Tag Archives: Clinical trial

Ginger – recipes for using this root, particularly for nausea

Ginger field

Ginger Field Wikipedia

Ginger Roots are used for anything from salt scrubs to a supplement to reduced Colon Inflammation Markers


Do you remember as a kid, drinking fizzy ginger pop?

Today, I bet a glass of this takes you back to your childhood!

Well, recently this root has been finding favour in all sorts of medical ways – from helping reduce Colon Inflammartion Markers, to being recommended by CNS to reduce nausea from side effects of drugs, etc. etc.

In the States, Mothers who give Ginger Ale to their kids when they are ‘sick’, might be on to a good thing.

And it’s the latest ‘miracle ingredient’ being touted by the beauty industry.

Ginger supplements reduce markers of colon inflammation

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, Ginger supplements reduced markers of colon inflammation in a select group of patients, suggesting that this supplement may have potential as a colon cancer prevention agent.

Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H., a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues enrolled 30 patients and randomly assigned them to two grams of ginger root supplements per day,  or a placebo for 28 days.

After 28 days, the researchers measured standard levels of colon inflammation and found statistically significant reductions in most of these markers, and trends toward significant reductions in others.

Inflammation has been implicated in prior studies as a precursor to colon cancer, but another trial would be needed to see how ginger root affects that risk, Zick said.

“We need to apply the same rigor to the sorts of questions about the effect of ginger root that we apply to other clinical trial research,” she said. “Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way.”

I don’t know yet how effective using ginger is in cooking, or in Ginger Beer – but it can’t hurt to keep on grating it into dishes!

Dana-Farber has helpful information:

 A dietician at Dana-Farber says
” Try eating or drinking ginger in the form of ginger tea, ginger ale, crystallized ginger, ginger chews, or fresh ginger root tea”.
.They also have several recipes using ginger that they recommend:
.This American hospital really does provide practical, easy to follow advice for us patients – and doesn’t talk down to us!
.Elemis are using it too

Recently, I began to see nasty little lesions making their appearance again on my skin;  I was on a new drug – and it seemed my body didn’t like it.  The lesions hadn’t opened up, so before they did, I wanted to advice on zapping them, and Elemis suggested their Lime and Ginger Salt Glow.

So I bought a jar, and slapped this on before I had a bath.  Immediately the nasty rough bits sloughed away, and – looking at my arm now, after two applications,  all I can see are very faint deeper colour ‘bits’ where the lesions were resting.

I finished them off with the new Elemis Pro-collagen body cream, and have been basking in compliments on my skin from a new nurse on the team!

Then, using a very calming, gentle body wash from Living Nature,  Nourishing Body Wash, I look at the ingredients – and guess what?  They include  Ginger Extract in the list of ingredients. Also Manuka Honey – and kelp.  I am following seaweed also, as that seems another ingredient we are getting from Mother Nature.

As with all the Living Nature products, they only contain natural ingredients – so I must keep an eye out for more containing Ginger!

Ginger Tea for nausea

This is an ‘old wives” remedy that seems to find favour with many nurses.

I know that a hospital in New York was conducting clinical trials on using ginger to help control nausea, but can’t find any evidence.

So is it just one of those placebos that makes you feel it will do you good?  Or is there evidence out there to prove it really is up to it?

Would very much like to know, so please send any to me as a Comment below, or to verite@greenbee.net

In the meantime, those nice people at Pukka Herbs make a Three  Ginger tea, so you can try this out and hopefully gain the benefit of ginger.


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Learning about cancer treatment from America

American Society of Clinical Oncology


Summary after ASCO


(American Society of Clinical


Every year ASCO holds one of the World’s major cancer conferences.

This year, noted doctor Jeffrey Kirshner, MD was asked for

Practice Changes I Will Make After Attending ASCO 2011

(Dr. Jeffrey Kirshner is Partner and Director of Research, Hematology Oncology Associates of Central New York, East Syracuse, and Chief of Oncology, Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY).

I know many readers want the science behind what we are told, so make no apology for quoting from Dr. Kirshner’s advice.  This refers to different cancers, not just breast ;  you may know someone who is being treated for these types of cancer – so this might be helpful.

Reassure my patients with BRCA mutations that it is safe to take estrogen-replacement therapy after risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (Abstract 1501). There appears to be no increase in the incidence of breast cancer, and premenopausal women can avoid long periods of estrogen deprivation.

