By Mark Neidig, LHLSC Expert Contributor
I am many things in this life, but I have never claimed to be a writer. Sure, I took college classes to learn to communicate effectively, but how do you adequately prepare to share the heart-wrenching stories of cancer patients and their families? Putting into words the emotions surrounding the words “you have cancer” is by far the most challenging task I’m faced with. It is a message that people dissuade because it is news that no one wants to hear.
Yet, it’s a diagnosis that nearly 4,600 people receive daily in the United States alone (according to a 2013 report by the SEER Program of the National Cancer Institute). In the past 24 hours, four of my friends communicated with me that either a family member or loved one had just been diagnosed— two with just months to live. It’s also the unfortunate news that a prominent journalist, Tom Brokaw, heard last month when he was diagnosed with the disease. As someone who has shared far too many of these cancer announcements, I re-examined the statistics on just how many people are diagnosed each year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released their first cancer report of 2014 and the startling results reinvigorated followers of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and heightened the urgency of our mission to prove “a better way” to treat the disease is possible. In 2012, cancer was the leading cause of death and accounted for 8.2 million deaths worldwide. However, it was the report’s cancer projections that were even more alarming. Annual cancer rates are estimated to increase from 14 million cases in 2012 to 22 million cases annually within the next two decades. That’s 57% more cancer patients each year that will be fighting for their lives. That is a message that I, in no possible way, can diminish when writing.
While many cancer patients have a high chance of survival when the disease is detected early and treated immediately, it is the method of treatment that is the real issue. Relying solely on aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments may work in certain instances; however, even when those instances result in cancer remission and survival, the quality of life for those patients is often laden with terrible, lingering side effects. By raising awareness and advocating for FDA approval, the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation will prove a better, more humane treatment method is possible for far more than 22 million people in the long run. Looking towards the future state of the expanding cancer population provides the Kanzius Foundation and our team of researchers with immense motivation; however, relentlessly working to find “a better way” for the existing patients is just as pressing of a mission.
Breaking news shook the nation’s cancer community when NBC Correspondent, Tom Brokaw, revealed that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects blood cells in the bone marrow. The veteran journalist, who has worked at NBC News since 1966, is remaining optimistic in the midst of his health crisis. Brokaw, who has refused to let his diagnosis affect his day-to-day life, has led an inspiring fight so far. He continues to work on a JFK documentary and recently contributed to the sports coverage for the Sochi Winter Olympics. However, many cancer patients aren’t as fortunate when it comes to their ability to stay active. Chemotherapy and other traditional treatment methods leave much of the cancer population chronically weak and exhausted, leaving very little possibility for a fulfilled, unaffected life.
Despite the side-effects of currently used methods, there is a silver lining for the nation’s cancer community and it lies within the FDA. Patients, such as Brokaw, who have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, have had their expected lifespan doubled from what it was 16 years ago. In the past decade, those suffering from myeloma have seen the FDA approve six new treatments for their specific type of cancer, an incredible pace of innovation in oncology. This fast-paced advancement and increase in FDA approval has not only been the cause behind the increase in patient life expectancy, but has also painted a favorable picture for Kanzius’ own timeline of getting our treatment approved by the FDA and commencing human trials.
Unfortunately, the process of introducing new and improved drugs and treatments does not work fast enough for most. Today, I am returning from the funeral of a fourteen year old girl who battled cancer for the past seven years. I met this precious teen, Nicole, several years ago in her hospital room. Her smile and positive spirit served as a reminder to me of what our organization strives for. And just as John Kanzius was prompted to devise a side-effect free cancer treatment after seeing children undergo harsh treatments; I, too, am compelled to work endlessly toward John’s dream and will never stop believing that his theory is possible.
The number of new cancer cases continues to rise and the list of loved ones who succumb to the disease continues to grow. With that in mind, we must approach every day with aggression and work towards advancing our research with the unyielding determination that a side-effect free cancer treatment will be possible for the millions of people that we have never met and very possibly have not even been diagnosed yet.
(Editor’s Note: As of this writing, the Kanzius Research Foundation has won FDA approval for human trials. Kanzius under the leadership of Mr. Neidig has accomplished this goal uniquely as the treatment method is light wave based and on the cutting edge of cancer research. We at Living Healthy Living Smart Club congratulate Mark and the Kanzius Foundation Team for their amazing drive and tireless perseverance to get this new treatment in front of the public.)