Archive for Robyn

got Cancer? meet CANCERcare

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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 www.cancercare.org/support_groups 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 www.cancercarecopay.org.

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

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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 flu.gov 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.

 

 

The Power of Resilience is in EVERYONE!

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The power of resilience is in everyone.

 

I saw this on HopeLab’s FaceBook Page and had to repost it on CancerHawk today.  It so eloquently redefines what is within each of us.  Cancer has shown me that each one of us is stronger than we realize.  When you look in the mirror, what do you see? xoxoxoxoxo

2014 – 2015 Top Ranked US Cancer Hospitals

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Each year US News & World Report ranks the top 50 cancer hospitals in the US.  Every hospital ranked is experienced in treating difficult cases.  Reputation among specialists, survival rates, success in keeping patients safe and patient volume are among the criteria used to evaluate the cancer hospitals.  For a complete explanation of how these rankings are determined, click HERE.

*** Regardless of which hospital center you choose, even if it’s a top ranked one, it is still important to get a second opinion… or a 3rd or a 4th. ;-) ***

So without further ado, below are the 2014-2015 US News & World Report’s Top Ranked Hospitals for Cancer:

1.  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY)

2.  University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX)

3.  Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)

4.  Dana Farber/ Brigham & Women’s Cancer  (Boston, MA)

5.  Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD)

6.  University of Washington Medical Center (Seattle, WA)

7.  Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)

8.  UCSF Medical Center (San Francisco, CA)

9.  UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)

10.  Stanford Hospital & Clinics (Stanford, CA)

11.  Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA)

12.  City of Hope (Duarte, CA)

13.  Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH)

14.  New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia & Cornell (NY, NY)

15.  University of Colorado Hospital (Aurora, CO)

16.  Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa, FL)

17.  Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago, IL)

18.  Seidman Cancer Center at UH Case Medical (Cleveland, OH)

19.  Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA)

20.  Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (Winston-Salem, NC)

21.  Barnes-Jewish Hospital/ Washington University (Saint Louis, MO)

22.  Duke University Hospital (Durham, NC)

23.  USC Norris Cancer Hospital-Keck Medical Center of USC (Los Angeles, CA)

24.  Emory University Hospital (Atlanta, GA)

25.  UC San Diego Medical Center (San Diego, CA)

26.  Mayo Clinic (Phoenix, AZ)

27.  Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (Philadelphia, PA) *tied

27.  University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (Iowa City, IA)  * tied

29.  University of Kansas Hospital (Kansas City, KS)

30.  Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital (Columbus, OH)

31.  University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago, IL)

32.  UPMC- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

33.  Oregon Health and Science University Hospital (Portland, OR)

34.  University of California, Davis Medical Center (Sacramento, CA)

35.  University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers (Ann Arbor, MI)

36.  Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, NE)

37.  Hackensack University Medical Center (Hackensack, NJ)

38.  University of North Carolina Hospitals (Chapel Hill, NC)

39.  Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, TN) *tied

39.  Yale-New Haven Hospital (New Haven, CT) *tied

41.  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)

42.  Houston Methodist Hospital (Houston, TX)

43.  University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (Madison, WI)

44.  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, MA)

45.  Florida Hospital Orlando (Orlando, FL)

46.  University of Maryland Medical Center (Baltimore, MD)

47.  Loyola University Medical Center (Maywood, IL)

48.  Mount Sinai Hospital (New York, NY) *tied

48.  Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL)

50.  NYU Langone Medical Center (New York, NY)

The 411 on Cancer Immunotherapy

 

One of the most promising areas in cancer research and precision medicine today is “Immunotherapy.  Credited as the first therapy ever proven to extend the lives of patients with metastatic melanoma, immunotherapy is changing the way some cancers are treated.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  Immunotherapy refers to a class of treatments that use the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer.  Some treatments boost the body’s immune system in a very general way, while others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically.  Today, most people who receive immunotherapy have cancers that are advanced. Their cancers have either recurred and spread after primary treatment, or were diagnosed in an advanced stage.  Often times, patients receiving immunotherapy treatments are enrolled in a clinical trial.

 

Because immunotherapy is a rapidly evolving field, understanding the “basics”  can be complicated and confusing.  One of the best resources I’ve found to help explain the complexities of immunotherapy is the Cancer Support Community’s  new program… Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Your Immune System & Cancer Treatment.  

 

Additionally, the Cancer Support Community is hosting several FREE webinars on immunotherapy for patients diagnosed with melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma and lung cancers.  “Immunotherapy Advances in Melanoma” is scheduled for September 9, 2014 at 6:30pm EST.

 

Other fantastic resources on immunotherapy include:

Cancer Research Institute

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) is dedicated to advancing the immune system’s power to conquer all cancers. Click HERE to see brief statistics on specific cancers as well as an overview of the current and potential impact of immunotherapy for each cancer type. All content on this site has been reviewed and verified by experts in cancer immunotherapy.

 

TheAnswerToCancer.org

Great informational site for patients and caregivers who are interested in learning more about cancer immunotherapy as a treatment option.  Hear firsthand from patients who have benefitted from this novel approach to cancer treatment.  

 

Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder  

Many patients are not aware of opportunities to participate in clinical trials and may find it difficult to identify trials that may be appropriate for them.  The Cancer Research Institute has partnered with EmergingMed to provide the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder, a tool designed to help patients quickly search for clinical trials that match their specific cancer diagnosis and treatment history.  

