The holiday season is a time for friends and family to get together and catch up. Those with chronic disease, such as CLL, inevitably are asked about how we are feeling. When I am with family and friends, people seem surprised when I give a quick update and then really want to move onto other topics. On the one hand, I am thankful and fortunate to be surrounded by real friends and a loving family who care enough to ask. But by the same token, I suspect most people in similar shoes don’t want to be defined by their ailments,...

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What gets patients angry—besides being upset about their diagnosis—is high drug prices. You know the story: elderly people cutting pills and having to make painful choices between taking their medicine as prescribed and paying their rent. Yes, there are assistance programs, but often people don’t qualify or don’t qualify for enough help. Of course, it is not just the elderly. It presents many families with tough choices. What rubs salt in the wound? Glossy and frequently broadcast drug company ads on television. These now include efinaconazole (Jublia) for toenail fungus and, incredible to me, a cancer drug for a subset...

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Never before has it been so important to be a member of our Patient Power community.  The 2015 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting runs December 5 through December 8, and we will be on-site reporting breaking news as it happens.  Sign up now for e-alerts to receive updates and access to Ask the Expert sessions with Dr. Jeff Sharman and Dr. Robert Orlowski. Knowledge can be the best medicine of all, and your illness cannot wait.

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Fatigue is the most frequently reported symptom of cancer. It transcends across all cancer types and greatly interferes with routine day-to-day activities. Fatigue is the second topic in my four-part series of topics addressing the challenges that cancer survivors face after treatment to find intimacy again. The first topic of the series covered communication. Today, we’ll discuss fatigue and loss of interest and how they affect cancer survivors' intimate relationships. Fatigue experienced by a cancer patient is extremely different from the fatigue a healthy person would describe. Their fatigue could often be resolved with a good night’s sleep or an...

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I was asked that question recently at a patient advocacy forum. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction was “No.” Upon reflection, however, the answer is more complex and nuanced. I had responded initially “no” because of the way I am able to live my life. I was diagnosed with CLL 9-½ years ago. I’ve been treated twice, once in 2006 with CVP + R (cyclophosphamide [Cytoxan], vincristine [Oncovin], prednisone [Deltasone] and rituxamab [Rituxan]), then again in 2010 with FCR (fludarabine [Fludara], cyclophosphamide and rituximab).   Since 2010, I haven’t needed treatment. The only pill I take is vitamin D3 when I remember. I...

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White is the new pink. For many years, when I participated in walks for breast cancer, it was all about “the pink” and I got giddy every time I saw pink. Buildings turned pink, billboards were pink, women’s clothing was pink, and I even added a few pink extensions to my hair. October was synonymous with pink—and still is. Everything was pink, pink, pink, pink PINK! With just days left in October, there is a lot of chatter about #LCAM15. Yes, that means Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015. And it’s all good, thanks to our use of social media exposure...

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Andrew and a patient at a town meeting I’ve been reading how U.S. healthcare costs are rising much slower and more moderately than expected. Economists are debating why. I am betting Obamacare has helped. But I admit, I am a fan. But, no matter what’s going on, the lingering worries about skyrocketing medical costs in the future got me thinking about one obvious part of a solution—Smarter Patients. I am not just talking about all of us having healthier lifestyles so we prevent illness—like type 2 diabetes or colon cancer. I am talking about ways we can lower costs after...

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GEPAC (@GEPAC_), el Grupo Español de Pacientes con Cáncer, la principal organización de pacientes de cáncer en España, celebrará su congreso anual del 27 al 29 de noviembre en Madrid (hashtag #congresoGEPAC). Serán tres días de charlas (ver programa) para que los pacientes de todo tipo de cáncer tengan más información sobre su condición, tanto a nivel científico como a nivel más práctico, con talleres de actividades como relajación, maquillaje, inteligencia emocional y talleres para sus familiares. Una imagen de la web del congreso de GEPAC El congreso también incluirá una jornada enfocada a estudiantes de Medicina y Enfermería en la...

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Since being diagnosed with CLL 32 months ago, I have reluctantly accepted my circumstance and am gamely moving on despite this.  Not to be rhetorical, but what else can you do? Although CLL tends to moves slowly, it is cancer nonetheless and can be just as fatal as any other. More broadly, it is against this backdrop that living a full life with any cancer comes down in part to with how one deals with it psychologically.  Along those lines, several recent news stories are really notable and provide inspirations for the rest of us. The first was Jimmy Carter’s...

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Each year, more than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 95 percent die within 12 months. Many victims have been celebrities such as Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, Jack Benny and Michael Landon. Because survival is limited, and treatment options are few and often ineffective, patients and their families often regard pancreatic cancer as a death sentence. Too often the disease also brings hopelessness and despair. I am a two-time survivor of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Surviving a second bout is rare, and no statistics are kept. I have ridden the emotional rollercoaster frequently encountered over the long course of treatments...

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