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When Facing a Serious Diagnosis, 'AfterShock' App Can Help
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 18, 2014 | CFAH Staff
Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing seems certain and the future may look dark. Since its release this summer, the free AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis app has provided users with a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks after a serious diagnosis, providing concise information and trusted resources to help regain a bit of control during this turbulent time. As one reviewer wrote, the AfterShock app is "a standard for empowered patients"...

Military Culture Enables Tobacco Use
HBNS STORY | December 4, 2014
A new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion finds that U.S. military culture perpetuates the notion that using tobacco provides stress relief. Previous studies of tobacco use for stress relief among soldiers have produced no evidence supporting the theory.

Medicaid Payments for Office Visits Impact Cancer Screening Rates
HBNS STORY | November 20, 2014
New research in the journal Cancer finds that Medicaid recipients are more likely to undergo cancer screening tests when their doctors receive higher reimbursements for routine office visits rather than for the tests themselves.

Why Attend a Patient Support Group Twenty Years Later? 'Because I Remember'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 3, 2014 | Jack Aiello
I was reluctant to attend. I didn't have leukemia and am not a "touchy-feely" person, which was my perception of a support group. However, I dragged my IV pole of medications and went to this meeting where I met my first fellow myeloma patient named Jim – finally, someone who had the same disease as me. So to this day, whenever I meet with one or a group of myeloma patients, I make the following plea...

Fecal Blood Test May Save More Lives Than Colonoscopy
HBNS STORY | October 21, 2014
Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. State public health programs could screen nearly eight times as many individuals and prevent nearly twice as many CRC cases by using fecal immunochemical testing, or FIT, instead of colonoscopies, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

A Patient's Perspective on the High Cost of Cancer Drugs
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 21, 2014 | Andrew Schorr
Many cancer therapies now cost over $100,000 a year. Obviously, this expenditure is not sustainable for the majority of patients. At age 64, I am approaching Medicare coverage. Will I have the 20 percent co-pay to shoulder? As more people survive cancer and remain on ongoing medicines, the U.S. has to have a fair and open discussion about the cost of these medicines...

Nationality at Birth Plays a Role in U.S. Adult Vaccination Rates
HBNS STORY | October 14, 2014
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that foreign-born adult U.S. residents, who make up about 13 percent of the population, receive vaccinations at significantly lower rates than U.S.-born adults. This gap in care puts them at greater risk of exposure to several vaccine-preventable diseases.

Getting Bumped to First Class Health Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 4, 2014 | Lawrence LeMoal
I am writing this post while seated comfortably in a motorized leather recliner with a window view and lots of other perks. What a legacy we would leave Saskatchewan citizens if we could figure out how to extend this first-class patient care to all patients and their families wrestling with chronic disease...

Facing a Serious Diagnosis? 'AfterShock' Now an App
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 31, 2014 | CFAH Staff
Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing is certain and the future looks dark. The new, free app 'AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis' offers a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks, providing concise information and trusted resources to help you regain a bit of control during this turbulent time...

AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis App

The free app AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis offers a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks after a serious diagnosis, providing concise information and trusted resources to help you regain a bit of control during this turbulent time. Whether your diagnosis is cancer, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis or another condition, the decisions you make about your care will have an important impact on you and your loved ones.

Lacking Trust in One's Doctor Affects Health of Emotionally Vulnerable Cancer Patients
HBNS STORY | July 22, 2014
The physical and mental well-being of people with cancer may be affected by how they feel about their relationship with their physician and by differences in attachment styles, finds a new study from General Hospital Psychiatry.

Pushing Back Against the High Price of Prescriptions
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman
Are we finally doing something about the high prices of prescription drugs? Maybe. At the end of May, the Washington-based National Coalition on Health Care launched "Sustainable Rx Pricing," a campaign to "spark a national dialogue" about the high cost of drugs. Will it work?

Not So Easy to Stop Care When the Patient Is a Loved One
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky
To those of us who have had a loved one succumb to cancer, who had to negotiate the frightening choice between the rock and the hard place, always holding out hope for another round of chemo...we know that reining in health care costs will mean more than just raising co-pays and lowering drug costs and funding more effective interventions. It will also mean quashing hope. And learning to tell ourselves the truth...

Shared Decision Making Missing in Cancer Screening Discussions
HBNS STORY | June 12, 2014
A national survey of patients reveals that physicians don’t always fully discuss the risks and benefits of cancer screening, reports a new study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Cancer Screening: Understanding 'Relative Risk'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2014 | Kenny Lin
I have offered before a few reasons for eligible patients to consider not getting screened for lung cancer. I concede, however, that reasonable people might conclude that the potential harms are outweighed by the benefit of reducing one's risk of dying by one-fifth. The next critical question that needs to be asked is: one-fifth of what?

Getting Good Care: 'I Wish It Were More Newsworthy. I'm Afraid It's Not.'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 21, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Unfortunately, the nitty gritty of getting good care is not really newsworthy, unless we're talking about how poor it is. However, there are opportunities for journalists and writers to report "news you can use" that would be very helpful to many people, and there is a big gap in reporting on most of these necessary tasks...

