Monthly Archives: October 2012

How Do Cancer Survivors Cope So Well?

Last week David Sampson, who is a colleague of mine here at the American Cancer Slociety, sent me a blog written by a woman well known in the breast cancer community who days previously had been diagnosed with recurrence of her breast cancer. The blog has captivated me, perhaps more so now that I have been facing some of my own health issues. And it reminded me about how special patients living with cancer really are.

 

Lisa Bonchek Adams blogs at http://lisabadams.com/. She was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer shortly after the birth of her 3rd child, more than five years ago. Last week she was told that her disease had progressed to stage IV, and treatment planning is currently underway.

 

What is so remarkable to me is that in the face of an overwhelming circumstance, Ms. Adams had the presence of mind to write a commentary titled, “What to do when you get diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer: some starting thoughts…especially about children.” She then proceeds to lay out in a very organized, almost dispassionate way some very practical advice on how to approach the circumstance of discussing the change in your life that happens when diagnosed … Continue reading →

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month We Must Not Only Celebrate Our Success But Also Understand Our Limitations

I find myself sitting here to write a blog in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and frankly it’s not as easy as I anticipated. And I am asking myself why that is.

 

We have made considerable progress in the early detection of breast cancer. I have commented frequently about the differences in breast cancer detection, treatment and survival today and when I started my medical training and career in the 1970’s.

 

Early detection is clearly a success story if the measure of success is whether or not we can find breast cancer when it is “small” in most women. Our technology lets us do that with mammography techniques that are far more accurate and sophisticated than they were a few decades ago. Much of our discussion today centers around what role newer approaches, such as MRI, ultrasound, and most recently 3-D mammography have in early detection of breast cancer.

 

Our treatments are much more refined than they were in 1970, as well. We now have lumpectomy and radiation as a valid replacement for many mastectomies. We have sentinel node biopsy instead of axillary node dissection, which for some women adds nothing but long term misery caused … Continue reading →

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month We Must Not Only Celebrate Success, But Reflect On Our Limitations As Well

I find myself sitting here to write a blog in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and frankly it’s not as easy as I anticipated. And I am asking myself why that is.

 

We have made considerable progress in the early detection of breast cancer. I have commented frequently about the differences in breast cancer detection, treatment and survival today and when I started my medical training and career in the 1970’s.

 

Early detection is clearly a success story if the measure of success is whether or not we can find breast cancer when it is “small” in most women. Our technology lets us do that with mammography techniques that are far more accurate and sophisticated than they were a few decades ago. Much of our discussion today centers around what role newer approaches, such as MRI, ultrasound, and most recently 3-D mammography have in early detection of breast cancer.

 

Our treatments are much more refined than they were in 1970, as well. We now have lumpectomy and radiation as a valid replacement for many mastectomies. We have sentinel node biopsy instead of axillary node dissection, which for some women adds nothing but long term misery caused … Continue reading →