Archive for Robyn

Pesticides & Food

This infographic was created by Garrick Dee of JuicingWithG, a blog that’s all about juicing. The information presented here was taken directly from the Environmental Working Group’s website.

For more information on when to buy organic produce vs. conventional produce, click HERE.

Dirty Dozen Infographic


Reliable, Relevant Cancer Info Delivered Straight to Your Inbox


Medivizor provides personalized, reliable medical information to people coping with serious or chronic medical conditions.  Medical conditions currently supported include breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, melanoma and prostate cancer as well as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and infertility.

It’s similar to a google alert but much, much better.  Medivizor‘s FREE service scans hundreds of clinical reports; selects the ones most relevant to you; interprets the content; and notifies you of the findings in simple terms that even a 10th grader can understand.

Research has shown that patients who take an active role in their health care tend to have better outcomes.  The information Medivizor provides enables users become more knowledgeable about their medical condition.  Users learn about cutting edge research relative to their condition, possible treatments, clinical trials, lifestyle tips and more that they can discuss with their doctors.


Breast cancer staging: one lymph node or several?In a nutshellThis paper compares the benefits and risks of axillary lymph node dissection compared to sentinel lymph node dissection.Some backgroundBreast cancer can spread to nearby lymph nodes (organ that is involved in the immune system that is found throughout the body). Generally, for patients with no cancer in their lymph nodes, sentinel lymph node dissection is performed to stage the cancer. This involves removal of only the first lymph node to which the cancer is most likely to spread, to determine the severity of cancer. For patients with early invasive breast cancer and metastatic disease (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body), axillary lymph node dissection is undertaken. This involves removal of several lymph nodes to determine the severity of cancer.Methods & findingsThe authors studied women with breast cancer that had spread to the sentinel lymph node. Data from 10 previous articles were combined and studied.

From three studies, there were similar survival rates between patients who had sentinel lymph node dissection alone and complete axillary lymph node dissection.

In one study, 1.6% of patients who had sentinel lymph node dissection compared with 3.1% of patients who had axillary lymph node dissection experienced return of breast cancer. However, another study reported that significantly more women who underwent a sentinel lymph node dissection alone had higher rates of cancer return. Women who had sentinel lymph node dissection alone had similar disease-free-survival (period without symptoms of disease) rates compared with women who had complete axillary lymph node dissection.

The studies also evaluated the risks associated with each option. Compared to patients who had complete axillary lymph node dissection, those who had sentinel lymph node dissection alone had a 70% lower risk of lymphedema (swelling in the limbs) after 6 months, 74% lower risk of limited range of motion75% lower risk of pins and needles in arms and a 42% lower risk of wound infections.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that for some women with early invasive breast cancer, sentinel lymph node dissection can be an alternative to axillary lymph node dissection.

The fine print

There could be publication bias and some studies had low strength of evidence.

What’s next?

Discuss with your doctor the advantages and disadvantages of both treatment methods.

Published By :

European journal of cancer

Date :

Mar 01, 2013

Original Title :

Sentinel lymph node dissection only versus complete axillary lymph node dissection in early invasive breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.


Recipes to Nourish Your Body During Cancer Treatments & Beyond


NOTE:  Eating protein-rich food like chickpeas and lentils gives your body the fuel it needs to build up your immune system which often times becomes compromised during cancer treatments.
Servings:  6


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • large carrot, diced
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked vegetables, frozen peas or chopped fresh greens (or any combination)


  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, smoked paprika and cumin; cook, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t brown, about 2 minutes more.
  2. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, red lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer; cook for ten minutes. Add the chickpeas, cover the pot and cook 10 minutes more. Fish out the bay leaves, then transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Add the puréed soup back to the pot and stir. Taste; if you want the soup to be thicker, purée a bit more soup. Add the cooked vegetables, frozen peas or chopped greens and simmer until the soup is hot and the vegetables are warmed through. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.



*NOTE:  This dish contains turmeric.  The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which functions as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.  Studies have shown that turmeric or curcumin may be helpful in treating or preventing certain cancers.
Servings: 4


  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloins)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper and, using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-inch thickness. (Skip this step if substituting chicken tenderloins.)
  2. Mix all ingredients except chicken together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place pounded chicken breasts inside 1 gallon zip-lock bag. Add marinade to the bag, press air out and seal shut. Massage marinade into the breasts until evenly coated. Place the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator (to protect against leakage), and let the chicken marinate for 5-6 hours.
  3. Clean grill and preheat to high. Place chicken breasts on grill, spooning marinade over top. Grill, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcook.


