Saturday, March 10, 2012

C is for Courage

Recently I volunteered to substitute lead at a cancer support group.  By connecting with close family members, friends, and others spanning the globe, I have heard their stories.  Throughout my life, one message has always been clear to me: Never give up!  Following are some findings discovered during my session.

Success is measured differently by each individual.  However, attitude is everything!  The attitude to Want to beat the demon inside of us, to succeed in beating cancer. Granted, everyone has different experiences, side effects, and treatments.  One thing stands out in my mind…people’s attitude.  They want this thing inside of them to go away!  Some lie back and let nature take it’s course, while other’s take a stand with a different attitude.  They want to succeed in surviving and connect on deep levels with family, friends, and community at large.  Remaining healthy in mind, body, and spirit, they face cancer with courage. 

For patients, positive attitude was defined as optimism for the day and getting though everyday events of the journey by taking control rather than focusing on the future. Factors that affected patients' positive attitude were their relationships with their specialists, people around them being positive and supportive, and having a pleasant environment at home and at the treatment center. Patients found expectations of them to be positive as being detrimental.

People need to inspire and support patients' positivity while undergoing treatment for cancer. Do not force their own value system on them nor treat them differently if they do not conform to societal expectations to be positive and optimistic for the future.

For as long as I can remember when people used the phrase, the C word, they were referring to cancer. However, since kicking cancer's butt, the only thing the C word stands for in my eyes is COURAGE!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What is needle biopsy of lung (Chest) nodules?

During my once a decade physical, my family physician discovered a small shadow in my chest x-ray.  While he was comforting, further precautionary tests were scheduled.  CT scans were done, and to make a long story short, a biopsy was scheduled. 

A needle biopsy, also called an aspiration, involves removing some cells—either surgically or in a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle (which I refused to look at) from a suspicious area and examining them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis.

I scheduled an appointment with a recommended radiologist and things were underway.  Did I mention I have a horrific fear of needles???  AHHHHHH!  A short time later, outpatient surgery was scheduled and I began to freak.  Just the thought of having cancer after both parent’s, sister, and discussion with a lady friend who may breast cancer was enough.  I kept telling myself….it’s just precautionary tests, we’ll get through it!! 

I checked in, signed papers and given instructions to read about the procedure.
A nurse handed me a relaxer and I was lead to a room to wait what seemed like forever.  The nurse came in with an IV which went into my hand (the worst) and I was led away and told to lie down face first on a freezing table.  It was then I asked NOT to see the tray of tools they were about to use and a local was injected in my back to numb the path of the biopsy needle.  While I didn’t see it, it had to be at least half a foot long!

I received a local to numb the skin, felt a pin prick from the needle, along with some pressure when the needle was inserted. The area became numb in what seemed a few seconds. I was asked to remain still and not to cough, to hold my breath several times during the procedure. I guess it’s important that you try to maintain the same breath-hold each time to insure proper needle placement! 

A limited CT scan was performed to confirm the location of the nodule and the safest approach. A nick was made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle was to be inserted. Using imaging guidance, the needle was inserted through the skin to the site and samples of tissue removed. Did I mention they did this a couple times??  While I was given a sedative, I was awake during this! The procedure took what seemed to be an hour, although I honestly wasn’t keeping track.
You may want to have a relative or friend accompany you and drive you home afterward. This is necessary if you have been sedated.  Of course, my ride decided to throw an unexplained fit day’s prior, a day after my Uncle’s funeral (whom had some x-ray concern’s of his own\ STRESSOR)…so she was out!!!  THANKS! (STRESSOR) Therefore, I was stuck in a small recovery room for a few hours for observation.  Then drove myself home, thankful my autopilot worked because my vision was still a little blurry.  THANKS…
I was encouraged not to do any physical activity for at least 24 hours.  The second day, I was still sore, however managed to do some light chores, mostly vegged on the couch and made some phone calls. The area they inserted the needle remained sore for a couple day’s, by day three I was back up to par, but the spot remained sore to the touch for about a week. Dr.’s warned me I could cough up blood, which I did (isn’t that human?). That lasted a couple days (another stressor)!!

After a couple day’s, I was allowed to remove the bandage and take a much needed shower.  While soreness persisted, I hoped the worst was over.  After a couple weeks, my family doctor phoned to say results were benign.  RELIEF!! For now, no further tests required.  We continue x-ray’s every few months just to keep an eye on things.  

