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March 07, 2014 – Laura Beil
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March 08, 2014 – Jane Hill
Can a Pill Prevent Cancer?
March 08, 2014 – Erik Ness
New Requirements for Patients and Survivors Needs
March 08, 2014 – Katy Human
How Survivors Can Take Action
March 08, 2014
Promises to Keep
March 06, 2014 – Tracy Stewart
Aiming to Improve Quality of Cancer Care
March 06, 2014 – Shelley Fuld Nasso
Confirmation of Lycopene's Benefits Remains Elusive
March 06, 2014 – Deborah Tolmach Sugerman
Taking Immune Action Against Lung Cancer
March 08, 2014 – Heather L. Van Epps, PhD
Pipeline
March 08, 2014 – Lindsay Ray
Preserving Security with Electronic Health Portals
March 06, 2014 – Charlotte Huff
The "To Do" List to Pass On to Well-Meaning Friends
March 08, 2014 – Don Vaughan
Choosing Quality Care
March 08, 2014 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Mobile App Delivers Helpful Tips to Minimize Side Effects
March 08, 2014
Legislations Could Benefit Family Caregivers
March 08, 2014 – Lena Huang
Exercise Improves Joint Pain Associated with Aromatase Inhibitors
March 08, 2014 – Jon Garinn
Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness
March 08, 2014
Breast Cancer Prevention Study Focuses on Anti-Hormone Therapy
March 08, 2014 – Jon Garinn
Correspondent Amy Robach Receives Treatment
February 28, 2014 – Lindsay Ray
No Link Between Fertility Treatment and Overall Risk of Childhood Cancer
March 07, 2014 – Katherine Lagomarsino
Alzheimer's Disease and Cancer
March 06, 2014 – Sonya Collins
Research Updates
February 28, 2014 – Elizabeth Whittington
Genetics Leading the Way in Lung Cancer Treatment
March 05, 2014 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Letters From Readers
March 08, 2014
For Many, Caregiving Leads to Advocacy
March 07, 2014 – Jane Hill
Calming Chronic Inflammation
March 07, 2014 – Erik Ness
Making the Most Out of Your Patient Portal
March 07, 2014 – Charlotte Huff
Disclosing a Cancer Diagnosis Takes Time and Tact
March 05, 2014 – Don Vaughan
National Guidelines Aim to Make Life Better After Cancer
March 07, 2014 – Katy Human
Research Reveals New Frontiers in Lung Cancer
March 06, 2014 – Heather L. Van Epps, PhD
Biomarkers Help Patients Make Better Medical Decisions
March 06, 2014 – Laura Beil
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The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons
March 08, 2014

The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons

PUBLISHED March 08, 2014

At age 34, David Menasche received a diagnosis of terminal glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most aggressive brain cancers. Although the tumor eventually claimed much of his vision and memory, as well as his ability to walk, Menasche doesn’t spend much time dwelling on what was wrong in his life in his book The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons. Instead of focusing on cancer, much of his memoir revolves around his life’s calling: teaching.

Writing from a seemingly bottomless reserve of optimism, Menasche recounts how he “backed into [his] dream come true,” when he landed his first teaching gig instructing first-graders in upstate New York. He went on to teach English at a magnet high school in Miami, where he formed lasting bonds with many of his students.

Those bonds came into play when, after receiving his cancer diagnosis and then enduring treatment for six years, he realized the secret to his surviving far beyond GBM’s median life expectancy of about a year.

“I know the doctors thought it was the treatment that was keeping me alive,” he writes, “but I knew better. My job got me through each day. My students were my life force, my breath, the blood running through my veins. In school, I wasn’t sick. I was teaching.

"Eventually, Menasche decided to discontinue treatment and embark on a solo nationwide odyssey, visiting former students whose lives he had touched. His story is inspirational for all who seek to discover their life’s passion.

It’s hard to find first-person cancer stories that are well written and compelling, but this is an excellent example of such a story.

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