Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The Honeymoon Period

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Not exactly romantic like a honeymoon, but definitely a significant event preceding a life long commitment -- the Honeymoon Period is a period of time when a patient is first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

During this time, patients sometimes seem as though their diabetes appears to go away. The patient's insulin needs are minimal and some patients may actually find they can maintain normal or near normal blood glucose taking little or no insulin. This can last between a few months to as long as a year.

Dr. Richard Bernstein, the best-selling author of "The Diabetes Solution" answered the following question from a mother regarding her child's diabetes and the influence of diet. He said:

If every newly diagnosed child with diabetes were put on our program at the time of diagnosis, we would rarely encounter the horror stories that we hear from nearly every parent. These include the roller coaster blood sugars with frequent and severe hypos, the need for snacks, the fear of delayed meals, personality changes and growth retardation. Furthermore, we find that the "honeymoon period" can be prolonged indefinitely if blood sugars remain within the normal range (about 90 mg/dl). Prolongation of the honeymoon period not only makes diabetes control much easier, but also preserves the pancreatic beta cells.

If Dr. Bernstein's idea about controlling the length of the Honeymoon Period through diet is possible - is it possible to ward off the onset of autoimmune diabetes (type 1 diabetes) through diet. The belief may be heavily supported by contrarians, who traditionally contest conventional medical wisdom. I'll admit - I could be one of them. I own Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution and I have to hand it to him - at first glance I thought I voluntarily entered a diabetic Twilight Zone. Then I reminded myself why I bought the book in the first place.

Newsweek: How I live with cancer

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This week, CBS News, the Washington Post, NY Times and USA Today shed a glaring light on people living with cancer. And Newsweek put the Livestrong wristband on its cover.

Pick up the April 9, 2007 issue of Newsweek to read the story How I live with Cancer.

Jonathan took the call on his cell phone at the Starbucks in New York's Penn Station...It was from a doctor I barely knew telling me that a CT scan-ordered after three weeks of worsening stomach pain-showed a large mass in my abdomen, with what she said was "considerable lymph node involvement." I rubbed my eyes and sensed the truth instantly: cancer, and not one that had been detected early. I was 46 years old and had not spent a night in the hospital since I was born. Nonsmoker. No junk food beyond the occasional barbecue potato chips. Jogged a couple of times a week. I was not remotely ready for this.

Later on in the article Johnathan tells his readers:

I have cancer, it's going to be bad, but I'll live until I'm 90. Probably not, but I turn 50 this year and, full of hope, recall that great line from "The Shawshank Redemption": "You can get busy living, or get busy dying." For me, it's no contest.

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Thought for the Day: Trapped by low fat

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There's no such thing as low-fat M&M's candy. But participants in a Cornell study investigating low-fat snacking habits were told otherwise. With two bowls placed in front of them -- one was labeled low fat; one regular -- these individuals were put to the test. And what a test it was.

Think about this:

Participants consumed eight more pieces of candy from the low-fat bowl than they did from the regular bowl. Those who were overweight ate 23 more M&M's than those within normal weight ranges.

What sort of test was this, exactly? A test to determine if eating reduced-fat foods makes for more virtuous munching.

The answer: Nope!

When we believe foods have lower calories, we tend to eat more, say researchers, whose study is briefed in the April 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. And while it's commonly thought that low-fat foods have 40 percent fewer calories, they actually average only 11 percent fewer.

"We are more vigilant about how much we eat when we're eating regular versions of foods," says Brian Wansick, Ph.D., director of Cornell's Food and Brand Lab. "Better to go with the regular stuff -- we eat less, and we enjoy it more."
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Non-melanoma skin cancer risk higher for men

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A new study shows men are three times more likely to develop certain types of skin cancer than women. But it doesn't have as much to do with sun exposure as we might think.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, gender differences put men at greater risk for non-melanoma skin cancers than their female counterparts.

Researchers tested the effects of UVB rays on mice and found male mice developed tumors earlier. The tumors were also larger and more aggressive than those found in female mice.

The study, published in the April 1 issue of Cancer Research, indicates it could be the higher levels of antioxidants females have in their skin that allow them to fight off tumors better.

