The devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy on our friends and family on the East Coast are impossible to shake. Disaster can strike at any moment, and it’s imperative to take an active role in your preparedness – particularly if you or a loved one is currently a cancer patient.

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society each has vital planning tips to make sure that a patient’s care doesn’t get interrupted in the event of a disaster.

From the ACS:

Develop your plan with your oncologist. Talk to him or her about what you need to do to manage your cancer during emergencies. For example, what are your options if you cannot get to a scheduled radiation treatment or to the clinic for chemotherapy?

• Talk with your family about different disasters that could occur and how the person with cancer could be affected. Write down a few solutions for coping with each scenario.
Choose a place where everyone will meet during a disaster.

• Identify a friend or a relative for everyone to communicate with in case you and your loved ones are separated or cannot get to the meeting place. This person can also be a back-up for any important information you may need, such as phone numbers for your doctor or pharmacy.

• Don’t forget to brainstorm specific needs, such as evacuation transportation assistance or help coordinating medical appointments during and after a disaster.

The NCI offers a handy, printable card for patients to keep in their wallets to print their vital information and diagnosis.

Right now, our thoughts are with the folks who have been impacted by this terrible storm. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or visit redcross.org to find out how you can help.



I’m typically not much of a fan of inspirational clichés or generic “words of wisdom” that have become such a disappointing aspect of recovery dialogue. Every individual’s experience is unique unto themselves — attempts to summarize grief and perseverance with convenient catch phrases is limiting at best, and insulting at worst.

Remarkably, Forbes blogger Jessica Hagy has avoided every pitfall inherent in “inspirational quotes” and come up with 40 brief, thoughtful graphs and Venn diagrams that help get big-picture points across.

Her post “40 Things to Say Before You Die” has spent the past few weeks making the rounds through Tweets, retweets, blogs, re-blogs and e-mail forwards. I received it this morning, and I thought I should share it with you.

Some of my favorites:

“I don’t care.” – Being able to discern between what’s important and what’s trivial is a skill that will save your sanity and your schedule.
“That’s enough.” – Food. Drink. Episodes of Law & Order. Pairs of shoes. Overtime. Articulating your own limits is powerful.
“Let’s go!” – Where you’re going often matters far less than the enthusiasm you have for the trip.
“This is going to work.” - When this is said truthfully, it’s an assertion of power.
“I understand.” – More important than being right, or being important, is being truly aware.
“I wonder.” – Give yourself time to think so the time you spend doing things will be better spent.

• “40 Things to Say Before You Die” (Forbes, Oct. 4, 2012)


Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (center)

• Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild joined the fine folks in the Better Than Ever program during the group’s training session at the Rillito River path on Oct. 20.

Many BTE participants will be taking part in the Third Annual Pink Ribbon 7K Run/Walk at Empire High School in Tucson on Oct. 27. The event benefits Cienega High School’s “Cats Hope” Fund and a donation will also be made to the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

For many of the BTE runners/walkers taking part in the Pink Ribbon 7K, the race will serve as a midway point in their training for the Tucson Half Marathon in December. Best of luck to everyone taking part!

• Folks from all around the world are tuned into the University of Arizona.

Southern Arizona’s leader in higher education is taking full advantage of the digital revolution, as UA’s iTunes U store generated nearly 67,000 downloads and more than 23,000 streams during a recent two-week period.

From Oct. 7-20, many UA audio programs have expanded beyond their expected listening bases (students, fellow researchers) and found global audiences, with more than 65 percent of the activity by location happening outside of the United States. The University of Arizona Cancer Center has been among the leaders in the UA’s downloading/streaming content, with its top-notch collection of video lectures and research clips.

Please take a look at our iTunes store and download our videos. Additionally, give a listen to the Act Against Cancer Radio Show, which broadcasts live on 104.1 FM in Tucson every Sunday and gets uploaded to the UACC website as a podcast on Mondays.

• Thanks to all of the individuals and sponsors who took part in Saturday’s Melanoma Walk. The event was a great success, with more than $40,000 raised to go toward skin cancer research and awareness.

• UACC director David Alberts, MD, will be at the Phoenix Convention Center tonight to receive the Arizona Bioscience Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations, Dr. Alberts!

Karen Weihs, MD, director of psychosocial oncology at UACC, will co-chair the American Psychosomatic Society’s “Toward Precision Cancer Care: Biobehavioral Contributions to the Exposome” program in Chicago Oct. 26. Click here to listen to Dr. Weihs discuss the program.