How Much Is a Patient's Peace of Mind Worth?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2014 | Anne Polta
If something is medically useless, does it still have value if it gives the patient (and perhaps the clinician as well) some peace of mind? To many patients, this is no small thing. Unfortunately, it's also often abetted by consumer marketing that plays up the peace-of-mind aspect of certain tests while remaining silent about the limited benefit, the possible risk and the clinical complexity that may be part of the larger picture...

Shared Decision Making: Blending Beliefs and Attitudes With Evidence
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 7, 2014 | Don S. Dizon
My patient, Mary, was a 28-year-old woman who had completed chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer. After discussing surveillance, frequency of follow-up and ASCO guidelines, I recommended against further testing or imaging. Mary was well aware of the evidence, but she had different plans...

Costs Complicated Dad's Cancer Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 31, 2014 | Laura Sander
"I walked in a person, and out a cancer patient," my dad said as we filed home. Crossing this threshold, we found ourselves on the other side of medicine – the side on the exam table or gurney, as opposed to the one standing over it. In time, it became clear we were running out of money...

The Goldilocks Approach to Our Health Knowledge: How Much Is Just Right?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Most professional health care stakeholders believe that the more we patients and caregivers know about our health and diseases, the better our outcomes will be. When faced with the facts about our health risks and dangerous habits, they think we will rationally change our behaviors and correct our misunderstandings. As a patient, I want to know: At what point do I know enough to reap these hypothetical benefits?

The Other 'F' Word
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2014 | Jackie Fox
At my six-month checkup yesterday all was routine, other than my blood pressure being 131 over something when it's usually in the 115 range. Ten years ago I wouldn't have shared my fears at all, but thanks to early-stage breast cancer it's hard for my mind not to immediately go to the worst-case scenario...

Is Your Doctor Paying Attention?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas
The $800 bottle of meds in my bathroom cabinet is a powerfully expensive reminder of my (former) family physician's lapse in attention – and my own lapse in catching her error. She'd somehow accidentally doubled both the dosage and the number of times per day to take these meds. How is this even possible? Somebody is not paying attention...

Normal Care Hours Don't Work for Workers With Chronic Conditions
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
It looks like an airport lounge without the rolling suitcases. There are about 20 of us fiddling with our phones or reading the newspaper, waiting to meet with our doctor for follow-up or monitoring visits. All of us are between the ages of 20 and 70 and all of us are dressed for success – or at least for our jobs. What's wrong with this picture? Why are employed adults spending a busy Wednesday morning waiting (and waiting) for our health care appointment when we should be working?

N=1: My Experience With Cost, Care and Insurance
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2014 | Robert Fogerty
During my senior year in college, with medical school acceptance letter in hand, I was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer. Early in my treatment I received a letter that my health insurance had been exhausted and I would no longer receive any health benefits. Needless to say, this was a problem...

The Limits of Physician Referral in Finding a New Doctor
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 29, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
I've always assumed that the best way to find a new doctor or specialist – preferably within my health plan – was to rely on the advice of a doctor whom I know and trust, who knows my health history and understands what kind of expertise my condition requires. Recently, I have come to question that assumption...

Gap in Life Expectancy Between Rural and Urban Residents Is Growing
HBNS STORY | January 23, 2014
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that rural residents have experienced smaller gains in life expectancy than their urban counterparts and the gap continues to grow.

What Do I Tweet – and Why?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 22, 2014 | Jessie Gruman
Twitter has figured prominently in the heated discussion about Emma and Bill Keller's respective editorials about Lisa Bonchek Adams. I have followed Lisa for a long time and greatly admire her thoughtful, highly personal tweets about the ups and downs of what it takes for her to face the challenges of metastatic breast cancer. In comparison, I am a different type of tweeter, posting a weekday stream of tweets aimed at addressing generally the subject that Lisa talks about so personally: finding and making the best possible use of health care...

Sedentary Lifestyles Up Mortality Risks for Older Women
HBNS STORY | January 21, 2014
Older women who spend a majority of their day sitting or lying down are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, cancer and death, finds a new study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

NBC Vastly Exaggerates the Potential Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2014 | Gary Schwitzer
When we talk about a consistently clear pattern of news stories that exaggerate or emphasize benefits while minimizing or ignoring harms, we are talking about stories exactly like this one...

More Chronically Ill People Use Online Health Resources – but They're Not So Social, Pew Finds
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 13, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn
Getting and being sick changes everything in your life, and that includes how you manage your health. For people focused on so-called patient engagement, health empowerment, and social networking in health, the elephant in the room is that most people simply don't self-track health via digital means...

"We Are All Patients." No, You're Not.
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas
I read recently about a medical conference on breast reconstructive surgery following mastectomy, to which not one single Real Live Patient who had actually undergone breast reconstructive surgery following mastectomy was invited to participate...

Significant Economic Losses When Young Women Die From Breast Cancer
HBNS STORY | December 12, 2013
In 2008, breast cancer deaths in women under age 50 cost the economy $5.49 billion in productivity and resulted in an estimated 7.98 million years of potential life lost, finds a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Seven Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Cancer Survivorship
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 4, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
It is challenging, in the years following a cancer diagnosis, to assemble health care that protects us from the lingering effects of the disease and its treatment and that alerts us to a recurrence or new cancer. I hope these reflections will help those who've been diagnosed with cancer live as long and as well as they can...

