It came without a warning. It rang through my mind like a giant gong Announcing the entrance of a mighty royal person Or the beginning of an era. It shattered the comforting tranquility That clothed my aging body, Already aching from the daily tasks Of staying alive. It startled me. I was first angered by
The Cancer Resource Center and cancer researchers from Cornell University joined forces on Friday, September 21, 2018 to host a Biden Cancer Community Summit in Ithaca. Three sessions were held throughout the day, each bringing Cornell researchers into the community to share their knowledge with individuals personally affected by cancer and the general public. Faculty
Join us for any of three events planned as part of the local Biden Cancer Summit!
I often say that there’s no single right way through cancer. What do I mean by that? Some people aggressively treat their cancers with surgery and chemotherapy long past the time that others would have switched to comfort measures. Some people keep their cancer diagnosis a secret from nearly everyone while others make it a
I once wrote a column about people who go through cancer with exceptional grace. A few readers said that the column made them angry. The comments were along the lines of, “I’m dealing with a crappy disease and you want me to do that gracefully? Well, phooey on that and phooey on you.” I’m always
It’s challenging to begin a new relationship after having had cancer. I’ve written about that as have many others. But what about the other partner in a new relationship – the one without cancer? One woman put it this way, “I feel like cancer is a member of his family. I want to understand and
We’re delighted to announce the arrival of our latest publication! It illustrates our most common pieces of advice with photos donated from the SPCA of Tompkins County. (The photos were submitted by local residents for consideration for the SPCA’s 2018 calendar). Thanks to financial support from the Eagles Club of Ithaca, printed copies are available
Cancer treatment involves operating rooms, chemotherapy protocols, and high tech radiation therapy equipment, all of which extend and improve the lives of people with cancer. But when I talk with people being treated for cancer, they don’t comment on the equipment or the science involved in their care. Rather, they focus on the quality of
Most people find it awkward when first talking with a friend or acquaintance who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Even though nearly everyone is well-intentioned, many say things that hurt or mystify more than they comfort. Based on my own experiences and my conversations with others with cancer, here are some suggestions: What to
When you’re first diagnosed with cancer, you cross a bridge that separates the “healthy” from those with cancer. You’re entering a scary place, but the focus is on curing the cancer and getting back to the land of the healthy. There’s another bridge that’s less visible to the general public. This bridge separates people with
When friends I haven’t heard from for many years suddenly call me, I wait for them to say, “Bob, I just got diagnosed with cancer.” This is not unique to me. People who have had cancer are often asked for advice by those who are newly diagnosed. Similar conversations take place in cancer support groups.
For many people the months following cancer treatment are more difficult than the treatment itself. During treatment, your “job” is to be in treatment. You’re busy with appointments and you see the same doctors and nurses almost every week. At the same time, friends bring you meals, family members take on extra duties, and you’re
A woman recently diagnosed with cancer stopped by our office to say that she’s heard that it’s important to obtain second opinions from major cancer centers and to assemble a team of experts to provide her treatment. She asked, “How the hell do I do that?” Cancer guidebooks are full of grandiose suggestions like “assemble
When people think about the side effects of cancer treatment, they usually think about hair loss (which is common with some types of chemotherapy), and nausea (which is not nearly as common as it used to be). But in my experience, fatigue is the side effect that’s most universal and least appreciated. Fatigue is different
Those of us personally affected by cancer see proposed changes in health insurance in very concrete terms. The changes aren’t abstractions that may affect us at some point in time in the future. Instead, the changes are very real and will affect our medical and economic well-being when a new law is implemented. The House
Everyone diagnosed with cancer has decisions to make. What type of treatment? Where to have treatment? Should the cancer even be treated? The question isn’t what’s best. Rather, the question is what’s best for you. After working with people making these decisions for the past several years, I’ve found that some general guidelines can be helpful:
Jessica Wood, an Ithaca College graduate student in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, is researching “Mental Toughness in Cancer Survivors with Previous Athletic Experience.” She’s recruiting athletes/cancer survivors for a study that provides insight into mental toughness and cancer. A competitive athlete is defined here as an individual who had two years of
I’m often startled by the medical advice that people give to their friends on Facebook. Sometimes it takes the form of saying, “You should do this,” but often it’s more subtle and simply involves sharing a link. Before people post something of this nature, I wish that they would consider the following questions: Have you
An oncologist once remarked to me that her patients routinely told her about their personal lives – like they were trying to strike up friendships. I can understand this. It’s not that patients expect their oncologists to invite them over for dinner, but there is a desire to make some sort of human connection. I’m
Most cancer research begins in laboratories where scientists seek to understand why normal cells mutate into cancer cells and then travel, wreaking havoc, elsewhere in the body. These basic scientists are generally more familiar with test tubes than with cancer patients. Nationally, there’s growing interest in building partnerships between scientists and patients. For example, review
You probably know that cancer research is routinely done by biologists, but you might be surprised to learn that engineers increasingly contribute to our understanding and treatment of this disease. Here are some examples: Cancer cells migrate through the body to take root in distant organs. These cells have to survive the “flowing river” of
When our healing garden blooms!