It’s tough to get middle-school kids to focus on anything, let alone sun safety tips. It takes innovative approaches to get these important messages to that audience.

So what is the one thing most tweens/teens pay attention to more than anything else? That’s right – their phones.

The University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute has developed a program to send out text messages with helpful reminders for sun-safe living.

Stephanie Innes at the Arizona Daily Star writes that 93 students have volunteered for the Texting 4 Teens program, with many of them saying that the messages have been useful.

“I learned a lot. Sunbathing is bad, and tanning beds are horrible,” said St. Gregory’s eighth-grader Eric Johnson, 13.

The program is funded through a $230,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine, and if the program continues to show positive results, it could be expanded to a wider group of young people.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime,” writes Innes, “and in a place like Tucson where the sun shines nearly every day, the risk is particularly high. That’s why the UA’s Skin Cancer Institute is focused on fostering sun-safe habits at an early age.”

Learn more about this program by speaking with our SCI staff at Saturday’s Melanoma Walk at the University of Arizona Cancer Center – North Campus.

Kids get UA texts on sun safety (Arizona Daily Star, Oct. 18, 2012)



The University of Arizona Cancer Center, one of the nation’s top cancer research and treatment facilities, welcomes eight new faculty members to join the mission to prevent and cure cancer.

Six doctors have joined the Section of Hematology/Oncology and two have been added to the Department of Radiation Oncology in the UA College of Medicine.

The Hematology/Oncology members: Faiz Anwer, MD; Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Hitendra Patel, MD; Soham Puvvada, MD; Jonathan Schatz, MD; and Parminder Singh, MD. The Radiation Oncology members: Krisha Howell, MD; and Sun Yi, MD.

To learn more about the UACC’s new faculty members, read the story on the UACC’s website or click “Read More” to view the slideshow below.



The 2012 Melanoma Walk promises to be a fun, family-friendly event with many terrific opportunities to join the fight against melanoma.

This week, the fine folks at the UA Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute have taken their promotional efforts up a notch, highlighted by Stephanie Campbell’s appearance on “Daybreak” on Oct. 16.

In the video below, Campbell, the coordinator of the SCI’s projects and events, chats with Paige Hansen about the third annual walk, which will take place Saturday, Oct. 20 from 2-6 p.m. at the University of Arizona Cancer Center – North Campus (3838 N. Campbell Ave.).

For more information on this weekend’s event, please visit fightmelanomatoday.org.


Photo: ArizonaWildcats.com

We at the University of Arizona Cancer Center are big supporters of our school’s athletic program. So when one of the teams goes out of their way to show support for our mission of preventing and curing cancer, that really makes us happy.

Tonight, the University of Arizona soccer team will host the Stanford Cardinal at 7 p.m. MST at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium. The Wildcats will be promoting breast cancer awareness throughout the evening. In addition to the pink socks/sweatbands worn by some of the athletes, the first 500 fans to show up will receive pink pom-poms. Fans are also encouraged to wear pink to the match.

Tickets are $10 at the gate and parking is free. In addition, the men’s rugby team will play an exhibition match at halftime.

And if you needed another reason to attend tonight’s match? Stanford’s soccer team is a legitimate National Championship contender. The Cardinal is ranked No. 2 in the nation with an 11-1-1 record. If the 5-6-3 Wildcats pull off the upset here, it could send shockwaves throughout the NCAA Women’s soccer landscape.

If you can’t make it to the match, it will be televised on the Pac-12 Network, but we hope to see you at Mulcahy Stadium to support the Wildcats, and to support breast cancer awareness. Bear down!

• Cats host No. 2 Cardinal (ArizonaWildcats.com)
• Arizona soccer vs Stanford – PINK match (ArizonaCancerCenter.org)



Counterfeit prescription drug manufacturing is among the most insidious scams currently in existence.

A handful of truly evil people prey on cancer-stricken patients and their loved ones, offering seemingly identical prescription medications at dramatically reduced prices. These folks, looking for any ways to lower their cost of care, get taken advantage of – because phony pills at a bargain rate is still a scam.

The fall edition of Cancer Today detailed a new system called “track and trace” that may help reduce the amount of counterfeit cancer medication that makes its way into a patient’s hands.

