New Drugs, Therapies Herald Good News for Cancer Patients

Candice Lucey's picture

Breast cancer patients can always use a dose of good news. The BBC reports that women waiting for breast cancer treatment may have something to be grateful for. Though not a cure, a new method of radiotherapy could cut down on long and uncomfortable weeks of post-operative radiation.

Doctors home to give women a dose of radiation right at the cancer site. They say the benefits could be enormous including waiting list reductions, fewer side effects to organs, and women keeping their breasts intact. The one-shot radiation does not work on all cancers, but still gives hope to women facing breast cancer.

This piece of good news follows on the heels of another breakthrough, one for lung cancer patients. The breast cancer drug Abraxane has been shown to significantly improve patient response according to the Associated Press earlier this month.

Then there are non-medical positives demonstrating increasing awareness of varied emotional impact on the lives of survivors and those living with cancer or other diseases. Toronto General Hospital just opened a wellness centre for cancer survivors, a place to recover emotionally from an illness which takes so much out of a person. According to the Toronto Star, individuals living with any form of the disease face many burdens: physical health, spiritual and emotional well-being, not to mention relationships and finances. Depression can set in with changes in body shape, removal of a breast or reproductive organs, hair loss and weight gain from drugs. Having a place to go and learn to feel whole makes a huge difference in going beyond survival to feeling alive again.

Ginny Cox of Mara Station Retreat Centre in BC, Canada points out that individuals living with life-threatening illness have a lot to think about and work through including preparations for death. Though the temptation to behave as though life has already ended may loom, Cox encourages people to continue living and finding meaning, even through physical and emotional pain and in spite of a terminal prognosis. Her retreat centre gives hope to patients and their caregivers. Sometimes she sees clients leave with a positive outlook that extends their years and quality of life beyond what any doctor might have imagined.

Fundraising efforts such as the Relay for Life and Ride for Dad have also taken place this June, highlighting the important role of raising awareness to catch cancer early. Awareness often forms the most important aspect of saving lives: encouraging openness in society about embarrassing topics, and not shoving painful possibilities under the rug for fear of what finding a lump might mean for the future.

Written by Candice Lucey

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