Photo by Vera LaMarche

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That line appeared in John Lennon’s song Beautiful Boy, written for his son Sean and appearing on the album Double Fantasy, released in 1980 by Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono.

A cancer diagnosis can quickly change your “other plans.” For Vernal Branch, who had taken part in civil rights protests in the 1960s, a diagnosis of stage I breast cancer in 1995 re-ignited her activist streak—propelling her to dedicate her life to public policy issues surrounding cancer. Her activism even took her to the White House, where she spoke at a breast cancer awareness event in 2009. You can read her story here.

I, too, was busy making other plans when life interrupted. In my case, a call from a recruiter led to my arrival at Cancer Today earlier this year. I was excited by the opportunity—eager to return to health and medical communications, a field in which I had worked for nearly 20 years. I also had a personal reason: I was the primary caregiver for my mother and father when they had cancer.

This is my first issue flying solo as executive editor of Cancer Today. In my wholly biased but informed opinion, this magazine is simply the best out there at covering cancer. Our editors and writers are knowledgeable and passionate. Cancer Today also benefits from its affiliation with the American Association for Cancer Research, the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focused on high-quality, innovative cancer research.

Now that I’m here, what can you, the reader, expect? Cancer Today is an award-winning magazine that was carefully refocused and redesigned just two years ago. It is widely respected by our readers and professionals in the cancer community. My team and I will make adjustments over time, but for now the look, feel and substance of the magazine will not change much.

What will change is our online presence. In the coming months, we’ll add content that will turn our website into a destination you’ll want to visit again and again. We’ll also restart a free monthly Cancer Today e-newsletter. (Send an email to Info@CancerTodayM​ag.org to sign up.) Finally, we’ll be more active on social media, building on our existing presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Let me close with a word of thanks to Jessica Gorman, former executive editor of Cancer Today, who has graciously agreed to stay on as editor-at-large. Jessica and contributing editor Sue Rochman were my lifelines during the first few months on the job. Also, let me call attention to two new names on the masthead: Marci A. Landsmann is the new editor, and Ron Grunsby is the new senior manager of marketing and circulation for Cancer Today.

If you’re reading this magazine, odds are you’re undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment, or you’re a concerned family member or friend. By now you probably realize that understanding your illness and treatment is better than not knowing your options, connecting with others is better than facing the disease alone, and talking through your thoughts and feelings is better than keeping them bottled up. That’s what Cancer Today is for—to share knowledge, to build community and to give a voice to those who have cancer, their loved ones and their caregivers. That’s a big and important job, and I’m proud to play a part as executive editor of this essential magazine.