Archive for breast cancer

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Cancer


Meet GUEST BLOGGER Ram Meyyappan. Ram is the senior editor and manager of the Social Security Disability Help website.  Social Security Disability Help contains information on how to apply for disability with over 400 conditions, helpful tips, FAQs along with an extensive disability glossary.


If you are a parent suffering from any type of cancer, the condition or the effects of the treatments you are undergoing may make it difficult to take care of your kids, let alone returning to work. In such cases, financial assistance may be available through one of the two Social Security Disability programs. There are two disability programs available to those who qualify under the SSA’s disability criteria. These include the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) program and the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) program.


SSI is a needs-based program. In order to be eligible, you must be deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration and you must meet certain financial criteria. As of 2013, to qualify for SSI, you must not earn more than $710 as an individual or $1,060 as a couple. You must also not have assets that exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.


Unlike SSI, SSDI is not a needs-based program. There are no financial criteria to meet. You must, however, have earned enough work credits through your previous work history. In order to have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked five of the past ten years. If you are not old enough to have worked five of the past ten years, you need to have worked half of the time you were able to do so.

Cancer and Meeting the Medical Requirements

The SSA uses a manual called “the blue book” to evaluate whether or not a condition qualifies for disability benefits. Cancer is covered in Section 13 of the SSA’s blue book under Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. Just being diagnosed with cancer alone does not mean that you will qualify for benefits unless it is a type of cancer that is listed in the compassionate allowances program. In most cases, the cancer has to be inoperable, have distant metastases (has spread), or be recurrent after surgical procedures or irradiation.

You will need to prove through your medical records and work history that your cancer prevents you from working at the job at which you were previously working or any other job for which you are qualified.

Qualifying Under the Compassionate Allowances Program

Certain types of cancer can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits in less than two weeks under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. Under this program, individuals who are suffering from very severe conditions can bypass the standard disability claim process and be approved for benefits a lot faster. You will need a physician’s opinion stating that the cancer is not operable or an operative note stating that the cancer was not completely resected in order to qualify under this program. If an operative note is not available, a pathology report indicating positive margins can be used. When applying for benefits, make sure you include this medical documentation and make it clear how you qualify for benefits under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

There are numerous cancers that are listed in the compassionate allowance program. For a complete list of all compassionate allowances conditions, please visit:

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online or in person at your local Social Security office. Make sure that you have all of the medical evidence that you will need at the time of your application. While the SSA will have you fill out forms that allow them to request copies of your medical records, it is always best to submit medical records on your own as a part of your application to ensure that the SSA receives complete documentation that supports your disability claim.

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….

Getting the 411 on 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.


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





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.

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 or contact Deb at or via phone at (515) 240-5843.


Reliable, Relevant Cancer Info Delivered Straight to Your Inbox


When first diagnosed with cancer, most people turn to the internet in hopes of finding information to better understand their diagnosis and research options for treatment. But finding reliable, relevant information is no easy task. And when you do find such information, it is often challenging and confusing to understand unless you have a medical degree or PhD.


If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with breast cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer (or a few other health conditions like diabetes), check out Medivizor. Medivizor offers personalized information and updates for people with serious medical conditions. It’s like a google alert but much better. They will be adding more conditions soon- melanoma will soon be launched.

Here’s how it works….

1. Go to to sign up- all you need is an email address and a diagnosis. BTW, any personal information you provide is not shared without your explicit permission. If you like, even your actual identity does not need to be shared.

2. Because Medivizor recently launched, they only support a limited number of conditions (breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes + a few others).  So at this point in time, after you sign up, Medivizor will confirm with you via email whether they support your condition of interest.

3. If they support your condition, you will then be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. The more information you provide, the more specific and relevant their findings will be.

4. Next you will begin receiving notifications every few days via email on cutting-edge research, possible treatments, clinical trials and more relevant to your specific condition.  BTW, you can list more than one condition if you like.  You can also rate each notification or article in terms of it’s relevance to you.  The Medivizor search engine is smart and will tailor it’s findings based on your feedback.

