As the year ends, we ask ourselves, how has it been, and are we hopeful going into the next? My feeling as I reflect is that 2015, when it comes to cancer, was a year of significant progress. But that is always tempered with the losses. Joanie Mass (right) with her partner Carolyn Hewitt A couple of weeks ago, we lost one of my "cancer buddies," Joanie Mass, a former physical education teacher who had been living with breast cancer for more than 10 years. At an annual Jewish family camp year after year, along with our friend Seth, the...

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You only live once. This expression—or the acronym YOLO—has gained mass appeal in the past few years.  I feel like people say it all the time, usually to explain their carefree attitude or sometimes a seemingly irrational decision.  When you get diagnosed with an incurable (though treatable, I am constantly assured...) disease like multiple myeloma—which I was 14 months ago—the idea that you only live once crosses your mind quite a bit. I wouldn’t normally describe myself as a big risk-taker, pre- (or post-) diagnosis.  So my “YOLO” attitude has usually been more about not wanting to wait to do things...

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I’m a bit miffed at the moment. I was just on the cancer treatment center site where I received my care, and the opening page reads in bold, “Ranked No. 5 in U.S. for Cancer Care.” Seriously, No. 5? It made me pause and think, why on earth would anyone want to be treated for something as severe as cancer by an organization claiming they’re No. 5? Having gone through the experience of cancer treatment and knowing what I now know, I wouldn’t begin to consider being treated by No. 5. Fortunately for me I wasn’t; I was treated by...

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Last week, you met Dominica, who shared a “ripple” in her life—her diagnosis and treatment of cervical lymphoma; her experience with doctors, her support system; what she liked and didn’t like to hear. Well, Dominica is my mother. And today, I’m going to share my perspective of that time in our lives and how it impacted our family. Hearing my mom say, “I have cancer,” shook me to the core. My best friend, this invincible woman who started her own bakery, the woman who carried me for nine months and who loved, nurtured and supported me, could die. How could...

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Andrew and Dr. Jan Burger at ASH I am writing this on the flight home to my new hometown of San Diego from the huge (25,000 people) ASH (American Society of Hematology) meeting in Orlando. Our Patient Power team from the U.S. and Europe shot what will become probably 60 video segments with experts and inspiring patients. After attending this annual meeting more than 10 times over the years, I was especially impressed this time with an overriding message of hope. What was great is that this was coming from all quarters: from patients living with the conditions discussed, from...

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To me, “ripples” are events that change your life for a period of time until life goes back to “normal” or the “new normal.” Ripples can be surgeries, deaths, life changes, illness, etc. I experienced a major life “ripple” when I was diagnosed with cervical lymphoma eight years ago. So when your life has a ripple moment, how do you keep hope alive? For me, it was positivity. I’ve always had a positive attitude, but that attitude was tested during this time because of the uncertainty. However, I was blessed with a helpful team of medical professionals. My main oncologist...

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Patient Power offers cancer patients worldwide the ability to break down barriers and ask direct, first-hand questions to medical experts using new technology at the internationally renowned medical conference Patient Power is proud to offer a first for this year’s American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting (ASH) - thanks to founder and host Andrew Schorr (@AndrewSchorr), patients around the world will be able to ask questions LIVE via text and video about the latest conference findings. “As a 2-time blood cancer survivor I understand first hand that breaking news on your illness is critical. It can mean the difference between life and...

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The devotion of scientists—and patients who have been participating in cancer clinical trials—is paying off. And within the next week at the American Society of Hematology “ASH” medical convention in Orlando, we are sure to hear about significant news in the treatment of blood-related cancers. I have two, CLL and myelofibrosis, so you can bet I am “all ears.” As a long-time medical journalist and someone who interacts with thousands of patients, I have come to realize that we patients want to receive the news that could affect our longevity and quality of life without delay and without a lot...

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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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December 2015
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