Tech Talk blogger recommends top cancer sites

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Daniel Sieberg, science and technology correspondent for CBS News and blogger for Tech Talk recently went searching for online sites offering help and hope for those seeking insight into the world of cancer.

Sieberg went about his search by typing into Google the word cancer. Thrown back at him were more than 250 million results. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information and misinformation, Sieberg sifted and sorted through everything that faced him -- and he narrowed down the results to his favorite five.

Sieberg is right on with his picks, and while I personally would have included The Cancer Blog as a source loaded with accurate, reliable, and inspiring information, I still commend Sieberg for so effectively hunting down some very good cancer resources. For what it's worth, I happen to highly recommend them myself.

American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
WebMD
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Leroy Sievers Blog

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Sheryl Crow speaks out on breast cancer bill

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Breast cancer survivor and Grammy- winning rock star Sheryl Crow was on Capital Hill last week where she urged Congress to pass a bill that would provide funds for research into the possible connection between breast cancer and the environment.

The Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act -- predicted to pass, by the way -- would allocate $40 million for study into an area not receiving much attention.

"We're looking into all these different scientific methods, with gene therapy with stem cells, it's all very encouraging but we have not tapped into the area of the environment," Crow says. "We have to look at the environment, we cannot ignore it anymore."

This same bill was defeated last year in the Senate but Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) says that was then, this is now.

"We're going to complete this legislation in the Senate this year," he said.

Diabetes research innovator Landau dies

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The world famous biochemist, Bernard R. Landau, whose medical research proved invaluable to understanding diabetes, has died in Cleveland at the age of 80.

Dr. Landau focused his research on how the human body processes glucose. By focusing his research on how the liver stores glucose as glycogen, he proved vital in later research of some types of diabetes. In certain diabetes types, complications arise after the body ceases processing glycogen. The former Nobel fellow at Sweden's Karolinska Institute also worked with other scientists in finding out exactly how glucose is broken down inside the body. In the late '50s, Dr. Landau and others investigated how tissues process glucose, especially in the liver, where it is stored as glycogen. He developed methods to follow and measure this metabolism by using radioactive tracers that were infused into bodily tissue. In some types of diabetes, the processing of glycogen is disrupted, leading to further complications.

Bernard Robert Landau was born in Newark. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before receiving his doctorate in organic chemistry from Harvard in 1950. He later received a medical degree, also from Harvard. He is survived by his two sons, Steven and Rodger, and five grandchildren. Thank you for all you have contributed to the scientific community, Dr. Landau.

Diabetic Life is Cheaper in PA

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A new report by found that treating type 2 diabetes in Pittsburgh is less expensive than the state and national average.

The annual average in 2005 for type 2 diabetes inpatient hospitalizations in Pittsburgh was $32,354 -- lower than the national average of $39,401, as well as the Pennsylvania average of $54,795. The average annual office visit charges for treating people with Type 2 diabetes in Pittsburgh was $1,002 in 2005. This was also lower than the state average of $1,289 and the national average of $3,266.

The Pittsburgh Business Group developed the Pittsburgh Type 2 diabetes report to serve as a useful resource for employers in their efforts to provide work-site wellness and care management programs to help employees manage chronic conditions like diabetes more effectively. How could one anonymously sign-up for such a workplace offering anyhow? I'm thinking aloud, but I'd probably prefer to keep my diabetes cloaked at work - but that's just me. I blog for a living.

Although these findings are truly interesting - it begs the question what's so much cheaper about Pittsburgh? I found a tourist summary that may lend some clues.

Did you know Pittsburgh has the lowest crime rate of the top 25 metropolitan areas in the United States? Yes sir. And affordable housing isn't a problem either (may be why the cost of healthcare is more affordable for diabetics, too). The average existing home sold for $118,000, or 43% below the national average. Home to 34 colleges and universities, including two - Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh - the area is consistently featured as among the best in the nation for high quality education. Bottom line is the cost of living is 93% of the national average. I was looking for facts that might balance the scale a little but I was hard-pressed to find bad news. Wait a minute - if you consider a dropping population bad, there's your rotten apple. Yeah, who wants to move someplace where the population density is thick as mud?