5. And here’s my favorite part… the information you receive has been re-written in plain English. No medical degree or PhD required to comprehend the articles.  Medivizor even bottomline’s the information for you… literally.  See a sample article format below.  Also included is a link to the actual study which you can print out and bring to your doctor.

6. Lastly, Medivizor‘s personalized information updates is free of charge although over time, they may introduce additional services with associated costs.  Got questions? Contact Medivizor @


Do elderly or younger patients with stage II colon cancer benefit from adding Oxaliplatin to adjuvant chemotherapy?

In a nutshell
This study tested whether chemotherapy after surgery (‘adjuvant chemotherapy’) including Oxaliplatin and FL (altogether called FOLFOX4) has any benefits in stage II and in elderly patients with colon cancer (CC). The main finding was that the addition of Oxaliplatin to FL as adjuvant chemotherapy did not provide any survival benefit in stage II CC and elderly patients

Some background
Stage II colon cancer (cancer in the large intestine) is confined to the digestive tract. It is usually treated with surgery (removal of the cancer). Adjuvant chemotherapy with Fluorouracil(FU)/Leucovorin(LV) (FL)  or Capecitabine alone is standard treatment for stage III CC (cancer that has spread from the colon to the lymph nodes). Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) is a new FDA approved drug for the treatment of advanced colon cancer. Whether adjuvant chemotherapy has any benefits in stage II and in elderly CC patients remains inconclusive.

Methods & findings
899 patients with stage II CC participated in this study. 315 of them were ages 70-75 years. 569 were regarded as ‘high-risk’ (their tumors had certain features suggesting aggressiveness) whereas 330 were considered as ‘low-risk’. After complete removal of the cancer patients were randomly given either FL or FOLFOX4. Patients were followed-up for 5-7 years. The effect of Oxaliplatin-fortified adjuvant chemotherapy on the following indices was evaluated: Cancer-free survival (the percentage of patients alive without signs and symptoms of the cancer after a specified duration of time); Time to recurrence (time interval until the cancer reappears); Overall survival (the percentage of patients alive with or without the disease).
The addition of Oxaliplatin to adjuvant chemotherapy resulted in higher Cancer-free survival rates and lengthened Time to recurrence in all patients with stage II CC, and particularly in high-risk ones (28% and 38% rise, respectively). The advantage was minor in elderly patients. Either way, the benefit was not statistically significant. Overall survival rate did not improve at all under FOLFOX4 treatment.

The bottom line
In conclusion, the authors did not find a significant benefit from adding Oxaliplatin to FL as adjuvant chemotherapy in stage II CC and elderly patients.


My bottom line… The more knowledgeable a patient, the easier it is to advocate, and patients who advocate for themselves tend to have better outcomes.  Medivizor can help make you even MORE knowledgeable about your cancer.  So check it out and tell me what YOU think of this FREE service.  I can’t wait till they add sarcoma to their list of conditions. ;-)

Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder



Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the immune system’s fighting defenses to help the body destroy cancer cells.  Many clinical trials testing new and potentially promising “immunotherapies” are currently enrolling cancer patients in the United States and abroad.  To learn more about immunotherapy clinical trials or to find a trial that might be right for you, check out The Cancer Research Institute’s Clinical Trial Finder.  Here’s how it works:


  1. Select a cancer type.*
  2. Fill out CRI’s simple request form.
  3. Within 3 business days, you will be emailed a list of trials that you may be eligible for.
  4. Take the results to your doctor to discuss; contact the clinical trial sites/research teams directly; and/or contact the Clinical Trial Institute at for more information or for help interpreting your results.

* Current cancer types include:  Brain CancerBreast CancerCervical and HPV-Related CancersColorectal CancerLeukemiaLiver CancerLung CancerLymphomaMelanomaMyelomaOvarian CancerPancreatic CancerProstate CancerSarcoma and Bone CancersStomach Cancer.

