Armchair Quarterbacking Paul Allen's Treatments

Patients with no firsthand knowledge of Paul Allen’s medical situation are offering explanations of what likely happened. On one blog, a follow-up commenter wondered if Allen’s doctors had made a mistake.

Paul Allen 2003 (photo from New York Post)

Paul Allen 2003 (photo from New York Post)

I feel sad about the death of innovator and philanthropist Paul Allen. Even though I had a different type of lymphoma than him, it hit home to be reminded of realities, such as…

  • lymphoma can recur after many years of remission

  • treatment options for recurrence may be limited by past treatments

  • lymphoma can kill

For many lymphoma patients, Allen’s death stirs an extra layer of fear because he had access to the best-of-the-best doctors and cancer centers. Money was no object. It reminds me of how hard Christopher Reeves’ death hit the spinal-cord-injury community, with some patients thinking, “If this could happen to him, it could happen to me.”

What’s a Healthy Survivor to do? Grieving is healthy. Armchair quarterbacking is not, especially without the facts. Patients who take unverified explanations as fact may draw inaccurate conclusions about their own situation. They may lose hope or take action that is not ideal.

The first step of Healthy Survivorship is to “obtain sound knowledge.”

Until respectable sources document the facts, I’m assuming Allen made wise decisions with his doctors and suffered one of the unwanted outcomes he and his doctors knew was possible.

My condolences to Allen’s family, friends, and colleagues. My condolences to all those whose lives were touched by Allen’s life-changing philanthropic efforts. RIP Paul Allen.

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