Cancer ABCs From Surviving To Thriving - How to Thrive with Cancer-logo

Cancer ABCs From Surviving To Thriving - How to Thrive with Cancer


OUR MISSION To facilitate tangible improvements in the lives of people who have been affected by cancer(s), by providing them and their loved ones the necessary survival tools, education, support and advocacy so that they can become responsible for and take an active role in their own medical care and wellbeing. OUR GOAL Our goal is to teach all people affected by cancer, including those with multiple cancers and/or rare cancers, to become CANCER THRIVERS.


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OUR MISSION To facilitate tangible improvements in the lives of people who have been affected by cancer(s), by providing them and their loved ones the necessary survival tools, education, support and advocacy so that they can become responsible for and take an active role in their own medical care and wellbeing. OUR GOAL Our goal is to teach all people affected by cancer, including those with multiple cancers and/or rare cancers, to become CANCER THRIVERS.








NBA Basketball Superstar Grant Hill Discusses Racial Disparities in Prostate Cancer

NBA superstar Grant Hill, also an Atlanta Hawks co-owner, and African American health advocate, has teamed up with Dendreon to combat the prostate cancer racial disparities experienced by African American men. He discusses, along with Cancer ABCs CEO Joel Nowak, how men, particularly African American men, can combat the disparities. They focus on how a man can develop their own playbook to beat prostate cancer, what role a man should play with his doctor and the importance of becoming an educated patient. Mr. Hill shared a program he has started with Dendreon called Start Strong. Start Strong ( is focused on raising awareness of the racial disparities in prostate cancer incidence and the importance of talking to your doctor about the best treatment options. Please note that during the interview, Mr. Hill provided the wrong web address for the Start Strong Program. The correct address is Support the show


Node Positive Prostate Cancer – Treatment and Survival

Overall survival and cancer-specific survival for those with node-positive prostate cancer treated with surgery lived longer than those who elected radiation treatment. Men diagnosed with node positive prostate cancer need to decide if they want to include a targeted treatment to their prostate gland along with a systemic treatment like hormonal therapy. Most men who elect to include a targeted therapy will choose between either surgery or radiation. A retrospective observational study concluded that men who did elect to use surgery as opposed to radiation lived longe. Read the study at; Cancer ABCs would like to thank: Foundation Medicine Myovant Bayer Dendreon for their continued support of our podcast program. Support the show


Methotrexate and the COVID Vaccine -WARNING

8/29/2021 As per the link above, individuals taking the drug methotrexate experience an up to 62% reduced rate of an immunological response when given a mRNA Covid-19 vaccination like to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This finding suggests that patients on methotrexate may need alternate vaccination strategies such as additional doses of vaccine, dose modification of methotrexate or even a temporary discontinuation of this drug. In this podcast, Joel Nowak from Cancer ABCs, who is taking methotrexate, after having is booster shot of the Moderna vaccine was informed by his doctor that he should have not received the injection without having made a modification in his methotrexate. Joel talks about his frustration and anger that he was not informed about this complication when the research was first published, three months prior to his receiving his Covid-19 booster shot. Joel shared his current plan to discontinue taking methotrexate and hope that the booster will still create some antigen effect. He will follow up in a few weeks and check his antigen level (blood test) and then if he hasn't received an adequate result go on a campaign to obtain an additional Covid vaccination booster while still remaining off methotrexate. Joel’s story should serve as a warning to anyone taking methotrexate that they need to discuss this issue with their doctors prior to having a mRNA Covid-19 vaccination. Cancer ABCs would like to thank its podcast sponsors for their support of this podcast program. Our sponsors include: Myovant/PfizerFoundation MedicineBayer DendreonSupport the show