Next: mouth biopsy, not so lucky

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A caregivers story

My friendship with J began about a year ago, our rapport grew quickly: we both enjoyed nature and God, sidewalk dining, and social events. Perhaps most importantly, we shared our inner turmoil and  frustrations on an ongoing basis. I now see J more as a sister, than simply a friend.
Better than most, J understood my own struggle for stability and life satisfaction, as well as my search for inner peace. J earned this deep understanding because of her relentless and courageous pursuit of her own healing from  traumatic experience's, which she has described to me over the year.
J has that rare ambition for wholeness, struggling to overcome a. She has embraced this ambition with zeal: at considerable expense; consistently sacrificing immediate, tangible pleasures such as  apparel, furnishings or concerts. Kim's commitment to reclaiming her personhood from violations is unconditional. Her strength and courage to heal amazes me! In the course of our friendship, I have witnessed J overcome fatigue, head-ache's, anxiety and fear.  With the help of supportive physicians, including fearless self-examination leading to recovered childhood memories, I watched as J regained her emotional and bodily strength, and maintained a normal and productive lifestyle.
She would often remind me in the midst of a memory that triggered long-buried thoughts. On each occasion, I tried to be present for her emotionally and spiritually, which is all she really needed.
In our early developing relationship , J first looked to me as her friend; a male friend who didn't want anything from her. This appeared to be essential for her trust in me to grow. As her trust grew, I became  brother, just as she became another one of my sisters (I have one). Another of J's strengths I have come to admire is her determination to address the inner turmoil arising from conflict or disappointment as soon as she becomes aware of them. She strives to identify that part of her nature that feels shunned or not heard or manipulated to please. She acquiesced so that she could survive another day. Now, J not only survives another day, but is fully present to life,  one of love and compassion not only for herself, but for others as well.  Kim entered my life during a lonely and despairing period of time in my lie, when I was chronically unemployed or in an unfullfilling job . She was gentle and accepting of my pain, and we spoke on the phone often, reassuring me that these tough times were temporary, and “things will surely get better!” By reminding me of God being truly “in charge”, J encouraged me to turn my despair over to Him/Her, as often as necessary. She reminded me that I am a wonderful human being, God surely loves me and wants the best for me, which I cannot always recognize.
J's perseverance has been the example for me to follow. Her overcoming of significant obstacles reminds me to reach out to nonjudgmental friends, to turn my fears over to God, to spend some time in Nature daily, to simplify my life and avoid cultural stressors, and to find or read something to laugh about daily. While our friendship has seem to come to a sudden and unfortunate end, I hope to continue being a confidante with whom I can always be myself.
J's path to wholeness and joyful living has required continuous self-examination, honesty, and sensitive confrontation with her friends, qualities she has passed on to me. I was delighted, grateful, and hope to again be J's friend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

5 Lessons I Learned from Cancer

You have cancer.

After receiving feedback and comments from friends, loved one's and undergoing tests  myself, life is traumatic. Because the cancer  spread so far throughout some of their bodies, one  had to take chemotherapy while she was pregnant. That was the beginning of a long journey of pain, faith, sadness, hope, brokenness, and healing from many of them.

I want to share 5 life lessons that I learned.

1. Life is fragile.
Right after I heard those three words, I knew within a second that which was most important to me in life; my family, my friends, and my faith. Everything else that I thought was so important was stripped away (one person decided not to be friends any longer) in my mind. My world had been rocked and my perspective had changed. I realized how fragile life was when immediate family members heard their diagnosis, and when a friend delivered her daughter after two months of chemotherapy.

2. We aren't meant to be islands.
I am really good at offering my help to people, but I was not good at asking for help. While some go through chemotherapy treatments, so weak they need help with every day living. It's a really humbling experience to accept help with childcare, housekeeping, and everyday errands. For the first time I began to understand what being in community was all about. Community is not just when you can give, but it's trusting people when you need to receive help. We aren't meant to be islands in this world. We need each other.

3. There are worse things than being bald.
I don't want to be melodramatic here, but many thought losing their hair was going to be the worst experience ever. I was wrong. I cut most my hair off to show support, however this was by choice. They did\ do not have that option. Watching it fall out slowly was the worst experience. After watching clumps of hair fall all over the place,  It was the most liberating experience of my life. Many people opt to wear wigs and wraps most of the time, but sometimes, I just let my shiny, bald head be bare and exposed. There was something beautiful about those vulnerable moments of showing my bald head.

4. You learn a lot about your faith when you are put through the fire.
My faith in God changed a lot during my sister's cancer. Not because I was so strong. It was just the opposite. I was so weak. For the first time in my life, I realized that I wasn't in control and I couldn't manipulate the future. I even tried to become the great deal maker with God.Finally I broke down and gave it all to God. For the first time in my life, my prayer life was real. I poured out every emotion in my body; anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear. Then I cried out for answers, peace, healing, hope. God answered in His own ways.I can't explain it, but my faith was strengthened in my brokenness.

5. The fight is still going on. We need to find a cure
I am very much aware that I and other's are here because  people continue to fight for a cure. While I await my tests and forthcoming results, we all know someone who has cancer. Right now I have two very dear friends who are fighting cancer and one former friend who was waiting for tests with no health insurance.