Consider using capecitabine and lapatinib as initial treatment of brain metastases in selected patients with HER2/neu–positive breast cancer (Abstract 509). The objective response rate was 67%! By extrapolation, this treatment may be an option for patients who cannot receive any additional brain irradiation.

Consider using adjuvant imatinib for at least 3 (rather than 1) years in high-risk patients after resection of GIST. In a randomized trial of 400 patients, the longer duration of administration improved progression-free and overall survival (LBA 1, presented at the plenary session).

Treat patients with metastatic melanoma with ipilimumab (Yervoy). There were follow-up studies to the plenary abstract from ASCO 2010, which confirm the activity and demonstrate improved survival when this drug was added to DTIC (LBA 5). It may not be necessary to use chemotherapy at all.

Test patients with metastatic melanoma for the BRAF mutation, and, if present, refer them to centers that have vemurafenib availability or clinical trials using this highly active drug. In a randomized, multicenter trial looking at vemurafenib compared to DTIC, this subset of patients had higher response rates and a significant improvement in progression-free and overall survival. Hopefully, this drug will be approved and available within the next year (LBA4).

If this interests you, ASCO has pages more on Breast Cancer.  To access some information you will have to register, but you don’t have to be a doctor.  I said that I was interested in finding out more about breast cancer – so back zinged acceptance.

  1. For breast cancer info go to http://breast.jco.org/
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You are not alone with skin side effects

The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocyte...

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Helping your skin

We can all feel depressed – particularly when we face yet another skin problem during and after cancer treatment.

Before cancer I wrote about skincare, and realised how important it is to ensure your skin (male or female) is in tip-top condition.  It is our largest organ, and needs looking after.

It’s not vanity – it is common-sense to ensure you skin is as blemish-free as possible, with no cracks or lesions that can make you vulnerable to dirt, infection, etc.

And if you feel good and look good – your survivorship pattern will be improved.

What started this website was the callous indifference I experienced from doctors, particularly those who should have know better and been there to help me, not make me feel I was making a fuss about nothing, when I asked what I could do about massive skin problems.

But when a big bully of a dermatologist at a major cancer centre in London told me blisters and skin lesions that appeared overnight were “due to your age“,  I realised that the tales I had heard from other patients were true, and some doctors seem to delight in making one feel small and that we complain over nothing.  Well, if we don’t look after skin properly we get problems.

So started this website, and found patients all over the world sometimes have to put up with the same indifference.

This video shows we are not alone:


The women in this video are discussing a particular brand of skincare, but what they say can refer to any brand that has been properly developed.  On this website I mention different companies’ products, and those such as La Roche Posay, iS Clinical, Evoskin, Clinique, Dr. Bragi etc. have been developed by dermatologists and doctors specifically for cancer patients, and many products have gone through tough clinical trials.

So don’t think you are being vain when looking after your skin.  If you don’t look after it, you could be laying yourself open to infection, certainly wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

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Ten Changes after ASCO

American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Changes coming in Cancer Treatment


Every year the USA hosts two of the World’s most important meetings concerning cancer treatment. 

One is the Breast Cancer symposium at San Antonio, Texas – the other is ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) held every June.

Every year OncologySTAT asks an eminent doctor to write about

“10 Practice Changes I Will Make Based on Presentations at the 2010 ASCO Meeting

and this year asked  Jeffrey Kirshner, MD (an eminent doctor) to give his ideas.

(Dr. Kirshner is Partner and Director of Research, Hematology Oncology Associates of Central New York, East Syracuse; Chief of Oncology, Community General Hospital, Syracuse).

Dr. Kirshner’s article is written for doctors, but I thought those readers who are ‘only patients’ (like me) might be interested in stretching our chemo-brains and finding out what medics were talking about at ASCO.  And for Nurses and medics, you will understand more – and hopefully find one or two thought-provoking items.

So I asked if I could reprint the article, as although it is written for medics – and those with expensive private practices in particular – what Dr. Kirshner has to say has pointers towards new and inovative treatments we all might find interesting.  Especially item 9!

As a patient, if anything interests you, discuss it with your medical team. What Dr. Kirshner discusses is new, probably expensive, and may NOT be suitable for you – so take this with all that salt we are supposed to cut out of our diet – and I hope you find it interesting.