The Costs of Being a Patient and a Doctor
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2013 | Jane Liu
My ultrasound came back "likely benign" with the recommendation that I follow up in six weeks to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I received one bill after another that totaled $1,000. Unable to pay, I felt abandoned by the system to which I had committed my career and did not call to schedule a second ultrasound...

Latest Health Behavior News
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 11, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
In this week's health news: Patient-doctor relationship affects diabetes care | Women in Appalachia at risk for late stage breast cancer | People with asthma need not fear exercise | Treating depression helps some smokers quit...

Cancer Survivorship: "I Call Me Lucky"
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 10, 2013 | Conversation Continues
"I have been treated for five different cancer diagnoses. Some would call me a survivor. I call me lucky," CFAH President Jessie Gruman observes in her lead post in the series, What I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Cancer Survivorship.

Five Years Later: Zigzagging Toward Acceptance
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2013 | Kathi Kolb
"Your biopsy is positive." None of us ever forgets when we first heard some version of that phrase. I heard it five years ago today...

Waiting. Again.
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 24, 2013 | Lisa Bonchek Adams
The evil of "waiting" is well known among those with illnesses. We spend copious amounts of time in waiting rooms, exam rooms, lab offices. We wait for test results, scan results, to see if treatment is working. I'm in one of those waiting periods right now...

Expecting Great Beginnings – and Endings
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 23, 2013 | Amy Berman
It tickles me to report that I live with incurable cancer and I am expecting. I am expecting that the cancer will take its toll, that I will need to make choices about my health and care, that I will need the support of my family and that I will need resources.

Rethinking Survivorship in the Context of Illness
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 19, 2013 | Elaine Schattner
When I was practicing oncology, I never thought much about the concept of survivorship. I was busy running a research lab and rounding on my hospital's inpatient oncology unit. Until I was diagnosed with cancer myself, I didn't really appreciate how blurry the line is between being a survivor and having the disease...

Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care
Learn about long-term care and whether you need long-term care insurance.

Women in Appalachia Have Higher Rates of Late Stage Breast Cancer
HBNS STORY | September 26, 2013
Older women living in the most deprived areas of the U.S. Appalachia had higher rates of late stage breast cancer than women in more affluent areas, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

I Wish I'd Known Earlier...Each New Diagnosis Has Unique Demands
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 28, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
Ever heard the saying "You never step into the same river twice"? It has taken me a long time to apply its meaning to my experiences with five different forms of cancer as well as a variety of serious late effects of my treatments...

I Wish I'd Known Earlier...Kids with Cancer Need Emotional Support Too
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 23, 2013 | Sabrina Smith
The word "survivor" is a huge hot button for my older son, Nate, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at the age of not-quite-three-years-old. The biggest regret I have from his illness is that we were so focused on saving his life and getting him physically healthy that we didn't think to bring therapy into the process for him in a full way...

I Wish I’d Known Earlier...Survivorship Care Is a Mutual Enterprise
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 21, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
I wish I'd known earlier that survivorship care is neither a do-it-yourself project nor is it something that I can simply hand off to experts…As former cancer patients, we can't just walk in to our appointments with our oncologist, survivorship specialist or primary care doctor every six months or year and have survivorship care handled for us…

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...If Your Oncology Team Doesn’t Mention the Topic of Fertility, Then You Should Bring It Up Yourself
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2013 | Marie Ennis OConnor
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. When I brought up the topic of fertility with my oncologist, I was presented with a stark choice between life-saving treatment or a chance at becoming a mother.

Robotic Surgery Roundup: Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Much More
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 16, 2013 | Gary Schwitzer
Robotic surgery systems are spreading so quickly across the U.S. and across the globe that trying to keep up with the news could become a fulltime beat. Here are just a few nuggets in an attempt to catch up on things you may have missed...

Advocacy: The Road We Decide to Walk on Today
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 16, 2013 | Debra Madden
In 1986 I developed a cough that didn’t go away for over a year. A chest x-ray confirmed stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the years since, I developed what is now termed as numerous “late effects”. Along the way I learned the importance of advocating for myself and others.

I Wish I’d Known Earlier...I Still Need a Primary Care Provider Since Most Headaches Aren’t Brain Tumors
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 14, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
My experience has taught me that once active treatment is over, regardless of my tendency to regard every lingering ache or pain as a recurrence, if I’m getting my survivorship care from my treating oncologist or other survivorship specialist, I have to find myself a primary care clinician who knows my health history. Why?

I Wish I'd Known Earlier...Palliative Care Is Not a Mandate Not to Treat
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2013 | Stephanie Sugars
When I signed up for palliative care in 2011, I thought I’d made my last medical decisions. In the future I’d take the least-invasive, lowest-cost approach to medical care and forego dramatic, expensive treatments. If only life with advanced cancer were so simple!

Latest Health Behavior News
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 9, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service
This week in health news: When dieting encouragement goes wrong | What works for more walking at work | Vaccines: Not just for babies | Health insurance matters for cancer survivors

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...To Cast a Cool Eye on Prognostic and Risk Statistics
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 7, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
For many of us, receiving a cancer diagnosis often includes hearing some statistics about the average or mean survival of people with this stage of this type of cancer. The end of active treatment may arrive accompanied by additional statistics. It is difficult, even for those schooled in the meaning of such numbers, to figure out what they mean for an individual.

