Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There Is Life With And After Cancer

                          "I believe it's important for anyone facing cancer to know you can come out the other side; there is life after cancer."

At age 60, Dave Wesley of Placerville, Calif. says it’s sobering that he’s lived longer than his father. Wesley says he and his sister will always remember their father as a young man because they never knew him as old. Their father died in 1980 after a 4-year battle with prostate cancer. Back then there was no prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for screening, and few available drugs were helpful for advanced prostate cancer. He was 57.

The Decision to Screen Early

Because of his family history, Wesley began going in for screening 20 years ago at age 40. (Men with a father or brother diagnosed before age 65 are at higher-than-average risk of developing prostate cancer themselves.) For two years, his PSA and digital rectal exam (DRE) showed nothing suspicious. The doctor told him to come back when he turned 50.
But Wesley came back the next year anyway, and this time the doctor felt something abnormal on the DRE. A prostate biopsy followed, and small areas of cancer were found in 2 out of 9 samples. Like about 15% of men with prostate cancer, Wesley’s PSA level was still in the normal range (under 4) when the cancer was found. Remarkably, his was only 0.6. Most healthy men have levels under 4, so Wesley’s PSA level alone would not have triggered a biopsy.
Wesley learned of the diagnosis in his urologist’s office. “He said, ‘You have a prostate cancer diagnosis.’ I didn’t remember another word. When you hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ you don’t remember any other words.”

Investigating Treatment

Wesley returned to the urologist’s office with his wife, and they discussed his treatment options. He also went to 4 other doctors for opinions. He wanted to make sure he was getting the right information. And unlike a much older man, he was not looking for a 10-year or 15-year survival rate. He wanted a lifetime cure.
One of the doctors Wesley contacted was the head of the local cancer center at UC Davis Medical Center. He told Wesley not to feel obligated toward the first doctor who examined him. “After all, you don’t marry the first girl you took to the dance.”
That gave Wesley a sense of empowerment, and he spent about a month making the decision to have a prostatectomy, removal of the prostate. He chose his hospital, surgeon, assistant surgeon, and anesthesiologist. He spoke to another patient the day after the man’s prostatectomy. That gave him reassurance that he would be able to manage the pain. And then he prayed, “Lord, I did everything I know how to do. Now it’s your turn.”


Because he did so much research beforehand, Wesley knew what to expect after the surgery. He arranged to be off work for 9 weeks. He had an incision from his bellybutton down to his pubic bone. And like the patient he spoke to, Wesley had pain, but was able to manage it. He stayed in the hospital for 5 days and needed a catheter to empty his bladder for 3 weeks. He says his whole world became the living room and the bathroom, and then gradually expanded until things got back to normal.
He began having PSA tests every 3 months to make sure no prostate cells were left in his body. Eventually, after 5 ½ years of undetectable levels, he graduated to annual tests. At his last exam, Wesley’s doctor told him “You’re at 17 years this year. You’re going to have to find something else to die of.”

Giving Back

Wesley’s wife, Jane, began volunteering with the American Cancer Society even before his diagnosis. Shortly after his father died, she began driving cancer patients who needed help getting to their treatment appointments, in what has since grown into the Road to Recovery program.
After his diagnosis, Wesley also began volunteering with his local American Cancer Society office in Sacramento and he hasn’t stopped. Since then he’s chaired committees, sat on boards and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through local and national events including Relay For Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and Daffodil Days. He has volunteered at 7 American Cancer Society golf tournaments, and last May was the survivor speaker at the 7th Annual Capitol Invitational Golf Tournament held at Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills. In September, he was the "special guest" speaker at the annual Harvest of Hope Gala held at Dalla Terra Estate in Granite Bay.
In addition, Wesley co-hosts volunteer orientations twice a month in what he calls “two of my best hours of the month” and he’s a stakeholder who participates in the American Cancer Society’s research grants peer review process. That experience has convinced him that more funding is needed for cancer research. “Unfortunately, there are many more researchers and projects worthy of being funded if there were only more dollars available to fund them. That’s why I’m passionate about the many fundraising opportunities available throughout the year. If someone’s interested in making a difference, there is no shortage of opportunities.”
He has also spoken personally with several newly diagnosed men in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Man To Man program. “I believe it’s important for anyone facing cancer to know you can come out the other side; there is life after cancer.”
Today, Wesley says he feels great. “I feel very fortunate I’m in good health. I don’t have to worry about relapses. This isn’t the one that’s going to get me.” From American Cancer Society)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pat Stidham
I want to tell you about a very special woman in my life, Faith Copeland Jacques. She is on our Shining Stars team. She is also an ovarian cancer survivor and an "angel". She knows God still has plans for her on this earth as her recent scan came back clean - YAY!! Faith started Mary Kay in July 2012. She knows how the skin care products have improved her skin after chemo/radiation treatments and wants to gives others the same opportunity. She and her husband, Claude, just created a website & blog –www. Hopethroughcancer.com. They are sharing their stories and information they have learned along their cancer journey. I didn't even get thru the first paragraph of Claude's story and my eyes were teary. Faith has been writing her story but as she told me today, sometimes it takes her to places she doesn’t want to go yet. I cannot even imagine. I know Faith is strong and God will give her the words to write to touch the lives of many others affected by this dreadful disease. I am touched to be in her circle of friends.
So please, go to her website and like it or share this post on your facebook page. Let’s pass the word. Women helping women.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Young Breast Cancer Survivor Urges Women with a Family History to Get Screened