My friend Michelle is watching her son go through his second battle with a rare tissue cancer. Jack  is such a sweet little guy. He should be playing with his friends, not laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. We need to find a cure for Jack.

My other friend Julie was just diagnosed with cancer last week. Julie is a fighter; a glass-half-full kind of girl. She also has the most amazing heart. Just two years ago, she did a Breast Cancer walk to raise funds for cancer research. Now she is experiencing all of this on a personal level. We need to find a cure for Julie.

There are so many others that need our help. Embrace life, friends new and old, repair differences with friends   and loved one's! Open your arms, support them, be thankful, ask to do everyday chores, give them a ride, share is to short and nobody can have enough friends.

Check out organizations and see how you can get involved

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Socialized Health Care

My life is now being effected by the lack of health care in this country.  Friend of mine is being forced to make life altering decisions because the lack of health care.  After suffering from an accident which enacted Multiple Dystrophy, she was forced out of her job thereby losing health benefits. With a preexisting condition, finds it impossible to obtain benefits.  Now on crutches if not worse for remainder of her life, she faces challenges in life no one should be forced to make.  Either option is not a happy one, nor should be necessary.

Socialized medicine is a term used to describe a system for providing medical and hospital care for all at a nominal cost by means of government regulation of health services and subsidies derived from taxes.  The United States, most of Africa, Middle East and Asia are only countries w\ out some form or implementing some form of socialized health care.  Universal health care systems vary according to the extent of government involvement in providing care and/or health insurance. In some countries, such as the UK, Spain, Italy and the Nordic countries, the government has a high degree of involvement in the commissioning or delivery of health care services and access is based on residence rights not on the purchase of insurance. Others have a  system based on obligatory health with contributory insurance rates related to salaries or income, and usually funded by employers and beneficiaries jointly. Sometimes the health funds are derived from a mixture of insurance premiums, salary related mandatory contributions by employees and/or employers to regulated sickness funds, and by government taxes. These insurance systems tend to reimburse private or public medical providers, often at heavily regulated rates, through mutual or publicly owned medical insurers. A few countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland operate via privately owned but heavily regulated private insurers that are not allowed to make a profit from the mandatory element of insurance but can profit by selling supplemental insurance.

Universal health care in most countries has been achieved by a mixed model of funding. General taxation revenue is the primary source of funding, but in many countries it is supplemented by specific levies (which may be charged to the individual and/or an employer) or with the option of private payments (either direct or via optional insurance) for services beyond that covered by the public system.

The number of persons without health coverage in the United States is one of the primary concerns raised by advocates of health care reform. According to the 2008 census reports there were 46.3 million people in the US (15.4% of the population) who were without health insurance. The percentage of the non-elderly population who are uninsured has been generally increasing since the year 2000. The causes of this rate of uninsurance remain a matter of political debate. Rising insurance costs have contributed to a trend in which fewer employers are offering health insurance, and many employers are managing costs by requiring higher employee contributions. Many of the uninsured are the working poor or are unemployed. Others are healthy and choose to go without it. Some have been rejected by insurance companies and are considered "uninsurable". Some are without health insurance only temporarily. Some choose faith-based alternatives to health insurance.  While Obama's health reform may not be the answer, in the least it's a beginning.  Please, support reform as life can change in an instant. This could be YOU!

My Love

MY Love 
My love, whom I love dearly I must tell you what God has layed upon my heart.  I see you hurting, I see you getting weaker by the day, the hour.  I see your weakness, your battle, your shame, I feel your pain! I know your heart aches and it keeps you awake.  I feel the wetness of your teardrops that fall from your cheeks, when you pour your heart out. My love,  whom I love dearly, I must tell you that I know a man that will take the hurt away, turn night into day, that will turn your weakness into strength.  The strength to overcome many battles, that will remove the shame, pain, and dry your tears before they fall. But before you can do this my love, you must trust, have faith and believe God will never leave you or forsake you. I know it's hard to cross over, but I can truly testify that when you put God first...the pain, shame, tears, fears, get lighter and lighter.  And before you know it, you have peace, joy, and Love.  I love you

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bad things happen to good people

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  Sometimes, we see life crumbling before our eye's and it's a living hell.  Figure out the "how"'re hurting and want to help.  Here are 7 steps to help you figure out the "how":

1. First understand, God is not punishing you or your loved one's.  The circumstance is yours to face.

2. The way out is the way through.  The only way to get out is to work your way through the situation.

3. Sometimes you have to go into the darkness.  You must go to dark places in order to find light.  Sometimes      we remain in dark places for awhile, and I can't tell you how long.  It's different for everyone and it takes time to deal with the issues.  but by dealing with the issues, you will find the light.  And it will be there, on the other side.