Cancer Survivors Not Receiving Preventive Care
HBNS STORY | August 6, 2013
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that some cancer survivors do not always have the best access to primary care and that the type of health insurance they have—or don’t have—may be a factor.

Why I Don't Like the Phrase 'Cancer Survivor'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 1, 2013 | Susan Fitzpatrick
Why is it that survivors of other devastating personal traumas – fires, floods, tornadoes – rarely use celebratory hero language? Mostly, they speak of themselves as lucky…

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...That For Many of Us, Symptoms and Late Effects Accumulate Rather Than Fade Over Time
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 31, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
The side effects of cancer treatment sometimes fade but can become permanent glitches — disturbing symptoms whose impact we try to mitigate and whose presence we attempt to accommodate.

What to Say to Someone Who Is Ill
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 30, 2013 | Conversation Continues
It can be hard to find the right words to say to someone who has received a devastating diagnosis. Here are some suggestions from people who have been through it.

Even More Studies You Should Ignore
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 29, 2013 | Albert Fuchs
Back when I was a medical student (in the Cretaceous Period) we were taught that someone once did a study comparing folic acid levels in the blood of cancer patients compared to the blood of healthy patients. The cancer patients had, on average, significantly lower folic acid levels. And the ones with the largest, fastest growing tumors tended to have the lowest folic acid levels. “Aha,” they thought. “Something about folic acid deficiency predisposes them to cancer. We should give folic acid to cancer patients.” Bad idea.

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...Not Every Oncologist Can or Should Deliver Survivorship Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 24, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
We are not the only ones who must be convinced that we have unique health concerns following the active treatment of our cancer. Clinicians must also believe that special care for us is important, and they have to learn how to provide that care.

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...How Fear Can Get in the Way of Cancer Survivorship Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 17, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
A strong emotional response to cancer treatment is common, but I didn’t need to suffer so much or so long from my fears. The lingering intensity of those responses can affect whether and how we attend to the tasks of survivorship.

What I Wish I’d Known Earlier about Cancer Survivorship
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 10, 2013 | Jessie Gruman
I have been treated for five different cancer diagnoses. Some would call me a cancer survivor. I call me lucky...

Men Say They Want Prostate Cancer Test, Despite Risks
HBNS STORY | July 9, 2013
A survey of men age 40 to 74 found that 54 percent said that they would still opt for a popular prostate cancer screening test despite recent recommendations that the test not be performed, finds a new study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

5 Lessons Inspire Learned from Its 5 Million Posts Written by Patients and Caregivers
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 6, 2013 | Brian Loew
Recently, Inspire passed a milestone: five million posts written by the patients and caregivers in their online health community. Brian Loew, founder and CEO of Inspire, reflects on what Inspire’s learned from patients and caregivers.

Eye to Eye: The Doctor-Patient Relationship in Stage IV Cancer
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2013 | Lisa Bonchek Adams
Everything changes with a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. I don’t really think that’s an overstatement. My relationship with my oncologists has, by nature, changed as well.

Breast Cancer Treatments Delayed for Black and Rural Women
HBNS STORY | May 21, 2013
Black women with breast cancer are more likely than Hispanic or white women to experience delays in the initiation of chemotherapy or radiation after surgery, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Time’s “How to Cure Cancer” Cover – Worst of the Year?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 20, 2013 | Gary Schwitzer
That’s what journalist Seth Mnookin writes on Slate, stating, further, that it is “wrong, grandiose, and cruel.” He writes, “I haven’t found a single cancer researcher who believes this means we’re on the verge of curing cancer.”

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Marty Tenenbaum, Founder & Chairman of Cancer Commons
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 13, 2013 | Marty Tenenbaum
There is a large disparity of information across the medical world. If you consult 6 doctors, you’ll likely get 6 opinions about how to treat your cancer. And 5-year survivals may vary as much as 50%. This is inexcusable.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Ann Fonfa, President and Founder of the Annie Appleseed Project
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2013 | Ann Fonfa
To me it’s obvious that Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is a good way to get to meaningful patient outcomes. It compares real things that will make a difference. Right now we have efficacy without effect. In my field we are worried about drug-herb interactions; what about drug-drug interactions? I’m looking forward to CER really drilling down to what works for patients in a meaningful way.

AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You - Or Someone You Love - A Devastating Diagnosis

I wrote this book in the hope that this information, these insights, and these experiences will provide its readers with a sense of their choices without making them feel overwhelmed by what they must learn and do after receiving a devastating diagnosis.

Cancer Survivorship: What I Wish I'd Known Earlier

In these essays, I reflect on what I wish I'd known earlier about getting good care following active cancer treatment for five different cancer diagnoses, based on my own experience and what I have learned from others.

Finding Treatment Information
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Make Good Treatment Decisions
Want to find out more about the treatments your doctors suggest? Here are some resources for doing your research and comparing your options.

What Is Watchful Waiting?
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Make Good Treatment Decisions
Sometimes, the best treatment is to wait and see. Learn more about watchful waiting.

Handling Treatment Side Effects
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Participate in Your Treatment
Sometimes treatment can produce troubling side effects. Here’s how to recognize them and what to do if you have them.

