Archive for managing side effects

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.

 

Getting the 411 on Breast Reconstruction

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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.

 

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer and/or the BRCA gene and are contemplating a mastectomy, check out BreastReconstruction.Org, the most comprehensive site on breast reconstruction that I’ve come across.

 

To provide a better understanding of the breast reconstruction process and the different options that exist, BreastReconstruction.Org has created a site that contains easy-to-understanddetailed information with illustrations and photographs on topics including: mastectomy; options for reconstruction; secondary procedures including nipple tattooing; pre and post operative care; as well as the latest news & information on reconstruction.  You can also read stories from other women who have walked in your shoes and learn from the decisions they have made.  It’s really a fantastic site.

 

BTW, my dear friend and kick-ass breast cancer survivor Diane Mapes (AKA @Double_Whammied) just wrote an incredible article on her breast reconstruction using the BRAVA/ fat transfer method.  To read about Diane’s experience, see her article “Reconstructing Hope.  Diane also blogs about breast cancer at www.doublewhammied.com.

 

 

 

 

Meditation Can Help Alleviate Some Side Effects from Cancer Treatment

Meditation (N):  A mind-body process that uses concentration or reflection to relax the body and calm the mind.

Meditation has many benefits for general health and well-being.  The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans.  Meditation may also have specific benefits for people who are living with cancer.  Studies suggest that meditation can help boost the immune system, ease chronic pain as well as improve mood, cognitive function (chemobrain), energy levels and quality of sleep.  Because of this, many cancer treatment centers now offer meditation or relaxation therapy in conjunction with standard medical care.  (source:  American Cancer Society)

 

Interested in learning how to meditate?  Although there are many different styles of meditation, my good friend Pat suggests Headspace, a really cool website (with an accompanying mobile app for both iPhone & Android) that can teach you how.  They have a FREE 10 day trial package (after that, their guided meditations cost approximately $10 a month). This program takes just 10 minutes a day.

 

*** Although most experts agree that the positive effects of meditation outweigh any negative reactions, please talk to your doctors before starting any type of meditation- especially one that involves movement of joints and muscles.

Do you meditate?  Where did you learn how? 

10 Reasons Why I’m a Fan of The Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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For years I’ve seen television commercials for The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)But are they really as good as they appear to be?  I’ve visited their Arizona facility twice and I have to say, I think they might be that good. If nothing else, I’m impressed with the way they attack cancer (and I don’t get impressed easily ;-))…

 

Below are 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) of why I’m a huge fan:

1.  Practice personalized medicine.  CTCA treats each cancer as unique and tailor a treatment protocol to match each person’s unique needs and diagnosis.  CTCA will run genetic and biomarker testing on tumors.  They will even prescribe off-label drug treatments (drugs that are not part of the standard protocol) if the standard of care is not doing the job. They also take a proactive approach to treating side effects caused by cancer treatments.

 

2.  Integrative team approach.  Every patient at CTCA gets a team of at least 5 professionals assigned to care for them including a medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager.  Of course, surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, etc. will also become part of the team if their areas of expertise are required.  And get this, they all talk to each other and create a joint plan of action together.  They work together to treat the entire person before treatment begins, during treatment and even after treatment ends.   CTCA also employs licensed acupuncturists and massage therapists to help patients manage the side effects of treatment.

 

3.  100% focused on cancer.  Need I say more?! BTW, approximately 65% of the people being treated at CTCA have advanced or complex cancers. They are used to tough cases.  And they don’t give up.

 

4.  Make having cancer a little less stressful.  Schlepping from one doctor to the next; coordinating care and communications between different doctors and different hospitals; tracking down records, getting prescriptions, battling with insurance, etc. is downright exhausting.  At CTCA, they do all this for you.  You show up to your appointment and your team of doctors come to you.  

 

5.  Latest & greatest equipment.  CTCA offers cutting edge, treatment options and state-of-the-art technology like Cyberknife, TomoTherapy®, Cord Blood Transplants, Calypso® 4D Localization System™/GPS for the Body®, Tuning Fork, genetic & molecular profiling & much more.

