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FREE Running Program for Cancer Survivors in MD, DC, VA, NY & Chicago

Andy & Alan 2004 Bay Bridge 10K

Andy & Alan @ Rockville Rotary Twilighter 8K Runfest 1992

 

Pictured above is my husband Alan (on the right) with his childhood friend Andy.  Since this picture was taken, Andy has run more than 30 marathons, completed 13 triathlons and has become a certified running coach.  Despite all these accomplishments, Andy always made time to go for a run or walk with Alan, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

 

It was no surprise to me that Andy connected with The Ulman Cancer Fund’s CANCER to 5K Training Program - a FREE 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to training for and completing a 5K road race.  Amazing, right?!

ABOUT The CANCER to 5K Training Program:

Research has now shown that exercise is especially important for cancer survivors both in and out of active treatment.  Regular exercise not only improves mood, boosts self-confidence and reduces fatigue, but there is loads of evidence suggesting that higher levels of physical activity can help keep the cancer from recurring.

 

The Cancer to 5K Training Program is a progressive run/walk program designed to get cancer survivors to the 5K finish-line happy, healthy and injury-free.  

*  Who can join?  Cancer to 5K is open to any cancer survivor regardless of age, location, treatment status or fitness level.  Survivors who have completed treatment as well as survivors who are currently undergoing treatment can participate.

*  Where is training held?  If you live in the following areas, certified running coaches and experienced volunteer runners (aka “Sherpas”) will help train you in a small group setting.  Each 12-week session is limited to 10 participants.  Click HERE for exact locations in:

      • Washington DC/Northern Virginia
      • Montgomery County Maryland
      • Howard County, Maryland
      • Baltimore, Maryland
      • New York, NY
      • Chicago, IL.

* What if you live elsewhere?  If you live outside the current group training areas, you can still participate with The CANCER to 5K “At Home” Training Program.  As a Cancer to 5K “At Home” participant, you will receive one-on-one coaching with a Cancer to 5K coach. Workouts will be sent to you via email, and you will have access to your coach via email and phone.

Registration for the fall training season is now OPEN!  
Group workouts will begin in August 2014.
“At-Home” participants can begin training anytime.

 

For more information, contact Program Manager Laura Scruggs via email at laura@ulmanfund.org  or via 410.964.0202 x108.  

Please note:  A medical waiver must be signed by the participant’s current primary care physician to ensure that training for a 5K won’t negatively impact treatment or recovery.

 

Wish Fulfillment Organizations for People With Cancer

You-Dont-Need-Magic-To-Make-Wishes-Come-True

 

Some wishes can come true.  Just ask anyone who has worked with one of the organizations listed below as they work to make wishes come true for people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.  Some work specifically to grant wishes of children; others with adults; and still others for families who have a parent battling cancer.  The various organizations have differing eligibility requirements and limitations regarding the types of wishes they grant.  Each organizaion is amazing in their own way.

Please note:  To find out more information on getting a wish granted, please contact each organization directly.  If you know of other organizations that offer wish fulfillment, please email me at robyn@cancerhawk.com and I’ll post their information.

 

3 Little Birds 4 Life  This nonprofit grants wishes to young adults with cancer ages 18-40.  Wishes that include travel are restricted within the continental United States.

Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation  Best known for offering parents temporary housing near the hospitals where their children are being treated, this foundation also provides funding for various adventures for children with advanced diseases.

Children’s Wish Foundation International  This Atlanta-based nonprofit grants wishes to children with advanced illness, including advanced cancer, who are younger than 18 years old. Children who are “too young to make a wish that is truly their own” can participate in the organization’s Young Minds program, which provides children younger than three years old with an assortment of gifts to entertain and provide comfort.

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer  Through the Medicine of the Heart program, this foundation anonymously grants wishes to children with advanced cancer who come from financially needy families. A health care provider, such as a doctor or nurse, must nominate the child.