What Is Hospice?
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care
Hospice care can provide extra support for people near the end-of-life and their families. Here’s what you need to know.

Should I Get a Second Opinion?
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Make Good Treatment Decisions
Different doctors can suggest different diagnoses or ways to treat your illness. Here’s how to decide whether you should get a second opinion.

Hospitals: Are We All Talking?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 22, 2013 | Elaine Waples
Complications from my cancer sent me to the hospital again recently. The news that I was in trouble came unexpectedly from my oncologist’s office on Thanksgiving eve, following a routine blood test. “Your liver numbers are out of whack.” My response was “Really?” as if I’d been notified that my driver’s license had expired.

Participate in Your Treatment
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Participate in Your Treatment
Better health is more likely when we agree on a plan of action with our doctor and follow it.

Organize Your Health Care

Make Good Treatment Decisions
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Make Good Treatment Decisions
We must understand what our treatment choices are and their risks and benefits.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Ellen Stovall, Former President and CEO, Currently Senior Health Policy Advisor of the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 7, 2013 | Ellen L. Stovall
CER is particularly important in the age of personalized approaches to making decisions about cancer treatments and things like genomic testing. Doctors and patients alike are realizing that there are inadequate studies to assess the clinical utility of new interventions.

Prepared Patient: Chronic Conditions: When Do You Call the Doctor?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 24, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service
The signs are everywhere - prescriptions doled out into weekly reminder boxes, blood glucose monitors in a desk drawer, maybe even an adrenaline injection pen stashed in a diaper bag for allergy emergencies. From high cholesterol to HIV, millions of Americans have a medical condition that they manage mostly on their own.

Communicate With Your Doctors
PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Communicate With Your Doctors
You and your doctor need accurate information from each other. Open communication with your doctor is one of the most important factors in getting and staying healthy.

True Informed Consent Is Elusive
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 26, 2012 | Harriet Hall
Most of us would agree that doctors should not treat patients without their consent, except in special cases like emergency care for an unconscious patient. It’s not enough for doctors to ask “Is it OK with you if I do this?”

Cancer: Exercise Reduces Tiredness
HBNS STORY | November 15, 2012
Aerobic exercise can help relieve the fatigue often associated with cancer and cancer treatment, according to Cochrane researchers.

Dealing With Cancer
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 23, 2012 | Jessie Gruman
I was interviewed, along with several other cancer survivors, for the October issue of Washingtonian Magazine. "Dealing With Cancer" by Karina Giglio, offers advice on how to choose your doctors, what websites you can trust, how to help a friend with cancer and other resources to help you or a loved one get through treatment.

A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects

On Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend three years ago, my doctor called to tell me that the pathology report from a recent endoscopy showed that I had stomach cancer. Maybe you can imagine what happened next.

Even With Insurance, Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Treatment Persist
HBNS STORY | July 26, 2012
A new study in Ethnicity & Disease finds that racial disparities in breast cancer treatment persist even when Black and White patients have the same Medicaid health insurance and similar economic status.

Why I Write: A Doctor's Tribute to Her Mother
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 23, 2012 | Leana Wen
My mother, Sandy Ying Zhang, is my role model and my inspiration for what I do every day. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her forties, and fought it courageously for seven years until she passed away in 2010.

Guest Blog: Is Genomic Medicine Clinically Useful Yet?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 17, 2012 | Brian Klepper
The news of my wife Elaine's primary peritoneal cancer 27 months ago began a fevered effort to learn all we could about her disease and our options. 'Gold standard' treatments notwithstanding, the prognosis isn't good. So with molecular profiling, we stand at the leading edge of a hugely promising, alternative paradigm.

Coordinating Cancer Care Remains a Challenge
HBNS STORY | July 11, 2012
People with cancer often receive fragmented and uncoordinated care, as their treatments often require help from multiple clinicians. However, a new review by The Cochrane Library finds no evidence that three main strategies designed to improve coordination of cancer care are effective.

Still the Best Policy: Being Honest With Your Children About Cancer
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 3, 2012 | Lisa Bonchek Adams
While there may be exceptions, in general I firmly believe it's important to be open and honest with children about serious illness (in my case it was cancer). Not only is it important to explain it to them to de-mystify illness, it can also be crucial that children be aware of the condition in case of emergency.

Shying Away From Talking About Risks
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 26, 2012 | Elaine Schattner
Recently, I wrote a piece in The Atlantic about how doctors and patients talk about the risks of chemotherapy (or not), including the risks of causing another form of cancer. If you get chemotherapy, you have the right to know about these risks, and to ask your doctor about them.

Guest Blog: Old Puzzles, Busy Guys and New Science
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 11, 2012 | Elaine Waples
I am a two year cancer survivor, in remission, feeling good, and focusing on a quality of life that I perhaps took all too much for granted in the past. But like all cancer survivors, I worry about what may be happening inside my body...

Three Fears May Discourage Colorectal Cancer Screening
HBNS STORY | April 30, 2012
New research about why people forego colorectal cancer (CRC) screening suggests that three fears play a significant role; fear of embarrassment, fear of getting AIDS and fear of pain may make some seniors skip the potentially lifesaving tests.

