BobRiter2016

Spouses Should Support, Not Direct, Cancer Care

Posted April 28th, 2016

I frequently hear cancer patients say that a spouse or partner is adding stress to their lives by constantly expressing their own opinions as to what is best for the patient. Here are some examples: “You have to go to New York City for all of your cancer treatments. You can’t get good care anywhere […]


Bob Riter

Living with a Rare Cancer

Posted March 31st, 2016

The most common cancers in adults are prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal. Combined, these cancers account for nearly half of all cancer diagnoses. Other relatively common cancers include melanoma, kidney, leukemia and bladder. If you were diagnosed with breast cancer this past year, you might be comforted (and/or disturbed) to learn that some 235,000 other […]


Bob Riter

Cancer and Hair Loss

Posted February 11th, 2016

Becoming temporarily bald is a common side effect of cancer treatment. For many, it is a difficult and all-too-visible symbol of illness and loss. Do you know why people often lose their hair while on chemotherapy? It is because chemo attacks rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells rapidly divide – that’s the nature of cancer. But […]


Bob Riter

Take the right person with you to medical appointments

Posted January 29th, 2016

In a recent article, I encouraged people with cancer to take someone with them when they went to important medical appointments. When you hear the words, “You have cancer,” you tend to have trouble remembering anything else. Today, I want to suggest who to take with you on those appointments. Take someone who listens more […]


Bob Riter

New Year’s Wishes 2016

Posted December 31st, 2015

I like to give myself a magic wand at this time of the year to grant wishes to those affected by cancer. Here are my wishes for 2016: I wish that our friends and acquaintances would stop giving us advice. I wish that bake sales and chicken barbecues to raise money for people with cancer […]


Bob Riter

Lessons Learned from Cancer

Posted December 17th, 2015

I’m always happy when readers tell me that the advice I provide in my columns about cancer is just as applicable for people with any type of serious illness. Increasingly, I think the lessons I’ve learned in the cancer world have applications to life even more broadly. Here are some examples: People should stop giving […]


Bob Riter

Twenty Years in the Cancer World

Posted December 7th, 2015

It’s been nearly 20 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. When I step back from my day-to-day work, I realize how much has changed during those two decades: There’s considerably less stigma associated with cancer than there used to be. Twenty years ago, many people felt the need to keep their cancer diagnosis a […]


Bob Riter

Keeping Yourself in Balance

Posted December 3rd, 2015

Yesterday afternoon, a woman about to begin chemotherapy came into my office and asked, “What advice do you have to help me get through my treatment?”  I’ve been asked this question in various forms hundreds of times. I now realize that the answer boils down to this: “Keep things in balance.” It’s all about being […]


Bob Riter

What to tell your young children if you have cancer

Posted November 9th, 2015

If you are diagnosed with cancer when you have young children, you’re faced with what to share with them and how to share it. Children can usually sense when something is wrong. And they will likely overhear the word “cancer” when you’re talking with someone else. If you tell them the truth, they can focus […]


Bob Riter

Being OK with Brain Cancer

Posted October 22nd, 2015

Most cancers become life-threatening when they spread, or metastasize, from the original site to distant organs. Brain cancer is different in that it rarely metastasizes elsewhere. That isn’t much consolation, however, because the brain is our most essential organ. Emily is a young woman with brain cancer. She’s had two surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. […]