Archive for side effects

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.

 

 

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

Nutritional Fixes for Common Cancer Side Effects

Super helpful info from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

6132d051-7acd-44c1-b2d0-465be1dc6bb8

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

Adult Survivors of Pediatric Cancer: Get the 411 on Late Effects of Cancer Treatments

 

Thanks to advances in early detection and better treatment regimens, survivors of childhood cancers often go on to live full and productive lives.  However, the same treatments that cure cancer can also put survivors at risk for future medical problems.  Such health problems, known as “late effects“, can occur months or years or even decades after successful treatment has ended.   

FACT:  In a large study of adult survivors of childhood cancer, researchers have found that more than 95% suffered from a chronic health condition by the age of 45, including pulmonary, hearing, cardiac and other problems related either to their cancer or the cancer treatment.

FACT:  The chances of having late effects increases over time so the older you get, the more likely you are to experience health problems.  Risk factors vary depending type of cancer originally treated, location & size of tumor(s), treatment regimens utilized as well as other patient-related factors.

FACT:  Survivors need proactive, clinical health screenings and ongoing, specialized follow up care. Regular follow-up by health professionals who are experts in finding and treating late effects is key.  The exams should be done by a health professional who is both familiar with the survivor’s risk for late effects and can recognize the early signs of late effects.

 

If you are an adult survivor of pediatric cancer, take a look at these RESOURCES that focus on late effects of cancer treatments:  

* Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility (STAR) program at the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University is a comprehensive long-term follow-up program specifically created for adult survivors of pediatric cancer.   STAR is one of several programs in the country to offer this specialized service.  Here, annual check ups are tailored to each patient and may include a heart ultrasound, a battery of blood tests, a mammogram, a chest MRI, a session with a counselor as well as many other diagnostic tools.

I also LOVE their GET EMPOWERED: A video education series for childhood cancer patients and survivors.  Topics include the impact of childhood cancer on adult survivors, making the transition to adult health care, cardiac risk factors, fertility, finding a “new normal” and navigating the emotional side of survivorship.

*  Another great source of information is The Children’s Oncology Group’s Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers.  Talk to your doctor(s) about these guidelines.

 

*  Beyond The Cure has a very informative website that provides detailed information about the late effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment involving all aspects of survivors’ lives. To help analyze late effects specific to your diagnosis and treatment, check out their Late Effects Assessment Tool.

*  My Heart Your Hands was created by 2 adult survivors of pediatric cancer.  Their mission is to not only raise awareness of the potential late effects of cancer treatments, but to also equip survivors with information and tools they need to manage their follow up care.  Check out their listing of Late Effects Clinics located throughout the US or listen to founder Stephanie Zimmerman’s story.

 

Remember, the more you know about the possible long-term effects, the better prepared you will be to meet any challenges the future may bring.

If you know of other survivorship resources that focus on late effects of cancer treatment, please post them below.  Knowledge is power.  Let’s share the power!  

 

(sources:  Natl Cancer Institute; The STAR Program; WSJ.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? 

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

4232634_s

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.