Why Can I Only Get Health Care from 9 to 5, M thru F?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 28, 2012 | Jessie Gruman
Last week, the waiting room of the out-patient cancer clinic looked like an airport lounge without the rolling suitcases. There were about 20 of us cancer survivor-types talking on our smartphones, fiddling with our iPads, reading The New York Times...What's wrong with this picture?

What Does it Mean if Primary Care Doctors Get the Answers Wrong About Screening Stats?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 22, 2012 | Elaine Schattner
Recently the Annals of Internal Medicine published a new report on how doctors (don't) understand cancer screening stats. This unusual paper reveals that some primary care physicians a majority of those who completed a survey don't really get the numbers on cancer incidence, 5-year survival and mortality.

Guest Blog: How Information Can Help Conquer Fear
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 19, 2012 | Andrew Schorr
I spent one day last week at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston...The waiting room is sizeable but quickly becomes jammed with people...Some look the picture of health. Others wear masks and are pushing IV poles'We're all there because we have a serious diagnosis and we want to see doctors who are among the best. The faces show a mixture of fear, courage and confidence.

Is My Cancer in the Wrong Body Part?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 2, 2012 | Elaine Waples
For the past two years of chemotherapy and difficult treatment, I have struggled to suppress what feels like a petty sentiment about all the pink attention. If I just own up to it, I feel left out and I really want a parade with everyone wearing teal in support of ovarian research and care. My cancer!

The Unanticipated Price of Successful Cancer Treatment: Appropriate Health Care for Survivors
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 22, 2012 | Jessie Gruman
The day I completed treatment for Hodgkin Disease in 1974, my oncologist shook my hand, wished me luck and said good-bye. 'But how will I know if the cancer comes back? I asked.

Lessons from the Year of Living Sick-ishly
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 11, 2012 | Jessie Gruman
The new year set me reflecting about what I've learned about being sick over the past 12 months that only the experience itself could teach me. You know that old Supremes song, 'You Can't Hurry Love'? I learned that you can't necessarily hurry healing either, even if you work hard at it.

1st Person: Cancer Diagnosis Can't Squash His Spirit
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 28, 2011 | First Person
Twelve years ago, Syd Ball's local urologist told him that prostate-removal surgery and radiation therapy were his only options to treat his early stage prostate cancer. After a second opinion from a urologic oncologist at Johns Hopkins University, Syd participated in active surveillance to avoid the serious side effects associated with treating prostate cancer.

1st Person: After Years of Treatment, a Time to Wait
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 28, 2011 | First Person
For many freshmen, the first year of college is devoted to classes, work and socializing, with little thought given to health or longevity. But for Nikkie Hartmann, a Chicago-based public relations professional, the start of her college career also marked the start of 14 years of dealing with cancer.

Breast Cancer Patients More Satisfied When Specialists Share Care Management
HBNS STORY | December 15, 2011
Patients with breast cancer report greater satisfaction when their cancer doctor co-manages care with other specialists, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 14, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
That old Tom Petty song, 'The Waiting is the Hardest Part,' keeps running through my mind. Four of my friends are waiting to hear the results of medical tests taken last week.

Who Will Help Cancer Survivors Stay Healthy When Treatment is Over?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 16, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
It is completely understandable if you associate the term 'cancer survivor' with an image of glamorous, defiant Gloria Gaynor claiming that She. Will. Survive. Or maybe with a courageous Lance Armstrong in his quest to reclaim the Tour de France. Or perhaps it is linked for you with heroic rhetoric and pink-related racing, walking and shopping.

Guest Blog: On Alcohol and Breast Cancer, Guilt, Correlations, Fun, Moderation, Doctors' Habits, Advice and Herbal Tea
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2011 | Elaine Schattner
Few breast cancer news items irk some women I know more than those linking alcohol consumption to the disease.

Think Silver Not Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2011 | Amy Berman
Because cancer is primarily a disease of aging, we shouldn't be thinking pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month'we should be thinking silver.

Drop-kicked into a Foreign Country
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 26, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
We patients are always tourists in the world of health care. Whether we are coming to our doctor's office to rule out a strep infection, a clinic for a bi-monthly diabetes check-in, or a hospital for surgery, we don't work here.

Pink Ribbons, Mixed Emotions
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 18, 2011 | Patient Perspectives
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and recently, breast cancer patients and survivors alike have shared their (sometimes disparate) thoughts and feelings about these four weeks.

Guest Blog: Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer Clamor for a Different Awareness Level
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 4, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer
October is breast cancer awareness month. But October 13th is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) argue that "awareness" should not be the only message ' or even the main message'of the month. Here are 13 facts they think you should know...

Uncoordinated Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 30, 2011 | Andrew Robinson
I sit looking at the phone. I'm having a medical problem that needs attention, but I don't know who to call. Here's why...

Routine Follow-up Mammography Benefits Breast Cancer Survivors
HBNS STORY | September 28, 2011
After breast cancer surgery, a follow-up regimen that includes regular mammograms offers a survival benefit over a follow-up regimen that does not include mammograms, according to a new systematic review.

We Interrupt This State Fair for a Little Prostate Cancer Screening
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 7, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer
There are a few things a man should think about seriously before rolling up his sleeve for the supposedly "simple" blood test. 'But here, prostate cancer screening is hawked in the same setting as the modern-day carnies pitching their slice-'em-and-dice-'em devices and inventions you only see at the state fair - "only at this price today!"