"I try to see the positives in this whole thing."

For most women, 40 is the recommended age to begin breast cancer screening with yearly mammograms. But Michelle Teel, 31, began thinking about screening when she turned 30. That’s because her mother, a 2-time, 20-year breast cancer survivor, was first diagnosed at age 33. Grandmothers, aunts, and cousins in Teel’s family have had cancer too. Some members of the family have found out through genetic testing that they carry a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, an inherited gene abnormality that increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Aggressive treatment

Teel’s own cancer journey began in June 2011. Her 30th birthday had come and gone when she noticed a lump in her right breast that felt like a marble. She didn’t have health insurance, so began looking for a way to get a free mammogram. After 2 months of looking, she found the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) Program, which provides cancer screening services for New Jersey residents who are uninsured or under-insured and meet certain income requirements. A mammogram and biopsy confirmed the lump was cancer. Two days before Teel’s 31st birthday, she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. More tests revealed that Teel had a BRCA2 mutation.
In November, Teel underwent 12 ½ hours of surgery for a double mastectomy and reconstruction of her breasts. Surgeons removed and tested 18 lymph nodes and found cancer in half of them. They classified Teel’s breast cancer as stage 3 and recommended aggressive treatment. She began chemotherapy in December 2011, and finished in April 2012. Then she started 5 weeks of radiation.
Teel experienced side effects from the chemotherapy that included nausea, fatigue, and loss of her hair, including most of her eyebrows. She attended a Look Good…Feel Better program where she learned how to use a pencil to draw them back on, which she said improved her appearance and self-image. Look Good…Feel Better is a free, national program developed by the Personal Care Products Council, in cooperation with the American Cancer Society and the Professional Beauty Association /National Cosmetology Association. It teaches hair and makeup techniques to cancer patients.
Teel recommends that women with a family history of breast cancer get screened early.

Looking on the bright side

Today, Teel’s hair is starting to grow back. She supports herself through freelance and part-time work while she looks for a full-time job. In her spare time, she performs stand-up comedy “to help keep my sanity.”
“I try to see the positives in this whole thing,” said Teel. “It makes it less weird for your friends.” She said, “My attitude is so different from everyone else who gets cancer. I just want to get it over with and get on with my life, so I turn to humor a lot. Cancer is a different experience for me because I’m used to it. My mom got it when I was 9.”
In the 1990s, Teel’s mother enrolled in a national breast cancer registry that collected data from thousands of patients and family members. Researchers use the data to study breast cancer in BRCA carriers.
Teel said, “It’s nice to know all the studies my 2-time cancer-survivor mom participated in for BRCA mutations in the 1990s are helping me now. “ (from the American Cancer Society)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Read this right now if you care enough about your life to discover the 40 vital facts that your doctor won’t have time to tell you…because your time is precious (and maybe even limited)