If your cancer type is not listed, send an email to with information about your cancer type, stage and treatment history, as well as your location.  They see if there are any matches.

Financial Aid for Breast Cancer Patients from The Pink Fund


If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, have lost part or all of your income during breast cancer treatment and are finding it difficult to make ends meet, check out The Pink Fund.

The Pink Fund provides short-term financial aid to both male and female breast cancer patients to cover basic living expenses like health insurance premiums, mortgage or rent payments, car payments, car insurance or utilities.  Pretty amazing I’d say!


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

1.  The Pink Fund financial aid can only be used to cover basic living expenses such as health insurance premiums, mortgage or rent payments, car payments, car insurance, or utilities.  The Pink Fund does not make payments for any medical treatments, prescription drugs, medical co- pays, insurance deductibles, prostheses, wigs, food, gasoline, or car repairs.

2.  Financial aid is available for up to 3 consecutive months.

3.  Should an applicant qualify, The Pink Fund will make direct payments to the recipient’s creditors. No funds are directed to the recipients themselves.

4.  To see if you qualify for financial aid from The Pink Fund, you will need to answer a brief pre-qualification questionnaire.  If you meet their guidelines, you will be then be able to download an application.

For more information, visit


Study Shows 1/2 of Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients Can Safely Avoid Chemo When Using MammaPrint


If you have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, talk to your doctor about The MammaPrint breast cancer test.  


According to the recently published RASTER Study, The MammaPrint breast cancer test (developed by Agendia) can accurately determine which early stage breast cancer patients are at low risk of breast cancer recurrence and can therefore safely choose not to undergo chemotherapy. Furthermore, the study suggests that half of early-stage breast cancer patients may be able to safely avoid chemotherapy.


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

427 breast cancer patients were studied over 5 years. Of the 219 patients who were determined to be ‘low risk’ based on the MammaPrint test, 85% chose not to have chemotherapy. Of those patients, 97% were disease-free after 5 years. Of the 208 patients who were determined to be ‘high risk’, 81% chose chemotherapy and 91% were disease-free after 5 years.  This is the first breast cancer genomic study to include 5-year outcome data.


The MammaPrint test analyzes 70 critical genes identified in breast cancer metastasis (3x more genes than previous-generation testing); can be used on both hormone-receptor-positive or hormone-receptor-negative early stage breast cancers; and has been FDA-cleared in the US.


For more information, visit  If you don’t have insurance or your insurance company doesn’t cover MammaPrint testing, contact the Agendia Cares Program as they may be able to help.  To compare MammaPrint against other genetic assay tests such as Oncotype DX or Mammostrat, speak with your doctor and visit


(Sources:  Agendia PR ;, MedScape, European Cancer Organization)

FREE High Quality Wigs for Female Cancer Patients

Cancer patients say that hair loss is one of the most emotionally devastating side effects of chemotherapy.  To help maintain a positive body image & sense of normalcy, many cancer patients opt to wear a wig.  However, some insurance companies won’t cover the cost of a wig, and the ones that do typically don’t provide enough funds to make purchasing a good quality wig an option.

Check out Lolly’s Locks… they provide high-quality wigs (made from human hair) to female cancer patients who cannot otherwise afford them.


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

To apply for a FREE wig, fill out an application (click HERE).  All applications must be submitted with proof of medical diagnosis.  Applications are approved on a case by case basis.

To qualify for a wig from Lolly’s Locks:

  • You must be a female cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy, and suffering from hair loss as a result of treatments.
  • Patients can be diagnosed with any type of cancer but must be over the age of 18 years old.
  • You must reside in the USA.

Once approved, you can actually order the wig from the privacy of your own home.  A detailed order form (how you want the wig parted; straight hair, curly, medium wave, etc; hair length; % of hair highlighted; measurements for cap size; etc) will be emailed to you.  You will also have a follow-up phone conversation with Lolly’s Locks wig distributor as well as a wig stylist.  Once these conversations are completed, you should receive your wig in two weeks.



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