With all the money you'll save on your diabetes care :::::::WARNING: extreme over exaggeration::::::: you can nestle yourself and your loved one's up in a cozy little 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath palatial estate, costing a mere $1.325 million. What you'll save in diabetes dollars you'll luxuriate in lifestyle.

Play your own ball

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"Play your own ball." I'll explain what I mean with that later. But for now...

Being a recovering personal trainer (no meetings involved, no "hello my name is Chris and I'm a personal trainer" introductions. It's great), I have quite a bit of experience helping kids lose weight. For a short period of time while I was training, I was helping a co-ed, young teenage swim team gain a competitive edge. At least, that's the way their slightly overzealous coach explained it, but I digress. Anyway, in working with kids in this capacity, you learn quickly that a fitness goal -- as well as the ability to achieve that goal -- is never the same across the board. Body types are different, levels of determination vary, and it also seemed as though body fat reduction was affected by gender.

Now, after reading about a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it seems as though these observations of mine may have been right on the money. It turns out that the impact of exercise on body fat differs for boys and girls. This discovery comes after a study of 224 children (a random sample) aged between 7 and 10 from twelve different schools in the Republic of Ireland.

Unlike the girls in the study, the boys who performed the least difficult exercises were found to be the fattest. Moreover, those who led a predominantly sedentary life (video games and the internet strike again) had the thickest waists. It is important to make note of waist size, doctors say, for it is this region of the body that is associated with metabolic changes, leading directly to type 2 diabetes and poor cardiovascular health.

It's strange to think that we live in a time where kids are going to personal trainers, not just to improve their sports performance, but to simply get some exercise. I know I pointed to the internet and video games as the culprit behind the rising child obesity rates, but also to blame are poor diets -- not eating enough throughout the day and then eating far too much in each sitting. I don't for a second claim to be an expert on why kids are getting heavier, but these reasons just mentioned seem to make sense to me. What I do know, however, especially with this new research on the topic to support my belief, is that (redundancy in 3-2-1...) everybody's body is different. Some people need more time than others to lose weight and fat, as evidenced by this study on boys and girls. It also speaks to the fact that the Body Mass Index (BMI) may be inadequate, by itself, to determine the extent of cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents, and possibly even adults.

"Play your own ball." I promised I'd get back to this. It's a popular golf adage. It means that you should not worry about how the other guys or girls are playing, you should instead only pay attention to your own game. Solid advice that also applies quite well to fitness. Girls' bodies respond differently to exercise than boys' bodies do, just as men's bodies will respond differently than womens'. And, some women's' bodies will respond differently to exercise than other womens', and the same can be said about some men versus other men. The point is to focus on your own health, rather than everyone else's. The goal should not be to outdo everyone else in the gym, but to be the healthiest boy, girl, man, or woman YOU can possibly be.

Thought for the Day: Stopping cancer in its tracks

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It might not be possible at this time to eradicate cancer altogether. But we may be able to stop cancer cells in their tracks through a process called senescence.

In senescence, cells don't divide. And when cells don't divide, they don't grow. In such a scenario then, cancer cells wouldn't divide and therefore couldn't grow.

Think about this:

According to lab tests on mice, triggering senescence in certain cells hampers the growth of some tumors.

Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are the ones behind the scenes on this project -- the study appears online in
EMBO Reports, a publication of the European Molecular Biology Organization -- and all eyes are on the p53 gene.

The p53 gene lives within cells and works to nip cancer in the bud by springing to action in damaged cells that may be spinning themselves into a cancer frenzy.

Researchers say senescence ordered by the p53 gene is extremely important in suppressing tumor formation and is as important as apoptosis -- a type of programmed cell death. But in some cancers, senescence might not be enough to halt cancer, they found.

OK, so senescence is not a perfect approach to halting all cancers. But it seems to work for some -- so I say for now, let's take what we can get.

Girl tossed from school for breast cancer t-shirt

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All Samantha Kuehn had on her mind when she wore her new t-shirt to school -- with the slogan save the ta-tas plastered across the front -- was her mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last month and just received a mastectomy two weeks ago.

But officials at Oklahoma Union High School in Nowata County are not happy about the senior student's decision to wear such a shirt to school. The moment they saw it, in fact, they sent her home. And they told her not to return until she changed the shirt.

