Turning 10

A photo essay featuring people CURE profiled during its first year.

KATHY LATOUR
PUBLISHED: MARCH 13, 2012
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
In this photo essay, we catch up with six people whose stories helped make cancer understandable to our readers during CURE’s first year of publication, 2002. Cancer served as the defining moment in each life, clarifying a mission or providing the inspiration to reach a goal. For each, the past decade has been a time to resume life, to rethink directions and to watch dreams come true.

In January 2002, Doris Lemonier, a 51-year-old elementary school French teacher in Lake Charles, La., received a breast cancer diagnosis. When her doctor recommended a clinical trial at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Lemonier sought counsel from family. “My colleagues are my family,” Lemonier says today, still teaching elementary French at T.S. Cooley Elementary Magnet School in Lake Charles. “My principal and I started on the same day in 1996 and had become close friends. She said I should go to M.D. Anderson.”

Lemonier, a single mother of three grown children, wanted to do everything she could to ensure more time to enjoy her three grandchildren, so she took part in a clinical trial that added a new drug called Herceptin (trastuzumab) to her chemotherapy. > By April, the doctor told her that her tumor was 99 percent gone. She finished chemotherapy in July and had a mastectomy in August.

For Lemonier, who is now cancer-free, it has been a decade of enjoying family—her grandchildren, who now number eight—and her colleagues.

For more than 25 years, Susan Nessim-Keeney has dedicated her life to Cancervive, one of the first support organizations for young people, founded in 1985 by Keeney to help cope with the isolation she felt after her diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma in her thigh in 1974. She was featured in the 2002 winter issue of CURE in a reprint from Here & Now: Inspiring Stories of Cancer Survivors, a book about young survivors by Heidi Schultz Adams and Elena Dorfman.

Keeney says Cancervive prepared her for the latest phase of her life, as a founder of Capture Life Media.

“When I went to pharmaceutical companies to fund educational materials for Cancervive, I found that what was available was lacking, so I began producing educational materials for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.”

Keeney is looking for ways to license the educational materials she developed through Cancervive to other nonprofits as she prepares to close the organization and move on to the next phase of her life.

A decade ago, there was little to celebrate in prostate cancer treatment, says Oliver Sartor, MD. “At that time, we didn’t have any agents that prolonged survival. Now we have six different drugs that have been shown to prolong survival in large randomized trials.”

Sartor, the C.E. and Bernadine Laborde Professor of Cancer Research in the departments of medicine and urology at Tulane University in New Orleans, was lead author on studies for two of the drugs approved by the FDA, a remarkable experience for a researcher, he says.

Although prostate research moved forward during this time, life in New Orleans came to a halt in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit, devastating the city and its occupants. Sartor says his patients, some still in treatment, fled to 13 different states after the hurricane. Luckily, he says, he had many of their medical records in his head.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
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