4. Look for blessings along the way.  These blessings come in all forms, lesson's learned may teach you something.  Or perhaps someone new pops into your life.  NOTICE THEM!!  I have learned many lesson's and met a significant person in my life who I thank God for everyday.  And I thank them for that personally and through God.

5. Allow yourself to receive.  Receiving gifts of food, comfort, gifts.  People will try to help you, LET THEM!!  Learn to be a good receiver and this will help you in the next step.

6. Step Out!  Step out to give!  When you give, it opens yourself up to receive.  You begin to find a little light.  You step into service in some fashion.  Through serving, you discover you ARE worthy.  You discover light.

7. Finally, remember...You are not alone.  Wherever you are, God goes with you.  These moments are teachable moments in time.  We remember God was there all along.  Sometimes we're just caught-up in the moment and forget, trying to be strong and do things ourselves.  Then, we remember God is always there.  Perhaps turn to counselor's, spiritual support, family, friends, caregivers.  But remember, God goes with you wherever you are!!

Bless you, and those supporting you!  And remember, there is a way out.  Just work your way through it and you will see the light!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ever changing caregivers

As I was walking the dog yesterday, lost in thought, contemplating life's situations, I almost missed a glorious sight. In the Mid-West spring landscape, it was barely visible. I thought at first that I was mistaken. There, in all its splendor, was a Little Blue Heron, standing tall at the edge of the little pond. Don't herons migrate? Don't they try to escape the long, hard winters?

And that's when I realized my mistake. I assumed to know about the blue heron because I know about some other birds. I lumped the blue heron in with all birds and made presumptions about its migratory behavior based on what I thought made the most sense.

When you are a caregiver, it's easy to plow through situations with the idea that because you know this or that, you also know things with which you have no familiarity. It's easy to think it's okay to connect the dots because you have past experience.

The truth is that as a  caregiver, your role is ever-changing, because the needs of your loved one over time will change. Some people get healthy enough to resume their old lives. Some people manage their illnesses in ways that allow them to function fairly normally. Other people deteriorate over time.

If you are caring for someone who has a life-limiting illness, it's important to understand that as things progress, you must progress with them. You must understand the disease in its various stages in order to provide the best care for your loved one. The needs of a cancer patient at Stage 1 are vastly different than the needs of one at Stage 3 or 4. The early stages of Alzheimer's and other dementias present very different behaviors than later ones. Some people with ALS have quality of life for a long period, but can suddenly decline. If you don't expect the changes, they can have a profound effect on your ability to provide care to your loved one.

Life has a way of presenting us with surprises along the road. The more we pay attention to the subtle landscape, the more we discover. I might have missed that little blue heron the other day, but because I love to walk and because I force myself to see something new each time I set foot out the door, I was lucky enough to enjoy it. Putting your mind on automatic pilot and not leaving room to see the details of the care you provide means you are less likely to spot the tiny cracks in the dam before it breaks. Family caregivers who pay attention to their loved ones don't just find problems. They also find the connections that tie us together as families. Those ties that bind us together are also what give us strength and comfort when the going gets rough. They are the winds that fill our sails. If we know how to navigate the family ship properly, the journey is made better.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Attitudes & Decisions

I began wondering after both parents and my sister passed from cancer, what caused 3 immediate family members to get cancer?  All I ever heard from doctors, nurses, oncologists, friends: "We just don't know."  But an unanswered question such as that does not just go away.  It replays in your mind over and over again.  It makes you suspect things which may appear innocent.  It makes you...paranoid sometimes.  Sometimes sickness just happens.  Many report and extremely healthy lifestyle before an illness: daily exercise, diet, etc..Some were Olympic athletes with trainers and coaches monitoring EVERYTHING they put in their bodies, and they still got sick.  This is not to give anyone carte blanch to live an unhealthy lifestyle, just to remind people that you can do everything right and still not be immune to health issues.

About 40% of cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes according to World Health Organization.  I figured there was so much I could not control in getting it myself.  However I could control "lifestyle changes."  Nothing is safe from my potential wrath: household products, health\beauty products, foods, activities we participate in, as well as attitudes we have.  Unfortunately, my activism had unexpected repercussions in the loss of friendship\ relationships.  Somewhere along the line, this happened with the foods we eat.  It was not an overnight thing, but a slope down which I slipped further as ingredients we recognized as foods for decades were removed one after another...only to be replaced by their Frankenstein approximations.  And perhaps....the resulting food looked, felt, and even tasted identical, but was in reality, a soulless replica.

Lines must be drawn in my household, the first lines were drawn against the usual suspects: excessive sugar, bad fats, preservatives and pesticides.  Yes, the man who was famous for requesting the dessert menu before the dinner menu, who once inhaled buckets of fried chicken and whole large pizza's in one sitting, began monitoring his sugar intake.  Copious amounts of sugar- bearing a half-dozen different monikers- is in everything: bread, wine, crackers, soup, ketchup, sauces, juice, jam, yogurt, and peanut butter.