Compassion Partners  This Disney program provides children and adults free passes to several theme parks in Florida, including Disney theme parks, Sea World, Universal Studios Orlando, and Busch Gardens. Passes are available by calling 407-396-6065 or 407-828-2298.

Deliver the Dream  This organization provides families living with an advanced illness whether the illness involves a child or a parent the chance to relax, enjoy time together, and forge bonds with others during a three-day retreat. Health care providers or one of Deliver the Dream’s partnering organizations are responsible for recruiting the family for participation.

The Dream Factory  The Dream Factory grants wishes to critically and chronically ill children who are between three and 18 years old. Parents, guardians, physicians, other caregivers, and children with advanced diseases can make referrals to begin the wish-granting process.

Dream Foundation  The Dream Foundation fulfills the wishes of adults suffering from advanced illnesses. The foundation seeks to help adults find peace and closure with the realization of a final wish. Dream Foundation grants requests to adults older than 18 years old whose life expectancy, confirmed by their physicians, is one year or less. They must also confirm that they have limited resources.

Give Kids the World  The Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre resort in Central Florida that offers accommodation, entertainment, and other attractions for children with life-threatening illnesses. The charity provides children between the ages of three and 18 and their families free, one-week vacations to help create long-lasting memories. A child must be sponsored by one of more than 250 wish-granting organizations in the country or a children’s hospital affiliated with Give Kids the World.

Granted Wish Foundation  The Granted Wish Foundation fulfills wishes for “disabled, disadvantaged, and deserving individuals and families” and works with people of all ages. In addition, the foundation has a special program that provides luxury air transportation for children with advanced illness and their families to travel to receive life-saving treatment.

Hope Kids  This charity hosts regular events and activities (a “never-ending” wish) that help restore hope for the future. Hope Kids also provides a support community for children with advanced illnesses and their families.

The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation The J&J Late Stage Cancer Foundation is a national resource providing WOW! experiences for children and families who have a Mom or Dad with late stage, limited life expectancy cancer.

Jason’s Dream for Kids  Jason’s Dreams for Kids grants wishes to children diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition. The organization relies on medical professionals and parents for referrals and determines medical eligibility with the help of the treating physician.

Kids Wish Network  The Kids Wish Network grants wishes for children who are between three and18 years old. The organization’s “Our Hero” program also provides wishes for children who have overcome life-altering circumstances and endured great pain and suffering. Anyone can refer a child, including a family member, friend, nurse, doctor, or social worker.

Make-a-Wish Foundation  The nation’s largest wish-granting organization, Make-a-Wish fulfills the wishes of children between two and a half and 18 years old with life-threatening medical conditions, aiming to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.” The organization accepts referrals from health care professionals and parents, and children can even nominate themselves. After evaluating medical eligibility, a team of volunteers meets with the child to help identify the child’s “true wish.”

Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation  Making Memories grants wishes for patients with metastatic breast cancer, while raising awareness about the disease. People with advanced breast cancer or their friends and family members can submit wish requests.

The Marty Lyons Foundation Founded by professional football player Marty Lyons after serving as a surrogate father of a three-year-old boy with a life-threatening illness, the foundation helps grant wishes for children with advanced illnesses.

Memories of Love  This organization provides children who have parents with advanced illness with a chance to form long-lasting memories by going on vacation with their entire family. Families are sent on a five-day, all-expense-paid vacation to Orlando, Florida. A physician, health care provider, or care organization must identify and nominate a parent who has an advanced illness.

Never Too Late  This organization helps make wishes and dreams come true for people age 65 and older with advanced illness, aiming to honor the lives they have lived. The organization requests some financial support from family members to fulfill wish requests.

Nicki Leach Foundation  This foundation provides financial assistance to teenagers and adults between 16 and 25 years old who have advanced cancer. The foundation’s clients often use this assistance to pay for specific needs or activities that they may not be able to afford, such as clothing, college, a cell phone, or bills. The applicant’s oncologist must confirm diagnosis.