 

6.  Nutritious & delicious food.  If you’ve ever eaten hospital food, you know how much it sucks.  Sorry, but it does.  The food they serve at their facilities is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  It’s all freshly prepared, made from organic ingredients whenever possible and inexpensive (I swear).   Each facility has it’s own smoothie bar and serves Starbucks coffee (seriously).  The Arizona facility even has it’s own organic farm.

 

7.  Works with many insurance companies.  CTCA works with many different insurances (typically not medicare or medicaid though).  All costs are pre-determined so there will be no surprise charges.  Acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic and other mind-body work are included, even if these services are not covered by your insurance carrier.

 

9.  Incredible amenities.  On-site pharmacy; on-site boutique specializing in wigs, head shavings, head coverings & mastectomy products- all sold at 30% below retail; on-the-premises spa; 24X7 visiting hours; really nice private hospital rooms that are ICU-capable with nearby subsidized hotel rooms for approximately $40 a night; massage & pampering for caregivers; only green products are used to clean the center; all medical records & results are 100% digital; really nice infusion bays; pet therapy dogs, free laundry services; the list goes on and on.  They even throw parties to celebrate different milestones throughout this journey.

 

10.  Survivorship programs.  Once active treatment is complete, CTCA Survivorship Program lends support to survivors as they get back into the swing of things.

 

THE BOTTOMLINE:  CTCA treats every patient as a person, not a number.  They take personalized cancer care to a new level…  They offer realistic hope to their patients.  I wish we had looked into receiving treatment there for Alan.

FREE Kit to Help Manage Side Effects from Chemotherapy

A sample of an Adult Comfort Kit

A sample of an Adult Comfort Kit

We all need a little love once in a while… and if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are receiving chemotherapy, you deserve a little extra lovin’. That’s what Peppermint & Ginger Comfort Kits are all about…

 

Peppermint & Ginger Comfort Kits are FREE kits created to help provide comfort and help alleviate some of the more common side effects caused by chemotherapy.  An “Adult Kit” contains peppermint and ginger teas (which can help ease nausea), a soft bristle toothbrush, alcohol free mouth wash and toothpaste and lip balm (to help ease oral side effects experienced as a result of treatment), warm socks and a relaxation CD.  When possible, P&G adds in other goodies as well.  Their “Pediatric Kit” contains hot chocolate instead of teas and it’s contents will vary depending on the age of the patient.

 

If you know of a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy or if you yourself are a patient and would like one of these comforting kits, please click HERE to request one.

Recipes for Nutritious, Delicious, Cancer-Fighting Smoothies

Chef Frank Caputo of Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western with Rob Harris, caregiver extraordinaire

Chef Frank Caputo of Cancer Treatment Centers of America Western with Rob Harris, caregiver extraordinaire serving up the most delicious & nutritious smoothies

 

Last week I had the honor of attending a Blogger Summit at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Arizona with some of the most incredible and inspiring kick-ass cancer bloggers EVER.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about many of the new resources I learned about here.

 

It is at this conference where I first learned that severe malnutrition and weight loss play a role in at least one in five cancer deaths.  Additionally patients who are well nourished throughout their treatments are better able to tolerate their chemo and radiation.  This is why Cancer Treatment Centers of America places such a huge emphasis on nutritional counseling and includes a board-certified nutritionist as part of each patient’s medical team.

 

Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to add vital nutrients to any diet.  At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, you can order custom-made nutritious, delicious smoothies from the smoothie bar inside their cafeterias.  BTW, every meal or smoothie prepared at any CTCA facility uses fresh, healthy, organic ingredients.  CTCA Western in Arizona even has it’s own organic farm located next to the facility.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

 

Thank you CTCA for sharing these delicious, nourishing smoothie recipes.  Each recipe contains vital nutrients that can help to ease side effects from cancer treatments:

Super Greens Smoothie which is rich in antioxidant and phytochemicals.

Take a handful of kale, wheat grass, spinach, broccoli, and green apple.  Blend it with coconut water or vegetable stock.  It’s my personal favorite!

