Tag Archive for Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

WTF is a TheraSphere for Liver Cancer?

TheraSphere (also known as radioembolization or selective internal radiation therapy-SIRT) is an innovative liver cancer treatment option designed to help treat both cancer that originate in the liver and cancers that have spread to the liver.  It’s a form of internal radiation therapy using millions of tiny glass beads (1/3 the width of a human hair) containing radioactive yttrium-90.

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

TheraSphere offers an innovative treatment option or alternative to liver cancer therapies used for unresectable or inoperable liver cancer tumors.  This therapy is typically done on an outpatient basis and has fewer side effects when compared to traditional forms of treatment (chemo & radiation).

 

Here’s how it works:  A doctor injects TheraSphere into the hepatic artery of the liver through a small flexible tube known as a catheter.  The tiny radioactive glass beads flow directly into the liver tumor via its own blood vessels and become permanently lodged in the small blood vessels of the tumor. The radiation destroys the tumor cells from within the tumor, with minimal impact to the surrounding healthy liver tissue. The radioactive microspheres will continue to emit radiation over the course of several weeks after TheraSphere treatment and radiation levels will decrease to insignificant levels.

 

To see if there is a cancer center or treatment facility near you that offers TheraSphere, click HERE for information from Nordion, the makers of TheraSphere.  Cancer Treatment Centers of America also has a ton of great information on this innovative treatment option on their website.

 

WTF is Neutropenia?

White Blood Cell

Neutropenia (n): “granulocyte disorder characterized by an abnormally low number of neutrophils, the most important type of white blood cell“. (Wikipedia)  White blood cell counts can be determined by a simple blood test.

 

Anyone undergoing cancer treatments will most likely experience some level of neutropenia at some point.  You see, white blood cells help our bodies fight against infection.  Cancer treatments often times lower the number of white blood cells in our bodies thus making it harder for our bodies to ward off infection.

 

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

An infection in people with cancer is an emergency.  In fact, infection can lead to hospitalization and even become life-threatening if not attended to so follow the advice below…

 

1.  Call your doctor right away if you have a fever 100.4 or higher.   This could be a sign of infection.  Don’t automatically take tylenol or aspirin unless your doctor advises you to do so, as these meds can mask what’s really going on.

 

2.  Find out from your doctor when your white blood cell count will be the lowest as this is when you are at greatest risk of infection. During this time, take precautions like avoiding crowds or people with colds; washing hands often; wearing protective gloves when handling raw meats, gardening or cleaning up after pets.  Make sure that all food are properly handled, washed & thoroughly cooked.  Our doctors even advised Alan to avoid raw vegetables during “his time of the month” as we called it.  And we even asked our friends to stay away if they weren’t feeling well or have a cold.

 

3.  If you have to go the emergency room, it’s important to tell the person checking you in that you have cancer and are receiving chemotherapy.  If you have an infection, you should NOT sit in the waiting room for a long period of time with other sick people.

 

4.  Look into acupuncture & tai chi… there is scientific data available that these modalities can have a help stimulate white blood counts.  (thanks Darian, amazing naturopath at Cancer Treatment Centers of America for sharing this.)

 

Remember, an infection in people with cancer is an emergency.  It’s best to avoid any situation that increases your risk of infection.  Also know that if your treatment schedule has to be postponed by a few days because you are neutropenic, don’t worry.  Talk to your doctor.  I’ve always been told that a few days here or there won’t make a difference in the overall success of treatment.

What’s the Dealio with The Cancer Treatment Centers of America?

Patients ring this bell to signify the completion of their radiation treatments.

 

I’ve learned that for better or worse, when it comes to cancer, things rarely are as they appear to be.  After all, cancer is tricky.  And each person’s cancer is unique to them.  The treatment regimen that works for one person may or may not work for another person.  Test results (again for better or worse) often times come back differently than expected.  That’s just the nature of cancer.

 

But there is something in the world of cancer that truly IS what it appears to be… The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).  CTCA practices personalized cancer care with an integrative team approach, and they do anything they can to make the journey a little easier and a little lighter, with the hope of making the end result more successful.  I have to say that I was really impressed (a feat not easily accomplished might I add) after spending 2 days at their Phoenix Center.

 

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

A couple of MAJOR things really impressed me:

CTCAwill fly the patient & caregiver out to one of their 4 (soon to be 5) facilities for an initial consultation FREE of charge.  And CTCA arranges & pays for all travel expenses for the patient for all subsequent treatments & appointments.

 

*  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.  Each doctor and specialist comes to your waiting room.

 

CTCA takes a personalized approach to treating cancer.  They will run genetic and biomarker testing on tumors when needed.  They will prescribe off-label drug treatments (drugs that are not part of the standard protocol) if the standard of care is not doing the job.  Of course, there needs to be evidence supporting it’s use though.

 

*  Anyone who has undergone any sort of cancer treatment knows that finding satisfying foods that nourish the body can be a huge challenge.  According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 20% of cancer patients die from malnutrition.  CTCA chefs & nutritionists work with patients to make sure they stay nourished with made-to-order smoothies (Detox Delicious is my favorite GREEN smoothie) and healthy meals made from 100% organic ingredients that rival some of the finest restaurants. (It ain’t typical “hospital food” that’s for sure).  Plus special dietary needs will be accommodated.  Oh, there’s Starbucks coffee too.

 

* CTCA accepts most insurances (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.

 

* CTCA offers cutting edge, treatment options and state-of-the-art technology (Cyberknife, TomoTherapy®, Cord Blood Transplants, Calypso® 4D Localization System™/GPS for the Body® genetic & molecular profiling & much more).

 

* Then there’s tons of other super nice amenities offered including:  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;  visiting hours are 24×7; really nice hospital rooms that are ICU-capable and 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.

* 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…

p.s.  The President & CEO of CTCA Phoenix is an 8 year sarcoma survivor… how fabulous is THAT!

“Detox Delicious” from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Rob Harris of Robcares.com- amazing resource for caregivers- drinking Detox Delicious, his 1st green smoothie ever

 

This is an amazing green smoothie recipe called “Detox Delicious” created by the chefs & nutritionists at The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).  Detox Delicious is a natural & safe beverage that helps cleanse without stripping the body of benefits.  And it’s delish!

Blend together in a high powered blender:

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup spinach

1/2 cup broccoli

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbs of Tahini (sesame paste)

1/2 clove garlic

1 cup of green apple (cored & seeded)

1/2 cup vegetable stock

 

Cancer Treatment Centers of America prepares all of it’s own food and uses only high quality, organic ingredients.  I spent the past weekend there and I can honestly tell you that their food rivals some of the finest restaurants in town and it’s healthy to boot. Quinoa & spelt & kale OH MY!

BTW, every patient at CTCA receives a nutritional assessment and an individualized meal plan designed to help prevent malnutrition, reduce side effects of treatment and enhance his or her well-being.  Very cool!

 

 

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