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Deborah J. Cornwall
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Deborah J. Cornwall is an experienced advocate on behalf of cancer patients and their families, working with the Cancer Action Network, the legislative advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. She is also the author of Things I Wish I’d Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out, a new book based on interviews with 95 cancer caregivers and dozens of patients and survivors. For more information or to purchase the book, go to

Entries by Deborah J. Cornwall

Making Hope When the Medical System Can't

(2) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 3:02 PM

Autonomic disorders, like POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, sometimes called simply Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) and Neurocardiogenic Syncope involve body systems that are supposed to work automatically -- controlling your heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, thinking, temperature, digestion, vision and more -- but don't work as...

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Invisible Illness: How to Sustain Hope?

(10) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 12:12 PM

Think about your everyday life -- how taking a run, or walking your dog on the beach, or socializing with friends are just part of a normal day. How you share daily responsibilities with others. How you set long-term goals and arrange your life to pursue them.

Then imagine never...

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Got Advanced Cancer? Consider Clinical Trials

(3) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 11:46 AM

Many advanced cancers are invisible or silent, ravaging internal organs behind the scenes until they have spread far enough to make an early death inevitable. This was the case for both Don and Mike, but they didn't give up:

  • If you'd bumped into 56-year-old Don on a typical day...
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5 Things to Do When Symptoms Are Not 'All in Your Head'

(5) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 1:04 PM

When you're facing a changing array of debilitating physical symptoms, even the finest physician may be challenged to diagnose what's wrong. Our health care system is biased toward reacting to symptoms that demand attention and can be relieved through proper treatment. In contrast, if symptoms are recurring but in combinations...

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When Seeking a Diagnosis, 'Zebra Roulette' Is No Game

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 2:03 PM

Today's media messages about diagnosing cancer pose a dilemma: Get tested to detect cancer early, but beware of false positives and make sure you're not getting over-tested.

The resulting confusion leaves many people wondering how a serious cancer could have snuck up on them or a loved one, only...

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New Year's Resolution for Caregivers: Reclaim Your Life!

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 2:20 PM

Charles Dickens' opening words, in A Tale of Two Cities, aptly describe the paradoxes of caregiving:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us......
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Theater of the Absurd in Congress: Do We Really Favor Fortified Borders Over Curing Cancer?

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 1:12 PM

Before shining a light on Congress, let's set the context: Cancer will strike one in two men and one in three women in their lifetimes, and the entire 2013 cancer research budget for the National Cancer Institute was about $5 billion before sequestration imposed mindless cuts, slowing or stopping potential...

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Defeating Denial in Cancer Caregiving

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 10:43 AM

Most of us want to believe that we're in control of our actions and their outcomes -- that events aren't happening at random or in reaction to forces beyond our sway. We usually do pretty well at it... until a cancer diagnosis violently yanks away that belief.

Formal interviews...

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Cancer Advocates Are Waiting on the Tarmac

(1) Comments | Posted May 14, 2013 | 3:39 PM

Congress' decision to modify the sequester for the FAA air traffic controllers while ignoring the plight of cancer-affected families was insulting and inexcusable. Yet in a perverse way, Congress may have done cancer fighters a favor by giving us a vivid image on which to focus: full airplanes waiting in...

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Changing the Sequester for the FAA Adds Insult to Injury for Cancer-Affected Families

(11) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 8:41 AM

Now we've learned what it takes to get legislators to do something smart about at least a part of the sequester: make them wait for hours on the tarmac because air traffic controllers are on furlough caused by mindless budget cuts.

So how do we get them similarly outraged...

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'Obamacare': What's Next for Cancer Caregivers?

(25) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 10:01 AM

Cancer strikes without regard to political parties. Over time, one in two men and one in three women will hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer." In fact, 75 percent of households will find themselves caring for a cancer patient at some point during their lives. No matter...

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