The Cancer Research Institute also has Clinical Trial Navigators available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST who can help you find personalized trial matches, connect with study sites, and answer many of your questions.  Simply call (toll-free) 1-855-216-0127.  This service is free and completely confidential.  

 

Lazarex Cancer Foundation  

If you need help navigating clinical trial options or financial assistance to attend a clinical trial, connect with Lazarex Cancer Foundation.  Lazarex can help with the costs associated with participating in a clinical trial, including:

  • Transportation (airfare, gas, rental cars, taxi fare, parking/tolls)
  • Lodging (short- and long-term housing)
  • Certain medical expenses not covered by insurance and necessary for clinical trial treatment.

 

A Brief History of Immunotherapy

In case you’re interested, Targeted Oncology (fantastic site for the latest news and insights from leading researchers and cancer centers) has a great article on the history of immunotherapy which dates back to the late 19th century.

 

Make sure to discuss any findings with your doctors and health care team.  Knowledge is power…

 

What You Need to Know About Breast Reconstruction

The Cancer Support Community surveyed 762 breast cancer survivors (who were eligible for breast reconstruction) and found that 43% of these women did not receive any info about breast reconstruction PRIOR to making surgical decisions (mastectomy or lumpectomy). Why is this a huge problem? Well, if you opt to reconstruct one or both boobs, the method you choose to reconstruct can be affected depending on how the initial surgery is done. Since you can’t go back and re-do your mastectomy, this is an extremely important conversation to have with your doctor BEFORE a mastectomy takes place.

 

Watch this fantastic video created by Understand.com to learn more about breast reconstruction options.  Then ask your doctor what options would be best for you.

Fight Cancer & WIN! With This Kick-Ass Cancer Fighting Video Game

 

Any oncologist or parent will tell you that getting young cancer patients (that includes children, teenagers and even young adults) to stick to their treatment regimens and take their medications when and how they have been prescribed is no easy task.  To help encourage treatment adherence (which improves outcomes and saves lives!), researchers at HopeLab created  Re-Mission2, a series of six very cool, FREE video games that are super fun to play, a tad bit addicting ;-) AND help it’s players beat a diagnosis of cancer.  

 

Here’s how it works:  

Re-Mission2 gives players a better understanding of their disease and how their bodies benefit from treatments that can be inconvenient, unpleasant or even debilitating at times. Research studies have shown these games not only encourage treatment adherence, but they also give players a much needed sense of power and control*.

 

Each game puts players inside the human body to fight cancer with an arsenal of weapons and super-powers, like chemotherapy, radiation, targeted cancer drugs, antibiotics and the body’s natural defenses. The game play parallels real-world strategies used to successfully destroy cancer and win.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Download Re-Mission2 Today for FREE!

Simply click HERE to access all six Re-Mission2 games online or download Nanobot’s Revenge mobile app from iTunes  or Google Play.  And let the games begin!

 
 
P.S.  Major kudos to Cigna Healthcare and the Childhood Leukemia Foundation Keeping Kids Connected  program for providing free iPads preloaded with  Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge  to hospital centers throughout the country. 
 
*For more information on the above mentioned research studies, see
Hope Lab Research: Re-Mission Outcomes Study and Re-Mission Attitude Studies in the Brain

When to Buy Organic: 2014 Dirty Dozen & Clean 15


 

Many people believe that the pesticides used to grow conventional or non-organic produce may have played a role in their cancer and that removing pesticides from our food may help re-build and strengthen their bodies.  Although there is no definitive research proving either belief, should we avoid buying some or all fruits or vegetables that are conventionally grown?  

 

To help answer this question, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, created the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  This guide, which is updated each year, highlights the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. The EWG recommends that if a conventionally grown food tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead whenever possible.

 

The 12 most pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Dirty Dozen”. When choosing fruits & veggies included in the Dirty Dozen, the EWG suggests buying these foods as ORGANIC.

2014 Dirty Dozen includes: 

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes

*When possible, the EWG suggests that hot peppers and leafy greens like kale and collard greens should also be purchased as organic as these veggies are often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.

 

The 15 least pesticide-laden foods are known as The Clean 15″.  If the fruit or veggie is listed on the Clean 15, it’s ok to buy it as non-organic or conventional.

2014 Clean 15 includes:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas – frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

 

*  Keep in mind that the information above is based on produce bought at supermarkets. If you shop at farmers markets, ask about their growing practices. Even if what they sell isn’t certified organic, many local farmers use as few pesticides as possible, making the foods on the Dirty Dozen become good choices, even if they aren’t certified organic.

 

*  The EWG maintains that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure So it’s better to eat conventionally-grown produce than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

 

*  Download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce App on your smart phone.  The App is available for an Android phonefor an iPhone or iPad; or for a Windows phone.   

 

 

Nutritional Fixes for Common Cancer Side Effects

Super helpful info from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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To learn about fixes for these and other common cancer side effects, check out Cancer Nutrition & Recipes for Dummies.

Click HERE for more on nutrition therapy, tips & recipes from Cancer Treatment Centers of America Dieticians.

 

http://ctcaho.pe/CancerNutritionAndRecipesForDummies