My friend, I’ll call her Anna, is dying today. She was dying yesterday, too, and tomorrow she’ll be even closer to death than today. That’s true of all of us, I suppose, but she’s on the fast track: Her gut is so clogged up with cancer that there’s nothing left to do for her but […]
In 2001, Dean Spath was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He had surgery to remove his prostate, and for nearly a decade, Spath appeared to be cancer free. Each year he would visit the doctor to have a blood test and a scan, and each year the tests came back clean. “They thought they got […]
Exactly 10 years ago today, I got one of those calls we all dread. My mom had cancer, a stage-4 brain tumor, the kind that seems to pop up out of nowhere fully formed and beyond repair. I was standing in my kitchen when I heard the news, and I remember dropping the phone as I […]
This week LWON presents “Off Our Meds,” an examination of some scary issues in medicine. We won’t resort to fear mongering, because we don’t have to. Medicine is scary enough as it is. The woman came to Scott Haig, an orthopedic surgeon, because she had a lump on her collarbone. Usually these lumps are caused by arthritis or […]
I get a lot of ridiculous press releases, but the headline that made its way to my inbox today, “New Cancer-Fighting Game App Goes Global,” represented a new level of nonsense. The press release described a “ground-breaking” smartphone “cancer-fighting game app” that promised to “help young cancer patients fight their disease.” If you’re like me, […]
When is a sin a virtue? When the sinner is an assasin, and the sin is laziness. In cancer, however, it’s diffiult to know which tumors will be slothful and which will be aggressive. This is the dilemma behind the ongoing controversies in screening and treatment for conditions such as breast and prostate cancer.
Van VanderMeer is about to celebrate an anniversary that he’d probably rather forget. In December 2009, VanderMeer thought he had caught his annual winter cough; for a few years in a row, he’d developed a chest cold around this time of year. But this one lingered. VanderMeer was competing in a mixed doubles tournament in […]
The death of Steve Jobs is unfolding as a morality play between mainstream and alternative medicine, with doctors and bloggers blaming Jobs’ untimely demise on his decision to delay surgery while he tried acupuncture and herbal remedies. The reality is that Jobs’ story tells us as much about the limits of conventional science and medicine […]