This is ONE person’s comments;  he is based in a far-off country and may talk about decisions and treatments that are totally impractical.  But anyone who is interested in advancing medicine must be interested in what was discussed at ASCO, even if it won’t work for you/your practice.

REMEMBER – I am NOT medically qualified.  I only repeat this here in the interests of science and getting people talking about possible new ideas.   This is ONLY about ideas, and MUST be discussed with your medical team before you ask to copy thing.

BUT I hope it provides a talking point for those who work in the oncology field.  Even if you totally disagree with what the Doctor has to say!

And we can all copy item No. 9!

Dr. Kirshner says that, as a result of attending the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), he plans to make the following changes to his management of patients with cancer:

1. Inform my patients with breast cancer and their surgeons that it is not necessary to perform an axillary nodal dissection, even if the sentinel node is positive, provided the following conditions are present:

* No clinically palpable nodes
* Less than 3 positive sentinel nodes
* No matting of nodes
* Primary tumor <2 cm (T1)
* Patients treated with lumpectomy undergo whole-breast irradiation and receive appropriate adjuvant therapy

Giuliano et al reported evidence for this approach from a study in which women were randomized to receive sentinel node biopsy alone or sentinel node biopsy plus axillary lymph node dissection (Abstract CRA 506).1 There is now excellent confirmation from a randomized study that it is not necessary to perform an axillary nodal dissection if the sentinel node is negative, which arguably has been the standard of care before this study (Abstract LBA505).2

2. Reassure my patients with estrogen-receptor?positive, stage 1 breast cancer who are 70 years or older that they do not benefit from irradiation after lumpectomy.

For such patients, however, there can be up to a 7% increase in breast cancer recurrence, although this still can be cured by further lumpectomy and radiation. These patients need to complete 5 years of adjuvant hormonal therapy. Excellent long-term follow-up was presented by Hughes et al (Abstract 507).3 Results may even be better with the use of aromatase inhibitors and better surgical margins.

3. Have our pathologists stop performing immunohistochemistry (IHC) on sentinel nodes.

The results of IHC assessment no longer influence treatment decisions, based on the large ACOSOG study (Abstract CRA504).4 Even if there are reports of “IHC-only?positive cancer cells,” this will not influence my choice of treatment.

4. Consider using denosumab instead of zoledronic acid for the treatment of painful bone metastases, especially in patients with marginal renal function.

This is supported by maturing data reported at several sessions (Abstract 9015 and LBA4507).5,6 Efficacy may be greater with denosumab, and it is less likely to cause renal dysfunction. The higher cost of denosumab may be an issue, but the ease of administration (given subcutaneously, monthly) may offset the lower cost of zoledronic acid, which is given monthly as an intravenous infusion, after assessment of renal function. Denosumab is commercially available for osteoporosis, and it will likely receive approval for bone metastases in the near future.

5. Treat locally advanced prostate cancer with a combination of androgen deprivation therapy and irradiation.

This approach is now supported by results of two studies reported at the GU session of ASCO (CRA4504 and Abstract 4505).7,8 Overall survival and disease-specific survival were improved by the addition of irradiation to androgen suppression therapy. Results may even be better with our more modern irradiation technology.

6. Biopsy new metastases in selected patients with breast cancer, as discordant tumor characteristics may influence the choice of treatment (Abstract 1007, CRA1008, Abstract 1009).9-11

In the study by Amir et al (Abstract 1007), up to one-third of patients showed changes in tumor characteristics between the initial biopsy and that of the metastatic lesion, including changes in estrogen-receptor status and in HER-2/neu status. This resulted in a change in management in 16% of the patients. It is unknown if this resulted in better treatment outcomes, however.

7. Consider treating older patients with glioblastoma multiforme with temozolomide alone, as they may not appear to benefit from the addition of radiotherapy.

Malmstrom et al found that outcomes were similar with either temozolomide or temozolomide plus radiation, but it was much easier for patients to take a pill than to undergo daily radiation treatments (LBA2002).12

8. Offer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (eg, naproxen) to patients receiving pegfilgrastim.

Naproxen has been shown to decrease the incidence, severity, and duration of pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain, without causing significant toxicity (Abstract 9014).13

(My observation – there has been research in Switzerland warning of overuse of NSAIDs).

9. Offer yoga to cancer patients experiencing insomnia and fatigue.

Hatha yoga has been demonstrated to decrease the incidence of these symptoms and to decrease the need for sleeping medications (Abstract 9013).14

10. Consider treating patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who are appropriately fit (good performance status) with FOLFIRINOX rather than gemcitabine.