Patient Navigators Might Reduce Disparities in Cancer Care
HBNS STORY | August 16, 2011
Past research shows that minorities suffer higher rates of advanced cancer and deaths from all types of cancer compared to whites. The role of “patient navigator” is emerging as a tool to address these disparities.

Guest Blog: Laurel & Hardy and Prostate Cancer Chemoprevention
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 10, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer
A drug currently used for benign prostate problems is now being pushed for prostate cancer prevention. But the FDA warns there's evidence it may actually result in more advanced cancers.

1st Person: I Think So Too
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 19, 2011 | First Person
Breast cancer survivor, Lisa Bonchek Adams, blogs about life-changing events including a cancer diagnosis, the sudden death of a family member, and having a child with medical challenges. She combines medical, psychological, and sociological viewpoints to these and other topics. You can read this post and follow her at

Patient Advocates: Flies In The Ointment Of Evidence-Based Care
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 18, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
The women recounted how their lives had been saved as they pleaded for the Food and Drug Administration not to withdraw approval for Avastin as a treatment for advanced breast cancer. They did so even without evidence that it provides benefit and with evidence that it confers risks.

No Magic Bullets for the 'War on Cancer'
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 30, 2011 | Kenny Lin
Nearly forty years ago, President Richard Nixon famously declared a "War on Cancer" by signing the National Cancer Act of 1971. Like the Manhattan Project, the Apollo program that was then landing men on the Moon, and the ongoing (and eventually successful) World Health Organization-led initiative to eradicate smallpox from the face of the Earth, the "War on Cancer" was envisioned as a massive, all-out research and treatment effort. We would bomb cancer in submission with powerful regimens of chemotherapy, experts promised, or, failing that, we would invest in early detection of cancers so that they could be more easily cured at earlier stages.

African-Americans With Thyroid Cancer Fare Worse Than Whites
HBNS STORY | June 21, 2011
African-Americans have fewer incidences of thyroid cancer but have a more advanced form of the disease once they receive a diagnosis — and are more likely to die from it, according to a new study.

Young Asian/Pacific Islander Women in Calif. Face Higher Breast Cancer Risk
HBNS STORY | June 21, 2011
Young Asian/Pacific Islander women born in California have higher risks of breast cancer than young white women, and some groups, including Filipinas, might have higher risks than African-Americans.

Guest Blog: Making Hard Decisions Easier
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 13, 2011 | Amy Berman
Shortly after I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer a scan showed a hot spot on my lower spine. Was it the spread of cancer? My oncologist scheduled a bone biopsy at my hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, in order for us to find out.

Appointment in Samarra*: Our Lives of Watchful Waiting
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 8, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
Watchful waiting has become a way of life for many of us. Last week Sam had his first six-month scan following treatment for esophageal cancer. It showed that that the original cancer had not recurred and that the tumors behind his eyes and the hot spots on his kidneys and liver hadn't grown. Sam and his wife, Sonia, are celebrating for a few days before they return to worrying, checking for symptoms and counting the days until the next scan.

1st Person: Cancer Diagnosis Can't Squash His Spirit
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 6, 2011 | First Person
Twelve years ago, Syd Ball's local urologist told him that prostate-removal surgery and radiation therapy were his only options to treat his early stage prostate cancer. After a second opinion from a urologic oncologist at Johns Hopkins University, Syd participated in active surveillance to avoid the serious side effects associated with treating prostate cancer.

Why Do People Stop Taking Their Cancer Meds?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2011 | David Harlow
David Harlow highlights recent research that finds that people stopped taking their cancer medications due to high costs and a burden from taking a number of prescription drugs broadening the picture of poor medication adherence.

Poster Child for Survivorship Planning
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 16, 2011 | Jessie Gruman
I am a poster child for why everyone who has had cancer needs to work with their doctor(s) to develop and implement a survivorship plan.

Cancer Survivorship and Fear
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 28, 2011 | Andrew Schorr
I had breakfast this morning with my friend, Dave Garcia. Dave is a pit boss on the graveyard shift at the Belagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He is also a 52-year-old chronic lymphocytic leukemia survivor. Today he was to see his oncologist and get his latest blood test results. Would his white blood count be in the normal range? As you can imagine, Dave was on pins and needles.

I'm Dying To Know
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 24, 2011 | Amy Berman
In some ways, I consider myself lucky. I know this is a strange comment from someone diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I say this, though, because the first steps on my journey with end-stage cancer were undertaken with the help of a team of health care professionals who excelled not only in medicine, but also in communication.|

1st Person: Reference Range- A Video Poem On What 'Normal' Means
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 17, 2011 | First Person
A nurse in practice for thirty-five years, Veneta Masson's evocative video poem, Reference Range, speaks from both her personal and professional experiences with health care. Dealing with test results and diagnostic technology, Veneta wonders, "Is it normal, you ask. Normal's a shell game you seldom win."

Combined Interventions Ease Job Re-Entry for Cancer Survivors
HBNS STORY | February 15, 2011
For cancer survivors who wish to return to work after treatment, a new evidence review suggests that therapies focusing on a wide range of health interventions might best enable them to do so.

