Story: Cancer and the Quality of Life
Ken Anderson, MD
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
David Eisenberg, MD
Ken Anderson, MD
Michael Lerner, PhD
Peter Churchill, LMT
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