Gleevec

Some Good News About Cancer!

April 20, 2010 at 8:48 am , by

Last week I appeared on Fox’s Headline Health to chat with Dr. Manny Alvarez about our feature on “Good News About Cancer.” You can read our story in the May issue of LHJ or click here. And see a brief video excerpt of our discussion, below.

Remember in the movie Love Story, when Jennifer (played by Ali MacGraw, complete with fabulous dirndl minis and “Cliffie” girl tights and turtlenecks) is diagnosed with leukemia? Before we can even process this horrible information, she and her preppie husband, Oliver (played by Ryan O’Neal) have to leave the snowy New York City skating rink and head to the hospital as the famous piano theme music swells. Her character died way too young, and way too fast. That’s how it was with leukemia in 1970. Things are different now.

Thanks to targeted new treatments, patients with some cancers are living longer, stronger, happier lives than ever before. One of the women in our story, Virginia Garner, was diagnosed with leukemia 12 years ago. She enrolled in a clinical trial and was one of the first patients to be treated with Gleevec, a drug that turns off certain proteins in cancer cells that cause the tumor to grow. She’s still on the drug and is training to run her 10th marathon. Now that’s an improvement over 1970!

While there’s still got a long way to go on the road to a cure, it’s good to take a moment to be thankful for the progress that’s been made.

And one last thought: Did anyone, ever, really believe that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry?” I didn’t think so.

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