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Cancer Survivor Now Impacts Disease Research


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http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/ ... story.html


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Charles Florsheim is careful about his health. When an elevated routine blood test and a conservative physician diagnosed him with prostate cancer in 2008, he had surgery to have it removed. It had been caught early and treated successfully, and Flosheim moved on with his life.

In May 2009, though, a routine pre-surgery X-ray of his chest showed some suspicious lesions in his lungs. It was lung cancer.

Despite never smoking, Cantey Hanger partner Florsheim had developed a cancer that is often caught when it already has spread through a person’s body. His cancer was caught early, but the treatment was grueling.

Florsheim knows that he was lucky, and he’s taking advantage of his status as a survivor — lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer death in men and women each year — to help efforts to research the disease. He became a consumer reviewer for the Lung Cancer Research Program, a federal initiative administered by the Department of Defense that just debuted for the 2009 fiscal year.

“If I could prevent one person from going through what I went through, whatever I’m doing is worth it,” Florsheim said.

Florsheim’s lung cancer was removed in surgery, which required a long and painful recovery, he said. His family — including his wife Ann, his daughter Claire, and son Charlie — were a huge help, he said, as were his colleagues at Cantey Hanger LLP, where Florsheim is partner and vice chair for the business law section. His son also is an attorney at the firm.

It was Claire who started raising money in Florsheim’s honor and coordinating a team to participate in the local LUNGevity Foundation fund-raising walk. Florsheim went to the walk and met people with the organization, which was started in Chicago by survivors who wanted to raise money for research.

“I said, ‘Keep me in mind if there’s something I can do, really do. Not just walk, but really do something,’” he said.

Around that time, the LUNGevity Foundation was approached by the Defense Department to put out the word that the new lung cancer program, part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, was looking for lay persons to take part in a panel that would allocate funds for research, said Beth Ida Stern, executive director of LUNGevity.

The foundation put out contact materials on its community forums, Stern said, and people could get letters of support from the organization to send in with their application packets.

“I’m not sure how many people we had apply,” she said. “We had a lot of people apply.”

Florsheim was chosen to be a part of the panel, and he said he believes his military background (he completed four years of service in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp, including a year in Korea) and background as an attorney were helpful attributes.

In February, he spent two days in Washington, D.C., with physicians and researchers who also were a part of the panel. The goal was to award a $20 million grant to build a tissue repository where tissue samples from patients could be stored and studied to learn more about lung cancer, including why people like Florsheim, who are not smokers, develop the disease.

His experience as a lung cancer patient meant he had a perspective on the disease that physicians and researchers don’t often have themselves, Florsheim said.

“They listened to me,” Florsheim said. “I was an active participant and had the same sort of vote as everyone else on the panel, like physicians.”

Sterns said the approach, which is used for all CDMRP research initiatives, lets patients have a voice in funding decisions that are “usually done behind closed doors.”

“This is probably really the way that money should be given out, is with consumer involvement,” she said. “This was really very forward thinking.”

Gail Whitehead, public affairs manager for CDMRP, said these integration panels can identify gaps in research and can address needs that might not otherwise be tackled.

“We use consumers on all of our panels, and we have found that those nominated by organizations that know them well tend to nominate very talented people,” she said. “Because they have experience in their part disease, they bring a real voice of urgency and concern to the reviews of these particular proposals.”

It’s up to Congress to decide whether to continue funding the lung cancer program, and how much to put into it, but Dr. Clint Park, a radiation oncologist at Texas Oncology-Fort Worth Eighth Avenue, said much of the recent research done about lung cancer focuses on treatments, like new radiation techniques for patients who can’t undergo surgery or new chemotherapy or biologic agents.

The great majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking or other environmental factors, Park said, and the disease often isn’t diagnosed until it’s advanced because the symptoms often don’t appear until it’s advanced.

“The lung does not have pain fiber, so lung cancer does not hurt,” he said.

Early lung cancer is frequently found incidentally — like Florsheim’s — but the best thing to cut down on lung cancers is to cut out smoking, he said.

“If you don’t have the lung cancer, then we don’t have to treat it,” he said.

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(Fort Worth Business Press, By Elizabeth Bassett, April 12, 2010)


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

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Thanks Barbara. Hope you are well. It's nice seeing you still looking out for us.

Great story. It did happen probably because the advocate was a non-smoker and it does go into a little bit of "blame game" towards the end. But the results of his effort, I'm grateful and will take the help however we can get it.

Judy in KW

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a little bit of "blame game" towards the end.

Oh, you are so right. But, as you have indicated, we grab onto any help we can.

I hope I can help as we go along this road. Today, I had my ultrasound (carotids and aneurysm scanned). Both are not bad, and the abdominal is the same size it was.

However, there is a problem with the BP. One arm, the one always tested, was fine, but the right arm was not good.

Back to the drawing board. It seems that the left arm may not be receiving the blood supply due to a blockage - thus, the low and good readings. The arm that has never been tested for BP is showing what the blood pressure is in actuality and that is NOT good - 180 over 100.

I have been informed as of today's visit to vascular doctor - that after seeing my GP about the BP, I need to get an MRI angioplasty.

Sheesh, and here I thought I could delve into repairing some problems around the house. Have already accomplished curtains, floors, and regular laundry catch-up. It has kept me from falling apart too often.

Oh well......


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