A Special Message for Someone Diagnosed with Cancer

When you are first diagnosed with cancer, when the doctor says to you have cancer, you are likely to have many different responses. Among these first possible responses are fear, apprehension, disbelief, sadness, anger, dread, or even denial. Any and all of these reactions are reasonable and normal. The question is how do you chose to deal with these feelings? Everyone's cancer is different and how we as individuals deal with our cancer is also different. However, developing a specific mindset, taking personal responsibility for yourself and your medical care, learning about your disease and deciding on how you are going to come to grips with your reality will immediately influence you today and tomorrow. We all have choices to make, the choice we eventually make will have repercussions from today until the day we die. Making better choices is hard, but so much of our future is dependent on the choices and decisions we make from today and on. In this podcast, Joel Nowak shares some lessons he has learned about being diagnosed with cancer. Joel has been told he has cancer on six different occasions. He has been diagnosed with 5 different cancers (thyroid, renal (kidney), melanoma, prostate and appendiceal (appendix cancer) as well as a prostate cancer recurrence five years after his primary treatment. Cancer ABCs would like to thank its podcast sponsors for their support of this podcast program. Our sponsors include: Myovant/PfizerFoundation MedicineBayer Dendreon Support the show


New Orleans Music Producer Shane Norris Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer During Covid Shares His Journey with HIFU Treatment

Joel Nowak and Shane Norris discuss his unusual Covid Pandemic Journey with a new prostate cancer diagnosis. Shane, a well-respected music producer and gig worker, joined with other New Orleans artists to raise funds for out-of-work musicians. As he began to create a fund raising vehicle he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Shane shares the experience he had navigating the Covid pandemic as he searched for the prostate cancer treatment that he felt best suited his needs. With financial support raised from a GO-Fund-Me project as well as help and guidance from a number of resources, including medical professionals, family and friends, Shane decided to become the first man in Louisiana to treat his prostate cancer with high intensity focused ultrasound – or HIFU. Despite Shane having to learn about prostate cancer and potential treatments and their possible side effects, in the middle of a pandemic, he and his colleagues managed to raise and distribute $400,000 to out-of-work New Orleans artists. Some Important Additional Information: 1- High Intensity Focal Ultrasound (HIFU) currently has a CPT code, and is covered by Medicare, with a deductible. HIFU is also covered by some private insurance carriers for both initial treatment and as a salvage therapy. Please check with your insurance carrier (Medicare and private carriers) to confirm your specific coverages. With the CPT code urology practices can now submit claims to private insurers which are evaluated for reimbursement on a case by case basis. 2- Shane's personal experience with side effects from his HIFU treatment does not guarantee that others having HIFU will have the same experience. Following HIFU patients may be required to have a catheter inserted for 3 to 7 days. The risk of having the more common side effects of urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction seen in treating the entire gland are minimized due to HIFU's targeted nature of tumor ablation. Cancer ABCs would like to thank its podcast sponsors for their support of this podcast program. Our sponsors include: Myovant/PfizerFoundation MedicineBayer Dendreon Support the show


Understanding the Importance of Radiopharmaceutical Scans and Why They Might Not Be Available for Us When We Need Them

Radiopharmaceutical scans (PETS) are a vital tool in our fight against cancer. These special PET scans allow us to make earlier cancer diagnoses while a cancer is still contained in the original organ. With an earlier diagnosis, treatments can still stop the cancer before it is able to move to other parts of the body, or become metastatic. These special scans also are our best tools to evaluate whether our treatments are working, or if we have developed resistance to the treatments. FDA approved treatments are limited, so we have to take full advantage of them while they work. Since most treatments will eventually stop working, we need to also have an immediate and accurate way to measure whether we are still benefiting from our treatments, or have developed resistance to them. Sadly, the future of these scans is in jeopardy. The current insurance reimbursement schedule only supports the use of these scans for three years, after which reimbursement rates might not cover the costs, making these very important scans unavailable despite having been approved by the FDA. Currently these scans could be looking at a 3 year life, after which adequate reimbursement might disappear (as will the availability of the scan to patients). Cancer ABCs is working to change the law so that reimbursement of these scans will keep them affordable and available as we need them. Join us and help us preserve the availability of these scans. To learn more about this issue, and to lend your support, reach out to us at Cancer ABCs would like to thank its podcast sponsors for their support of this podcast program. Our sponsors include: Myovant/PfizerFoundation MedicineBayer Dendreon Support the show