Gemcitabine would be reserved for second-line treatment (Abstract 4010).15 Conroy et al demonstrated a 3-month improvement in progression-free survival and close to a 4-month improvement in median overall survival (from 6.9 months to 10.5 months) in patients treated with FOLFIRINOX. Toxicity was greater with FOLFIRINOX than with gemcitabine, but it was manageable, and the number of deaths attributable to toxicity was not higher than with gemcitabine. Alternatively, FOLFIRINOX could be considered as second-line therapy for such patients. In patients with biliary stents, however, FOLFIRINOX should be used with caution.


The reports listed below will not lead to practice changes in the near future, but we should all be aware of the preliminary results with these exciting new agents, and we should be on the look-out for their availability in the coming year.

* Ipilimumab for metastatic melanoma (Abstract 4)16
* Crizotinib?test adenocarcinoma of the lung specimens for ALK (Abstract 3)17
* Pamalidomide and carfilzomib as new drugs for patients with refractory multiple myeloma (Abstract 8000)18
* Cabazitaxel as second-line treatment of hormone-resistant metastatic prostate cancer (Abstract 4508)19
* Eribulin for previously treated metastatic breast cancers (Abstract 1004)20


1. Giuliano AE, McCall LM, Beitsch PD, et al. ACOSOG Z0011: a randomized trial of axillary node dissection in women with clinical T1-2 N0 M0 breast cancer who have a positive sentinel node. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):CRA506.

2. Krag DN, Anderson SJ, Julian TB, et al. Primary outcome results of NSABP B-32, a randomized phase III clinical trial to compare sentinel node resection (SNR) to conventional axillary dissection (AD) in clinically node-negative breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):LBA50.

3. Hughes KS, Schnaper LA, Cirrincione C, et al. Lumpectomy plus tamoxifen with or without irradiation in women age 70 or older with early breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 507.

4. Cote R, Giuliano AE, Hawes D, et al. ACOSOG Z0010: A multicenter prognostic study of sentinel node (SN) and bone marrow (BM) micrometastases in women with clinical T1/T2 N0 M0 breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):CRA504.

5. Lipton A, Stopeck A, von Moos R, et al. A meta-analysis of results from two randomized, double-blind studies of denosumab versus zoledronic acid (ZA) for treatment of bone metastases. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 9015.

6. Fizazi K, Carducci MA, Smith MR, et al. A randomized phase III trial of denosumab versus zoledronic acid in patients with bone metastases from castration-resistant prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):LBA4507.

7. Warde PR, Mason MD, Sydes MR, et al. Intergroup randomized phase III study of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) plus radiation therapy (RT) in locally advanced prostate cancer (CaP) (NCIC-CTG, SWOG, MRC-UK, INT: T94-0110; NCT00002633). J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):CRA4504.

8. Mottet N, Peneau M, Mazeron J, et al. Impact of radiotherapy (RT) combined with androgen deprivation (ADT) versus ADT alone for local control in clinically locally advanced prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):abstract 4505.

9. Amir E, Clemons M, Freedman OC, et al. Tissue confirmation of disease recurrence in patients with breast cancer: Pooled analysis of two large prospective studies. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 1007.

10. Locatelli MA, Curigliano G, Fumagalli L, et al. Should liver metastases of breast cancer be biopsied to improve treatment choice? J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):CRA1008.

11. Karlsson E, Lindström LS, Wilking U, et al. Discordance in hormone receptor status in breast cancer during tumor progression. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 1009.

12. Malmstrom A, Grønberg BH, Stupp R, et al. Glioblastoma (GBM) in elderly patients: a randomized phase III trial comparing survival in patients treated with 6-week radiotherapy (RT) versus hypofractionated RT over 2 weeks versus temozolomide single-agent chemotherapy (TMZ). J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):LBA2002.

13. Kirshner JJ, Heckler CE, Dakhil SR, et al. Prevention of pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain (PIP): a URCC CCOP randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 510 cancer patients. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 9014.

14. Mustian KM, Palesh O, Sprod L, et al. Effect of YOCAS yoga on sleep, fatigue, and quality of life: A URCC CCOP randomized, controlled clinical trial among 410 cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 9013.

