Good Morning Friends! It is First Sunday!


Although I am a heart doctor, I follow the progress of cancer treatment and prevention strategies on various media sources. I am certain that my concern and curiosity for cancer is related to My Mom-Arthur Louise and oldest sister Janice who both died of pancreatic and ovarian cancer respectively.


As I started my career in medicine in 1986, I thought I was going to specialize in cancer treatment. In February of 1990, fueled by the naive desire to rid the world of the disease that took my Mom, I signed up for a two-month student externship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).


While there, I had the opportunity to see some of the most advanced treatments being investigated at the time, such as: isolated limb perfusion (ILP), tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TILs), intracavitary hyperthermia and the preliminary excitement around the potential use of gene therapy, “honing” therapy and nanotechnology just to name a few. The brilliance of the researchers and their imaginations for the possibilities that lie ahead were infinite.


Unfortunately as is often the case in medicine, the treatment was worse than the disease. The researchers would have to take the patients to the brink of death just to kill a few cancer cells only to be disappointed when the scans showed recurrence or advancement of the disease.


As for me, I couldn’t dissociate my need for immediate gratification and results from the curiosity and hatred that I bore for this disease called cancer. Thus, my “quest” for vengeance was over but I never gave up hope that someday the scientific community and my cancer-fighting colleagues would prevail, and we would see significant progress. And indeed, today is that day. We now have more people than ever surviving and thriving with a diagnosis of cancer. And I remain hopeful that 20 years from now we will arrive at our final destination called CURE!


This is great news! I often tell my colleagues that I am going to get a refresher course on cancer treatment and prevention. I continue to be amazed at the patients who come to see me with heart problems which have either survived cancer or “living with” cancer. Hats off to all those who have participated in clinical trials, the researchers, and clinicians relentless in their search for cures and the millions of survivors and caregivers, soldiers in arms in the fight against this menace.


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