Survival with Provenge - Real World Data Along with A Peek Into the Future of Treatment

Joel T Nowak from Cancer ABCs discusses with Dr. Rana McKay, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California in San Diego, her recently published article that analysizes real world data that demonstrates that Provenge (sipuleucel-T), an immune therapy for castrate resistant metastatic prostate cancer (mCRPC), can reduce the risk of death over and above the newer hormone treatments that have been FDA approved . Dr, McKay evaluated a large medicare data base and determined that despite the addition of the many second generation hormone treatments like Zytiga and Xtandi, Provenge continues to lower the risk of death for men with mCRPC. Dr. Mckay also shared a peek into the future of additional immune therapies for prostate cancer as well as sharing information about the newly FDA approved part inhibitors. Cancer ABCs would like to thank its podcast sponsors for their support of this podcast program. Our sponsors include: Myovant/PfizerFoundation MedicineBayer DendreonSupport the show


Is ADT Hormone Therapy Necessary When You Take Abiraterone Acetate aka Zytiga?

One of the most common question men with prostate cancer ask us at Cancer ABCs is if they can stop their hormone therapy (ADT) when they go on a second generation hormone treatment like abiraterone (Zytiga). A recent analysis of the SPARE Trial points us in the direction that it might be possible to halt ADT when you are taking Zytiga. SPARE was a small trial which needs to be replicated by a larger trial before we can gain confidence in this conclusion. SPARE did not evaluate what, if any change. stopping ADT when you are on Zytiga might have on survival, economic costs and the quality of life. Support the show


Dealing with Salvage Radiation Side Effects for Prostate Cancer- One Mans Extraordinary Journey

Men who have a local prostate cancer recurrence, or their PSA starts increasing, after having prostate cancer surgery (a radical prostatectomy), the treatment of choice is considered salvage radiotherapy (SRT). In the post prostatectomy setting, SRT may impose significant risks and complications. Potential complications or side effects can include incontinence, bladder neck contracture, bladder and bowel symptoms, needing secondary procedures, as well as secondary malignancies. Radiation should never be considered non-invasive, but it can halt the progression of the cancer. Therefore, reserving radiotherapy for those who will most benefit is of great concern. In this podcast Joel Nowak speaks with Mr. John Harrison who had salvage radiation and has experienced many of these side effects. On two occasions John has used Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment which he describes as well as having a colostomy to allow his colon to rest and hopefully heal. In addition to having deal with radiation toxicities, he still has to be treated for his progressing prostate cancer. John has just completed a Phase II Clinical Trial as well as using Lupron, aka Hormone Therapy (ADT). To date, John has had limited relief from his symptoms, but his cancer is under control. John shares his journey and experiences treating his side effects from both the surgery and the salvage radiation. Despite all of his symptoms he maintains a positive attitude and reminds us that his experiences are his and do not reflect what others might experience. John considers himself an outlier. As an outlier he offers some sage advice for all of us who are being treated for prostate cancer. Support the show


Protect Yourself - Know the Limits of the Genetic Privacy Laws

Genetic testing plays a major role in identifying an individual's risk for developing cancer as well as the management of many different cancers, including prostate cancer. It's important that we patients know the limits of a key federal privacy law that is supposed to protect us when we do have a genetic test. In June, 2020, there was a new set of recommendations on the use of genetic testing published by the International Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Consensus Conference that strongly endorses the testing of all men with metastatic prostate cancer to aid with treatment decisions and to assess eligibility for clinical trials. It is important that we understand that there are significant limits to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, which was written to protect against discrimination in employment and medical insurance for people with known genetic risk factors for diseases, including cancer. Support the show


Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials- The Continued Lack of Racial Diversity and the Iron Man Registry's Attempt to Reverse this Trend

