From Al Roker’s cancer screening advice to the death of actor Charles Grodin, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
During a segment on “The Today Show”, television anchor Al Roker, 66, shared that leading up to his prostate cancer diagnosis, he had considered postponing his appointment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Listen, I was going to put off my annual checkup, [but I] decided back in September, let me just get this done," Roker said. "And if I hadn't, (doctors) would not have detected the prostate cancer, which was very aggressive."
Physicians have been urging patients to resume their cancer screenings after seeing a decline in rates of screenings since the start of the pandemic.
"My outlook and outcome might have been completely different, so I cannot stress enough to people, go out there and get your checkup, make sure you get checked," Roker said.
Roker’s doctor detected his cancer during a routine physical when it was discovered that he had an elevated prostate-specific antigen in his bloodwork results. It was confirmed with an MRI and biopsy on Sept. 29. He underwent surgery in November and updated to his followers that he was “done and back home.”
Charles Grodin, best known for his roles in “Midnight Run” and “The Heartbreak Kid,” died at his Connecticut home this Tuesday from cancer at age 86.
Members of the entertainment community paid tribute to Grodin.
"Chuck was as good a person as he was an actor," said Robert De Niro in a statement issued through his publicist. "'Midnight Run' was a great project to work on, and Chuck made it an even better one. He will be missed. I am very, very sad to hear of his passing."
Grodin was born in Pittsburgh and studied acting at the University of Miami before moving to New York to study under the famed acting coach Lee Strasberg. His work extended beyond acting – Grodin once wrote a column for the New York Daily News and provided commentary for “60 Minutes II.”
Grodin is survived by his wife, author Elissa Durwood Grodin, and their children, Nicholas and Marion.
Owen Murray, 39, from Warwickshire, United Kingdom, married his wife, Laura Dear, on Monday in a small celebration, just months after being told he was “out of options” for treatment for his stage 4 bowel cancer.
Murray, who was diagnosed in March 2020, began an early-stage chemotherapy drug trial in Oxford earlier this year.
"I do still think I am seeing a slight improvement, but I don't want to get ahead of myself,” Murray told BBC.
In December, just four days after doctors had informed him that his cancer was terminal, Dear gave birth to the couple’s first child, Luna.
The couple married with a small group of 30 friends and family present for the ceremony.
"I struggle to find any words to describe the day... it was incredible... I couldn't have hoped for anymore,” said Murray.
The Hand to Heart Project is a program that provides relaxing, supportive massage therapy to patients with cancer and their caregivers. It serves roughly 35 towns in New Hampshire and Vermont, delivering its services free of charge.
Clients are typically referred to the program through nurses, doctors, social workers or community organizations and receive therapy in their own homes. It is funded through grants, donations and fundraising events.
Steve Gordon, founder and executive director, created the project in 2007, though his interest began in 1999 when he entered massage therapy school.
“I had three people in my circle of awareness diagnosed with cancer … I ended up doing a fair amount of massage with them, even when I was still in school, and it pulled my interest in that direction,” said Gordon.
Patients often report better sleep and less pain after sessions. Gordon said the program also tries to consider that each individual is facing different difficult emotions during their cancer journey. The therapist’s willingness to listen to clients often helps them feel better as well.
“For that one hour I forget about the battle and just let go of the emotions to focus on me,” said Janette Coombs, a patient with breast cancer.
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