A cancer patient can never have too many reasons for hope. I never, ever, evah :) get tired of hearing about or reading stories that are full of hope and possibility. Even if the story doesn’t involve cancer, I still love to hear it. It lifts my spirit up and reaffirms my belief that anything is possible. Because anything IS possible. (Sometimes I forget that.)
Now that I’ve been immersed in the medical world in a way I would never have wished, I seek out articles about advances in cancer research and treatment. The articles give me hope and remind me that cancer is not as bad as it once was.
We all remember the days when, if someone told you they had cancer, it was safe to assume the cancer would most likely end their life early. That is not the case anymore. There are scores of people being treated for and surviving cancer. The greatest part of this is that they are not just surviving as shells of who they once were, they are surviving and thriving as humans who still have a lot of life to live! Now that’s something to get excited about!
Marlo Thomas interviewed several experts in the area of cancer treatment and research and published an article in The Huffington Post about what they shared with her. What she discovered is that there are lots of reasons for BIG HOPE when it comes to a cancer diagnosis and prognosis for survival. Thanks to major advances in the study of DNA and molecular abnormalities, scientists are learning why certain cells turn into cancer and how to prevent or treat them in a much more effective manner.
What’s truly amazing is that some of these advances have come about just in the last 3-5 years. Things are changing so rapidly in the area of cancer treatment that what was a horrible diagnosis two years ago is not nearly as bad today. Such hope for all of us, not just those who presently have cancer.
Here are some of the key points from her interviews:
- The study of genomics is allowing scientists to better understand what causes cells to turn into cancer. This understanding is resulting in targeted, “smart drug” therapies that zero-in on specific abnormalities. These treatments are more effective and less toxic to patients.
- There have been significant breakthroughs in the area of cancer detection, to the extent that doctors are able to find the smallest of tumors, which allows cancer to be treated as a much earlier stage than ever before.
- Breast cancer is no longer treated as one disease because researchers discovered it is actually three distinct diseases. This knowledge now allows doctors to treat the patient based on which of the three subtypes the patient has.
- Some cancers that were considered fatal just five or ten years ago are now routinely being treated by having the patient take a few pills each day.
- According to Dr. John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, 350 more people per day are surviving cancer than did 20 years ago.
If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here.
Dr. Charles L. Sawyer, M.D. from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center provided my favorite quote from the article:
“No, we do not yet have cures yet, but we are much closer than we have ever been. There has never been a time of greater optimism about the future of cancer therapy.”
The word “cancer” is so devoid of hope. The first time we hear it applied to our own health, it screams at us to be afraid, to give up, to feel helpless and hopeless. But thanks to advances in medicine, we have new reasons for hope every day. When we are diagnosed with cancer, we tend to zero-in on our own situation and lose site of the bigger picture. It’s nice to be reminded that there are people all over the world working hard to discover new and better treatments for cancer, and even beyond that – a cure for the disease.