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Five days-a-week for 7 weeks, Michael Douglas went to a hospital to receive radiation treatments for his throat cancer. He lost 32 pounds and felt tired frequently, but he kept his spirits high. Mr. Douglas tells Matt Lauer that he feels good now that the treatment is over. He looks forward to spending more time with his family. Most impressive, Mr. Douglas describes what’s truly important in life during this difficult chapter. Like many cancer patients I have worked with, he has come to appreciate loved ones with a particularly deep appreciation. I have also heard some of my cancer patients share the wise saying that living like you’re dying is the best way to live.
Head and Neck cancers are often caused by tobacco and alcohol use and manifest as a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or a lump in the neck. In his case, Mr. Douglas was diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer at the base of the tongue. He will now have throat exams and periodic scans every few months to monitor for tumor recurrence. For now he is not allowing a what is normally a poor prognosis to get in the way of his enjoying life—a model attitude for all cancer patients.