For more nutritious and delicious recipes like these, visit Jenn is a classically trained chef and recipe creator. Whenever I’m looking for something new make, OnceUponAChef is the first place I go for tried & true, crowd-pleasing recipes.

Study Finds Cancer Diagnosis Can Lead to Mental Health Disorders



For many people with cancer, connecting with others provides emotional support and inspiration during this challenging time.  In fact, research has shown that strong support communities can be beneficial to cancer outcomes.  To help cancer patients and their caregivers get the support they need, provides free, personal websites to anyone affected by cancer.  FREE website features include the ability to connect with loved ones (as a group or individually); post updates; coordinate meals, rides and visits with online scheduling and reminders; and collect funds from family and friends to help off-set the costs of cancer treatment.  To learn more, visit and check out the blog.


The post below was written by Cancer Foundation…  

“A study published last Monday in U.S. News and World Report, found that one in three people diagnosed with cancer experience a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Researchers in the study conducted interviews with more than 2,100 individuals with cancer between the ages of 18 and 75. This study reinforces the importance of the mental health of cancer patients—the core of’s mission; to provide the online platform for social and emotional support for all people affected by cancer.

Here is a summary of the findings from the study published on Oct. 6 in the Health section of U.S. News and World Report:

  • About 32% of cancer patients experience a mental health disorder, while general population mental disorder rate is much lower at 20%
  • More than 40% of patients with breast, head and neck cancer and malignant melanoma had at least one mental health disorder
  • The lowest rates of mental disorder, around 20%, occurred among patients with pancreatic, prostate, stomach or esophageal cancers
  • Anxiety disorders is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting cancer patients
  • Breast cancer patients were twice as likely to experience a mental disorder than people with typically more fatal types of cancer, such as pancreatic or stomach cancer believes social and emotional support is as important as medical care in the face of a cancer diagnosis and provides anyone affected by cancer with a place to receive support for their mental health. Because every cancer patient should feel supported, every day provides free, personal and private websites to help them easily connect with family and friends.”

6 Signs That It May Be Time to Fire Your Oncologist


In case you missed my most recent article for Huffington Post, I am reposting it here on CancerHawk…  After reading it, let us know if you’ve ever “fired” a doctor… What was YOUR reason?  


We all know there is no such thing as a perfect doctor. We also know that no doctor always says the right thing, no doctor knows all the answers, and no doctor can always be there for us whenever we want them to be. With that said, there are instances when you may need to find a doctor that is better suited for you.

So how do you know when it’s time to make a switch?

1. Your oncologist doesn’t think you should get a second opinion.

Second opinions are extremely important. They will either confirm what you’ve already been told or present different options to weigh.

Although most doctors welcome another physician’s input, there are some that do not. Those doctors may even get frustrated or angry when you suggest talking to another professional. If your oncologist doesn’t support your getting a second opinion, thenSWITCH doctors.

Remember, getting additional opinions may be required at different points in your care — not just at the initial diagnosis.

2. You don’t feel comfortable talking to your oncologist.

Being best friends with your oncologist is not required. You don’t even have to like your doctor. But you do have to feel comfortable talking to them about anything related to your health.

If you are too embarrassed to tell your doctor something, get over it. On the other hand, if you’re hesitant to raise concerns or ask about things you’ve read on the Internet for fear of the lecture you’ll receive, then SWITCH oncologists. A good oncologist appreciates a knowledgeable, well-informed patient and is receptive to such conversations.

3. Your oncologist keeps you in the dark about anything related to your treatment or speaks in medical jargon that’s difficult to comprehend.

A successful doctor-patient relationship requires 100 percent honesty. Doctors must be candid with their patients about topics ranging from the goal of treatment to the pros and cons of each treatment option to test results even if they are unfavorable. And doctors must have these conversations using simple terms that the patient understands.

If you feel that your oncologist is not being honest with you or does not take the time to explain complicated medical jargon or answer your questions in a way that satisfies you, then SWITCH doctors. Your health is far too important for you to be misled, uninformed or confused.

4. The office staff is difficult to work with or unprofessional.

This may sound trivial, as the office staff is not directly responsible for your medical care. However, telephone calls need to be returned promptly. Test results must be easily obtainable. Appointments need to be conveniently scheduled. Insurance claims must be accurately filed. The people at the front desk should be somewhat pleasant.

If you feel that the office staff is difficult to work with or unprofessional, then talk to your doctor. If the situation doesn’t improve, you may want to consider making theSWITCH.

5. Your doctor does not keep abreast of the latest advances in cancer care.

While many doctors are knowledgeable about the latest advances in treating cancer, there are those oncologists who are not. Has your oncologist explained to you that no two cancers are alike? Has your doctor spoken to you about molecular profiling and tumor testing? If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, has your doctor spoken to you about a recent FDA-approved immunotherapy regimen?

