Archive for colon & rectal 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

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.

SSDI

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: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/compassionate-allowances.

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.

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 StrandsofStrength.com or contact Deb at deb@strandsofstrength.com 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 Medivizor.com 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 @ info@medivizor.com.

SAMPLE ARTICLE I RECEIVED ABOUT COLON CANCER:

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

cancer-and-immune-system1

 

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 clinicaltrials@cancerresearch.org 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 clinicaltrials@cancerresearch.org with information about your cancer type, stage and treatment history, as well as your location.  They see if there are any matches.

Things You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer

Source: Uploaded by user via C21 on Pinterest

 

Colorectal cancer or colon cancer (CRC) is the one of the most common, most deadly and most preventable cancers. This cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests like colonoscopies can stop colon cancer before it even starts, or it can find the cancer in it’s early stages which increases the chances of successful treatment.

THE BOTTOMLINE:  Get screened starting at age 50.  However, if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, get screened earlier.  

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 :-)

 

WTF is “Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation”?

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For younger women diagnosed with cancer, the same treatments that are designed to save their lives can damage their ovaries and render them infertile.  However, there are options available to help preserve fertility.

 

For some female patients, egg & embryo freezing is one option if done before treatment begins.  For other women with aggressive cancers or hormone-sensitive cancers, this is not an option.  Women with aggressive cancers may need to start treatment immediately and don’t have the 3-6 weeks needed to harvest eggs.  Women with a hormone-sensitive cancer can not have their ovaries stimulated as this process can exacerbate the cancer.

 

For these women (those who can not harvest & freeze their eggs), there is an experimental option called “Ovarian Cryopreservation.”  Dr. Kutluk Oktay, director of the Institute for Fertility Preservation/Reproductive Specialists of New York explains it like this… “Ovarian cryopreservation is a procedure where, when a woman is faced with a medical condition that would affect [her] future fertility, the ovary is removed through a keyhole procedure and it’s taken through a specialized process which involves treating the tissue with antifreeze substances and utilizing an automated process to preserve the ovary for future use.”

 

How does this new ovary-freezing procedure work?

According to Dr. Oktay, doctors first remove the ovary and then, once a woman has completed cancer treatment, transplant the tissue back into the abdomen – or even under the skin. Once transplanted, the ovarian tissue will be able to turn its supply of immature eggs into viable ones.  The procedure takes about 40 minutes and can be done under local anesthesia.

 

Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation is not recommended for young women with ovarian cancer, leukemias or lymphoma.  This process also potentially lends itself putting cancer-tainted tissue back into a patient who’s been cured.

 

Got more questions?  Connect with Fertile Hope - they help cancer patients get the information they need to make educated fertility decisions before and after cancer treatments- from understanding fertility risks to fertility preservation techniques to understanding what parenthood options exist after cancer.  (Fertile Hope is a national LIVESTRONG initiative)

5 Reasons Why I LOVE Champions Oncology

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the organizations I write about in this blog; others I wish I had known about during our “cancer journey”; and still others, although not relevant to Alan’s cancer are fantastic resources that can help others in their fight against cancer.

 

Champions Oncology is one of the organizations that we were lucky to find.  Their co-founder Dr. David Sidransky is one of the smartest and most dedicated cancer warriors I know.  They are doing great work to help fight cancer… one person at a time.  Watch the YouTube video above and read what I’ve written below to see why I’m a huge fan of Champions… Below are my Top 5 Reasons…

 

5.  Personalized Oncology is the future of cancer care.  Two people with the exact same cancer can and do respond differently to the exact same treatment regimen.  I wish I had understood this at the beginning of our cancer journey. Read this article from the NY TIMES on how Champions is the ultimate in personalized medicine.

 

4.   Champions organized a “panel” of 13 sarcoma experts (doctors, surgeons & researchers too).   The Panel met, discussed & debated Alan for over two hours.  They built consensus and came up with a plan of action… a plan that we could never have otherwise obtained, even if have if we had visited each of the professionals individually.  BTW, the plan they came up is the only one that actually slowed the growth of Alan’s cancer.  See Reason #2.

 

3.  No Dr. Schmucks Allowed!  Doctors are people, just like you and me.  And at the end of the day, you have to trust your doctor.  But here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Not all doctors are created equal.  And finding the GOOD ones is not always easy.  Alan and I met and worked with quite a few Dr. Schmucks during our cancer journey and some of them were the “Chief of This & That” at major hospitals.  But I can honestly say that every single medical professional that we worked with through Champions Oncology was brilliant and compassionate and they got “it”… as long as there is life, there is hope.  No giving up allowed.

 

2.  Tumorgrafts REALLY WORK… no ifs, ands or buts about it…  Champions implants your tumor into genetically-stripped mice and then they test different drugs and drug combinations to see what works.  If a treatment works in the mice, it can work in your body.  It’s like your own personal clinical trial.

 

1.  They gave us realistic hope.  By the time we found Champions, we were running out of time.  They were both honest and cautiously optimistic with us. If they could find a drug regimen that would slow down or better yet, kill this cancer (which they have been able to successfully accomplish in other patients), we’d have more time together and maybe, just maybe, live happily ever after.  Although our story did not have the happy ending we dreamed of, I know that we did everything humanly possible to save Alan.  And because of this knowledge, my family and I sleep at night knowing we left no stone unturned.

 

 

 

FREE Fertility Medications for Female Cancer Patients

 

If you are a woman of reproductive age & a US citizen who has received a new cancer diagnosis and wish to undergo fertility preservation PRIOR to the start of cancer treatment, you can now receive certain FREE fertility medications.

 

Walgreens and Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc. are collaborating to provide free access to certain fertility medications (specifically Bravelle, Menopur, and Novarel)  and educational resources including informational guides detailing how cancer treatment affects fertility, access to highly specialized nurses, multimedia materials outlining potential fertility options patients may wish to discuss with their physician, and specialized modules to teach injection training.

Have your physician call Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy at 888-347-3415 with a verbal prescription and the medication will be shipped via UPS to either the physician’s office or the patient.  No completion of forms is required.

 

This program is made possible through Ferring’s h.e.a.r.t. BEAT program.  Click here for more information. 

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