 

Electrolyte Replacer Smoothie can help to quench your thirst and keep your electrolytes in balance.

Blend coconut water, bananas, fresh orange juice with a dash of cinnamon.

 

Protein Power can give your body that extra protein boost it sometimes needs.

Blend plain yogurt, frozen fruit, milk protein powered, lemon zest and cinnamon.

 

Detox Delicious is a natural and safe beverage that can help cleanse without stripping the body of benefits.

Blend parsley, spinach, broccoli, lemon juice, raw garlic, green apple and tahini or sesame paste with vegetable stock.

 

Immune Support helps to support up your immune system, which as we all know can get weakened from cancer treatments.

Blend carrots, broccoli, pineapple, kale, blueberries with cherry juice.  YUM!

 

 

 

 

FREE Wigs for Cancer Patients Living in Des Moines, Iowa

 

If you live in Des Moines, Iowa and have lost your hair as a result of cancer treatments, check out Strands of Strength.  Strands of Strength provides FREE quality wigs to cancer patients- men, women or children- regardless of age or type of cancer – who live in Des Moines, Iowa and who could not otherwise afford a wig.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  

Strands of Strength works closely with medical professionals at Iowa HealthBlank Children’s Hospital and Mercy Hospital.   These hospitals will provide patients in need a voucher slip for a free wig.  

Patients can then choose any wig they like from any Strands of Strength-approved wig shop.  The voucher represents payment to the shop.  It’s as simple as that.

For more information, visit StrandsofStrength.com or contact Deb at deb@strandsofstrength.com or via phone at (515) 240-5843.

 

10 Green Juice Recipes

My son Ethan "enjoying" a green smoothie.

My son Ethan and his delicious green juice.

 

I LOVE the color green… light green, bright green, dark forest green, any shade of green.  I especially LOVE  green juices and green smoothies.  They’re nutritious and delicious.  Incorporating more vegetables (and fruits) into your diet can help boost your immune system which often times becomes weakened during cancer treatments.  Juicing or blending veggies into a drink is the easiest way to get lots of them into your body in one sitting.

 

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Reboot with Joe posted their Top 10 Favorite Green Juices.  I am reposting these recipes below as finding good green juicing recipes is no easy task. ;-)  Enjoy!
Morning Green Glory Juice

4 – 5 large kale leaves
1 large handful of spinach
3 romaine leaves
1 cucumber
3 celery stalks
1 green apple
1 lemon, peeled (You can leave the peel on but it will taste very bitter)

Rainbow Bright Green Juice

3 kale leaves
3 celery stalks
4 carrots
2 fuji apples

Mean Green Hulk (my personal favorite)

2 cucumber
4 celery stalks
2 zucchini
6 kale Leaves
6 spinach leaves
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. ginger

The Cabbage Patch Juice

6-8 Green Cabbage Leaves
6-8 Swiss Chard Leaves
3 Carrots
1 Apple
1” piece of Ginger

Pucker-up Parsley Juice

1 bunch parsley
2 lemons
1-2 thick slices horseradish root
2 cucumbers

Green Carrot Ginger Juice

2″ (5 cm) of ginger root (you may add more ginger if you like)
1 medium cucumber
4 carrots
3 stalks kale (tuscan cabbage)
1/2 pear

Green Citrus Juice

1 Green apple
1 navel orange, peeled
3 big handfuls of leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, romaine, etc)

Lemon-Lime and Bitters Juice

1 Lemon
1 Lime
1 cup Watercress
2-3 Green Apples

Substitutions or Additions:
Lemon – yellow or ruby grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangerine
Lime – yellow or ruby grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangerine
Watercress – cucumber, green cabbage, spinach, kale, radicchio, endive, beetroot leaves, rocket (arugula), chicory (witlof), collard leaves, dandelion leaves
Apple – other types of apples, pear, kiwi, green grapes

Crisp and Clean Green Juice

1 large wedge green cabbage
2 small pears
1 bunch romaine leaves
1” ginger root

Joe’s Mean Green Juice 

1 large wedge green cabbage
2 small pears
1 bunch romaine leaves
1” ginger root

 

4 Tips to Find a Qualified Oncology Massage Therapist from MD Anderson

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This post comes from MD Anderson’s Blog Cancerwise and was written by Siri Sumler, massage therapist at MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Center.  It’s a great article on finding a qualified massage therapist.

