Bob Riter

What To Say – And Not Say – To A Person With Cancer

Posted September 14th, 2017

Most people find it awkward when first talking with a friend or acquaintance who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Even though nearly everyone is well-intentioned, many say things that hurt or mystify more than they comfort. Based on my own experiences and my conversations with others with cancer, here are some suggestions: What to […]


Bob Riter

Crossing the Bridge from Early to Advanced Cancer

Posted August 30th, 2017

When you’re first diagnosed with cancer, you cross a bridge that separates the “healthy” from those with cancer. You’re entering a scary place, but the focus is on curing the cancer and getting back to the land of the healthy. There’s another bridge that’s less visible to the general public. This bridge separates people with […]


Bob Riter

The Post-Treatment Blahs

Posted August 22nd, 2017

For many people the months following cancer treatment are more difficult than the treatment itself.  During treatment, your “job” is to be in treatment. You’re busy with appointments and you see the same doctors and nurses almost every week. At the same time, friends bring you meals, family members take on extra duties, and you’re […]


Bob Riter

Practical Advice for Getting Second Opinions

Posted August 11th, 2017

 A woman recently diagnosed with cancer stopped by our office to say that she’s heard that it’s important to obtain second opinions from major cancer centers and to assemble a team of experts to provide her treatment. She asked, “How the hell do I do that?” Cancer guidebooks are full of grandiose suggestions like “assemble […]


Bob Riter

Cancer Survivors Can Help the Newly Diagnosed

Posted August 3rd, 2017

When friends I haven’t heard from for many years suddenly call me, I wait for them to say, “Bob, I just got diagnosed with cancer.” This is not unique to me. People who have had cancer are often asked for advice by those who are newly diagnosed. Similar conversations take place in cancer support groups. […]


Bob Riter

Cancer-Related Fatigue

Posted June 19th, 2017

When people think about the side effects of cancer treatment, they usually think about hair loss (which is common with some types of chemotherapy), and nausea (which is not nearly as common as it used to be). But in my experience, fatigue is the side effect that’s most universal and least appreciated. Fatigue is different […]


Bob Riter

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Medical Advice on Facebook

Posted May 22nd, 2017

I’m often startled by the medical advice that people give to their friends on Facebook. Sometimes it takes the form of saying, “You should do this,” but often it’s more subtle and simply involves sharing a link. Before people post something of this nature, I wish that they would consider the following questions: Have you […]


Bob Riter

Making Friends With Your Oncologist

Posted May 12th, 2017

An oncologist once remarked to me that her patients routinely told her about their personal lives – like they were trying to strike up friendships. I can understand this. It’s not that patients expect their oncologists to invite them over for dinner, but there is a desire to make some sort of human connection. I’m […]


Bob Riter

Connecting Cancer Scientists and Cancer Patients

Posted May 1st, 2017

Most cancer research begins in laboratories where scientists seek to understand why normal cells mutate into cancer cells and then travel, wreaking havoc, elsewhere in the body. These basic scientists are generally more familiar with test tubes than with cancer patients. Nationally, there’s growing interest in building partnerships between scientists and patients. For example, review […]


Bob Riter

Why do engineers study cancer?

Posted April 13th, 2017

You probably know that cancer research is routinely done by biologists, but you might be surprised to learn that engineers increasingly contribute to our understanding and treatment of this disease. Here are some examples: Cancer cells migrate through the body to take root in distant organs. These cells have to survive the “flowing river” of […]