With each passing day, researchers learn more about cancer and how to better fight this disease. New treatments are morphing some cancers into a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. If your oncologist is not up-to-date on the latest and greatest advances in cancer care and personalized or precision medicine, then make the SWITCH to a new oncologist.

6. Your doctor is not a “realistic optimist.”

At the end of the day, fighting a diagnosis of cancer requires hope. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, waiting for test results, and so many other aspects of this disease can mentally and physically beat even the toughest of people down. Hope that good health will once again return is what gets people back on their feet, ready to take on another day.

Although oncologists must be honest and realistic with their patients, they can still be hopeful and never give up. Even with a grim diagnosis, there is always hope that a person can beat the odds. Personally, I will never again work with a doctor who has not had a patient that beat the odds. Had I known what I know now, I would have made the SWITCH solely based on this point.

The bottom line… After being diagnosed with cancer, even once a clean bill of health is given, your oncologist will continue to follow and screen you for many years to come. This relationship is a long-term partnership and should be viewed as such.

You deserve to get the best possible care from your doctor(s). And if you are not happy with the care you are receiving for whatever reason, you have the right to fire that doctor and find another provider.

Patients who take an active role in their health care tend to have better outcomes. So take an active role in your health care even if it means making difficult choices or going outside of your comfort zone. Your life may depend on it.

Hope In A Mouse Kept Us Afloat


Science Magazine












I am truly honored to have been interviewed by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel of Science Magazine for the article she wrote on using animal models to guide patient care as this is where my family’s battle with cancer led us.  You can read Jennifer’s  article “Hope In A Mouse” by clicking here.  Thank you Jennifer for including my perspective in this amazing, well-balanced and informative article.  


A little more info on our experience….

When I look back on my family’s war with cancer, I believe that “hope” kept us afloat.  

We tried everything possible to gain control over the cancer that was ravaging my husband’s body, but nothing was working.  We were under the care of top doctors in sarcoma (that is after we fired our first oncologist); we followed the advice of a nutritionist who specialized in working with oncology patients (as a result, my husband Alan had never looked better and his body became strong enough to withstand the massive amounts of toxic therapies he received); we even worked with a spiritual healer (what can I say, we were desperate).


Come November 2009, we were left with no options… and no hope.  It was pure luck (and one amazing Uncle) that led us to Champions Oncology.  Champions offered us the ability to implant Alan’s cancer into immunodeficient mice (mice with no immune system); test any drug or treatment regimen in these mice; and if we were lucky enough to find something that killed off Alan’s cancer in the mice, there was a really good chance it would do the same in Alan’s body.


Although we knew the odds of success were not in our favor, the ability to test different therapies against Alan’s tumors in mice using the Champions TumorGraft gave us hope. Hope gave us the strength to get out of bed each day and enjoy whatever time our family had left together.


Although we did not find a cure for Alan’s cancer or anything to substantially slow down its growth, we know that we tried everything possible to beat this diagnosis.  I sleep at night knowing that we left no stone unturned.


My family’s battle with cancer led me to create CancerHawk.  My mission is to connect cancer patients and caregivers to groups and resources they never knew existed or even thought to seek out- groups like Champions Oncology for instance.  Knowledge is hope.  And hope is everything.


Read the article Hope In A Mouse” in this week’s Science Magazine and let us know what you think…  Would you want access to an experimental approach to guide your treatment even if it’s not yet 100% proven?  Or would you prefer that researchers keep it locked up until it is?






Breast Cancer Is Actually 10 Different Diseases


got Cancer? meet CancerCare



Despite the fact that CancerCare is a national organization providing free support services to anyone affected by cancer in the US and Puerto Rico, not everyone knows about them or about the amazing assistance they offer.  Candidly, I wish I had known about them when we were battling my husband’s cancer.

CancerCare literally helps anyone touched by cancer, and I mean A-N-Y-O-N-E -patients, caregivers, survivors, family and even friends.   Services include free individual counseling, free support groups, free resource referrals, free meals, financial assistance and even the ability to connect with leading cancer experts.


FREE Counseling Services

CancerCare‘s free counseling is available over the telephone, online or in person. All support groups are led by masters level oncology social workers and allow participants to connect and identify with others in similar situations.

  • In-person groups are held at CancerCare offices in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. If people don’t live in these areas, CancerCare will help them find face-to-face support groups in their community.
  • Password-protected online support groups can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Telephone support groups connect people with others from across the country who share similar concerns. Regularly scheduled, one-hour sessions take place over six weeks.

