lives and what else is left to do? For me, it’s meant thinking back to 1972 when I was a graduate student in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. On many days I would be sent down to Room 9 at New York City’s City Hall to hang out with the veteran reporters who made that their base. I would stay close to the reporters from The New York...

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February 2014
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