I had breakfast this morning in Las Vegas with my friend, Dave Garcia. Dave is a pit boss on the graveyard shift at the Belagio Hotel where they made the modern day Ocean’s buddy movies. Dave is also a 52-year-old chronic lymphocytic leukemia survivor. He reached out to me online and we have been friends since soon after his diagnosis in 2002. Dave is a father of two young kids. He dreams of seeing them grow up. But, understandably, he worries. Some days more than others. Today was his day to see his oncologist and get the latest blood test...

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This past weekend Oscar-nominated Hollywood and Broadway actress Jill Clayburgh died at age 66. The cause was chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which she had been fighting, privately, for 21 years. As you may recall, I, too, have CLL and I was diagnosed at the same age, 45. For me, I am 16 and a half years into that “battle” although, fortunately, I have been feeling very good in the ten years since I received treatment as part of a breakthrough clinical trial. While I have no symptoms and take no medicine I do not consider myself cured. So when someone...

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As Gale Fisher approached her late 60’s in Northern California she remained an active woman who loved to play golf and walk. But pain in her right calf  made walking very far difficult. And it was getting worse. Gale eventually saw her doctor and had an x-ray of her spine. One eminent doctor thought her pain was caused by stenosis, narrowing of her spine. He suggested fusion surgery might be needed. Gale knew back surgery all too often does not relieve a patient’s pain so she opted for a more conservative approach – injections. She also tried physical therapy. Neither...

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More and more people are telling me their own Powerful Patient stories. I love it! I heard this one at lunch today in Las Vegas as I reconnected in-person with CLL friend Dave Garcia, 50, a veteran pit boss at the famous Bellagio casino. Dave and I met via the Internet seven years ago after he was diagnosed with CLL. He searched for information and found my story of being in a clinical trial at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I told him to get on Southwest Airlines and fly to Houston to be evaluated there after he was...

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Caroline Hale, of Nashville, is an incredibly articulate recent college graduate who is an exemplary cancer survivor. I was delighted to have her as a guest on our Cancer Survivorship webcast earlier this week, sponsored by Vanderbilt Medical Center. We asked Caroline if she would write a guest blog. She responded with her usual passion to use her medical experience to help others. It is indisputable that the rise in cancer cure rates since the mid 1900s is an outstanding accomplishment by the medical community. If I had been diagnosed with stage III Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the 1960s, it is...

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I am a real fan of medical progress through science. Having met many drug researchers I know how it can take years and many millions of dollars to actually end up with a new, approved medicine. As you know, approval is based on clinical trials – trials where maybe a hundred or a few hundred people participate. If a drug is safe and effective and especially meets an unmet need, it typically gets approved. But it is in the months and years that follow that a more complete story develops. It is in this time following approval where we can...

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40-year-old Rhonda Craig of Lake Stevens, Washington is a no-baloney-type woman. Good thing. She has a tough job as a Washington State Trooper. She can find herself speeding along on a remote highway at night to pull over someone who is usually law abiding and compliant or someone who could be a deadly threat. Rhonda, a mother of three boys with the youngest age 3, is used to facing challenges. She is made of tough stuff. She also is a woman of action. So when a lump showed up on her neck about 2 years ago, a year after the...

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Over the weekend I began to worry if I have been unfair. Just last week in a webcast about the latest comprehensive treatments for brain cancer I urged patients to seek treatment, or at least a consultation, at an academic medical center where they have sub-specialists in neuro-oncology and related specialties. I do believe that is good advice. Beyond that, I find that I remain a "fan" of academic medicine for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that my participation in a single, university center clinical trial may have saved or lengthen my life as a...

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It was 13 years ago that I was diagnosed with leukemia. At that time I had a wife and two children: a boy, 6, and a girl, 2. Later, with a "green light" from my doctor, we chose to have a third child. I have previously written about how to tell your spouse, children, and co-workers about your diagnosis. But this time I wanted to share not my perspective, but rather, one of theirs. I was very much touched this past weekend when I received a solicitation letter from my eldest child, Ari. He's the 6-year-old who is now 19...

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This past week there has been swirling comment about bonuses on Wall Street, and my suburban Connecticut friends have been telling me about AIG neighbors who are feeling alternately angry, insecure, or shamed. I agree the system of bonuses was all wrong and that Wall Street types have to get connected to the real world the rest of us live in. And yes, I think a lot of these people who work or worked at companies virtually "owned" by us taxpayers should give the money back. I understand investment bankers and others are under pressure to make millions for investors...

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Page last updated on April 25, 2019