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Health Chat

Joel Nathan

"What To Do When They Say 'It's Cancer'"

July 16, 1999
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EDT

Joel Nathan was born in 1940. After studying law, he decided to change disciplines and graduated with a degree in philosophy and psychology. He found his vocation in advertising and worked for 18 years as a creative director, living at the frenetic pace his work demanded.

In 1983 Joel was diagnosed with hairy cell leukemia, and with three months to live, refocused his priorities and set about surviving. He received interferon, thereby maintaining a truce with his cancer. Four years later Joel discovered that a new drug - 2CDA - was being tried for his form of leukemia. He was treated with this drug, which is now the drug of choice for hairy cell leukemia.

Illness made Joel reconsider his life. He remarried, and fulfilled his dream of being a writer. His first book, Time of My Life, about his ordeal with cancer, was published in 1992. He has inspired many people with cancer to become survivors and became the focus of many people seeking his sage counsel.

In 1996, while writing What To Do When They Say "It's Cancer," a chance X-ray revealed he had non-small cell lung cancer. The diagnosis was early and surgery to remove part of Joel's right lung was successful.

Today he is well and works counseling people who have life-threatening diseases. He promotes cancer support, education, and survival skills and has established a company to provide information on the latest treatment and trial programs around the world.

While it might seem difficult to believe, but even after having had cancer twice, Nathan believes having had cancer has made him a better person.

"I've become more tolerant and accepting of people. Working with cancer patients, I've become a lot less judgmental. Cancer changes people."

Nathan has a background in law, philosophy, and psychology. He speaks about of patient's rights, how to improve quality of life, and how to overcome the fear of dying. As a survivor, Nathan deals with these issues with sensitivity, compassion, and understanding

Nathan will join our health chat Friday July 23. Please join us.


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