During the funeral service this week of a dear friend who died from cancer, I was reminded how many close people to me have been claimed with this disease. I have lost both of my parents, a 12 year old cousin, 1 grandmother and 1 grandfather and 2 of my dogs….in just my immediate family !
Why haven’t we cured cancer yet? It seems like almost every day, we hear about another miraculous advance in cancer treatment. Drugs that shrink tumors and slow progress. And yet, our loved ones keep dying of cancer.
The cancer drug that former president Jimmy Carter says made his melanoma seemingly disappear has helped about 40 percent of similar patients survive for as long as three years, oncologists said Wednesday.The drug, called Keytruda, takes a new approach to treating cancer by stopping tumor cells from cloaking themselves against the normal, healthy immune system response.
Making America “the country that cures cancer once and for all” was a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address in January. But many cancer experts don’t think it can be done.
Cancer is high in what scientists call “plasticity,” meaning the disease is able to change quickly. Even if there was a single cure for every type of cancer, it wouldn’t work for long. That means the future of cancer medicine is a “diabetes model” in which the disease is managed with treatments while the patient maintains quality of life, many in the field say.
Still, many cancer specialists hailed the president’s announcement.
Dr. William Nelson, director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, called Obama’s speech “very exciting and energizing.”
An estimated 595,690 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Americans can prevent their risk of dying from cancer simply by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology. Such lifestyle change would decrease cancer deaths by 67 percent for men and 59 percent for women. Similarly, a healthy lifestyle would drop the discovery of new cancers by 41 percent in women and 63 percent in men.
What does this study mean by a “healthy lifestyle”? Don’t smoke, don’t drink too much, maintain a body mass index between 18.5 and 27.5, and exercise 75 to 150 minutes weekly.
The sadness of life lost, particularly poignant when too early, to diseases that we as progressive, educated health professionals would like to believe we could stop and treat, continues to challenge our intellect and hearts.
Support the important work in the treatment of cancer…financially, scientifically, professionally and holistically…whenever, however, the inevitable touch point of this prolific disease makes itself known in your life…step forward to make a difference.