Operation Liftoff  Operation Liftoff provides children with advanced illness three types of trips: “dream trips” for children and their families, “care trips” for medical treatment in other regions, and “group trips” to help teenagers with advanced illnesses leave the hospital and bond with peers. Parents and caregivers complete a form to request a trip.

The Rainbow Connection  This organization helps grant wishes to children from Michigan facing an advanced illness. To qualify, children must be between two and a half and 18 years old, live in Michigan, be diagnosed with an advanced illness, and have the diagnosis verified by a physician. In addition, they must not have received a wish fulfillment from any other organization. Medical professionals, parents or guardians, and children may submit wish requests.

Second Wind Dreams  This international fulfillment organization works to enhance the life of those living in elder care communities such as nursing, assisted living, and hospice facilities by granting wishes. The organization grants relationship-based dreams, needs-based dreams, lifelong dreams, and “I don’t want to grow up” dreams, among others.

A Special Wish Foundation  This foundation grants wishes for infants, children, and young adults younger than 21 years old who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Wishes fall into three categories, including “a special gift,” “a special place,” or “a special hero.”

Starlight Foundation  This foundation provides entertainment, education and family activities for seriously ill children and their families. Starlight Wishes provide a dream-come-true experience to seriously ill or injured children ages 4 to 18.

Sunshine Foundation  This foundation is committed to fulfilling the dreams of children three to 18 years old who have advanced cancer or special needs and those who have faced abuse.

United Special Sportsman Alliance  This wish-granting organization specializes in providing children and adults with disabilities or advanced illness an outdoor adventure of their dreams. Trips include hunting, fishing, water sports, and other activities.

The Warrior’s Wish Foundation  This charity grants wishes for U.S. military veterans with advanced illness and their families. Gifts range from hearing aids and scooter chairs to family vacations and trips to attend reunions. The application requires a current photograph, a description of the wish, and an explanation of why it’s meaningful.

Wishing Star  This charity grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses who are between three and 21 years old and live in Eastern and Central Washington and Idaho. Children do not have to be terminally ill to qualify.

Wish Upon A Star  This  non profit, law enforcement effort is designed to grant the wishes of children ages 3-18 years old living in California who are afflicted with high-risk and life-threatening illnesses.

Wishing Well Foundation USA  This New Orleans-based organization is committed to granting wishes for children with advanced illness. Children younger than 18 years old are eligible to apply.

 

(Source:  Resources listed above were found on Cancer.netDuke Cancer CenterPatient Resource & Stupid Cancer)

 

MORE Books for Children & Families Living with Cancer

books

I am amazed how many books have been written to help families deal with a diagnosis of cancer.  Below is yet another post on helpful books written by Bonnie Coberly, Certified Health Counselor (CHC) at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers. Bonnie helps individuals to reach their wellness goals through smart and healthy dietary choices. You can follow Bonnie Coberly on Google+.  

 

It’s a well-known fact that if you have a book and a lap, most children will expect you to read them a story. While reading is usually said to be a calm and joyful experience, topics like cancer may not seem to follow that same thread.

Here are some suggestions of books for children and families living with cancer that prove to not only be helpful, but can also be entertaining and uplifting.

*Note: All of the following books can be found on Amazon.com.

Children’s Books:

The Boy of Steel: A Baseball Dream Come True by Ray Negron – “Young Michael Steel loves to watch the New York Yankees on TV—from his hospital bed. Michael has brain cancer. But when Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano visits Michael in the hospital, Michael embarks on an unexpected and wonderful journey when he becomes a Yankee batboy for a day. It’s his baseball dream come true!”

When Someone You Love Has Cancer: A Guide to Help Kids Cope by Alaric Lewis

Taking Cancer to School (Special Kids in School Series) by Kim Gosselin – A great book for cancer patients who are school-aged to take back to school with them or have their teacher read to their classmates. Provides learning for classmates and encourages empathy and understanding.