Written Transcript at Joel T Nowak interviews Emily Rencsok, an MD/PhD student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They discuss the findings of a recent publication which she was the first author that analyzed 59 prostate cancer clinical trials based in North America and Europe. Overall, Rencsok and colleagues looked at 72 global phase 3 and 4 prevention, screening, and treatment clinical trials for patients with prostate cancer that enrolled patients between 1987 and 2016. Of the 72 trials, 59 had race data available; corresponding with a total of approximately 844,000 participants. When the researchers analyzed the diversity of enrollment over time, they found that the proportion of black men who were enrolled in prostate cancer clinical trials decreased from 11.3% in 1995 to 2.8% in 2014. Even further, the investigators found that the proportion of white participants in these clinical trials has primarily remained above 80% since 1990. Joel and Emily also discussed the Iron Man study that has been making strives to reverse this trend. They also discussed implicit racial bias in both clinical trials and treatments offered to black black individuals (Rencsok EM, Bazzi LA, McKay RR, et al. Diversity of Enrollment in Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials: Current Status and Future Directions. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1616.) Support the show


Prostate Cancer Treatment in the COVID-19 Era

Written Transcript at: Joel Nowak discusses how one doctor, Dr. Emmanuel Antonarakis from The Johns Hopkins Hospital has modified his prostate cancer treatments in the era of the coronavirus. Joel shares how Dr. Antonarakis has moved to using telemedicine when possible, the changes he has made for his patients on hormone therapy (ADT), and how he is using chemotherapy differently for those men who need it as well as how he is avoiding using chemotherapy when possible. Listening to this podcast will help you better understand the possible changes you too might be able to discuss with your own doctor about your own treatment. It will help you ask better questions at your own medical appointments. Support the show


Understanding the Real Survival Advantages Provided By Provenge (Sipuleucel-T) for Men with Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Written Transcript at: Dr. Tim Richardson talks with Joel Nowak talk about the real survival advantages that the immunotherapy known as Provenge (sipuleucel-T) offers to men, especially men who get the therapy while their PSA is low (Schellhammer data) and men with an African-American background. Along the way, they also talk about what is immunotherapy, how it works, how Provenge is actually administered, its side effects and who should get the treatment and where in their treatment schedule would it be best to get the treatment. Support the show


Prostate Cancer Surgical Incontinence Solutions

Written Transcript at: Joel Nowak discusses why men who have a radical prostatectomy, or the surgical removal of their prostate gland to treat prostate cancer often suffer urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence negatively affects a man's quality of life so it is important that men know about their options so they can discuss them with their urologists. Surgically induced urinary incontinence can be dealt with when you have an RP to treat your prostate cancer, learn about your options as well as the risks and the rewards. Support the show


Using the Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score to Decide if You Are A Candidate for Active Surveillance

Written Transcript at: Mr. Anson Tharayanil, a Medical Science Liaison from Genomic Health rejoins Joel Nowak from Cancer ABCs to talk about another test for men diagnosed with low or favorable medium risk prostate cancer, the Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score. The test should be used along side the traditional measures we use like biopsy Gleason Grade and scans to help a man decide if he is a good candidate for Active Surveillance (AS) as opposed to having surgical or a radiation intervention. Biopsies only sample 1% of a man's prostate gland, so as a stand alone measure it does not provide us with an accurate understanding of the aggressiveness of a man's prostate cancer. When added to the other measures, we traditionally still fall far short of accurately knowing which prostate cancers need immediate treatment and which can be monitored. Research shows that at least 20% of men who qualify for AS using the traditional measures if they go on and have surgery they find that their cancer is actually a lion in sheep's clothing, or is very dangerous. The Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score has been well validated and should automatically be used by any man who is trying to decide if they are a good candidate for Active Surveillance. Support the show


Using The Genomic Health ARV-7 Test When You Are Taking Xtandi, Zytiga or Erleada