15. Conroy T, Desseigne F, Ychou M, et al. Randomized phase III trial comparing FOLFIRINOX (F: 5FU/leucovorin [LV], irinotecan [I], and oxaliplatin [O]) versus gemcitabine (G) as first-line treatment for metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma (MPA): preplanned interim analysis results of the PRODIGE 4/ACCORD 11 trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 4010.

16. O’Day S, Hodi FS, McDermott DF, et al. A phase III, randomized, double-blind, multicenter study comparing monotherapy with ipilimumab or gp100 peptide vaccine and the combination in patients with previously treated, unresectable stage III or IV melanoma. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):abstract 4).

17. Bang Y, Kwak EL, Shaw AT, et al. Clinical activity of the oral ALK inhibitor PF-02341066 in ALK-positive patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):abstract 3.

18. Vij R, Siegel DS, Kaufman JL, et al. Results of an ongoing open-label, phase II study of carfilzomib in patients with relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma (R/R MM). J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 8000.

19. De Bono JS, Oudard S, Ozguroglu M, et al. Cabazitaxel or mitoxantrone with prednisone in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) previously treated with docetaxel: Final results of a multinational phase III trial (TROPIC). J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15 suppl):abstract 4508.

20. Twelves C, Loesch D, Blum JL, et al. A phase III study (EMBRACE) of eribulin mesylate versus treatment of physician’s choice in patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer previously treated with an anthracycline and a taxane. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(18 suppl):CRA1004.

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Italian readers have chance to take part in trials

Clinical Trials on Diet

patient discussion

Diet and nutrition project

OECI and IEO are collaborating together with FORTH to develop a demonstrator online for social networking amongst Italian cancer patients who want information about diet and nutrition.

Led by Patrizia Gnagnarella and Demos (Demosthenes Akoumianakis) and executed with the help of Professor De Lorenzo and the staff at FAVO (an Italian Cancer Charity encompassing 400+ patient support groups), it asks patients if they would like to take part in a clinical trial.

If yes, they are randomised to receive information about nutrition online, to the same information plus an invitation to an internet space where they can chat with other patients about diet problems and solutions.

All participants are monitored at baseline then after intervention (or not) by specialist online questionnaires.

More information : info@eurocancercoms.eu

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Gwyneth Paltrow uses American skincare developed to help cancer patients with skin problems

Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2000 Toronto Internatio...
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iS Clinical skincare proves we can have glamour too!

So often products developed after clinical trials have a ‘hospital’  look about them.

But seeing iS Clinical’s packaging, its clever design proves it is possible to be glamour personified without wasting resources.

And what’s inside is fantastic.  I have often written about their products, from the superb facial that is adored by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, to skincare care that really helps our radiotherapy and chemo-zapped skin.

And now they have come up with a website specially for cancer patients.  Short and simple to read, it gives basic information about the products especially developed for us, and also mentions events they run in the States to give us a fantastic day of pampering.

As they say, “The iS CANCER CARE program is proud to sponsor and participate in several events throughout the year that provide support and raise awareness in the fight against cancer, offering a vital sense of hope and relief for those challenged with the effects of cancer treatments”.

So if you are lucky enough to live in the States, keep an eye on this website for details of more upcoming events.  And if you want more information about the products than is provided on this website, go to www.isclinical.com

And please come over to Britain – we want the same pampering !

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Using the web for information

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Get on the Web

Increasingly fellow patients are opening up their lap tops to find answers to medical problems.  Once, you looked at websites with suspicion.  Today, most of those sites promising ‘miracle cures’ have been outed – and, provided you check carefully, information is of a very high standard.

Social media is playing an increasingly important role in cancer survivorship, according to Oncology Nurse Advisor Magazine.

They have kindly given me permission to quote from their latest issue, and say

” Any number of message boards, forums, chat rooms, blogs, and Facebook pages are now devoted to cancer survivors. Cancer organizations use Web pages and other Internet tools for disseminating information to patients as well as oncology professionals. Many of these sites provide their own message boards and other forums that survivors can use to communicate with one other, and here is the magazine’s  selection of some of the more established resources”.

These sites are mostly American;  no bad thing, as in the States they treat us a intelligent humans, rather than “you are ONLY a patient” as I was told in UK.  And the NHS still can’t get its head round the fact that we often know more than doctors.  When I complained that the NHS’s National Cancer Survivors Initiative website (www.ncsi.org.uk)it was boring and only half finished, I was told it wasn’t for the likes of us, but “for doctors”.


