Cancer Pain

Whenever I meet a new cancer patient, especially one with incurable cancer, pain always comes up in the conversation – whether they have it or not. It’s the most commonly reported symptom of cancer, and it’s also one of the most widely feared.   Most patients with advanced stage cancer do, in fact, experience pain; 75-90% according… Continue reading

Grief is for Sharing

Why do we have an urge to avoid people who’ve lost a loved one? Well, mainly because we don’t know how to make them (or us) feel better so we wind up saying stupid, empty things – like “Let me know if I can do anything.”  We blurt that out desperately, knowing we’re just talking to talk, as do the people we’re saying… Continue reading

Pembrolizumab approved for a slew of cancers all at once

Pembrolizumab (a drug that inhibits PD-L1) recently received FDA approval for any type of cancer that’s failed to respond to first line therapy, as long as the tumor carries a specific molecular defect. Let me repeat that – ANY TYPE OF CANCER. Mind not blown yet? OK, OK – I should give you some background… Continue reading

How Can You Do THAT for a Living?

One of the most impactful statements I’ve ever heard about cancer came from a young mother who had just received one of the most devastating possible diagnoses. She said “I may not be able to change the endpoint but I can change the trajectory!” I felt so many things at once after hearing her say… Continue reading

Cancer: Written in the Stars?

Among other things the summer equinox means (besides the sunlight fracturing my sleep at 5:30 in the morning), star-gazers know that the sun’s most northerly position on the day of the equinox is in Taurus – though it wasn’t always so. In ancient Greece, the sun would’ve ridden to its equinox peak in a different constellation: specifically, Cancer. When I stumbled on that tidbit in the paper yesterday, I was reminded how long that name’s been with us.… Continue reading

U.S. Oncologists are Working Shorthanded

The relationship between cancer patients and their oncologists is an intense one. The stakes are high for everyone involved, and cancer patients especially have very high expectations of their doctors (more info here). There are approximately 15 million cancer survivors in the U.S. right now, and as our population ages and cancer treatments become more… Continue reading

GBM Treatment: One Small Step at a Time

Brain Cancer. The term strikes fear in even the strongest of us and for good reason. In the past 5-10 years, treatment’s progressed by leaps and bounds in a great many cancers, while in others progress lags. Unfortunately  glioblastoma (GBM), the most common of adult brain cancers, is one of the latter. GBM remains an… Continue reading

Melanoma Deserves Your Attention

Our skin is the body’s largest organ, so maybe it’s no coincidence that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Though there are exceptions, they usually form on skin that had heavy sun exposure – so unlike most cancers that hide inside the body, we can actually see these cancers with our naked… Continue reading

FLT3 mutations in AML: From Trivia to Triumph

Here’s an aggravating fact about medical education – a large chunk of what’s taught in medical school is useless trivia: The muscle that elevates your palate is called the tensor veli palatini… Here’s the best way to treat leprosy… Adults whose acute leukemia cells carry an internal tandem mutation of the FLT3 surface tyrosine kinase… Continue reading

My Hero

Oprah’s guest pointed to the place above her collarbone where the tumors first appeared. It’d been a hard fight, with one particularly close call, but she’d made it and now she was a survivor – even a hero. Cue tears from the audience. Normally I’d have been moved, crying along with the show and applauding… Continue reading