Cancer Survival and Attitude with Hamilton Jordan (cont.)

Hamilton Jordan: With my first cancer, I went to the National Cancer Institute, and participated in a clinical trial for lymphoma. With my skin cancer, I had it treated locally because it was at very early stage. With my PCa, I went to Johns Hopkins University, which has one of the best urology departments in the world. It has nothing to do with me having been in politics. Everyone can get to a center of Excellence. Boston, Texas, New York, on and on. These places are scattered all over the country. It's just a matter of being referred there by a doctor. Sometimes there are economic decisions here. But generally insurance covers these treatments at these centers. Not always, but sometimes it does.

Hamilton Jordan: Tip No. 6: Do not allow your caregivers to project their values, goals, and expectations onto you.

Hamilton Jordan: In my book I tell the story of a 68 year old man who was diagnosed with PCa. And this man is in very good health other than the PCa. His 35 year old doctor reasoned that since his life expectancy was only five or six years, that he recommended that the man do nothing for his PCa and told him it would take the PCa four or five years to kill him. This man wanted to live to be 80 or 85. he didn't accept that. He had his prostate removed, and many years later he's in good health, and probably will live to be 80 or 85. Don't let your doctor project his/her expectations in life out on you.

Hamilton Jordan: Tip No. 7: Understand the economics of cancer care.

Hamilton Jordan: You don't want to be in a situation where your doctor wants to run $150 test that your insurance doesn't cover, but it contains critical information for making your diagnosis or deciding treatment. You need to understand what your insurance covers, and let your doctor know what you're willing to do to supplement that coverage to get a good diagnosis, and the best possible treatment. If your doctor says that he wants to run another test, but insurance won't pay for it, find out what it is. Why does he want to run it? Find out the cost, and determine whether you should pay it yourself. It might save your life.

Hamilton Jordan: Tip No. 8: Ultimately, find a doctor that you trust and believe in.

Hamilton Jordan: We touched on this earlier. If your doctor doesn't believe they can cure you, you won't believe it. If you don't believe you will be cured, you probably won't be. Find a doctor with a fighting spirit, and that thinks that they can cure you. You tend to find doctors that reflect your own attitude. I always found doctors that liked the fact I was aggressive and going to fight for my life. They didn't object to my asking a lot of questions.

Hamilton Jordan: Tip No. 9: Treat your mind as well as your body.

Hamilton Jordan: We don't -- just because we can't quantify, and don't understand the power of the mind, to deal with disease, it doesn't mean that attitude and the will to live is not a powerful, powerful force in the course of an illness.

Hamilton Jordan: Consequently, once you've found a good doctor and decided on a treatment, it's your job to try to keep a positive attitude, and a strong will to live. That's not easy to do, but it's important to do. The people that have that fighting spirit are the ones that outlive their prognosis and beat the odds. Those people who don't have the fighting spirit, and expect to die, are usually the ones that do.

Hamilton Jordan: Tip No. 10: Your attitude and beliefs are your most powerful weapon against cancer. I believe that deeply. There have been studies that show when you are happy and engaged and positive, your immune system is at its strongest. When you are depressed or unhappy, your immune system is weakened.

Hamilton Jordan: Cancer to some extent is only possible because of the failure of the immune system. Every day, all of our immune systems kill viruses, germs, even cancers. so it's very important in fighting cancer, going through surgery, or chemo, or illness it's very important to keep your immune system strong.

mold28_webmd: This is a great book! Could you tell us a little about your Uncle Clarence and what sort of impact he had on your life and treatment??

Hamilton Jordan: Although my book is about cancer, the theme of it, I write about growing up in the segregated south. I had an uncle named Clarence Jordan who, obviously against the wishes of his family, started an interracial commune in South Georgia in the 1940s when Martin Luther King was only 7 yrs. old.

Hamilton Jordan: Clarence and his family were outcast, shot at, and burned out, but he put his own and his family's lives at risk for his beliefs. One of the last things he did before he died was to basically start the organization now known as Habitat for Humanity.

Hamilton Jordan: I write about Clarence and the impact he had on attitudes in the South, how he was treated by his own family during this difficult period of time. Never thought about that. Most people that were around Clarence were in awe of him, because he had not material possessions, he lived very modestly. Ironically, the Baptist religion was the basis for his life, yet at the same time, the Baptists in the South were the leading opponents for integration. I always admired Clarence, but I never thought about him in terms of my own illness.