The American Cancer Society sponsors the Cancer Survivors Network (CSN), an online “community of cancer survivors, families, and friends.” The Web site states, “Our lives have been affected by cancer in ways only those of us who have ‘been there’ can truly understand.” Founded in 1996, this Internet community may be the gold standard of social media for cancer survivors since it has so many built-in options. People register for the free membership with a valid e-mail address in order to access all areas of the CSN Web site. Members are able to

  • Find other members and communicate with them using the CSN private and secure internal e-mail service
  • Access chat rooms and post to discussion boards
    — There are more than 25 discussion boards for specific types of cancer, and other boards as diverse as Caregivers, Gay Men Talk About Cancer, Emotional Support, Humor, Lesbians Talk About Cancer, Long-Term Effects of Treatment, Military Cancer Survivors, and Senior Survivors
  • Create their own My CSN Space where they can tell their stories, upload photos and audio files, create blog entries, contribute poems, recommend resources, and more
  • Get notified each time they receive new CSN e-mail or new content is added to an area to which they have subscribed
  • Create their own personal support community of other CSN members
  • Receive a free monthly newsletter from CSN

Of course, CSN members can also link to the American Cancer Society Web site for information about cancer, community resources, support programs, locating clinical trials, treatment decision tools, and many more topics.


OncoLink, the Internet-based cancer resource of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, has won many awards since it was founded in 1994 with a mission “to help cancer patients, families, health care professionals, and the general public get accurate cancer-related information at no charge.” The site features numerous buttons and hypertext links that ensure ease of navigation through its pages of information on multiple levels. OncoLink is updated daily with news about specific types of cancer, treatments, and advances in cancer research. Among its many links for survivors, OncoLink lists such resources as the Long Term Survivors online group, National LGBT Cancer Network, Young Survival Coalition, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. One of the more popular features of OncoLink is Ask the Experts, where readers can pose questions to a team of specialists. The information on OncoLink is comprehensive; one expert is a veterinary oncologist who answers questions about cancer in animals on the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Menu.

Some of you may have signed up for the Oncolink programme  via Macmillan.  Sadly this didn’t give access to all that was offered, and seems to have faded away.


Most of these have excellent information for survivors:

  1. Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Center, New York
  2. University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  4. Dana – Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
  5. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
  6. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
  7. University of Chicago Hospitals
  8. UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
  9. University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor
  10. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  11. University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
  12. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  13. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa
  14. Cleveland Clinic
  15. Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
  16. University of California, San Francisco Medical Center
  17. Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, Calif.
  18. University Hospitals of Cleveland
  19. Barnes – Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis
  20. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville


If you haven’t told your children, most authorities say you must.  The American Cancer Society’s website has some sensible information about this http://a676.g.akamaitech.net/f/676/773/60m/images.delivery.net/cm50content/19439/24775/page1.html

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Death of Marsden Chaplain who was on Tamoxifen Ethical Committee

David Brown worked 24/7 supporting cancer patients

Many of you who were treated at the Royal Marsden will remember the Chaplain, David Brown, with fondness.  I know I do;  coming out of my Consultant’s with a bleak “I’ve never seen this before” comment on blindness that had crept up overnight, David took me under his wing.

He had been on the ethical committee that approved Tamoxifen;  without blaming the Consultant for his attitude, David said he had been told by other patients they had experienced this, and would look up Tamoxifen side effects in his notes.   A couple of hours later he phoned me, to tell me that the clinical trial notes verified that a small but significant number of patients had reported they had gone blind.  Then told me the good news was that as far as he could see they had regained their sight – but I must have this checked out.  Then helped me to find a French specialist working in London.

After that, I tended to phone David whenever I had a problem connected with cancer;  his knowledge was profound, and he was able to give me much helpful information of a non-medical nature, and ‘translate’ the long words with which I was bombarded.   His advice was always sensible and practical, and helped when I was feeling lost and bewildered.

He was the Senior Chaplain of the team that administered to patients in both the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals – and I would often see him on his way between  sites.  One day he told me he had been ‘head hunted’ by another hospital – but days later said he couldn’t change jobs, as this hospital didn’t have a Waitrose (very good food store) near by!