“Many criminal networks are extremely sophisticated in replicating—almost to a tee—the labeling and packaging of biopharmaceutical company products,” says Matt Bennett, a senior vice president for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “For many consumers, pharmacists and health care providers, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a legitimate product and a counterfeit product.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified at least four counterfeit prescription drug scams, two of which included Avastin. California has led the charge against these scammers, becoming the first state to require “drug manufacturers to take part in a program that will track where a drug has been from the point of manufacture through its use in a pharmacy or hospital.”

This is a controversial issue, as many pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and wholesalers believe this policy is too strict, but supporters of the “track and trace” system believe it’s the necessary standard to protect patients and make sure they’re getting the proper medication to treat their diseases.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has found a deal that seems “too good to be true” for cancer-fighting prescription medication, odds are, it is. The best way to combat scammers is to talk to your doctor and to educate yourself about this issue.

Keeping Counterfeit Cancer Drugs Off Pharmacy Shelves (Cancer Today, Sept. 27, 2012)


Image courtesy UCSF

We already knew that people who frequently visited indoor tanning beds saw a dramatic increase in their risk of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Now, it appears as if non-melanoma skin cancers — the most common forms of skin cancer — are impacted by prolonged exposure to tanning beds.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California – San Francisco, “the researchers estimate that indoor tanning is responsible for more than 170,000 new cases annually of non-melanoma skin cancers in the United States — and many more worldwide.”

It’s even worse for those who begin using tanning beds at early ages.

Young people who patronize tanning salons before age 25 have a significantly higher risk of developing basal cell carcinomas compared to those who never use the popular tanning booths,” according to the report.

Nearly 20,000 indoor tanning businesses are in operation, despite all of this evidence. Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, an assistant professor of dermatology at UCSF and senior author of the study, said that Australia and Europe have banned the use of tanning beds for children and teenagers, while Brazil has banned them outright. There is a major cancer prevention opportunity here, and we at the University of Arizona Cancer Center fully support these efforts.

We will have plenty of information about the risks of indoor tanning beds, as well as many other skin-safety tips, at the 2012 Melanoma Walk, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 2-6 p.m. at The University of Arizona Cancer Center – North Campus (3838 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson).

Tanning Beds Linked to Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (UCSF.edu, Oct. 2, 2012)
• 2012 Melanoma Walk at the University of Arizona Cancer Center (fightmelanomatoday.org)
Indoor tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis (BMJ, Aug. 28, 2012)



This is Derek Neal. He’s a University of Arizona med student, a husband, a father and a son. He could be someone you went to high school with, or a friend of a friend. We all have a Derek Neal in our lives.

On Sept. 1, Neal believed he had an ulcer. He hadn’t felt well the previous couple of weeks, but he never could’ve imagined what the next few days would have in store for him.

He was diagnosed with pancreatitis at Northwest Urgent Care and sought out treatment at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Something didn’t quite add up, though. A CT scan was ordered, where something strange was found on his right lung. Maybe it was pneumonia, maybe gall stones. Either way, Derek and his family figured he’d be fine. He’s a healthy 41-year-old who eats right and exercises.

The CT scan told a different story. Derek had Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), Stage 4. Worse, the cancer had spread through Derek’s lymphatic system to his adrenal glands, bones and brain. Devastating.

Derek’s wife has been chronicling his battle at teamderekneal.com/blog since the diagnosis, and her posts have been alternately heart-wrenching and beautiful. She’s updated the blog nearly every day, either with short status updates or longer, more stream-of-conscious entries that cover the full range of a family dealing with something like this — the outpouring of support from family and friends, the continued search for internal strength, the unending rollercoaster of emotions.

From Sept. 29: “ I had trouble being away from Derek. Around dinner time I broke down in front of the kids and couldn’t stop crying. All of it had become overwhelming. I was exhausted. I felt like it was impossible to hold it together anymore … Emma drew a picture of lung cancer. It was amazing what she understood.”

Please take a moment to visit the Team Derek website and learn a little about these extraordinary people. As Derek goes through his treatments with Baldassarre Stea, MD, PhD; Linda Garland, MD; and the best physicians the University of Arizona Cancer Center has to offer, we can only offer our heartfelt support through this unimaginably difficult time.

• Team Derek
Genetics, pollution contribute to lung cancer (Arizona Daily Star, Oct. 2, 2012)