It's no secret that the need to tighten our belts during the recent economic downturn has sent us into an era of cost containment. But we must find ways to both contain health care costs and continue to move cancer knowledge forward.
When my son was first diagnosed, I told him, "It is how we face obstacles that define who we are." When he lost his hair, we bought him a baseball cap and he refused to wear it. I realized that Max, at 4, was not about to let cancer define him.
Of course, rich and middle-class people suffer from cancer and drug abuse, alcoholism, child and spouse abuse. All of these issues are complicated. So is poverty. I know this from my own personal experience.
ASCO's admonition to avoid ineffective treatment is unlikely to constrain the use of chemotherapy in advanced cancer significantly, because although it's good advice, it's difficult to put into practice.
Like most people who go on the bizarre and frightening trip of cancer, I needed a way to find comfort and hope. After my third diagnosis, I was filled with despair, not knowing where to turn. With the help of my therapist, I decided to write a book.
If it takes a village to raise a child, you might say it also takes one to care for the sick. Cancer is at once personal and communal. And yet, caring for the sick can feel like writing a travelogue about a country you've never visited. You can't know where you haven't been.
As any patient (and their loved ones as well) knows only too well, treatment for cancer is a long and winding road. It is also an emotional roller coaster. From the moment of initial diagnosis it injects a strong element of anxiety into patient and family alike.
After breast cancer treatment, many women are prescribed aromatase inhibitors to prevent recurrence of estrogen sensitive tumors. These drugs can cause joint pain that leads many women to stop using them, thus increasing their risk of a recurrence.
Even though I have the label "terminally ill," I know my chances and my time is what I make it. Medical knowledge has been doubling every ten years and maybe, just maybe, I'll be here when my cure comes.