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New Approach Fighting Cancer/Third in a Series of Articles

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http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/opi ... ment/5966/


. . . . . . . . .

We were standing in a large, sunlit room on the second floor of the new Pearson Cancer Center, gazing out on the newly landscaped Healing Garden below.

“Sit down in this chair,” Centra Health public relations specialist Susan Brandt said.

It was a chair that cancer patients would soon be using to receive their chemotherapy treatments, underneath a flat screen TV.

“Look,” Brandt said. “You can still see the garden.”

She was right. The window was configured in such a way that even a lower angle provided the same view.

Nor, at this point in its existence, did the Pearson Cancer Center smell like a hospital. Rather, it smelled like a new house — a hint of sawdust, a whiff of varnish. No alcohol, no harsh cleaning solution.

This is the new face (and, for now, aroma) of cancer treatment, at least in Lynchburg. What that reflects, it seems to me, is a growing realization that fighting the disease can be as much a question of mental attitude as medical firepower.

“Lynchburg shines brighter than a lot of other areas,” said Kathie Spiegle of Lynchburg Hematology, the company that administers chemotherapy to Centra Health cancer patients. “I’ve seen rooms the size of this one (she was sitting in the lobby) with 50 people, all lined up, hooked to IVs.”

The hematology area on the second floor of the Pearson Center, by contrast, features both individual and small communal treatment areas, the latter arranged so that the patients can interact with each other during the process.

“Some people like to have company when they get their chemo,” Brandt said. “Some like to do it privately.”

Chemotherapy, as Spiegle pointed out, is not one-size-fits-all.

“The combination of chemicals varies quite a bit,” she said, “depending on the age of the person and how sick they are. Some treatments take a few minutes, others take hours.”

Cancer used to be a matter of will — your last will and testament. Since it was almost always a death sentence, receiving that verdict meant rummaging through your files for the appropriate legal work and “putting your affairs in order.”

Now, in a growing number of cases, it’s a matter of willpower.

Of course, for every Lance Armstrong who makes a miraculous recovery, there are two dozen who don’t. But early detection and modern medicine have tipped the balance more toward survival.

“Things are happening so quickly in this field,” Spiegle said. “A patient might use a certain drug until it stops being effective. But by then, something else has come along that is.”

I received several e-mails last week speculating that medical science hasn’t come up with a cure for cancer because that would be economically counterproductive.

Maybe, but that doesn’t seem to make sense on closer examination. Since there are so many different types of cancer, finding a universal “cure” (in terms of eradication) would be like locating the Holy Grail. The best that can be hoped for, in the near future, is to prolong life, the way other new drugs have done for AIDS, and that would mean even more money for the health industry. After all, you stop paying them when you die.

If Big Advertising can convince people to spend billions of dollars to combat bad breath, hemorrhoids and sexual dysfunction, selling pills to minimize the effects of cancer should be like pushing ice cream at the beach.

So be it. Everyone would benefit.

Meanwhile, every patient treated in a place like the Pearson Cancer Center becomes another dot in the anti-cancer matrix. The treatment they were given, and how it worked, are fed into a database.

“We’re very active in clinical trials,” said Spiegle.

Out in the world beyond hospital walls, two movements are afoot. One is to take responsibility for our own health, in a myriad different ways. The other is to fight back.

Gwen Loveless was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001. She beat it, and is now six years cancer-free. Next year, she’ll be the co-chair of Relay for Life.

“I don’t know who raised the money that went to my cure,” she said, “but I will always be grateful.”

. . . . . . . . .

(The News and Advance, Lynchburg, VA., By Darrell Laurant, Third in a Series, June 21, 2008)

First in a Series of Articles:

http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/opi ... rist/5791/

Second in a Series of Articles:

http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/opi ... soon/5896/


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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Very interesting series, Barb. Thought provoking, too.

One question I've asked myself of late has to do with the research poured (dribbled) into the various kinds of cancer.

I understand the theory that lung cancer gets the least due to stigma, but I am beginning to wonder where these money figures come from and whether pharmaceutical research costs are factored in at all.

I ask this because it seems to me that the pharmaceuticals could give a flying flip less as to whether there's stigma. All they care about is money and since lung cancer is at the top of the cancer heap, why wouldn't it be their number one research target?

Somehow, I think we're missing something here... just not sure what. :(


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If anyone has any information as to how all of the financial equation is figured we would certainly love to read it.

My daughter gets irritated when she sees the commercials on TV concerning the drug ads (for "regular" meds). She wonders if the price would come down if they would stop the flurry of commercials. Sometimes, when one listens to the side effects of some of them, it's a cautionary tale, for sure.

Concerning the cancer drugs, they say that the reason they are so costly has do to the research that goes into them, including trials, etc., and the factoring in of failures vs the successes.

But none of this explains the reason for lung cancer being at the bottom of the heap as to research funding for it in the first place - as opposed to other cancers.

Except for the fact that whenever I hear, "Lung cancer is a highly preventable disease," I go into frustration mode. :(


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Believe me, you do not even want to hear me when I see a Viagra ad on television! :evil:

When I think about the megabucks the pharaceuticals have poured into "erectile disfunction," billions of dollars that could have been poured into cancer research instead; well, the anatomical impossibilities that go flitting through my mind and straight out my mouth would compete with the late, great King of Scatology, George Carlin! :twisted:


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.--George Carlin

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Carole: "When I think about the megabucks the pharaceuticals have poured into "erectile disfunction"

The side effect of the four-hour warning always gets me wondering if that is suggested to be a bit of braggadocio about the product. Sorry.



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