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Friday Frontline: July 5, 2019

From today’s top performers and athletes to life-threatening social media disinformation, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.
BY Alexandra Guadagno
PUBLISHED July 05, 2019
Patients with cancer have the opportunity to obtain free fruits and vegetables in Utah, thanks to a mobile farmer's market. Because of the financial burden of cancer treatment, The Green Urban Lunch Box is helping to make access to healthy, locally-grown food available to patients with cancer. Intermountain Healthcare Cancer Services is partnering with The Green Urban Lunch Box to provide nourishing fruits and vegetables for free to patients with cancer, as well as their families, ABC Utah reported.

Healthy nutrition is a critical complement to cancer care,” said Elisa Soulier from the Intermountain Healthcare Wellness Program. “Leading organizations, such as American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, recognize a healthy diet as being a fundamental component for cancer prevention and for improving outcomes during treatment and throughout survivorship.”

Because of the success and popularity of the mobile farmer’s market over the past several years, Intermountain is expanding the mobile markets this year to help more patients that are fighting cancer. The program started at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray and will now also be offered at Utah Valley Cancer Center in Provo, LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, and McKay-Dee Cancer Center in Ogden. Soulier shared that the mobile farmer’s market has given out up to 300 pounds of locally grown fruits and vegetables to patients and family members in the past. The dates and times each location will be hosting the events are listed on ABC Utah's report.

Tim McGraw starred in a new Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) PSA in which he discusses his family's experiences with cancer and advocates for further research. The country music star, 52, is a SU2C ambassador and is encouraging fans to “rewrite the skies” in honor of their loved ones, PEOPLE shared exclusively. The organization has partnered with American Airlines, according to the organization’s website, which encourages its visitors during July to “donate $25 or more to Stand Up To Cancer and you will have the opportunity to honor a loved one by adding their name to the American Airlines official Stand Up To Cancer plane.”

Learn more about the partnership and the McGraw family’s cancer experience in this exclusive behind-the-scenes interview.



The Wall Street Journal urges patients seeking alternative cancer treatment information online to be wary of “bogus” treatment claims. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that both Facebook and YouTube are being inundated with scientifically unproven and potentially harmful information about alternative cancer treatments, which sometimes receive millions of views.

One YouTube influencer, Mari, uploaded a video in which she and her niece were preparing a kale-based smoothie that she called a “cancer-killer” and promised viewers it would kill their cancer cells. In a sad update one year later, it turned out Mari had passed away.

“People with a new cancer diagnosis are often feeling vulnerable and scared,” said Renee DiResta, a researcher who studies disinformation. The prospect of undergoing chemotherapy and and its side effects is enough to frighten most anyone, which is why many newly-diagnosed patients begin to search for alternative “cures” online.

Facebook and YouTube both say they are taking steps to reduce such disinformation from spreading. Last month, Facebook changed its News Feed algorithms to reduce the promotion of posts promising “miracle cures” or “flogging health services,” according to the Wall Street Journal investigation. This move by Facebook is intended to decrease the number of times such videos appear in user feeds, the company says.

“Misleading health content is particularly bad for our community,” Facebook said in a blog post announcing their strategy to deal with disinformation.

Similarly, YouTube has been cutting off advertising for “bogus cancer-treatment channels,” a spokesman said. YouTube says it is working with medical doctors to identify content promoting dubious statements and medical conspiracy theories. YouTube states it has also adjusted its algorithms to diminish the number of times users are exposed to these questionable and potentially harmful videos.


A still photo from the YouTube video featuring Mari and her neice, Liz, making "cancer-killing" smoothies.

Tiana Mangakahia, 24, announced Monday in a release that she has received a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer and will begin chemotherapy treatments on Friday. She said she will undergo surgery after her treatments, reported ESPN.

"I know this will be tough, but I will get through it," Mangakahia said in the statement. "This is just the beginning for me, and I will come out stronger. I have much more to accomplish and I hope to inspire others to overcome their own adversity just like I know I will."

Mangakahia, a graduate student originally from Brisbane, Australia, was named to the Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention squad last season. She led Division I in assists (304) and assists per game (9.8) during her sophomore season, according to ESPN. She contemplated declaring for the WNBA draft this year but ultimately decided to play for one more season at Syracuse.

"This is beatable and I will fight and win," Mangakahia wrote. "I want to thank everyone who has reached out already and those who will support me moving forward. Since I decided to forgo the WNBA draft and return to Syracuse for my final year, I've been working hard and training so my team and I can achieve our goals. Now my focus has shifted to fighting cancer, and I will come out a stronger person."


Photo credit: Laura Hale. 

Fort Scott’s Mercy Hospital “Unit of Hope” cancer clinic division, intended to keep up with patient continuity of care once Mercy Hospital closed its doors, has also closed. The closure forces patients in the Fort Scott area to find new treatment centers elsewhere.

“There are too many changes in that town” to keep the cancer center open, Yoosaf Abraham, chief operating officer of the Cancer Center of Kansas, told Kaiser Health News. He said that patients would be “OK” because they could get treated at the center’s offices in Chanute and Parsons. However, those facilities are 50 and 63 miles away from Fort Scott.

“You have a flat tire, and there is nothing out here,” 65-year-old Karen Endicott-Coyan said. Endicott-Coyan has a rare form of multiple myeloma, she requires weekly chemotherapy injections to treat her cancer.

For the next year, Kaiser Health News and NPR will be tracking how its citizens fare after the closure in the hopes of answering pressing national questions: “Do citizens in small communities like Fort Scott need a traditional hospital for their health needs? If not a hospital, what then?”
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