Kuehn and her mom, Michelle Bishop, are stunned that the shirt caused such an uproar.

"I was so surprised that my shirt would cause so much trouble," said Samantha. "Other girls wear low cut shirts or belly shirts and the boys wear shirts with put downs on them and no one bothers them. My shirt isn't really vulgar or offensive at all, and it means something to me. The principal told me 'It could be taken the wrong way'."

Principal Steven Barth believes he made the right call.

"If you check the Web site, the clothing sold there is suggestive," explained Barth. "I feel for the condition of her mother, but the shirt was inappropriate to wear to school."

Kuehn and her mom plan to take the matter to a Board of Education meeting on April 11. And you can bet Kuehn will be wearing her shirt.

Visit savethetatas.com for more information on this breast cancer initiative. Sales of all clothing items -- pick your size, slogan and color -- benefit the fight against the disease.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Benfotiamine's Shield from High Blood Sugar Toxins

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Benfotiamine can help diabetics protect delicate microvessels. Much of the damage of diabetes is caused when glucose-derived compounds, called triosephosphates, accumulate in small vessels. Transketolase, turns these toxic compounds into harmless chemicals that can be removed from the body. benfotiamine increases transketolase activity, thus reducing or eliminating the complications associated with diabetes.

Administration of benfotiamine helped to prevent retinopathy in test subjects with diabetes. Study subjects who received benfotiamine for 36 weeks demonstrated completely normalized levels of damaging toxins in the retina, preventing or delaying the onset of diabetic retinopathy.

In a 24-week study, benfotiamine was shown to improve kidney function. This was shown by a 50% reduction of toxin levels in the kidneys, and a reduction in oxidative stress associated with diabetes. Subjects exhibited a 70-80% inhibition in the development of microalbuminuria, protein in the urine that serves as an early sign of kidney dysfunction.

Benfotiamine mitigates oxidative stress in the eyes, the kidneys, the heart, and even the brain that typically occur with diabetes. Researchers conclude that benfotiamine may offer critical protection for the delicate nerves of the eyes, the kidneys, the peripheral limbs, the heart and the brain by shielding them from damage caused by diabetes.

Pig Islets 10 Years and Counting

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In 1996 a 41 year old male (a type 1 diabetic for 18 years) was injected with biocapsules containing pig islets to regulate his blood sugar level. The transplanted cells helped reduce the patient's insulin requirement by 34% for over a year, which provided better control. By 2005 the patient's glycated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c) remained lower than the pre-transplant levels.

Ten years later, the patent contacted Living Cell Technologies to inform them that he believed the transplanted pig islets were still alive and well. After tests were conducted, it was concluded that the pig cells were (as he reported) still functioning. This proved that the LCT patented technology for xenotransplantation was effective. It allows the islets to survive at least ten years in a micro-capsule coating and continue to release insulin into the patient's bloodstream without immune suppression. After tests we conducted on the type of insulin present in the patients blood - it was with 100% certainty that it was pig and not human insulin.

LCT has significantly advanced the encapsulation process since the 1996 clinical trial and there is an even greater understanding and control over the longevity and robustness of the encapsulation process, as well as the porcine islet cells. LCT will be trialing the DiabeCell pig islet cell transplant in patients in a phase I/IIa clinical trial, expected to begin in Quarter 2, 2007. In addition, LCT is awaiting approval to conduct an additional trial in New Zealand this year with a different treatment protocol. Subsequent trials in the US or Europe are intended following initial results from these studies.

If overseas trials are coming through with flying colors - why aren't we doing this yet? C'mon USA - where's your competitive spirit? All these pigs up in Spring Point might be put to good use, after all. Oink Oink.

Thought for the Day: I'm too young for this

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There's this guy. His name is Matthew Zachary. He's a cancer survivor, a motivational speaker, a concert pianist, and the founder of a resource portal for young adults surviving cancer.

Steps for Living, Inc. -- also known as I'm too young for this -- was created by Zachary because he wants us all to know there are awesome cancer support services out there for adolescents and young adults. He means really awesome opportunities -- like spa retreats, online forums and blogs, social networking, camping excursions, fertility education, peer counseling, financial scholarships, and more.

