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Lenny's Story: Cancer and the Quality of Life
Ken Anderson, MD

Dr. Ken Anderson was Lenny Zakim's oncologist. He practices at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and treated Lenny for multiple myeloma from Lenny's diagnosis in 1995 until his death in 1999. An estimated 15,000 Americans are diagnosed every year with this rare form of bone marrow cancer that normally affects people 60 years of age and older. With chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy, most patients do well for three or four years, according to Dr. Anderson. There is, however, no known cure for multiple myeloma.

"Lenny looked at all the options that were available, explored the world in terms of treatments, just became as educated as he could about the illness that he had, tried to do the right thing in terms of conventional therapy, explored other areas, and in particular for him, complementary therapies and the potential they had.

"I was very ignorant of and unaware of many of the complementary therapies to which Lenny had been exposed, so, if you will, he was my teacher and he opened my eyes. I think it's fair to say that he's taught me many lessons in life, but one of them is clearly the awareness and potential that exists, which are both tremendous, in complementary therapies.

"I think complementary therapies play a very important role in the treatment of patients with cancer and other illnesses as well. They're not in any way a substitute for current day therapies that we utilize to treat the underlying diseases, whatever they may be. In Lenny's case we've used traditional chemotherapy, and we've even used very high doses of chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.

"Where complementary therapies come in, in my opinion, is that they are very much a part of the whole treatment plan. They make it much more readily achievable to carry out our traditional chemotherapy treatments. In this instance, and for Lenny in particular, the use of complementary or integrative therapies has made us better able to treat him more effectively with traditional medicines. It's part of a whole treatment for him. Neither one by itself would have been sufficient, but together the sum is much better than the individual parts would be alone.

"What needs to happen is that there needs to be exposure to complementary therapies of many kinds. We need to explore their benefits in the same way we do in more traditional medicines. We need to evaluate the efficacy on the one hand, and the toxicity or side effects on the other, of some of the complementary therapies. Once we identify complementary therapies that we think work in a majority of patients or in a particular clinical setting, we need to get patients exposed to them so that they can do better in terms of their outcomes.

"A secondary benefit will be, if in studies, certain complementary therapies are found to be adverse in the sense that they have side effects that are related to the fact that they interact with some of the more traditional medicines that patients are receiving. It may be that some of the complementary therapies are interacting with the traditional therapies in an unanticipated adverse way that neither the patient nor the health provider currently knows. So as the result of Lenny's efforts, and many others now, I think that some of these complementary therapies will be studied in a rigorous way just as we do in other areas.

"I would characterize Lenny as a profile in courage. He not only looked at this as a fight of Lenny versus the disease, but he turned this into an opportunity to help other patients; and he talked to countless other patients, making sure that they have exposure and awareness of traditional treatments that are available at various centers around the world, and especially at our center, that might help them. But more importantly, he used this as an opportunity to educate the world about complementary therapies."

Program Description
Lenny Zakim
David Eisenberg, MD
Ken Anderson, MD
Michael Lerner, PhD
Peter Churchill, LMT
Help YourSelf
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Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

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