A National Cancer Conversation

It’s something that has touched many of us personally or someone we care about. It’s a disease we face every day with patients throughout Baylor Scott & White Health, guiding them through treatment and seeking innovative options for patients in our research centers. And it’s the focus of a documentary that aired this week on PBS stations across the country. What I’m talking about is cancer.

Wednesday night’s episode wrapped up the three-part PBS documentary series titled “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.” The show followed the history of the cancer disease, how it’s impacted thousands of lives and the race to find a cure that many scientists and clinicians in our nation have been running for decades. I commend the organizations and individuals who were part of this film and saw the significance in telling this story. It’s great to see how far we have come in understanding this disease in order to provide better treatment to patients. The National Cancer Institute reports cancer deaths decreased by an average of 1.5 percent each year from 2002–2011. While we still have work to do, I am inspired by those in the film as well as other medical professionals across Texas and Baylor Scott & White’s own scientists, physicians, clinicians and patients who persevere with strength and hope as we progress closer to a cure.

Hope has played a pivotal role at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Centers in North Texas, where a healing environment has provided thousands of cancer patients hope for their futures. In 2012, we followed three cancer patients as they shared their personal cancer journeys in a three-part series called “Dallas Hope.” Like the patients profiled in “The Emperor of All Maladies,” these patients’ stories show the destruction cancer can bring, but also the courage and innovation it takes to fight.

I find it encouraging to see more individuals and groups getting involved in the conversation about the medical search for a cancer cure and steps to prevent the disease. Social media allows our communities to be educated about cancer prevention and early identification and offers patients a world-wide support group. Even movie stars like Angelina Jolie are influencing the conversation.

This dialogue continued today in a live Twitter chat about immunotherapy led by the National Cancer Institute. Exploring innovations like immunotherapy and involving the public in this conversation is what will advance future cancer research and treatment. Baylor Scott & White is taking part in this conversation as a health care provider that is bringing these discoveries to the patient. More than 2,000 active clinical studies are available right now to patients at Baylor Scott & White. Researchers at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research are currently developing therapeutic vaccines targeted to the dendritic cell. Patients with breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and HIV have already started receiving these vaccines in clinical trials at Baylor Scott & White.

You can participating in the conversation on Twitter with #CancerFilm.

About the author

Joel Allison
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Joel Allison is a special advisor to the chairman of the Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees. He was previously president and CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health. He's been a leader in the health care industry for more than four decades, and he's been on Modern Healthcare magazine’s annual “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list since 2004. He's a huge Baylor Bears fan, a fisherman and a proud grandfather of six.

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A National Cancer Conversation