“How to Live Before You Die.”

In his 2005 address to the Stanford University graduating class he told them that “death is life’s change agent.” Yesterday, the man who was one of the leaders of the information revolution and permanently changed the way our society shares and communicates information, left this world silent of the end-of-life experience.

He gave us tools to help us elevate ourselves beyond our own expectations of what defines us.  Yet at the end of his life, only a simple statement back on August 24 shared little.

It brings up the issue how even the most innovative of us are still trapped by society’s taboos, by topics that we haven’t got the courage, understanding, or education to talk about comfortably.

Whether its end-of-life or chronic illness, the notion of sickness is something we still don’t have an open dialogue about. People whose bodies are suffering are stigmatized by their conditions. And public behaviour ends up marginalizing the individual.

It would have been interesting, no doubt, had Steve Jobs shared with us, even a minute portion of his experience with illness and impending death. How liberating might it have been if among all the billions of accolades that are coming out today, there would be one that [...] continue the story

Cancer patients, survivors find truth in ’50/50′ | LA Times

In the new film “50/50,” there is a scene where cancer patient Adam, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is on a gurney being wheeled into the operating room with his parents by his side. As the nurses take the 27-year-old away, he calls out for his mom like he’s a little boy. It’s an affecting moment, but for Matthew Zachary, it was particularly personal.

“That’s exactly what happened to me,” said the 37-year-old father of twins from New York City who was diagnosed withbrain cancer at age 21. “Literally I’m with my parents and they are wheeling me off to the operating room and I lost it. It was a horrible, horrible experience.”

For Heidi Adams, it was the scene at the dinner table between Gordon-Levitt’s character and his mother, played by Anjelica Huston, who wants to move in to help care for him.

“I remember that conversation with my mother, that struggle at that time in your life when you are discovering your independence, fighting for your independence and you are thrown back into this position where you need to rely on people, where you need your mom. It’s very disorienting,” said Adams, 44, from Austin, Texas, who lived with her parents for 2 1/2 years when [...] continue the story

Closing the Door on Cycle 4 2011

Last time, the Cycle 4 Team and I were continuing our journey across Canada –remaining kilometers: 1500, Toronto to Digby. We had already completed roughly 5500 from British Columbia. So no sweat, right?

Well, no. There was sweat. Plenty of it. Half of the reason cyclists always wear glasses is to avoid rain, bugs or dirt in their eyes. The other half is to avoid sweat splashing from the rider in front of them.

No matter the amount of perspiration, the next few hundred kilometers would be extremely special for me. I was fortunate enough to bike through my hometown in Toronto’s east end, and enjoy seeing all the places that have meaning to me; my grandparents’ street, the Tim Horton’s where I usually meet friends, the mall where I had my first job.

My second “hometown” of Kingston, where I spend more than half the year as a student at Queen’s was also one of our stops. To see my friends and family welcoming me home, in both cities, just spurred me on to pedal faster and harder for the last few legs of our ride into Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

I can firmly say that no other region in the [...] continue the story

Patient Commando responds to Dr. Zeichner’s post on KevinMD.com

Earlier this month KevinMD.com posted the following article by Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

The best defense against skin cancer is prevention. Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States, affecting more than 2 million Americans every year.  It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime.

There are three main types of skin cancer.  Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, which can be fatal if not treated early.   While melanoma accounts for a very small percentage of skin cancers, it is responsible for the majority of skin cancer related deaths.  Survival of patients with melanoma is directly correlated to the size of the cancer.  If the spot is detected early, before it has spread from the skin, more than 90% of patients will be cured.  This drops to approximately 15% once the cancer has spread.  The number of new cases of melanoma is rising faster than most of the other internal types of cancer, so public education is of the utmost importance.

The other two common skin cancers are collectively known a non-melanoma skin cancer.  The most common skin cancer in [...] continue the story

I don’t trust my GP to manage my cancer follow-up | Globe and Mail Q&A

The question: I’m in treatment for early-stage breast cancer. When it’s done, I’ll be sent to my general practitioner, whom I have little faith in. I’ve had excellent, patient-focused care from medical staff treating my cancer. Should I find a new doctor or stick with this one who, for better or worse, at least knows my history?

The answer: Given the background information you gave me on your GP – reluctant to order tests, not a good listener, dismissive – you are right to be concerned. I’ve seen how well oncologists advocate for their patients; your fondness for them is well placed.

A study published this year in the journal Current Oncology found that 87 per cent of early stage breast cancer patients surveyed in Ontario preferred to visit their cancer specialist for routine follow-up.

Like you, most cancer patients in Canada are sent back to their GPs. So long as a follow-up plan is in place, it’s the best way to provide good quality, cost-effective care.

Sandy Sehdev, a medical oncologist at William Osler Health System in Brampton, Ont., said cases such as yours can result from a patient feeling that the GP did not act rapidly on a lump. Other patients don’t [...] continue the story