A Second Chance

A Wedding, And Then Chemotherapy

For almost every patient, a cancer diagnosis used to be a death sentence. But with advances in modern medicine, many of these patients now have a good chance to survive. CBS News 48 Hours follows the fortunes of several cancer sufferers, introduces viewers to a few of the cutting edge researchers as they race to find a cure, reports on the latest treatments, and talks to the experts about what you can do to avoid this terrifying disease.
48 Hours
A Second Chance

Among the remarkable people you'll meet on this Thursday's show:
  • Want to find out more about cancer, or the institutions shown on this week's show? Here's a list of phone numbers, Web sites, and addresses.
    Jennifer Putnam, a vivacious 26-year-old newlywed who's just starting out her life. The only problem: Jennifer has eight cancerous tumors. Known as melanomas, these tumors have not responded to chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Now, Jennifer is trying a novel new treatment created by renowned National Institutes of Health cancer specialist Steven Rosenberg. This vaccine succeeds by persuading the body's own immune system to attack the tumors. In his first trials, he had a 42% success rate, which is incredible, considering that the disease usually kills 100% of those it strikes. He and Jennifer are determined to keep fighting the disease until it's vanquished.
  • Colby Gilliland, a 12-year-old from Hamilton, Alabama. Colby has leukemia, which until recently was a virtual death sentence for children stricken with it. But Colby is a patient at the St. Jude Children's Research Center, which is one of the leading cancer clinics in the world. At these clinics, the cure rate is around 80%. Brand-new diagnostic techniques reveal that she has an especially aggressive form of leukemia. When standard chemotherapy fails to knock out the leukemia, doctors decide to do a bone marrow transplant, which goes well. She returns home to Hamilton. Doctors say she appears to be on the way to being cancer-free.

  • Jacob Williams, another 12-year-old with leukemia who is at St. Jude. Because Jacob has a different kind of cancer, one more easily cured than Colby's, his treatment goes much more smoothly. After a round of chemotherapy, he is pronounced cancer-free and allowed to go home. He will continue on a chemotherapy maintenance program.
  • CBS News Health Consultant Dr. Bernadine Healy talks about the connection between eating fiber and preventing cancer.
  • Louise Cooper Lovelace/b>, a 45-year-old Los Angeles schoolteacher and world-class athlete. She is one of the top women adventure racers in the world. Her sport consists of grueling contests that last for days and include running, cycling, mountain climbing, and kayaking. One day, Louise finds a lump on her breast. She has breast cancer. Amazingly, her savior turns out to be her former next-door-neighbor, Dr. Dennis Slamon, a top breast cancer specialist who has come up with a breakthrough treatment for the disease. Dr. Slamon has come up with a drug called "Herceptin," which works by stopping the gene that causes the cancer cells to grow. The drug is applicable to 30% of breast cancer cases, and succeeds on 4 out of 10 of these patients. With the help of her friend and former neighbor, Louise is confident that she'll win this race.
  • Dr. Bernard Levin, vice president of cancer prevention at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Dr. Bernadine Healy, CBS News Health Consultant. Dr. Levin argues that 60% of cancers may be preventable for simple lifestyle changes. Dr. Healy tells viewers what they can do to avoid getting cancer. Among her recommendations: don't smoke, exercise, eat more fruits and vegetables, and take lots of vitamins, including B, D, and C.
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produced by David Kohn