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Rock Stars Want To Franchise Specialty Teen Cancer Centers Across America

Rock superstars Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of “The Who” have a new cause: sparking a franchise of teen-oriented cancer treatment centers across America. To kick off the launch of Teen Cancer America, Daltrey & Townshend were featured at a conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to be invited to sit at the head table next to teen cancer survivor Sarah Sterner – a bright and confident young woman from Atlanta who was cured of brain cancer two years ago.

Sarah told the crowd what it was like to be a fifteen-year-old in a pediatric oncology unit populated by ukulele-playing clowns and screaming infants. The extreme age-related disconnect between her pscho-social needs and that of younger kids and babies served to make her feel even more isolated during her course of treatment. She longed for the companionship of others like her, but without any national cancer centers focused on the special needs of teens, she was on her own.

Roger Daltrey became interested in teen cancer when his personal physician took up the cause in the U.K. and turned to him for support. Daltrey’s decades of playing music to teen audiences made him keenly aware of their unique psycho-social needs. “When you’re a teenager, it’s horrifying if you have a spot on your nose. Imagine what it’s like if you have cancer!” said Daltrey.

Teen Cancer America began as a movement called the Teen Cancer Trust in the U.K. According to Daltrey, preliminary research (comparing teens treated in a typical NHS cancer ward versus a unit sponsored by the Teen Cancer Trust) suggests that there may be as much as a 15% survival advantage in being treated in the special units. Daltrey attributes this to increased morale that helps teens and families find the will to fight through life-threatening treatments.

When asked how American cancer centers compare to those in the U.K. Daltrey immediately responded that he believed the U.S. centers were far superior. He described the incredible resources available at UCLA and Duke, and how the facilities themselves were unbelievably beautiful, sporting plant-filled atria, massive skylights, and high tech imaging and radiation equipment. Nonetheless, he noted, “Teens don’t want to hang out in an atrium. There is just no place that appeals to teenagers at these centers.”

Whether specialized teen cancer treatment environments in the U.S. will dramatically improve survival rates remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that recognizing the unique psycho-social needs of teenagers would be a boon for patients and families at pediatric cancer centers. Like post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel, the psychological ravages of cancer may well be under recognized, especially in the teen and young adult populations.

Thank you Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend for bringing this to our attention.


Find out how to support Teen Cancer America here.

Check out The Who themed cookie from the press club event (delicious!):

Herman Cain – What Does He Have To Say About Healthcare? Abortion?

9.9.9 And Pizza-Themed Cupcakes

Today I attended a sold-out, National Press Club luncheon where Herman Cain was the featured speaker. When I signed up for the luncheon 4 weeks ago I had no idea that rumors of a sexual harassment ”scandal” would suck the air out of the packed ballroom. While Cain convincingly diffused the scandal, I was there primarily to hear what he had to say about healthcare. In fact, I had submitted a question for his consideration a month in advance.

Interestingly, Mr. Cain stated that he decided to run for office the day that President Obama signed Obamacare into law. He said that he was so disappointed in Obama’s leadership on this policy in particular, that he was moved to step up to get America back on the right track. Cain argued that the American people didn’t want Obamacare, and the way that the president forced it upon them against their will was emblematic of his poor leadership skills. He went on to say that America’s healthcare system is the best in the world, and that he wouldn’t have beaten colon cancer without the great care he received. “We don’t have a healthcare quality problem, we have a healthcare cost problem” he quipped. He then suggested Read more »

Paying For Prayer: Why The LA Times Should Read Medical Blogs

Today the LA Times described a bizarre and troublesome healthcare reform bill provision that would require Medicare to pay for Christian Science Prayer as a medical treatment:

…a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

Of course, I had warned about this very thing over a year ago on KevinMD’s blog – something I wish the LA Times had picked up on then. Read more »

Video: Healthcare Reform: Putting Patients First

Better Health bloggers from across the country participated in a historic discussion about healthcare reform at the National Press Club on July 17th, 2009. I managed to condense a 3 hour event into a 4 minute video… for those of you who were unable to make it, here’s my highlight reel… Thanks to Freddie Dorn at Picture This Video for helping to create it!

Tilting At Windmills In Washington

Once again, I have to thank Dr. Val Jones for setting up the Putting Patients First event at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Friday. For a full summary of the pagentry, Dr. Rich does a much better job summarizing the whole event than I ever could, though I was uh, surprised about what he said of me (thanks, dude).

But one thing he forgot to mention was the moment when our moderator asked us what struck us most about what Congressman Paul Ryan had to say in his speech to us. I, being ever soft-spoken, piped up that I was struck that no one had read the bill and it was already on its way to the floor after being completely “marked up” early that very same morning.

So, while we might not have been chasing windmills at this event, I couldn’t help but wonder if it might come to this (with appologies to GA Harker, whose illustration I couldn’t help but Photoshop):

Click image to enlarge


*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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