Because David loved cooking, and often invited my husband and I to dinner, held around a wooden table in his kitchen. One day he lifted up the table-top, and there was his bath.  Some staff accommodation in The Marsden was Victorian, and these baths had been placed in the middle of the kitchen to ‘modernise’ them.

Crockfords (the Directory for Chaplains, etc) gives the bald facts of  David Frederick Brown’s career:  Illinois University BA (1960). Seabury-Western Theological Seminary MDiv (1967). Deaconed and Priested in 1967. Curate Evanston St Mark (USA), 67-68; Curate Camarillo St Columba 68-69 and Priest-in-charge 69-70; Curate San Francisco Holy Innocents and Curate Grace Cathedral  70-75; Honorary Curate Battersea Christ Church and St Stephen (Diocese of Southwark) 78-83; Senior Chaplain Royal Marsden 83-00; retired 2000; permission to officiate in the Diocese of London from 2002.

What David modestly didn’t tell me was that he had done some of his hospital chaplaincy training at MD Anderson – probably the world’s foremost cancer hospital.

Some people might have known David for his dog, Nigel.  Living on the same street, David always admired our dogs (Border Terriers), and eventually we helped him choose Nigel – a typical Border.  Whether this was the right type of dog for a Chaplain was debatable.  David phoned one day to say he feared he had mental problems: “I keep on thinking I have bought meat, but when I go to the fridge it isn’t there”.

Eventually clues pointed to the fact that Nigel had learnt to ‘paw’ open the fridge, and take out bacon, sausages or whatever.  So David strode off to the nearest Mothercare, in his robes, to buy a child-proof lock for the fridge.  He used to take Nigel into the hospital sometimes, as a PAT dog, and I interviewed a patient for ‘Take a Break’ Magazine with an  incredible story.

One day Nigel was trotting at David’s heels, when he took off and barged into the room of a patient who had had her cancer return, and had literally turned her face to the wall and given up on life.  Until she told me, “Nigel gave me a lick, and from that moment I decided to live”.  Until she left the Chelsea site to move to the Marsden building in Sutton, Nigel was often to be found in her room – with the complete agreement of Sister.

Not many people knew that he came from one of the ‘inner circle’ families in the States, who not only knew Presidents but were god-parents to their children.  David never mentioned this, but occasionally he let something slip.  One thing he was very proud of was his decision to become a British citizen, and ever after he would chortle at the ease with which his dual nationality enabled him to by-pass airport immigration queues in both countries.

Sadly his career came to an end when the service which he had worked for tirelessly for over 21 years (he had given temporary help to the Marsden, before being appointed Senior Chaplain in 1983) let him down.  He had been under the ‘care’ of a Consultant at Hammersmith Hospital, and used to go for annual check-ups.  He knew he would have to have an operation one day, but was told at each check-up to wait another year.

One day he phoned me in great distress.  I had never heard David give any comment on his health, but this time he was in a state of shock.  “Ive just been told ‘you have three months to live’, and to go home and do your Will”.  The Consultant had told him that it was too late to do anything – sorry – they should have operated before’.

David’s sister Molly, when told this, said  “get your Axxx over here”.  She found an eminent surgeon, who said he would operate, and give David a 50/50 chance of surviving.  David said,  “we shook hands, and I said that was good enough for me”.  He did survive, but had spent all his life savings, and unfortunately shortly after had to retire from the job he loved because he still wasn’t fully fit.

Lord Cadogan, hearing of his plight, offered David a ‘grace and favour’ flat in Christchurch Street, and David moved in.  He loved this flat;  for the first time for 21 years he had a proper bathroom!

Long after he retired, people were still coming to David for help and advice – and at the end they did what they could to support him.  One young doctor was on his feet for twelve hours in the ICU unit at Chelsea and Westminster, monitoring the array of machines, willing them to keep David alive until his sister reached him from the States.  And Airport officials arranged for her to be met at Heathrow and whisked past the three-hour queues in Immigration.  They all wanted to do what they could.

In his will he left explicit instructions, and if these were not followed he threatened “to come back and haunt you”.  He didn’t want any flowers, but “do want you to have a good drink”.

His funeral will be at Christchurch (where he often took services) on Saturday, 4th September at 1 pm.  Afterwards his sister Molly wants to make sure David’s instructions are followed to the letter and everyone is invited for a ‘good drink’. etc.  Christchurch is just off Royal Hospital Road, at the Cheyne Walk end.

