4/17/2007: Much to Talk About

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Cancer Deaths Reported to Decline
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ATLANTA - For the first time in more than 70 years, annual cancer deaths in the United States have fallen, a turning point in the war on cancer likely achieved by declines in smoking and better tumor detection and treatment.

The number of cancer deaths dropped to 556,902 in 2003, down from 557,271 the year before, according to a recently completed review of U.S. death certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics.

“Even though it’s a small amount, it’s an important milestone,” said Dr. Michael Thun, who directs epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society. MORE

Once you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, stories like this one aren't just news any longer, these are personal, like a letter from home.And while cancer is a long way from a universal cure for every type, any news of progress is good news to survivors and their families.For us, we are moving into another decision phase (a status that has been frequent during the last 12 months). For now, we and our doctors have the decision to seek one of two different, but similar treatment paths, both involving stem cell transplants.

First option: AUTOLOGOUS transplant which involves the harvesting of my own stem cells followed by high dose chemo therapy and then the transfusion of my own stem cells. Key advantage: May only take two or three months; high degree of success without the risk of rejection. Key disadvantage: Treatment is not a permanent cure. The lymphoma may return, requiring subsequent chemo treatment and transplants. As I get older, the tolerance level for both could become an issue. READ MORE about this procedure here.

Second option: ALLOGENIC transplant involves an outside donor, usually a sibling. Key advantage: Offers the best chance of long-term remission, but only a 40 per cent chance of that happening. Key disadvantage: This will involve up to one year of treatment in virtual isolation. There is at least a 30 percent chance of graft to host disease, some consequences of which can be fatal.

MORE about this procedure here.What we learned this week from Dr. Ryotaro Nakamura, the hematology and bone marrow transplant specialist we visited at City of Hope (COH), is that the autologous transplant option is still open to us and that should we need another transplant later, we can have the allogenic transplant done at that time.You may offer your impressions and thoughts on this topic by sending an email message HERE

When I shared these options with a friend today, she inquired as to how we make so many major choices. My response: On our knees! While all of this is monumental and consequential for our lives today and beyond, there is no other option than to yield to an all-knowing power.

This rationale was confirmed as we watched the Sunday night, April 15 edition of EXTREME MAKE0VER: HOME EDITION where the words of one of the recipients (who suffered with but succumbed to cancer) depict a winning philosophy: "There is much to talk about, but NOTHING to worry about."In other words: "If you have something to worry about, PRAY. If you pray, DON'T WORRY!"

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