What's wrong with a little sweetness you say.  Live a little you say.  You are in fact right.  There is nothing wrong with a little sweetness.  The average American however, consumes between 150-170 pounds of refined sugar per year, according to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.  Up from 4 pounds a year less than a century ago.  And this level of sugar consumption wreaks havoc on our bodies by depressing our immune system, feeding inflammation, cancer growth, and a host of other things.

Teaching people about healthy and unhealthy foods also requires rather extensive instruction in Marketing 101.

Lesson 1: Decoys- Placing pictures of popular cartoon characters on boxes of highly processed foods with scientific-sounding, degenerated ingredients.

Lesson 2: Funny Math- Using 3 different types of sugars as ingredients so the manufacturer doesn't have to list any of them first.

Lesson 3: Diversionary tactics- Placing a healthy sounding ingredient up front in your list to divert attention from suspected ingredients that come later.  Or placing health slogans all over the box.

Which brings me to the most important lesson of all: You can only do the best you can do.

You can teach your family, inform them and hope they will become savvy consumers who eat consciously and healthfully.  You can do all that, and I guarantee there will be many days of unhealthy, chemical and\or sugar-fueled overindulgence.  And when that happens, you shrug your shoulders and move on. Because....there is no such thing as perfection, (unless your a nutritionist, chef and Oprah are working in concert with each other during your annual 21 day cleanse)!

Take one step at a time- and most will be baby steps.  Start with filling your plate with: more fresh veggies; beans, sprouted grains and brown rice pastas; organic fruits and veggies when possible; healthy oils like olive and flaxseed; plenty of spices like turmeric, black pepper, garlic powder and Mediterranean herbs; and sugar mostly in context of whole fruits and veggies (and not juice, but whole).  And read labels!!

Listen, I have no way of knowing whether diet will prevent me from getting cancer. Am I willing, however, to change my eating habits to- if nothing else- live a healthier life and make myself feel better?  You bet!!!  People close their ears to what is healthy most the time because they're unwilling to make changes and take responsibility for their obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc.... People don't want to deprive their family, but instead clog their arteries and depress their immune systems, their brain, and body function and set them up for a lifetime of problems.  We have football players dying on the field from heart failure.  We must stop eating processed and "dead" food and eat foods that are "alive" which feed our bodies. While a healthy diet certainly helps prevent illness and proper nutrition for the ill, it does not cure\prevent cancer.  However our attitudes and decisions we make may certainly help!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Symptoms of cancer

Many signs may not be distinctive to cancer but run through all other diseases.  Below are some general symptoms. 

One cancer sign is unexplained weight loss. Night sweats and fever often accompany the weight loss.  Again, it could be just because of normal causes however generally a sign.  Back pain, pelvic pain, bloating, or indigestion may be early symptoms with some forms such as bone or testicular cancer.  Usually, pain is a symptom of advanced disease.  Skin cancer may produce visible skin signs such as darkening hyper-pigmentation, yellowing, reddening, generally skin color changes.  Change in bladder function, constipation, diarrhea, frequent urination, small amounts of urine, and slow urine flow.  Pain with urination, blood in urine, and any changes could be signs.  However again, these are not conclusive unless tested and proved.

There are many signs and we cannot list them all here, we can however pray that God will intervene before any of the symptoms crystalize to become full blown cancer.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In recent history, I have had many colleagues, friends, and classmates forced into dealing with this horrible disease.  Some experience good results, others deal with similar experiences such as I. While I may not be famliar with the family member, I cherish my friends and pray for them.  Some I have sat with while hearing results from doctor's, others simply expressing worries about physical symptoms.  While my interest in them may vary on personal levels, my passion about finding a cure and fighting this horrible disease never wavers.  I feel thier greif, pain, and reach out to them.  Sharing the light of God and comforting them, for they are not alone. 

As always, please feel free to share your comments.
This may be most difficult for me to write.  While I am unable to recall each particular event, it sums up my expereience dealing with mom and her struggle with cancer.  While she was the person with the disease, the hardest part was in lifestyle and friendship changes.  Being unable to work a job as my new job was a full time care giver with little experiece of this type.  Not able to be social in any means, very much a disconnect from my friends and much of the family.  I ceased going to social events, church, visiting my child, tobacco, alcohol, I became overwhelmed and out of energy.  Researching moms insurance, legal documents, arranging treatments to doctor's, cancer centers, tests, etc..not being able to sleep without one eye open.  Limited friends and family members from the medical profession stopped in to provide help and encouragement.  Other friends and family would occasionally stop by to visit socially... all took time, energy, and effort to get her beautified and somewhat socially exceptable.  The phone calls started, I began to feel frustrated at the repitition and unavailablity to be social.  Immediate family had jobs, seldom visited as this reminded them of experiences of both dad and sister passing from other forms of cancer.  After several month's, people became concerned about me and how I coped.  I didn't have a choice, others were unwilling to assist.  I was wore out.... lack of sleep, constant care.  I had no time to myself, made decisions to cease communication with some who never called or visited.  When someone would visit, they often needed my time, energy, or materials.  Then they went off to other places to have fun...never a volunteer to offer my time to sleep, run errands, or go to church. 