Radiation Helps Cure Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but Future Cancer Risk a Concern
HBNS STORY | February 15, 2011
A systematic review comparing treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma found a clear advantage to combined chemotherapy and radiation. However, the review did not address long-term side effects associated with radiation.

Can Good Care Produce Bad Health?
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 15, 2011 | Amy Berman
For those of you who haven't yet heard, I have recently been diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer. This rare form of breast cancer is known for its rapid spread. True to form, it has metastasized to my spine. This means my time is limited. As a nurse, I knew it from the moment I saw a reddened spot on my breast and recognized it for what it was.

The Dilemma of Digital Mammography
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 7, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman
The rapid changeover from traditional mammography'pictures taken with film'to the new digital imaging technology poses a thorny dilemma for women, especially those over 65. The scientific evidence suggests that digital mammography does not improve the detection of breast cancer in older women.

Black and Hispanic Women With Breast Cancer Face Treatment Delays
HBNS STORY | February 1, 2011
At a time when access to prompt treatment might affect survival, a large new study finds that African-American and Hispanic women newly diagnosed with breast cancer often face delays in care of more than a month.

Why Medical Testing Is Never a Simple Decision
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 20, 2010 | Marya Zilberberg
A women goes from healthy to heart transplant patient in just a few weeks. Could this have been avoided? True positives, false positives, false negatives, true negatives'how can we understand and use our test results to make good treatment decisions?

Stem Cell Treatment Is Effective for Certain Cases of Acute Leukemia
HBNS STORY | December 9, 2010
Some adults and children with acute leukemia could benefit from certain transplants of blood stem cells, but the benefits are not equal across all cases of leukemia, according to a new review of 15 studies.

Powerful Patients Revisited
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 7, 2010 | Andrew Schorr
There's some confusion out there in the media that Patient Power is only about patients holding hands and providing emotional support to one another. It's the warm and fuzzy side of medicine, like sitting at someone's bedside. That support is terrific. But these days the leadership role of a well-intentioned and well-informed patient doesn't stop there.

Conversation Continues: Health News We're Watching
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2010 | CFAH Staff
Slate picks up on news about the recent Lung Cancer CT Scan study, which was also covered by Gary Schwitzer and others, in this Explainer column: Full-Body Scam: Should you ask your doctor to CT scan you from head to toe?

Health News Stories We're Watching:
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 10, 2010 | CFAH Staff
Two new posts by Gary Schwitzer on the Health News Review Blog this week. One on the promotion of CT screening after the release of the recent Lung Cancer CT scan study and the other on new investigative reporting by ProPublica. Both evolving health stories that touch on key hot health care reform debates: Comparative effectiveness research, entitlement programs, marketing to the public, and more.

Friends, Fatigue and the Slow Slog Back
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 5, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
I have much experience with serious illness. And so I am a connoisseur of fatigue: the sleepless edginess of post-radiation fatigue; the heavy constancy of cardiac fatigue; the blur and blues of chemotherapy-related fatigue.

Programs Help More Blacks Get Needed Colorectal Cancer Screening
HBNS STORY | October 29, 2010
African-Americans are less likely than whites to be screened for colorectal cancer, and the disparity almost certainly contributes to higher mortality. A new review of studies identifies effective strategies for improving the situation, but suggests that work remains to be done.

Review Favors Newer Type of Radiation for Prostate Cancer
HBNS STORY | October 27, 2010

Guest Blog: George Karl's Cancer Comeback
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 28, 2010 | Andrew Schorr
To my mind, George Karl, veteran NBA basketball coach is a winner. He's tenacious. I saw that in him when, in the early '70's, he played basketball in college at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I was a student there too. Those were the glory years of bigger than life coach Dean Smith and George was one of his recruits. George didn't disappoint then as the team played in the Final Four and won the NIT Tournament. George was scrappy.

When Someone Close Has Cancer...
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 28, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
Update on Jessie's status and some words of wisdom from her article, 6 Ways to Help When Someone Has Cancer, originally published in an October 2008 issue of Parade magazine.

Another Devastating Diagnosis to Face
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 27, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
I have stomach cancer and will undergo surgery to remove part or all of my stomach today.

Non-hormone Treatments Can Relieve Hot Flashes in Women With Breast Cancer
HBNS STORY | September 7, 2010

Helping Kids Cope With Chemo
HBNS STORY | September 7, 2010

Unequal Health Care Increases Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Blacks
HBNS STORY | August 19, 2010

Exercise Preserves Freedom of Movement After Breast Cancer Surgery
HBNS STORY | June 15, 2010

Aggressive Approach to Childhood Cancer Worth Risks, Review Finds
HBNS STORY | May 11, 2010

Risky Treatment Decisions: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 22, 2010 | Jessie Gruman
Tuesday's New York Times ran a story about the unreliability of the tests and the variation among laboratory standards that determine the potential effectiveness of new targeted cancer treatments. Linda Griffin, a physician with breast cancer, described the series of treatment decisions she made with her doctors about whether or not to take the very expensive, fairly disruptive and potentially very effective drug, Herceptin, based on a genetic test that was inconclusive and further, which produced different findings when the same material was retested.

Breast Cancer Rates Decline Most for Affluent White Women
HBNS STORY | February 10, 2010

Blacks Less Likely to Survive Cancer Than Whites in Large N.J. Study
HBNS STORY | February 2, 2010