You may be too young for cancer, but you are not alone, says Zachary whose mantra is Get Busy Living. And this is exactly what he is doing, despite challenges and setbacks in his own cancer recovery.

Think about this, an e-mail written by Zachary for those near and dear to his heart:

I am writing to share that I have suddenly gone deaf in my left ear. The condition is called Sudden Sensory Neural Hearing Loss.

After consulting with the country's best hearing experts as well as my oncologist, it has been determined that this is unequivocally a latent, long-term side effect of my post-operative cancer treatments from eleven years ago. Evidently, the excessive radiation dosages to the left hemisphere of my brain have caused irreparable neurological damage to my cochlea, which has ceased functioning.

There may be options (cochlear implants) but I will not know more for several weeks. As you can imagine, this is a devastating blow to my personal life and music career, especially since I remember fighting so hard to regain dexterity and muscle control in my left hand when it ceased functioning prior to my initial diagnosis in 1995.

That said, it has only reinvigorated me to stay the course and continue to advocate on behalf of the more than 500,000 young adults living with, through and beyond cancer each and every year. Now more than ever, I stress the importance of recognizing that remission is not a cure and that public awareness and adequate funding for adolescent and young adult cancer survivorship programming is tantamount to that of cancer research.

This is what it means to be a cancer survivor.

To read more about Zachary's powerful journey, click here for an unbelievably moving essay -- titled The Cost Of Living: No Cure For Cancer -- written by this unbelievably grounded guy.

April is Cancer Control Month, says President Bush

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President Bush, in a recent press release, declared April Cancer Control Month. It's a month for educating Americans about cancer, for raising awareness about treatments, for renewing the commitment to fighting this deadly disease.

Bush makes no mention in his release of the millions he just cut from the National Cancer Institute budget and how this might hinder this month's initiative, but he does offer a few relatively inexpensive ideas for individuals who wish to minimize their risk of developing the disease that remains the country's second leading cause of death.

"Individuals can reduce their risk of developing cancer by practicing healthy eating habits, exercising, limiting sun exposure, avoiding tobacco, knowing their family history, and getting regular screenings from the doctor," he writes.

Bush goes on to honor those lost to cancer and commends the strength of the 10 million people in the United States surviving the disease. He extends his gratitude for medical professionals, researchers, family members, and friends who support cancer patients. And he closes with a little history -- and his very own proclamation.

"In 1938, the Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution (52 Stat. 148; 36 U.S.C. 103) as amended, requesting the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring April as 'Cancer Control Month.'

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2007 as Cancer Control Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness about the steps Americans can take to prevent and control cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first."

GEORGE W. BUSH

The art of explaining away

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I've read stories about women whose breast cancer diagnoses were delayed because they explained away certain symptoms. One woman, an athlete, was told by her husband one day that her nipple looked different from the other. "It's probably just the jog bra I've been wearing all day," she assured him. They both moved on.

Some time later, this woman learned that her different nipple was a sign of breast cancer. And she had it. She just didn't know it. And so her diagnosis came late. Eight years later, this young mother of two small children died from a disease she explained away.

This is normal -- the art of explaining away all the odd messages our bodies give us. Perhaps it's the stigma of whining about every little ache and pain that keeps us from pursuing immediate medical attention. It could be the likelihood that our complaints are pretty normal, so we refrain from rushing to judgment.

I'm practicing this well-established art right now. It's odd for me because I've already had breast cancer, and I am usually ultra-sensitive to every twinge of pain I feel. So when I woke this morning, with a tight and aching feeling in my chest, one would have thought I'd be racing out the door, headed for the nearest emergency room. I considered the fact that perhaps I need to be seen, that a chest X-ray might be in order, but I took no action -- because I explained the feeling away. It went something like this:

It must be the way I slept
. I slept in a different bed, with one child and one dog, and I don't think I moved an inch all night.

The feeling gets less intense with time. At this moment, I can only feel something -- and it's very mild -- if I inhale deeply.

If I have the same feeling tomorrow morning, I will pursue it -- no, I won't pursue it just yet because I wont' be sleeping in my own bed for a few more nights. I'll wait until I get back to my own bed and see what happens. Maybe this bed is not good for me.