I have no issues with others who want\ like to have fun.  I had done so with them several times for many years.  Not all friends continue to follow us as we change as they have thier own path's in life. Doesn't mean I still missed them and felt horrible I was unable to partcipate or reciprocate my friendship.  My diet had begun to struggle as time was of the essence.  Began eating comfort foods and more unhealthy habits formed.  I wanted to make healthier choices, just didn't have time to prepare them or act on them.  Visiting the gym was out of the question!  What was enjoyable to me at this point was watching TV or reading a book.  I typically spent much time on the computer dealing with was no longer enjoyable for myself.  While supporters offered wisdom..."your doing a wonderful thing" and "mom is greatful for what your doing", I still felt isolated and very much alone.  Sitting with mom while doctors told her test results, holding her hand while fluid was drawn from her lungs, dealing with pharmacists so "I" was able to pick up med's and ask questions.  Fighting with medical personel so "I" could be informed as she was no longer able to make phone calls, office visits, write mail, etc...CHANGES HAVE GOT TO BE MADE IN OUR MEDICAL SYSTEM!!! 

Around Christmas of 2005, we visited the Cancer Center once again for chemotherapy.  Which meant I sat and watched as several patients sat in chairs as blood transfusions occured.  The odor, witnessing others in better and worse conditions than mom, nurses scattered across the room, financial counselor's wanted $$, etc...Well, on that particular day we payed a visit to the attending doctor who told us all treatments had been made and no progress.  We had run out of options and there was nothing else they could do.  Mom gave up at that very point, told me she wanted to go home and die!!  I'm like "you've got to fight to stay alive"!!!!!  No, she was exhausted, out of options doctors recommended, and in her mind.... ready to quit.  Well, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Less than 2 month's later, she had passed, buried, and I was suddenly alone.  Nurses, suppliers came to retrieve thier supplies, pastors and coroner came and went. 

Suddenly and instanteously....I was alone.  Had no clue what to do with myself, time, energy.  I was depressed, lonely, and didn't feel good myself.  While I know this entry may be scattered, I'm also aware if I make editions it may never get out.  Thanks for your patience and understanding!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let thoughts flow forth!!!!  Since beginning this blog, I have had aspirations of getting the word out in social media.  Creating a FB page, possible web-site, and word of mouth.  I have created this blog as I have had both parents, sister, misc. other relatives and friends pass away due to cancer or complications thereof.  The idea is to create a place where you the people can gather to find news, data, share stories, etc... as long as their clean. 

Things began when I was a child... let's just say several years ago.  All I recall is walking to\ from local swimming pool and mom telling me dad was ill and in hospital.  At that age I was unable to visit or understand terms, meanings, etc... Years later, I find my dad suffered from lung cancer as he had smoked cigarette's.  Was on his death bed during that time undergoing tests, treatment, etc...twenty some years later in 1990's.... while at home he reached a body temp. of 100+ and directed to go to local hospital.  Biopsies were taken of lymph nodes and he remained in ICU where he eventually passed as fluid continued to enter his lungs and taken off life support as living will directed. 

Almost to the day, one year later my sister hadn't felt good and went to different local hospital where she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Not long afterwords, she had mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.  During the course of months afterwords, she continued visits to hospital complaining of not feeling well.  Doctors natuarally continued looking at breasts, meanwhile the fluid from implants had leaked and spread throughout her body covering vital organs.  As a few years passed, she became severely ill and entered hospital for more tests\ surgery.  After attempts trying to install shunts, search for other possible cures... doctors advised us there was no hope and her days were numbered.  As she was a computer programmer and used to sitting at a desk, not eating a healthy diet, and lack of exerecise....doctors advised family members to begin a regimen of all the above so WE don't have similar instances.  Day's later, I visited hospital while on lunch from work to comfort my mom and sister.  En-route back to work, mom called and said she had passed.  I felt terrible as no sign was given while I had just been visiting and mom left there  alone to deal with matters by herself.  Especially after suffering from dad's loss, burying your own child.... no parent should have to go through.  While this gave her the time and experiece of comforting my sister and time to themselves, I felt quilty of this for years.  Thankfully, a dear friend of mine who is a mother herself whom has dealt with trauma\ children\ etc... explained to me that mother\ daughter time at this particular moment was a somewhat bonding experience and not to feel at least as guilty as I had.   More later dealing with mom and her illness. 