Written Transcript at: In this podcast Anson Tharayanil, a Meical Science Liaison from Genomic Health, Inc. talks with Joel Nowak about their test, the Oncotype DX ARV-7 Nucleus Detect Test for men with castrate resistant metastatic prostate cancer. The test is used to determine if the second line hormone therapies like Xtandi, Zytiga and Erleada will be an effective treatment for men who have the diagnosis of prostate cancer that has left the gland (if they have metastases) and are no longer responding to the first line hormone (ADT) treatments like Lupron, Eligard, Prostap and Casodex. Initially, Anson gives an explanation about what is castrate resistant metastatic prostate cancer so that everyone can clearly understand the disease process that happens as prostate cancer progresses. Afterwards, he describes how the Oncotype DX ARV-7 Nucleus Detect Test works so that you can know if you are a candidate for any of the new second line hormone therapy drugs (Zytiga, Xtandi and Erleada). Anson also describes how it might be possible to re-sensitive some men who have stopped responding to thee drugs. Support the show


Learning About Oligometastatic and Metastatic Prostate Cancer and How Cancer Metastasizes

Dr. Ken Pienta from The Johns Hopkins Hospital explains all about metastatic prostate Written Transcript at: and how it spreads or metastasizes. He Includes in his discussion how prostate cancer is staged, how cancer migrates from the prostate gland to distant sites that can then develop into tumors. In this discussion He clarifies the difference between local invasion and metastatic disease. He also talks about the current reality of our scanning technology, including the new Axumin and PSMA scans and how large, or how many cells, need to be present in a tumor in order for it to be visualized. Dr. Pienta describes the current treatment issues surrounding oligometastatic prostate cancer (just a few tumors in the pelvic area) as well as the role of the tumor micro-environment in supporting the metastatic process. He also shared two clinical trials, the TED1 and the TED2 Trials (Total Obliteration Disease Trials) which he is conducting for newly diagnosed men with five or less metastatic lesions. Support the show


Mark Hall's Metastatic Prostate Cancer Journey with Dr. Snuffy Meyers and Provenge (sipuleucel-T)

Written Transcript at: Mark Hall was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer with a PSA of 4,400 and a Gleason Score of 8. Despite these terrible numbers he has been thriving the last four years with an undetectable PSA and a fantastic quality of life! Mark shares his journey, where under the guidance of Dr. Charles (Snuffy) Meyers he went through a heavy regime of hormone therapy treatments as well as the immunotherapy Provenge (sipuleucel-T). Mark has been experiencing a profound four year remission of his probate cancer. Mark attributes his remission to the Provenge treatment as well as Dr. Meyers guidance. The Cancer ABCs podcast program receives support from Genomic Health, which transforms treatment decisions in cancer by delivering clinically actionable diagnostics. Support the show


How To Help A Person Diagnosed With Cancer

Hearing that someone you know or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer is often scary. Not only are you concerned about their health, but many of us are not sure how to speak with them or offer them help. We want to reach out to them, but we don't know if we should talk about their cancer. We also don't know how we can help them. Joel T. Nowak, a five time Cancer Thriver offers some insights into how you can know how to talk to someone with cancer as well as how you can provide them with the help and support they really need. Support the show


Remediating Hormone Therapy (ADT) Side Effects for Men with Prostate Cancer

Joel T Nowak from Cancer ABCs along with oncology nurse Fran Fanning (co-owner of Heavenly Hash) participated in a prostate cancer patient conference sponsored by Prostate Cancer International. The conference was held in Ft. Meyers Florida in March of 2019. They offered a live presentation that described how hormone therapy worked, how it is achieved, its side effects as well as some "grassroots" methods used by men to control the side effects caused by ADT (hormone therapy). Fran's presentation included information and a discussion about the role of CBD and THC (marijuana) in cancer care. Both Fran and Joel also answered many questions that were asked by the men and their support givers who were in attendance at the conference. Although most of the questions were about ADT, they also fielded other related questions about prostate cancer treatments as well as Cancer Thrivership. Voice over introduction by Amber Bloom. Support the show