And Molly and friends have decided that instead of flowers, they would like donations in David’s memory to go to a fund to put up a plaque commemorating his work at Christchurch – the church he loved.  Send c/o The Vicar, St Luke’s & Christ Church, St Luke’s Crypt, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NH.

The picture above is of David as a young man.  I asked the Press Office at The Marsden to provide one of David in working garb at the hospital, but Belinda there told me “this is not in our jurisdiction”.  So I used the one above, knowing David would be tickled pink to be remembered as such a handsome youth!

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Never too old for cancer treatment

Addressing the needs of older cancer patients

by Saul Wisnia

Bill Gurney with his oncologist Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, and longtime life partner Mary Kay Lowe

Bill Gurney (101) with his oncologist Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, and longtime life partner Mary Kay Lowe

Don’t ever let doctors tell you, you are ‘too old’ for cancer treatment – Bill Gurney would certainly disagree.  Logging on to the Dana -Farber Cancer Institute website, there was this wonderful  story:

The front-desk facilitator saw the patient’s birth date on her screen — June 27, 1908 — and for a moment wondered if there was a mistake. Then she glanced up at the stately gentleman standing before her.

Even in an era when advanced treatment approaches allow more patients than ever to live with and beyond cancer, Bill Gurney is unique. With his 102nd birthday coming up next month, the Cape Cod, USA,  resident and colon cancer survivor is quite possibly the oldest person ever treated at Dana-Farber.

“I’m flattered,” Gurney said with a laugh when informed of his “oldest patient” status during a recent appointment.

Asked the secret to his longevity, even in the wake of a serious illness, he explained: “There is an old song that goes  ‘A sunny disposition is all that you can wish.’ That’s my motto. I’m not a worrier.”

Gurney is, however, in excellent physical health overall, which his Dana-Farber oncologist Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, says is a key for any older cancer patient.  Proving that exercise is especially good for cancer patients, he  still does a combined 50 push-ups and sit-ups every day, and hopes to get back to golfing this summer after a two-year hiatus. A retired attorney who graduated from Yale in 1930, he is a shade under 6 feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds, roughly the same weight he was as a pilot during World War II.

Given these facts, Fuchs felt comfortable in 2008 recommending the then-99-year-old for treatment when consulted about Gurney’s case by a surgeon at Cape Cod Hospital.

“We’re seeing more and more people who are diagnosed with cancer in their 80s, 90s, or, in Bill’s case, beyond,” says Fuchs.  “Part of this reflects that people are living longer and better. In some cases, you might find other health problems that would make one hesitate to pursue surgery or further treatment, but we felt a robust gentleman like Mr. Gurney should have both.”

So those hospital administrators who put elderly people in ‘special’ wards, and are reluctant to operate – take note!  Not every elderly patient can handle surgery, but it they are fit, age should not be a barrier.

Now, an international team including Fuchs’ Dana-Farber colleagues Nadine Jackson McCleary, MD, MPH, and Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, are forming a large clinical trial of older colorectal cancer patients to establish better methods for assessing their condition.

It’s never too late have treatment; just ask Bill Gurney, who went nearly 80 years between hospital visits before his diagnosis.

Story courtesy of Saul Wisnia, Senior Publications Editor-Writer


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Deep cleansing and no toner needed

iS Clinical comes up trumps

Let’s be brutally honest – I am bone idle.  Anything that will shave 30 seconds off my cleansing routine has to be worth it, in my book.

So when I read the instructions on my iS Clinical Cleansing Complex bottle – I gave a happy smile.  It pays to read the blurb (but so often I forget).

There, in the instructions, it tells me to moisten face and neck with water, then apply a small amount – then rinse.  So one gets all the benefits, without feeling that the lovely ‘soft’ feeling is going to be swept away with a toner.  And I love the Cleanser;  it really makes my skin feel clean; and it is still soft hours after.

And the big benefit is that iS Clinical, after a great deal of research and clinical trials,  is endorsed by Washington Cancer Center especially for cancer patients.  Makes me wonder why we haven’t done something similar in Britain, and why our dermatologists often haven’t helped cancer patients with skin problems, judging by my post bag from all over Britain.

Just be warned – the next dermatologist or nurse who patronisingly tells me to use an aqueous cream – I will scream the place down.  It is shocking that we put up with their old-fashioned approach to our skin problems.  Anyway, rant over, and thank you  – iS Clinical!    www.isclinical.ie

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