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Cancer Communication


What would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, it is the number two killer in the U.S., second only to heart disease, accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths.

At age 35 Gwen Darien was director of a contemporary art museum, living the life she had planned; but life as she knew it was about to change, when something as simple as taking a walk left her short of breath.

"He listened to my chest, he looked, he listened, again and all the sudden it's as if he backed across the room all the way into the corner. I knew something was really seriously wrong," said Gwen Darien.

In this case, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. A diagnosis some might see as an end, but for Gwen, it meant a new beginning.

"I didn't feel the import of what I was doing in the same way," says Darien.

Fifteen years later, and cancer-free, she is editor in chief of "CR" magazine and director of advocacy for patients and survivors

At the American Association of Cancer Research, Gwen's focus is support.

"I wanna work with peoples o that they don't go through what I went through. I wanna give them information, I wanna be able to communicate with them."

Here are some tips for communicating with your doctor:

1. You deserve a second opinion if you believe it is necessary.

2. Expect your doctor to be your partner - if you aren't comfortable - find a new one.

3. Keep copies of all medical records, and put that file in a safe place.

4. Pick a point person - don't be afraid to ask for support.

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