Please feel free to comment with your stories or notes on my posts.  All are welcome

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Healthy Living

Whether you are preventing, fighting or surviving cancer, making even the smallest lifestyle changes can help you live cancer-free. There’s much more to healthy living than medication and weight control. In fact, placing too much emphasis on taking medicine and losing weight can cause us to forget about the other equally important aspects of our health.

Living healthy is about taking many, small steps. Add some fruit to your morning bowl of cereal, meditate or pray for a few minutes before work, drink a glass of water instead of a can of soda, pick up an inspirational book… these are just a few examples of small steps that you can take to start living healthy.

Radical lifestyle adjustments rarely address the entire self. Certain Paleolithic Diets, namely the Atkin’s Diet, exemplify a radical lifestyle change that may support one health factor, while neglecting or even worsening other health factors. Thus, a balanced diet in conjunction with regular physical and mental exercise is at the core of good health. Health is balance.

We believe that healthy living must address the entire self: the physical self, the mental self, and the spiritual self. Medicine alone cannot satisfy the needs of the body, mind, and spirit. By combining knowledge and wisdom with treatment (medical and holistic), we can all walk a healthy life-path.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come in understanding how to live healthy. Today, many restaurants offer low-carb and vegetarian menu options; grocers carry a wide array of organic and locally-grown foods; and most communities have studio environments designed for the practice of yoga, palates, and other mind-body disciplines.

Health awareness and proactive living are fairly new concepts within our society. We must continue to nurture them in order to cure any, and hopefully every disease.


Knowledge and the momentum of positive thinking are the core principles of cancer prevention. A healthy, cancer-free life is rooted in the awareness of how you treat your mind and body.


With the wide range of drugs and alternative therapies available, it can be difficult to identify the best way to treat your cancer. Finding a good team of doctors and maintaining a positive outlook are the two most important factors in the fight against cancer.

Less conventional cancer-healing approaches are also widely available. These approaches, implemented alongside modern medicine, may help boost energy, vitality and overall health. Mental and physical exercise, and certain focused diets have proven themselves as effective cancer-fighting therapies.

Over the last 20 years, cancer has become progressively more curable. Today, certain types of cancer have a 70% survival rate in adults. With survival increasing, a wide variety of medical and social programs are available to help ex-patients get back to leading regular, healthy lives after closing that final chapter of treatment.

Survivors face unique physical and psychological challenges when they readjust to “normalcy”.  The following measures may help support a healthy, happy, and fruitful life:

  • Maintain a positive mental and emotional outlook, no matter how dismal and negative the circumstance.
  • Treat your body like the wonderful gift that it is. Your body is the vessel in which you will experience this life. Nurture it. Respect it.
  • Utilize social support from professionals and loved ones.

Scientists may not have found a cure for cancer yet, but these five drugs could be the next best things:

Denosumab—a human monoclonal antibody targets RANKL, a protein essential for bone cell formation and normal function. In June, the drug, was approved to treat osteoporosis. New research shows that the drug could also be effective against breast cancer.
Scientists have found that the RANKL protein appears to play more than a role in bone formation; it may also be activated by progesterone to cause breast cancer. Scientists discovered that blocking the protein in mice, blocks mammary tumour formation via a direct effect on mammary epithelia, Denosumab is currently in a Phase 3 clinical trial in breast cancer patients—a separate trial is also examining the drug’s potential in patients with other types of metastatic cancer.

Aptocine,  is a drug that includes a tiny array of LED lights. In a procedure similar to a biopsy, the array is inserted into the tumor. The drug is then injected into the body. When light is directed at the array, this activates the drug. Aptocine does not cause the severe side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapies because it destroys tumors from the inside out. Phase 3 trials have been completed for liver cancer and colorectal cancer that has metastasized to the liver. The drug is now in clinical trials for benign prostatic hyperplasia, and it is being developed for the treatment of at least nine other cancers.

Targets a protein called anaplastic lymphoma kinase, or ALK for short, that is part of a pathway in the body that scientists believe to be important for cancer cell survival. Not all patients carry the mutation, but for those who do the drug could be a more effective alternative to chemotherapy, and it may prolong survival.
Crizotinib is in Phase 3 trials for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. In a presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, researchers showed astounding preliminary results. Crizotinib shrunk tumors by more than ninety percent.

Imetelstat targets telomerase, which is an enzyme that plays a role in cell aging. Cancer cells have more telomerase than normal cells, which enables the cancer cells to survive. Scientists believe that by blocking telomerase, imetelstat will kill cancer cells without harming normal cells resulting in fewer side effects compared to chemotherapy.
In preliminary studies, imetelstat was shown to be effective against breast, prostate and lung cancers. Phase 2 trials of imetelstat began in July for non-small cell lung cancer. Maintenance therapy with a telomerase inhibitor is an attractive approach to potentially reduce the cancer stem cell population after initial debulking of the tumor by chemotherapy.