H is for Hair Fairy: An Alphabet of Encouragement and Insight for Kids (and Kids at Heart!) with Cancer by Kim Martin – “An alphabet book with a mission, this 32-page picture book will inspire, comfort, educate and encourage children being treated for cancer. Using colorful, warm, humorous illustrations and verse, the author employs the alphabet to feature different aspects of coping with cancer treatment.”

Imagine a Rainbow: A Child’s Guide for Soothing Pain by Brenda Miles – “Through a series of beautiful illustrations that engage all of the senses, each accompanied by a verse couplet, this book asks the child to imagine several things to cope with pain. Some are calming, some are delighting, some are empowering, some are inspirational.”

Mom Has Cancer! (Let’s Talk about It) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos – “This sensitively written book encourages preschool-age and early-grades children to explore the possibilities of a parent with cancer.”

The Famous Hat by Kate Gaynor – “This book has been designed to help children with leukemia (or other forms of cancer) to prepare for treatment, namely chemotherapy, and a stay in hospital. Treatment for childhood cancer can be very difficult to cope with, especially for very young children. The lengthy stay in hospital, having to contend with drips, tubes and injections is difficult enough without the possibility of hair loss for children to face. However, this book helps children to see the experience of a child that they can easily relate to.”

For Parents:

When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children by Wendy S. Harpham – “When A Parent Has Cancer is a book for families written from the heart of experience. A mother, physician, and cancer survivor, Dr. Wendy Harpham offers clear, direct, and sympathetic advice for parents challenged with the task of raising normal, healthy children while they struggle with a potentially life–threatening disease.”

What Is Cancer Anyway?: Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages by Karen Carney – “What IS Cancer, Anyway? Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages is one of the books in the Barklay and Eve Children’s Book Series. This book provides basic information that is essential when someone in the family has cancer and does so in a calm, clear, reassuring manner that children and adults will appreciate.”

Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Illness by Sue Heiney, Joan Hermann, Katherine Bruss and Joy Fincannon – “Outlining valuable steps necessary to help children understand what happens when a parent has been diagnosed with cancer, this guide provides “hands-on-tools” to help those affected by cancer—as well as their loved ones—face many of the dilemmas that come with the disease.”

For Siblings:

What about Me?: When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick by Allan Peterkin – “A young girl attempts to cope with her brother’s being ill.”

Authored by Cancer Patients:

Chemo Girl: Saving the World One Treatment at a Time by Christina Richmond – “Chemo Girl is the fictional tale of a superhero created by Christina Richmond, who was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of muscle cancer, when she was in the seventh grade.”

I’m A Superhero by Daxton Wilde – “I’m A Superhero reaches beyond borders and cultures, helping children and their families to be brave, helping parents explain cancer to their young children, and helping families cope with one of life’s most difficult situations through love and humor.”

Do you have any cancer related books that you have found helpful for your family or children?  If so, please share them with us.  Knowledge is power…. let’s share the power!

 

L’Shana Tovah (Happy New Year) & Some Advice on How to Live Life

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Readers of CancerHAWK have told me that this particular post really resonates with them. So in honor of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I think it’s fitting to re-post this one today… and BTW, I STILL read this every single morning as I’m getting dressed- it hangs on a mirror in my bathroom.  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.  Wishing you all a healthy, sweet, joyful, cancer-free New Year!

 

This post is called “How to Live Life” and was written by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.  Ms. Brett says, “To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.”  She recently added 5 more lessons.  So without further ado, here is Regina Brett’s list of 50 life lessons…

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.

If You’ve Been Touched By Breast Cancer & Are Planning A Wedding, Read On…

Image credit:  123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: 123RF Stock Photo

 

It’s that time of year again when The Wedding Pink presents one couple whose lives have been recently touched by breast cancer with a FREE dream wedding, valued between $30,000- $40,000.  OMG! So amazing!!

