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'Double Dare' Host Marc Summers Reveals His Bout with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia): Lessons, Errors and Omissions

By Bkoffman
From ABC News
Marc Summers is ingrained in the minds of millions of fans from his iconic run as host of the kids show "Double Dare."The 63-year-old TV personality and Food Network producer appeared on the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR this week to talk about something much more serious. After spending the weekend with the radio show's hosts at an event called "Striking Out Cancer," Summers said, "I'm sort of old school and keep things to myself ... I've been sort of keeping something secret for the last five years.""I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. In show business, if you talk about that stuff, it's hard to get hired afterwards. My agent said, 'Well, don't talk about it.' I've sort of compressed this thing and it's made me nuts," he said. "I wanted to tell somebody and I didn't know who to tell. I was on this show 'Oprah: Where are They Now' and I almost did it there."Summers was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia."I was having stomach problems and in severe pain, went to a hospital and they took 17.5 inches of my small intestine out," he said.Summers said when he woke up he made a joke, "Hey doctor, do I have cancer?" and he replied, "As a matter of fact, you do."The reason he's talking now is that his first doctor wanted to "blast" him full of chemo and radiation and he wanted a second opinion. On that visit, he was told he had just six months left."He said, 'You have six months, get your papers ready,'" Summers said. "I was freaking out."He thought he wouldn't get to see his kids married and that he was going to die. But he called the first doctor and he shut down that theory. The first doctor called the second and that doctor denied giving Summers the death sentence.He got a third opinion, then "was in chemo" for two years with a doctor, whom he said changed his life."The first chemo was brutal, as I think they all are," Summers said. "This past December, I finally got the all-clear sign."Now, he wants to share his story of remission and is "ready to move on."
Be warned that the video does have some mildly risqué language.

There are so many things wrong with this story, I almost feel it's as if it is one of those WACKY WEDNESDAY cartoons where you need to pick out all the problems.
To name a few:
Chemotherapy? Seems he had rituximab which is a biological immunotherapy, not really chemo.
His first doctor wanted to "blast him full of chemo and radiation" and a second told him that "he had just six months left? "That is so scary that it doesn't even deserve comment. Good on him for getting a third opinion.
PET scans yearly time five years? No indication for CT scans most of the time in CLL, let alone a PET scans.
Cured with single agent rituximab? That would be a miraculous and publishable result. Cures in CLL to this point have only be possible with a high risk bone marrow transplant.
Which brings me to the last and least concerning point: understandable confusion re: bone marrow biopsy versus bone marrow transplant. To his credit, Marc did help straighten that out.
Since he seems that he never saw a true dedicated CLL expert, I have to wonder if he ever had a FISH test and whether he ever really needed treatment. It would make sense that his disease profile was pretty indolent to respond so dramatically to only rituxan.
But there also are some excellent lessons from this cautionary tale.
The biggest take away message is that we all need to get a second and sometimes a third opinion.
And we must always be our own strongest advocates and push to get the best possible care.
And I do so appreciate Marc Summers coming out of the cancer closet. I understand why it made sense for him to keep quiet when in show business, but that's a bit sad that we live in such a prejudiced world.
We find out about most celebrity's CLL in their obituary, so I salute his bravery and the good work he is doing getting the word out.If you want a personal response, or just want to stay in touch, please email me at bkoffmanMD@gmail.com. I have no other way of contacting. Thanks. Stay strong. After all, we are all in this together.

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