Suicidal thoughts

Have your friends and family been watching you more closely than usual? Asking “How are you doing, really?” a little more often than before. Maybe it’s because the BBC ran a story last week entitled:

Cancer patients ‘left suicidal’

There was a research study done that showed:

A significant number of cancer patients regularly believe they would be “better off dead”, a survey shows.

Well shit! If I knew anyone with cancer I’d be really worried. Then I went on to read the article. I don’t think these results should really be stunning to anyone.

Cancer patients are three times more likely to think they would be “better off dead” or to contemplate suicide than the rest of the population – a Cancer Research UK study reports online today.*

Patients were most likely to have these thoughts if they had substantial pain and particularly if they had serious emotional distress.

Well of COURSE THEY DID! I guess the people who did this study had not previously talked to people with cancer or people in pain. There was further information in this study which showed when 3,000 outpatients with a variety of cancers, answered a questionnaire about their physical and emotional symptoms. Continue reading


Zometa and me

So yesterday was my appointment with my oncologist to discuss using Zometa. As I have mentioned before I have problems sleeping and wouldn’t you know  Sunday night was an awful one.  Why am I explaining this?  So that you will have pity during the rest of this post.

In my planner I had a 2:15 appointment.  At my office dealing with an issue it was 2:05, 2:06, and I excused myself from the conversation, called and was informed that the appointment wasn’t until 2:45, yippee!

So I waited in the waiting room for a little while reading that Clay Aiken is gay (no I swear, it’s true) and listening to the waterfall.  The soothing, calming, drowsiness inducing waterfall as I begin to feel sleepy…sleepy. I’m called back by my name being called.  I walk back, get up on the scale, and get blood drawn.

“Wait, I’m just here to talk to my doc, I don’t have treatment” too late, blood is drawn.  Back to the exam room, “Okay, just take off your top and the doctor will be in to see you soon”.  You know those exam tables can be pretty comfortable.

So Doc arrives and I explain why I’m here.  He agrees that Zometa looks very promising and they are excited about the results it shown in women with metastatic disease. There are a few negatives;

  1. Insurance will most likely not cover it as it is not indicated as standard treatment unless metastatic disease has started.
  2. We don’t know the long term issues that it could cause.  At this point they have only been giving it to women with metastatic disease and that hasn’t been five years yet.
  3. We don’t know how long we should give it to you.  With metastatic cancer they keep giving it to the patient for as long as it works.
  4. Apparently is you use this your bones, particularly your jaw, get so hard that if you have oral surgery it can shatter.

So here’s the plan.  My doctor is going to investigate the studies in more depth to see if he can find guidance. His nurse is going to contact their Zometa drug rep to see if they have any information about insurance coverage and if there are any clinical trials pending. I am supposed to contact my insurance company about getting a “case manager” back in place.

So there’s the plan.  Had I not been so sleepy I probably wouldn’t have had blood work although I would probably need some before making any change anyway.  In my opinion this is how my team is supposed to work, a doctor who listens, a conversation about the options and a follow up plan.  I can’t ask for much more than that.

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Mollecular research and you

Hopefully you already recycle, it’s easy and as my three year old says, “It keeps the planet Earf healthy”.  Researchers at Stanford have found a molecule that is toxic to cells with renal cancer but not to the cells that do not have renal cancer. If this really works it would mean that chemotherapy could be developed that would only kill the cells that are dangerous and not the ones the body uses to do things like, hmmmm, grow hair!

Of course this was published in the July 8th edition of Cancer Cell so I can only explain so much of it.  For more details click the link below.

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7 ways to raise more money

US Weekly is not something I read regularly anymore. I read lots of it when I was in treatment, both during chemo and radiation. They are reporting that Friday’s Stand Up to Cancer raised “over $100 million dollars”.

I know that’s a lot of money but I’m actually a little disappointed.  On stage we saw $25 million donation by philanthropist Sidney Kimmel make a pledge of $25 million. This country has a population of around 300 million people.  You don’t have to be a mathematician (thank God) to see that donations per person were pretty darn low.

Not pitting one disease against another, but Jerry Lewis raised $65 million dollars this year for MDA.  Now of course he has been doing this for years and therein lies my point. Here’s my list of ways to increase the numbers.

  1. Make plans now for another telethon the same time next year.
  2. Get the networks to really buy in.  Disney-ABC Television Group for example has multiple channels in the Disney platform, SOAPNET, Lifetime, A&E and ESPN.  Show the telethon on all of the stations covered by the group.
  3. Expand the program.  This was a good first effort but one hour is not enough time.
  4. Add more performers and performances.
  5. Bring on more and more and more survivors. Particularly survivors who have something unusual about their illness.  A man with breast cancer or a 20 year old with breast cancer gets more attention than your usual woman.
  6. Increase the publicity and the intensity.  Increase your online presence and move it up.
  7. Make it easier to find t-shirts, stickers and more.  I had loads of people coming to my blog to find them so I just put a link to the Cafe Press site. This is a small blog and I had 72 click throughs in just a couple of hours. Even if only a few of those people bought a shirt there is increased revenue.

I am glad that this was done, it is a start.  But if the costs of research are anything near the costs of treatment much more is needed.

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Breast cancer research – Taxol

Adding Taxol

Early breast cancer patients treated with standard chemotherapy followed by paclitaxel (Taxol) had better disease-free survival compared with patients treated with standard therapy alone, according to the final results from a randomized phase III trial.                         Continue reading

Cancer and depression

Via the BBC:

A new treatment program for cancer patients suffering clinical depression significantly improved their quality of life according to researchers.

Patients received information and problem-solving therapy to help them overcome feelings of helplessness.

After three months, 20% fewer patients were depressed compared with those who received standard NHS treatment. Continue reading

Neuroblastoma research

I’ve had quite a few people looking here for the most recent neuroblastoma research.  Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo news and the link to the article.

Researchers have found a gene that causes most inherited forms of neuroblastoma, a rare and deadly form of childhood cancer, and say the discovery points to new treatments.