 

Founder Cheryl Ungar is a 22-year breast cancer survivor and a wedding photographer.  She has put together an extraordinary team of some of Colorado’s top wedding vendors — all of whom have generously agreed to donate their services and products to ensure The Wedding Pink is a spectacular event for one very special couple.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  If your life has been recently touched by breast cancer (fyi, the experience is not limited to the bride, but could be with the bride or groom’s extended family) AND are engaged or soon-to-be-engaged, you could be the lucky winner of this fairy tale wedding.

 

This year’s Wedding Pink will will take place May 15, 2014 in Larkspur, Colorado.  Applications are open to ANY legal resident of the US regardless of what state they live in.  Submissions will be open from August 15 – August 25.  The winning couple will be selected in early September 2013.  There are no income qualifications.  Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.  To learn more about the submission criteria, click HERE.

Wishing you all a lifetime of health, love & happiness together….

A Little Shirt Can Go A Long Way

These orange "Strength" shirts brought tremendous comfort to rhabdomyosarcoma warrior Brett Johnston. Brett's best friend & cousin and brother started CancerTees.

These orange “Strength” shirts brought tremendous comfort to rhabdomyosarcoma warrior Brett Johnston which is why Brett’s best friend & cousin (Cory Allen) and brother (Scott Johnston) created CancerTees.

 

In May of 2009, Alan had brain surgery.  I remember sitting in the waiting room of MD Anderson with Alan’s parents and his sisters for 8 hours anxiously awaiting news about Alan’s surgery.  There were tons of other people there also waiting for news about their loved one’s surgery.  Although I have tried very hard to put the memory of that day out of my mind, the one thing I will never forget is Darla.

 

I don’t know Darla personally- I’ve never actually met her.  You see, Darla was one of the people also being operated on that day at MD Anderson.  Her 25+ closest friends and family sat near us in the waiting room.  They were eating homemade pickles & fried chicken (which smelled delicious!) and they were all wearing these bright pink shirts that said “Darla is Kicking Cancer’s Ass.”  They were fun and full of energy and they were making the best of a tough situation.  The positivity, the energy, the hope that they brought to the waiting room that day was wonderful… and it gave me a feeling that somehow everything would be ok for both Darla and Alan.

 

Just last week I connected with CancerTees, an organization founded by 2 guys who have been directly touched by sarcoma.  They sell customized t-shirts (like the ones they wore for Darla), hoodies, sweat pants, blankets & bracelets as well as pre-printed ones with sayings like “Cancer Fears Me,” “Survivor” and “Real Men Wear Pink”.

 

Not only we do have the “sarcoma connection” in common, but I LOVE that a percentage of each sale gets donated to a cancer warrior profiled on the CancerTees site.  Each warrior receives $500 to do with what they choose… pay bills, buy a wig, whatever they need.  If you are looking for a shirt to show your support of a loved one battling cancer, check out CancerTeesyou’ll be doing a double mitzvah (good deed).

Using Social Media to Navigate a Diagnosis of Cancer

Social-Media-Icons

No ifs, ands or buts about it… cancer sucks!  A diagnosis of cancer is life altering.  And for many, it is devastating – emotionally, physically, financially and socially.  Navigating a treatment plan and finding, much less making sense of, the information & existing resources that help cancer patients and caregivers is as challenging and confusing as the disease itself.  So what’s a person to do?

 

The more educated patients are about their disease, the better decisions they can make about their options.  Scouring the Internet for information on a specific type of cancer is relatively simple, although searchers must be cautious to visit reliable, trustworthy medical sites.*  In 2009-2010, I did tons of searching and researching while we were battling my husband’s cancer.  For me, the more I read, the more I learned, the smarter my Google searches became, and the more resources, information and treatment options I found.

 

My Paradigm Shift:

Today, I still search daily for information and resources that help patients and caregivers navigate their way through a diagnosis of cancer.  However, I rarely research using just Google anymore; instead much of my research is prompted by my interactions on Twitter and Facebook and from reading other people’s blogs.  It’s ironic that I say this because I’m the person who used to think that social media was a waste of time.  I had never even heard of a blog before 2010 and I thought Facebook and Twitter were simply another way for people to over-share their life using status updates.

