The Abyss and the Internet


When I picked up the phone I could hear palpable fear in her voice. “My husband went in to have a growth on his back removed and the lab came back saying he has squamous cell cancer.  They couldn’t get it all because it went deeper than they thought.  One doctor said might be lung […]

Caveat Patiens: American Cancer Marketing (part 2)

This is the second post about dubious marketing techniques newly-diagnosed cancer patients are likely to encounter.  Caveat patiens means “patient beware.”  A newly diagnosed man or woman is an attractive target for companies and institutions that can subtly (or not) exploit the natural fear induced by the word “cancer” as they market treatments that promise […]

Caveat patiens: American Cancer Marketing (part 1)

TargetdHypodermic copy

This is the first of a two-part post about dubious marketing techniques newly-diagnosed cancer patients are likely to encounter.  Like anyone who has heard the words “you” and “cancer” in the same sentence, when my urologist said, “Craig, you have a nasty cancer,” I felt as if I were looking death square in the eye. […]

1826 Days: A Reflection on Anniversaries


Anniversaries mark the progression (if not progress) of our life’s journey.  Birthdays are the most obvious.  If we’re married, wedding anniversaries are another.  And if we’re parents, the birthdays of our children. There are darker anniversaries as well.  Spouses who remember the day their lifetime partner died.  Or the day a brother or sister died. […]

What’s in a Name? Redefining “Cancer”


The word “cancer” is often accompanied by other words–“dread” and “fear” among them.  Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer (possibly related to all the cigars he smoked) in 1885. Newspapers described his slow, agonizing demise in lurid detail (much of it fabricated), including words such as “horror” and “revulsion” in their highly sensationalist copy.[1] […]

“Shared Decision Making:” Good in Theory. Less Good in Practice.


In May, the American Urological Association (AUA) attempted to silence its critics–including the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the American Cancer Society (ACS)–by abandoning its longtime recommendation of universal PSA testing of all men older than 40 to screen for prostate cancer. But since its constituency is, after all, urologists, it avoided […]

So, What Is It With Us Guys?


In the San Francisco Bay Area town where I live there are two big hospitals.  Both have Women’s Health Centers.  Neither has a Men’s Health Center.  If you happen to ask about one, you’re likely to be referred to the Urology Department. To be sure, there’s Men’s Health magazine, but it seems focused mostly on […]

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”

Cancer Suvivor

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 […]