What We Have to Be Thankful For

November 24, 2011
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First, to our U.S. visitors – Happy Thanksgiving! To our friends around the world, we send all the best to you too!

First, to our U.S. visitors – Happy Thanksgiving! To our friends around the world, we send all the best to you too!

This tends to be a time of reflection so I am heavy into that right now. First, as a 15-year-leukemia survivor, I am thankful every day I can live a full life. And, as the founder of Patient Power, I am thankful to you for visiting our site, listening to and watching our programs, and for telling us that, for the most part, we are making a positive difference in your life or that of a loved one as you seek better health. Quite frankly, I am thrilled when I read the comments you make in our surveys and your feedback propels all of us to do more.

Alana Welm, Ph.D., The Huntsman Cancer Institute

I also want to send a special “shout out” to patients who fuel medical progress. These are the people who volunteer to be in clinical trials. Having participated in two, I know one can sign all the papers while also feeling a mixture of fear and hope. Fortunately the phase II trial I participated for my CLL leukemia in 2000-2001 seems to have worked as I remain in deep remission and get to do my work for you. A second trial, to lower the risk of clots in one’s legs, is my latest adventure and that seems to be working too. But I am just one out of thousands of people who volunteer to be in clinical trials, and we owe each of them a debt of thanks. Researchers often tell me they are thankful for all the patients who team with them to answer important scientific questions. Without this teamwork, we’d have no medical progress.

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I also want to thank the researchers themselves. They toil in labs in buildings we never see or just speed past. Over long days and many years they devote themselves to curing diseases or knocking them back. They are people like Alana Welm, PhD, at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. The other day I did one of our new Skype interviews with her. Alana and her team have found a new way to use mice in the lab to help predict where a woman’s breast cancer might spread. And they are probing why it is that one woman’s cancer will spread and another woman’s will not. They, like others, are also trying to figure out which drugs are of benefit and for whom. She explains this in the interview and it gave me an opportunity, on behalf of all of us, to thank her. For me this was being a surrogate for thanking all researchers who set the foundation for saving and improving our lives.

Here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be. May you have the best of health and share thankful moments with people you care about!

Andrew