February 4th is World Cancer Day and there is so much we can do.
Visit their website: worldcancerday.org and learn the many ways that we can help ourselves and help others win the war on cancer.
Those of us whose lives have been touched by CLL can do even more.
No one wants cancer, but we can still squeeze some goodness from the malignant clone in our bodies.
Unlike many more aggressive cancers, CLL almost always gives us time to learn about our disease, to get the support and knowledge we need and to make a plan.
Check out our welcome video if you haven't seen it, and even if you have, visit it again in the bottom right corner on the home screen.
I watch it regularly. It helps center me.
Another weird advantage we share with other blood cancers is that our cancer is easy to sample, to biopsy. Unlike solid tumors that usually require a scalpel or at least a guided needle biopsy by a trained interventionalist, we can easily share samples of our cancer with the lab by visiting any competent phlebotomist.
Hence, CLL and other liquid cancers such as CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) are the poster children for the development of biological (think monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab) and targeted non-chemo therapies such as imatinib or Gleevec for CML (the first truly targeted therapy and a true miracle drug) and the game changing oral medications, ibrutinib and idelalisib for CLL. And more are coming soon.
These breakthrough therapies were developed in leukemia first because our cancer is so accessible and so easy to study.
Those covering the cancer revolution may give more press to the big four cancers: breast, prostrate, lung, and colon, simply because of their overwhelming numbers, but we are where the revolt began against accepting the old limits.
We changed the paradigm. We lead the charge.
And we will remain at the bleeding edge of the therapeutic revolution if we are willing to share our blood with the researchers. It is because of these treatment breakthroughs that CLL won the strange award of CANCER ADVANCE of the YEAR awarded by ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) in 2015.
So please give your blood if asked for research.
Support the researchers.
We are getting close. I can smell a cure.
Wishing us all the best for 2016
We are all in this together
Volunteer Medical Director of the CLL Society