Chemotalk Newsletter

Chemotalk Newsletter, Vol. 1:  June 1, 2008

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Hello, and Welcome ... To the first CHEMOTALK Newsletter

I promised you a newsletter in April, it took me until June. But I'm rolling now. You'll get one once a month, unless you go to "" and opt out. Please don't. This newsletter is designed in part to be passed on to anyone who needs the hard news I'll be including. So if I'm not getting it quite right yet, I will get better at this.

Chemotalk - really Chemo-talking - can lead to better understanding of what's going on in your chemo condition or your post-chemo life. That's what this is, hopefully: a resource for information about chemotherapy.

The universe of chemotherapy includes more than cancer. You'll be reading about new chemo drugs in development for multiple sclerosis. And rheumatoid arthritis. I've heard of other conditions that require it - ulcerated colitis, for one - and if I'm missing any, please let me know so I can start researching it.

The chemo universe also includes side-effects. It doesn't matter what you've been treated for, the side-effects of chemo present within a fairly predictable range, and with considerable difference in debilitation.

WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S COMING DOWN THE ROAD, so we can get some, if we need it.

Medical Movement in Chemo for Cancer

I just pulled the top article from a pile of news stories that deserve attention. Not every article will relate to cancer, but this one does. It's from THE NEW YORK TIMES (Friday, May 23, 2008), and titled "Hints of Progress, and Longer Life, as Drug Makers Take On Brain Cancer."

We live in a world where attention to one's disease depends on which celebrity is announced to be stricken with it. So be it. I've no doubt that Ted Kennedy appreciates that his situation will help the overall attention, which will lead to even more research about brain cancer.

";The typical life span isn't that long, so it doesn't have the recurring revenue stream, to put it bluntly,' said Stephen M. Case, chairman of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, a nonprofit that spurs research on treatments for cancer."

Truth is being told, and it's not a truth we should accept. Research isn't that interested in brain cancer because they can't make enough money off of you? That is not good. Especially for anyone with brain cancer who wants to go on living.

Now here's the good news! It was even announced weeks BEFORE Ted's diagnosis:

If you have brain cancer, if someone you know has it, ask your doctors about Avastin, a drug manufactured by Genentech, that appears to shrink tumors in people who have GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME and experience a relapse. Ask your doctor if he/she knows about the study. Something this stunning in the treatment of brain cancer would, I imagine, get around the brain cancer universe pretty fast. The drug apparently blocks the flow of blood that brings oxygen and nutrients to GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME tumors. A doctor at Stanford University describes this phenomenon of the shrinking tumors as "miraculous." So if you have brain cancer, check it out.

Also, check out Temodar, a molecular drug that seems to attack any lurking cancer cells. Combined with radiation, it increased survival.

When it comes to survival percentages, I'm very skeptical. I respect numbers, and too many studies that lead to tallying percentages of survivors, etc., are based on field information that's sometimes 10 years old. The raw numbers get pushed around for a number of years, and then by the time we read about the "new" information, it's long out of date. Our own experiences and reading about all the new chemo drugs hitting the market indicate that we're all living longer. Longer than those numbers suggest, anyway. When was the last time you heard about anybody who didn't last longer than anyone thought (unless they were misdiagnosed, to begin with)?

I want to make it very clear that I have no connections with drug companies. I'm not promoting any drug or protocol. What I want to do is report news that can benefit anyone who takes, or has taken chemo. If a certain drug appears to belong in this category, I will give you the information. It's up to you, to take it to your medical team and ask the questions.

If you stick with me for a few Newsletters, I promise to:

1. Deliver a Newsletter every month, on a specific day of the month. This one will hit June 1.

2. I promise to keep the rhetoric down, and relay all the new information I've gathered over the month, about chemotherapy.

3. I promise to pay attention to anything you feel I should include in this Newsletter.

4. If you send me information about events you're hosting, I'll include it and urge people to pass it on.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might be helped by the information, by directing them to, where they can sign on for future newsletters.

Back to you in July, 2008 ...

And if you have any thoughts of how this newsletter could be improved, please email me directly, at

Elaine Jesmer

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