A professor recently told me that he instantly became 50% stupider when his doctor told him that he had cancer. He said that his own research in his field of study is careful and thoughtful. When he learned that he had cancer, the “careful part” of his brain shut down. Rather than thinking logically about
Our friends in the Ithaca College Department of Physical Therapy have created a terrific brochure entitled, “Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship.” It’s evidence-based and practical. And it features Barbara Lang on the cover!
In the cancer world, patients often differ on what they want to hear from their doctors. Here are some examples: Some patients want to know – in detail – the various pros and cons of every treatment option, while other patients just want to know what the doctor thinks is best. Some patients want to
One of the volunteers at the Cancer Resource Center recently said to me, “Every person I meet with cancer is nice.” It’s an interesting observation and one that other volunteers have made as well. I’ve been in the cancer world for more than 20 years and I think it’s generally true. Not because nice people
I wanted to share some information about my health since it prompted my decision to step aside as CRC’s Executive Director. At heart, I’m a health educator, so it comes naturally for me to talk about these things. What I’m dealing with now is not cancer-related. Instead, it’s a rare condition – much rarer than
I spend much of my time helping seriously ill patients navigate the health care system. As a result, I’m constantly talking with patients about their interactions with doctors and other health professionals. Although each encounter is unique, I’m increasingly aware of some universal truths that contribute to good patient-doctor encounters. Not surprisingly, good encounters require
People diagnosed with cancer often wonder if they should participate in a clinical trial. When someone asks for my opinion, I begin by saying that clinical trials are essential for the advancement of medicine. For example, one clinical trial found that women with early-stage breast cancer did just as well after a lumpectomy (followed by
We often receive calls from individuals who wish to donate hair that can be made into wigs for people with cancer or other types of hair loss. We’ve pulled together information about some of the best-known organizations that accept donations and some articles that might be of interest. Lather, Rinse, Donate (New York Times) I’ve
I recently spoke with a woman who was stressed because her husband has cancer and he seemed to be in denial over the seriousness of his situation. What was especially upsetting to her was that he didn’t want to address any end of life issues like drafting a will. I’ve been mulling this over ever
There are a variety of styles that spouses and other close family members adopt to help a family member with cancer. Here are several negative styles that I’ve observed through the years as well as the style that is most likely to be helpful. Combatants are always looking to pick a fight, often with doctors
You’re initially stunned when you hear the words, “You have cancer.” Your brain freezes and things are a blur for at least a few minutes. A friend recently asked me what went through my mind once the initial numbness began to fade. For me, this was when I had checked out of the doctor’s office
The first few months of living with cancer are weird. What seems especially unsettling is that life goes on normally around you, but YOU HAVE CANCER. Your life is suddenly different but everyone else is carrying on like they always do. This sensation is even more intense during the holiday season. There are traditions and
I recently spoke with a group in Binghamton, NY about coping with and communicating about cancer. One attendee suggested that I add the importance of valuing our individual cancer stories. What a terrific idea. Each person who’s been through cancer (either as a patient or a caretaker) has a unique story. For many of us,
I recently had the good fortune of attending a couple of church services in rural communities near Ithaca in order to speak about the work of the Cancer Resource Center. It reminded me that churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith communities are often the primary sources of support for people going through cancer. And, as
The Cancer Resource Center’s collaboration with the Translator Interpreter Program in Cornell Public Service Center’s was awarded a “ToGo” Award on our project to translate the cultural norms of cancer care in the United States into multiple languages to facilitate communication between patients and their health care providers.
Chemotherapy nurses and radiation therapists provide much of the hands-on care to cancer patients. As a result, these professionals have a profound impact on the quality of care that patients receive. I attend a weekly breakfast club for guys who have had cancer. I asked them to describe the qualities in a chemo nurse or
I sometimes hear from individuals with advanced cancer who continue with aggressive treatment because their loved ones exhort them to “not give up.” Some family members go so far as to say that stopping treatment is the same as committing suicide. It’s not. I wish that we could reframe this discussion because when people choose
It is easy to second guess yourself when you have cancer. It can take many forms: I wouldn’t have cancer if I had taken better care of myself. I should have gone to the doctor sooner. I should have chosen “watchful waiting” instead of aggressive treatment. Nearly everyone with cancer wonders if they would be