 

“It has been known for thousands of years that massage feels good, helps relieve pain, stress and other symptoms, and is safe if given by an appropriately trained professional.

Wondering how to find a massage therapist who will take your cancer-related concerns into consideration during your massage? Here are some tips to help you find a trained massage therapist who can address your cancer and cancer treatment-related needs.

1. Consult your oncologist.

To ensure coordinated and safe care, speak with your primary oncologist before having a massage. Your doctor can address any concerns. If your doctor thinks massage can be integrated into your care plan, ask him or her to request massage services for you from MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Center through online consults.

Looking for massage therapy outside of Houston? Ask your doctor for a written order that you can give your local massage therapist.

2. Find a licensed massage therapist who specializes in working with cancer patients.
It’s important to find a therapist with the appropriate education. Minimum requirements are a massage license and 24 hours of training in oncology massage, including a basic study of cancer, treatments, side effects, patient challenges, massage technique modifications, and hands-on practice.

Visit The Society for Oncology Massage’s website to find oncology massage therapists who meet basic training and practice standards.

3. Ask how they’ll modify massage for you.
Ask the massage therapist what modifications he or she will make for you. They may need to adapt the massage pressure, bodywork technique, or treatment position based on your cancer and cancer treatment-related side effects.

4. Note what type of questions they ask you.
A massage therapist who is trained to work with cancer patients will ask about your diagnosis, treatments, diagnostic tests, blood values, symptoms, activity level and any restrictions you may have.

Oncology massage is safe and effective at helping people feel better during challenging times. Find a qualified massage therapist, and you’ll be on your way to a peaceful reprieve from the stress of cancer.”

 

** Last year, I wrote an article on organizations that offer FREE massage for cancer patients.  Click HERE to see this partial listing.  If you know of other organizations offering this, please post a comment on my site. Knowledge is power… let’s share the power!

**  Also, check out the Society For Oncology Massage (S4OM)- they have a FREE national locator service that will help you find the right therapist for your needs. 

 

COLONTOWN is “THE Place” for Anyone With Colorectal Cancer

A Map of ColonTown's Neighborhoods

A Map of ColonTown’s Neighborhoods

 

Have you ever heard of COLONTOWN, USA?  It’s not on a map and your navigation system won’t be able to find it.  It’s a private yet vibrant and engaging community that resides on Facebook.  So if you’ve had or have colorectal cancer (CRC), you should really get there for a visit. (Caregivers and advocates are also welcome.)

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

 

COLONTOWN is a private online community where patients, survivors and caregivers who have been touched by colorectal cancer can share their experiences, knowledge and support for one another.

 

 

In COLONTOWN, residents discuss topics ranging from the side effects of chemotherapy treatments and what people are doing to overcome them TO sharing information on clinical trials TO what a drag it is to miss events with family and friends.  They also talk candidly about the ups and downs of a cancer that causes you to spend tremendous amounts of time in the bathroom.  COLONTOWN is a safe place where it’s residents can share anything they choose without fear or embarrassment….

 

Recently COLONTOWN added smaller, condition-specific “neighborhoods” to their town.  So if you have stage IV CRC for instance, you can connect with other patients & survivors who also have metastatic disease.  If you have Lynch Syndrome, you can visit Lynchville and connect with others with your same diagnosis.  Check out the picture above to see the different neighborhoods you can join.

 

So how exactly do you get to COLONTOWN?  

Just like any private community, to enter COLONTOWN you must be **invited**.  Go online to www.facebook.com.  In the search blank, enter “Erika Hanson Brown (COLONTOWN mayor)”.  Friend her, informing her that you’d like to be added to COLONTOWN.  Someone will be in touch with you to find out how they can best help you.  BTW, Erika is the Founder of Colontown and a 10 year stage iiiC colon cancer survivor… and she knows her sh**, pun intended :-)