Fighting Cancer (four segments)

This is a series of four segments, representative of the "Fighting Cancer" series from The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. The segments are titled "Two Faces of Cancer", "Cancer Research", "Surviving Cancer", and "Fighting Pain".

0:03Copy video clip URL Title screen and opening credits. “The following are four segments representative of the “Fighting Cancer” series from The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour”.

0:25Copy video clip URL Beginning of the first segment, “Two Faces of Cancer”, air date 9/19/90. Elizabeth Brackett speaks to Bill Peterson, who is dying of lung cancer. She also speaks to 12-year-old Ivy Sharpe, who is expecting to make a full recovery from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They are examples of the two faces of cancer. The chances for survival depend greatly on the type of cancer and when it is discovered.

3:11Copy video clip URL Brackett speaks to Peterson, his wife, and his oncologist about the illness, his treatment, and how it has affected his life. Peterson had lived longer than expected since his diagnosis, but he is becoming sicker and his prognosis is not encouraging. His wife is  unsure how to plan for the future.

10:05Copy video clip URL Ivy Sharpe’s parents were initially scared by the diagnosis, but were surprised to learn that it was very treatable. Brackett speaks to an oncologist about the advances that have been made in treating certain cancers. Brackett talks to Ivy about the difficulties caused by her illness.

14:48Copy video clip URL The loss of control caused by the illness is very difficult for patients and their families to deal with. Peterson’s wife talks about struggling with that loss of control. Ivy will end her chemotherapy in six months, and her family is planning for the future. Test results show that Peterson’s cancer is worsening, and he dies weeks later.

17:47Copy video clip URL Beginning of the second segment, “Cancer Research”, air date 9/24/90. Kurt Weiss has bone cancer, which has spread to his lung. His doctor says that they need new forms of therapy that could more effectively treat solid tumors. “Over the years, the press has trumpeted many supposed cures”, but none have been highly effective.

20:14 Researchers say that they are making important progress toward understanding cancer. The scientist who discovered that mutated genes caused cancer explains how that process works. He explains that more mutations increases the chances of metastasis and lethality.

24:00Copy video clip URL Brackett speaks to another scientist about metastasis research. His major contribution was identifying angiogenesis, the birth of new blood vessels in tumors, which can lead to the spread of cancer cells. Weiss is part of an experimental drug trial. Brackett speaks to a researcher about the drug’s mechanism, and Weiss gives his reasons for joining the drug trial.

31:26Copy video clip URL Beginning of the third segment, “Surviving Cancer”, air date 9/25/90. People at a support group for cancer survivors are shown discussing their treatment. Cancer survivors often claim that support groups and a positive mental attitude improves their health, but the medical community has traditionally been skeptical. However, Dr. David Spiegel conducted a study which demonstrated a strong benefit from attending support groups.

34:40 Brackett speaks to Dr. Fauzi, who discusses a cancer study he conducted which demonstrated the benefit of psychological treatment for cancer patients. It may be the first study to show an physiological immune response from psychological intervention. Brackett speaks to two cancer patients about their experiences with support groups.

40:21Copy video clip URL Harold Benjamin runs The Wellness Community, a free support group which is meant to serve as an adjunct to medical treatment. Brackett speaks to Dr. Bernie Siegel, who runs workshops that promote the idea that happiness can have a healing effect on the body. Dr. Spiegel is troubled by Siegel’s approach and worries that patients will blame themselves if they fail to recover.

44:40Copy video clip URL Brackett speaks to a cancer patient who did not find any great benefit to attending support groups. Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan believes there is a need for more support groups for cancer survivors.

47:33Copy video clip URL Beginning of the fourth segment, “Fighting Pain”, air date 9/27/90. In a hospital meeting about treating cancer pain, Helen Desmond talks about the pain caused by her colon cancer. Brackett speaks to a doctor who says that most cancer pain can be managed with medication. However, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe strong painkillers.

52:30Copy video clip URL Brackett speaks to the family of Shany Banks, a cancer patient who spent months in severe pain. They believe that the hospital staff did not properly manage Banks’ pain. Her case influenced the way that cancer pain is treated in Wisconsin. Dr. June Dahl runs the Wisconsin Cancer Pain Initiative, which promotes the use of opioids for treating cancer pain.

57:12Copy video clip URL There are concerns about legislation which would increase the monitoring of prescribed pain medication. Some doctors fear that the focus on curbing substance abuse may hurt the use of narcotics for pain relief. However, there has been a lot of improvement in cancer pain management. While Desmond ultimately died of cancer, her family is glad that her pain was well-managed.

59:19Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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