To learn more about CancerCare‘s support groups or to register for one, visit or call 800-813-hope (4673).


Connect with a Leading Oncology Expert

CancerCare Connect Education Workshops share the latest information from leading oncology experts. Like all of CancerCare’s services, these one-hour workshops are completely free of charge.  Registrants can listen in live over the phone or online as a webcast.  Topics range from latest advances in specific cancer types to understanding the Affordable Care Act to practical advice for caregivers and so much more.

To see the upcoming schedule of workshops, click HERE.  To listen to past workshops, click HERE.


Financial Assistance

In addition to the emotional stress and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, the financial implications can become burdensome.  Co-pays for chemotherapy, RXs, tests and office visits as well as OTC meds add up quickly.  Other cancer-related costs include travel expenses like gas and parking fees at doctor’s offices; paying for childcare coverage during treatments; the list goes on and on.  Some people even have to stop working during their treatment or the treatment of their child.  Out-of-pocket expenses can put people into debt or make it nearly impossible for them to follow or complete their cancer treatment plan.

CancerCare offers financial assistance for cancer-related costs such as:

  • Transportation to and from cancer treatment
  • Home care
  • Child care
  • Pain medications
  • Lymphedema supplies (breast cancer only)

Check the CancerCare website for specific requirements and grants.  Please note:  If CancerCare does not currently have funding to assist your specific situation, their professional oncology social workers will work to refer you to other financial assistance resources. 

Also check out the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation which helps people afford co-payments for chemotherapy and targeted treatment drugs.  To learn more, visit

Meal Assistance

CancerCare partners with Magnolia Meals at Home™, a meal delivery program that helps patients by providing nourishing meals to households affected by breast cancer so that loved ones can spend more quality time together.  This program is currently available in and around Woodcliff Lake, NJ, Andover, MA and Raleigh-Durham, NC as well as areas in New York, New Hampshire and Boston, MA. Eligible participants will receive up to two months of home meal deliveries, each of which will include ten meals and up to ten additional meals for their family members, if requested by the participant.  Visit the Magnolia Meals at Home website for more information.


The bottomline:  CancerCare social workers are well trained and experienced in helping patients and their families find the resources and support they need to cope with cancer… free of charge.  So if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, connect with CancerCare… they can offer help and hope.  

Live, Love & Laugh MORE Often… despite the fact that #cancersucks



While we were battling Alan’s cancer, I printed out the 50 inspirational lessons below and placed them on my bathroom mirror.  I needed to be reminded that life was still good, despite the onslaught of heartbreaking news we were receiving.   And now, 4 years after his passing, I STILL read them every morning as I’m getting dressed.  It gives me perspective and helps me remember that although life isn’t what I expected it to be, it’s still a gift…. after all, that’s how Alan always saw it.


In honor of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I think it’s fitting to re-post these lessons, written by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.  If you’ve read them before, they are a great reminder on how to live life.  And if you’ve never read them, enjoy.  I wish you all a healthy, sweet, joyful, cancer-free New Year!  xo


1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

What You Should Know About the 2014-2015 Influenza Season


Today marks the first day of Autumn.  I love this time of year…. Alan’s birthday, cooler temperatures, crisp air, beautifully colored leaves, and flu shots.  Yes, you read that right… now is the time- BEFORE winter arrives (and with it, the flu)- when it’s best to get your flu shot.


Regardless of how severe this season’s flu will or will not be, it sucks if you are the one who gets it.


What do cancer patients & survivors- whose immune system may be weakened from cancer treatments- need to know about the flu?  


Doctor’s offices around the country are vaccinating their patients for the upcoming 2014-2015 flu season NOW.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people who have had cancer or who currently have a diagnosis of cancer- as well as their families and close contacts- get vaccinated by October.


Below is important information that every cancer patient & survivor should know about the flu from and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:


  • Having or surviving cancer does NOT put you at an increased risk for getting the flu. It does, however, put you at an increased risk of complications from the flu virus.  Complications include pneumonia, hospitalization and even death.
  • Getting the flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu.  But always talk with your medical team prior to getting vaccinated.    Under certain circumstances, there may be some cancer patients should not get vaccinated.
  • If you are a cancer patient or survivor, do not get the nasal spray- ONLY get the flu shot.
  • Because you are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia, talk to your health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine.  Discuss the possibility of needing two pneumococcal vaccinations with your health care provider.  This vaccine can help protect you against pneumonia.
  • Call the doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to the flu.  You may be prescribed an antiviral medication, which can help stop the virus from infecting your body.
  • If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, schedule an appointment with your doctor today.