This goes on and on. For me, I think it happens because I suspect nothing really is wrong with me. Perhaps I am dismissing something serious but mostly, I'm chalking this behavior to progress. Because there was a day when I ran to the dentist for a bump on the roof of my mouth -- it was nothing -- and I cried to get myself a next-day mammogram for some lumpy tissue I was convinced was cancer -- it wasn't -- and now, I am happy to feel more like a normal person. I am happy to have perfected my new art, which incidentally I will abandon in an instant if the discomfort persists.

My husband says he's had this feeling before when getting out of bed
. I think I'm going to be OK.
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Sunday, 1 April 2007

Thought for the Day: Cancer, for the layperson

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Cancer is a complicated disease often described by those who know it well in confusing medical, technical, and scientific terms. There's a way to understand it in simple terms, though. And a recent CBS news story features a great run-down on the disease, its causes, how it grows, and more.

Think about this:
  • Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. These cells have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal tissue and can spread -- metastasize -- throughout the body.
  • Cancer is caused by damage in the DNA. DNA is like a set of instructions for cells and tells cells how to grow and divide. Normal cells can develop mutations in their DNA but can repair most of them. If they cannot make a repair, the cells often die. But certain mutated cells don't repair and don't die. They instead grow and become cancerous.
  • Normal, healthy cells grow in an orderly, well-controlled way. They live for a set period of time and then die on schedule. Dead cells are replaced by new normal cells. Cancer cells, in contrast, grow in an uncontrolled manner. They don't die. They accumulate. One malignant cell becomes two, two become four, four become eight, and so on, until a mass of cells -- a tumor -- is created. Tumors remain small until they're able to attract their own blood supply, which allows them to obtain the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow larger.
  • Not all cancers form tumors. Leukemia, for example, is a cancer of the blood, bone marrow, lymphatic system, and spleen.

  • Cancer can take decades to develop. By the time a cancerous mass is detected, it's likely that 100 million to one billion cancer cells are present, and the original cancer may have been dividing for five years or more.
  • Lung cancer is the top cancer killer among men and women and will kill 160,390 people in 2007.

Sunday Seven: Seven sweet, simple spoken words

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Seven sweet, simple words were hurled at me last night by my oldest child, Joey -- the boy who makes me as crazy as he does happy.

Joey, 6, was all snuggled in bed, cozy with his soft blankets, squishy pillows, and three favorite stuffed puppies. I gave him my usual speech -- Sweet dreams. I love you. Now don't get out of bed -- and then made my usual trek to another room for some me-time. My trip was stopped short, though, because a strong urge inspired me to reverse my steps and return to Joey.

"What are you doing, mommy?" Joey asked as I walked back into the room.

"I thought I'd come rest with you for a little bit," I told him. "Is that OK?" I asked, knowing full well any excuse to avoid sleep is just fine with him

Joey sat straight up, pure joy coloring his tired face. I took this to mean he welcomed my return. And so I crawled into bed and hugged Joey tight. And that's when he spoke the seven words that caused tears to pour from my eyes -- the kind of tears that spill out when the human body can no longer harness its emotion.

The words:

"Mommy, I love you so, so much."

Ever since Joey blessed me with these words, I can't seem to get one thought out of my head.

The thought:

God, I hope I survive cancer long enough to hold this boy in my arms until he is all grown up, until he is wrapping his arms around his own loving child.

I really hope this is not too much to ask.
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Jack Nicholson delivers cheer to dying cancer patients

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Jack Nicholson has been serving up a steady stream of cheer for cancer patients at the Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles hospital.

The Hollywood icon and Oscar winner has been visiting terminal patients and cheering them up with jokes, card games, and behind-the-scenes stories about his career.

Nicholson's next career move comes in the form of a movie called The Bucket List. He plays a dying man in the film and began spending time at the hospital to research his role. But once his film finished, Nicholson kept visiting. He was that touched and moved by the patients.

Hospital staff say the actor's visits do wonders for the patient spirits. The only down side is for Nicholson who finds it hard to leave, knowing he may have seen some of his new friends for the last time.