 

I now see firsthand how social media enables patients, caregivers or anyone touched by cancer to make sense of their diagnosis by connecting them to the people, perspectives and resources they need when they need them.   Social media not only empowers people to share their stories and make friends (and to over-share life’s moments at times), but it is also a gateway to information they may not find from their doctor or via Google.  It’s how I find many of the things I write about on cancerhawk.com.

 

Facebook: The Great Connector

Facebook is most people’s go-to social media sharing site with over 1.06 billion active monthly users.  It’s the social media app that spans the largest age demographics- heck, both my 13 year old daughter and my 74 year old mother now have Facebooks.  As a result, Facebook is probably the easiest way to connect with a large group of family and friends; to keep them informed of what’s going on; to receive support and encouragement; and to gather information.

 

In his article “Using Facebook in the War On Cancer”Gabe Canales (aka @GabeCanales), prostate cancer survivor & founder of Blue Cure Foundation, writes that the instant connections made of Facebook can provide support, education and hope.  He says, “Such instant connections are a way to know immediately about new treatments and clinical trials and to share experiences about drugs, doctors, hospitals, treatments and other elements of the cancer journey.”  Knowledge is power… and Facebook makes it easy for knowledge to be shared.

 

Blogging Communities:  An Opportunity to Learn from Others

Blogs can be more than just personal diaries. They are websites that provide readers an opportunity to learn, ask questions and make comments regarding the author’s articles or posts.  Blogging communities and social networking sites such as Treatment Diaries; What Next; ColonTown, My BC Team, IHadCancer, Inspire also connect those touched by cancer with others facing a similar diagnosis.  Real life experiences, practical tips, lessons learned & treatment insights are easily shared in these forums.  Reading blogs also offers those who are shy or are embarrassed by their questions and concerns to learn without having to put their name or face out there.  Blogs are where I find some of the most in-depth, consistent coverage of what it’s like to live with and how to survive a diagnosis of cancer.

 

Twitter:   Where Questions Get Asked & Answered in Minutes

A little tweet goes a long way.  Twitter is where questions are asked and answered quickly in 140 characters or less.  In addition to learning about new treatments and clinical trials, Twitter also enables patients and caregivers to connect with others outside their immediate circle for support and information.  It’s where Stef Woods (aka @citygirlblogs), breast cancer survivor and advocate extraordinaire, went to connect with other young adult cancer survivors who understood what she was going through during her cancer treatments and beyond.  The tremendous support she received from her twitter followers helped her get through each day.

 

Twitter is where I go to connect with thousands of cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and patient advocates on a daily basis.  It’s where I met Stef and Gabe.  It’s where I find many of the different resources and information that I write about on cancerhawk.com.  I learn about things that I would never have been able to find via Google in part because Twitter makes it easy to search for keywords or terms using hashtags (#).  My search results often lead to instant patient and resource connections.  BTW, next time you’re on Twitter, check out tweets using my favorite hashtag #cancersucks ;-).

 

The Bottom Line:  Social media enables people- regardless of who they are,  where they live and whether you knew them previously or not- to connect with one another in incredible ways.  Knowledge and experience get shared; encouragement and support are offered; questions get answered; strangers become friends; treatment options and types of assistance are uncovered; hope can be found.  So if you’re feeling up to it, check out Twitter or Facebook or someone’s blog and see what new connections you make.  I’d love to hear about it if you do so please either comment below or email me at robyn@cancerhawk.com.  xoxoxxox

* For more information on finding credible information on the Internet, visit ThinkBright.org and eHow.com.

 

Musicians On Call

This is seriously AMAZING….  I just learned of a super cool organization called Musicians On Call.  

Studies have shown that music has a direct, healing effect on people…. music can lower blood pressure, help with pain management, reduce stress, anxiety & depression, assist Alzheimer’s patients in recalling the past, and much, much more.