Unlike the above four drugs, metformin is not new. It is currently prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes, but new research shows it may be able to do much more than control blood sugar. Recently, a team of researchers in the United Kingdom reported an association between metformin use and cancer risk. Their review,  looked at several thousand diabetics over a period of a few years. Of those individuals taking metformin, seven percent were diagnosed with cancer compared to eleven percent who had not taken the drug.
Previous studies in animals have shown that metformin can delay the onset of tumors and reduce the incidence of pancreatic cancer.  Rresearch shows the decreased incidence of cancer is due to metformin’s regulation of a protein called AMPK. This protein manages insulin levels in diabetics, but also inhibits tumor growth. Research  concludes that there is sufficient epidemiological evidence that metformin reduces the risk of cancer to make further investigation a high priority.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Career's helping others

Perhaps you are interested in being a bright spot in someone's troubled day. Or you want to serve the public,  by doing acts of kindness as a volunteer, you can help people improve their lives or be there in times of crisis. However, it's nice to get paid for the work too. Here are some to consider if you would like to help others and also earn an income.


  1. If you want to help people transform their appearance and improve their confidence, you should consider a career in image consulting. Image consultants help others by advising them on clothing or makeup options using seasonal color analysis to match their skin tone. Also, they accompany their clients on shopping  to help them pick out the appropriate clothing and accessories. The average income for image consultants, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, ranges from $50 to $500 per hour.
  2. Self-Enrichment Teacher

  3. Self-enrichment education teachers educate nondegree seeking students. They instruct adults, teenagers and children in photography, creative writing, dancing and other areas. If self-enrichment education teachers work for a company or an association, they may teach skills like finance, marketing or management. Salaries and education requirements vary depending on location.
  4. Trainer

  5. If you like physical fitness and, more importantly, you like to help others improve their quality of life or health,  then consider a career as a trainer. Fitness trainers and aerobic instructors organize and plan activities to help people lose weight. They may work in gyms or people's homes. They also show people how to properly exercise or train. Salaries and education requirements vary depending on location.
  6. PR Specialist

  7. Public relations (PR) specialists represent people or organizations, such as nonprofits. A PR specialist contacts the media or prepares press releases to so a client's message reaches its target audience. In addition, PR specialists conduct fundraisers to help social service organizations and other nonprofit organizations raise money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, as of 2006, the median income for a public relations specialist was $47,350.
  8. Human Service Assistant

  9. Social and human service assistants are employed by agencies as other people's advocates. They help their clients receive public assistance by filling out paperwork or helping them with their household chores. They assess their clients' problems, then help fulfill their needs. Also, they may work in group homes or health care facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, as of 2006, the median income for a human service assistant was $25,580.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Daddy's empty chair


 A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father.

When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows.

An empty chair sat beside the bed.

The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?” said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked,

“I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up,”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man.

“Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

“I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man.
“But all of my life I have never known how to pray.

At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.”

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued,

“Until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, “Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.

Here is what I suggest.”

“Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair.

It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always’.

“Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”

“So I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day.

I’m careful though if my daughter see’s me talking to an empty chair,

She’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey.

Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

“Did he die in peace?” he asked.

Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside,

Told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek.

When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.

But there was something strange about his death.  Apparently, just before Daddy died,

He leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed.

“What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive.
I asked God for water, He gave me an ocean.

I asked God for a flower, He gave me a garden.

I asked God for a friend, He gave me all of YOU…

If God brings you to it, He will bring you though it.

Happy moments, praise God.

Difficult moments, seek God.

Quiet moments, worship God.

Painful moments, trust God.

Every moment, thank God.

Career dreams

I have had the notion of creating an all inclusive physical rehab facility.  A place for those such as stroke victims, vets, accidents, nerve disorders, etc... An outpatient clinic composed of doctors, pharmacists, therapists, gym equipment, swimming pool, underwater treadmill, massage thereapists, perhaps insurance personnel.  While I don't like the term "disabled", as many who have been tagged by "society" or handicapable.  A place where such people can gather for support and comfort and receive services they require without having to run all over town wasting energy and natural resources.  I have been doing some research on this, need to locate and consult some people in each of those fields.  It has come to my attention that partnering with insurance companies may be a rather difficult challenge!! Raising capital for this campaign will take significant effort and creative idea's.  Some facilities such as this have began to sprout up around town and I will need a volunteer acting as such a person will be needed.

Please feel free to comment with idea's, suggestions, input.  Would love to hear from those in the field or know of contact's they would like to share!