Cancer Awareness, by the Numbers


Like consumer products competing for sales on the open market, cancer research funding depends, in part, on public awareness of the cancer in question. The more people know about a particular cancer–especially when this knowledge is accompanied by compelling stories of individual cancer patients–the more enthusiastically they are likely to donate to the cause. Public […]

Cancer is Not Pink


In case you haven’t noticed (and it is hard not to), October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). Founded in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca), NBCAM was created to promote the prevention and early detection (particularly mammograms) of […]

On Bonding Around a Common Enemy

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A few weeks ago, nine men, including me, were invited by Dan Zenka, VP of communications at the Prostate Cancer Foundation (and author of the blog My New York Minute), to join him in Washington, DC on a one-day retreat.  All of ten of us are living in either the presence or aftermath of prostate […]

The Mythology of Prostate Cancer

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Like most varieties of cancer, prostate cancer has a complicated mythology surrounding its prevention and treatment. Perhaps the cruelest myth about prostate cancer is that it is not really very serious, and no one dies from it.  In fact, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer among men, exceeded only by […]

Hormone Therapy: Beyond the Euphemism

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Hormone therapy, also called “androgen deprivation therapy” (ADT) is a widely prescribed treatment for prostate cancer. Androgens are the male hormones—the most well known of which is testosterone—that cause boys to develop secondary sexual characteristics during puberty and control men’s sexual functioning once they mature. However, for men with prostate cancer, testosterone is the food […]

The Oncology Adventure Ride


My family lived in Southern California in the mid-1950s, and I vividly remember my inaugural visit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 1956, in celebration of my 10th birthday. To my young eyes, it was all amazingly cool: the jungle ride, the Mark Twain steamboat, the teacups in Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland’s ride to the moon.  But […]



Oncology is the stuff of hard medicine—chemicals, radiation, hormones, and surgery. Cancer is a formidable foe, and doctors bring out the best and most aggressive tools that they have to fight the invasion of the body by this potentially deadly disease. The strength of the treatments take their toll not just on the cancerous cells, […]

Why I Don’t Like Being Called a “Cancer Survivor”

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Like every other person who has received a cancer diagnosis and lived to talk about it, I have become a cancer survivor.*  Which is a wonderful thing to be.  The first Sunday of June is National Cancer Survivors Day. People can purchase shirts that proudly proclaim “Cancer Survivor!”  The American Cancer Society sponsors and maintains […]

The Etymology of the Word “Cancer”


What is it about the word “cancer” that triggers such a deep sense of trepidation?  Where did the word “cancer” even come from? The Roman physician and philosopher Galen (AD 129-200) is credited with naming breast tumors whose shape resembled the claws of a crab.  Like all Roman academics, Galen considered Latin beneath contempt, so […]