Musicians On Call offers 3 incredible programs:

Bedside Performance Program brings live, in-room performances to patients undergoing treatment or patients unable to leave their hospital beds.  These one-on-one interactions between musician and patient can help lift one’s spirits that can fade while staying in the hospital.  To date, Musicians On Call has performed for more than 250,000 patients & their families.  They have regularly scheduled, weekly performances at various hospitals in NY, Philadelphia, Nashville & Miami.  Click HERE to see a complete listing of participating hospitals.

CD Pharmacies  Musicians On Call can provide hospitals with complete CD libraries and accompanying disc players for patient use.

Project Playback offers patients the opportunity to have their own music recorded and produced.  Alan would have LOVED this…. after all, he did cut vinyl once as a kid and won many karoke contests over the years… his specialties were Frank Sinatra and Rihanna.

 

WTF is Retail Therapy?

retail therapy (n): “shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as “comfort buys’.’  (source: Wikipedia)  

After Alan initially passed away, I tried to single-handedly keep the economy going by shopping, shopping, shopping and more shopping.  Thank goodness for my very favorite clothing store, Emily Grace (ask for Morgan if you go there- she’s the BEST!)

Although I’m now over the intense urge to shop, sometimes I still need to buy a few things.  Here are a few great ways to not only shop, but to also help raise money for cancer patients, cancer research and various cancer programs during the month of October…

Cancer & Careers is an amazing organization that offers FREE expert career advice from professional career coaches, interactive job search tools, support groups & seminars for employees with cancer.  They are hosting a SHOP FOR A CAUSE where participating beauty supply companies are donating a portion of all proceeds to Cancer & Careers.  So if you need any beauty supplies, please check out the participating organizations.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?!  If you’re a wine aficionado, check out Corks Against Cancer.  Blackstone Winery is donating $1 from every bottle purchased to the Rally Foundation, an incredible organization dedicated to funding childhood cancer research. On Twitter, @GaryVee told me to check out Blackstone’s Syrah.

If you live in South Florida, check out Love & Cancer’s Benefit Card. In response to Breast Cancer Awareness month The Benefit Card will donate $6 of every card sold to The Gift of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to providing financial support to low-income women with breast cancer.   Additional money raised from card purchases helps fund patient assistance programs.  In return, cardholders get discounts at many restaurants and shops.

This month’s Shape magazine has an entire article devoted to fun and healthy pink products that give back to various breast cancer charities.  You can purchase lingerie from Cosabella’s “Prettie in Pink” collection, clothing from ADIDAS’ Break Through Cancer, a fabulous pink purse from Danielle Nicole Carmen, a special edition pink sink from DECOLAV, the pink Stefanie pump from ShoeDazzle, a cancer-fighting cocktail ring from Design Spark… the list goes on & on so click HERE to see their entire listing of Think Pink & Shop for a Good Cause promotions.

Thanks to all the fabulous organizations (even the ones I have not mentioned) for making shopping a bit more meaningful….


Join the “Dear Cancer” Letter Writing Campaign

LOVE this ….. Varian Medical Systems (leading manufacturer of medical devices & software for treating cancer & other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy & brachytherapy) has created an AMAZING letter writing campaign to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Varian launched its “Dear Cancer” campaign in 2008 to inspire patients, families & friends to write letters to cancer.  For many, the simple act of putting their thoughts into words is a powerful, positive experience.  For me, it’s cathartic.  And if this raises $$$ for the American Cancer Society, all the better.

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…
Click HERE to connect with Varian’s “Dear Cancer” site. Write your letter to the big C. For every letter posted, Varian will contribute $50 to the American Cancer Society (up to $100,000).  Letters must be posted by December 31, 2011.  (BTW, no profanity allowed…. which meant I had to re-write my letter… you see, for me, the F-word and cancer go together…. cest la vie!)

Incredible letters have poured in from people all around the world.  These letters are full of determination, anger, frustration and hope…. check it out… you can see for yourself what other’s have written.