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How Andrew Schorr Became “America’s Most Empowering Patient”

By HERWriter Guide
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Andrew Schorr had his blood drawn this month and spent most of his appointment discussing his children with his oncologist. It’s been 14 years since the EmpowHER member and contributor had an abnormal blood test showing he had one of the leukemias, cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Results were normal, so he returned to his work as “America’s most empowering patient.”

Schorr has a long history in journalism, with degrees from the University of North Carolina and Columbia University. He worked in both local and national television news until 1984 when he shifted his focus to producing medical programs in partnership with his wife, Esther, winning several national awards. In 1992 they developed "HealthTalk," with interactive "talk shows" for patients, a company that’s now part of EverydayHealth, Inc.

Despite all his work in the medical field, Schorr had never heard of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) when he was diagnosed in 1996. “I was 45 with two small children and a devoted wife, he said. “While this type of leukemia can be seen by some as “the good kind” it can still shorten your life, certainly when the time of diagnosis is 45. I was just getting rolling in my life’s work and not ready to start planning for life’s end.”

By reaching out to other patients and connecting with doctors who specialize in his illness, Schorr participated in a clinical trial at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He received "tomorrow's medicine today" and now, 14 years after diagnosis, remains in remission and takes no medicines. The treatment he received wasn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration until 2010.

He says, “Fortunately, I connected online with others with this disease. They mentored me and guided me to doctors who had made treating this disease their life’s work. By connecting with one of them at a major center 2,000 miles from my hometown, I was given the confidence to father a third child and enter a clinical trial for a promising new treatment regime. It was worth it! Now the kid is 13 and I’m a 14 year survivor with no sign of leukemia.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.