FACT: no matter how much they care about your success—chances are your doctor has NEVER been forced into a battle with a disease they didn’t choose
And what they don’t share CAN make or break your cancer experience — scary considering that their expertise guarantees your life or the dreaded opposite…
You can probably guess that being treated for cancer will be one of the worst experiences of your life… unless you already know what I’m about to reveal…
 If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, you probably already realize how terrifying “facing cancer” can be—you are dealing with the crippling horror right now. The day my doctor told me I had cancer is still as clear in my head as if it happened yesterday:
A biopsy of the lymph nodes in my neck was performed, and the lymph nodes were tested in a lab to confirm whether or not I had cancer. I returned to the oncologist’s office that following Monday to get the results of the biopsy. “You do have cancer,” he said. “You have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But we’re going to fix this – this is a very treatable disease, one that has very effective treatments available.”
I immediately broke into tears. The oncologist went on to explain the options that were available to me and the additional diagnostic procedures they would be performing over the course of the next week. He took notes on everything he told me and gave me a copy, knowing that I was not in the frame of mind to retain much of what he was saying to me.
I walked out of the office with my sunglasses on because I couldn’t stop crying. A million thoughts went through my head on that walk home:
  • Am I going to die? How could this happen to ME?
  • I’ve always exercised and eaten fairly healthy, I don’t smoke or do drugs, and, yes, I drink a little, but isn’t red wine good for you?
  • How am I going to tell my parents and friends that I have cancer?
  • And admittedly, why is this happening to me?
Let’s be honest, being diagnosed with cancer is like being dealt a crappy hand during a poker game – there’s nothing you can do to change your hand, but you do have options when it comes to how you play it. The diagnosis itself is nothing short of petrifying—but going through cancer treatments is FAR worse. If the terror of what you’re about to face hasn’t hit you, it will soon. By now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you what you already know…what I really want you to know is this: Click here to continue   http://bookforcancer.com/?hop=123save4u

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Prostate Cancer Survivor Bikes, Canoes, Volunteers.
"I feel that because I had such a good outcome I can maybe share my experience with newcomers to the group and help them."

Bruce Rice, 54, is getting ready for a 200-mile bicycle ride this year in his home state of New Hampshire to help raise money for the cancer center where he was treated. His daughter plans to ride with him. Last year they rode the 50-mile route. It was cool in the morning when they started out, and Rice’s daughter wore a sweatshirt over her T-shirt. It wasn’t until later when it warmed up and she passed him on the road that he saw what was written on the back: “I wear light blue for my dad.” Rice says he welled up when he saw that.
“I think of the stress that I went through and it’s not only yourself, but your spouse or significant other – the whole family takes a hit,” said Rice. “I’ve found that it’s very important to have the support from the rest of your family.”

The deciding factor

Rice was diagnosed 3 years ago after a blood test done for screening showed elevated PSA levels and a biopsy confirmed prostate cancer. His health care provider gave him a DVD and a thick pamphlet describing all the different treatment options that were available to him. He felt overwhelmed by all the information and spent about a month trying to make a decision. Finally, he was able to get his case before a review board of surgeons, oncologists and radiologists at the hospital. The board analyzed his tumor and recommended surgery. That helped him decide.
Rice said, “There is so much information to digest. It all boils down to what quality of life you want afterwards.”
Rice says he followed the surgeon’s post-operation instructions meticulously and had an excellent recovery with no incontinence issues. He has continued to see the doctor for follow-up care and has had no indication of recurrence and no complications.
He said, “Everything went as well as it could be expected to go.”

Man To Man

Just before he had the surgery, Rice joined a local Man To Man group. This American Cancer Society program helps men cope with prostate cancer by offering community-based education and support for patients and their family members. Rice’s group meets once a month. Facilitators schedule speakers and instructors who educate the group about issues that pertain to prostate cancer. Recent programming has included meditation, tai chi, constructive writing and a cooking class.
Rice and his wife trained to be Man To Man peer mentors to help other men and their wives or partners. “I feel that because I had such a good outcome I can maybe share my experience with newcomers to the group and help them.”
Rice’s volunteer work doesn’t stop there. Each year, he leads a group of 40 teenagers to Canada for a weeklong canoe trip among the lakes of La VĂ©rendrye Provincial Park. It’s organized by a church group.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” said Rice; “but it’s a blast.” (American Cancer Society)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Finds the Support She Needs

"I appreciate every day, every smile I see on my children’s faces, every laugh I share with a friend."

When Ginger Jordan, 38, found out she had ovarian cancer she was afraid she’d never be able to return to her job at a vocational high school in Ocala, Florida.

Jordan said, “I remember thinking: ‘My life is over. I’m never going back to work and I’m never going out in public. Even if I lived, in my mind, my life was already over.’”

But Jordan did go out in public, and she did go back to work, thanks to the love and care she received from family, friends, co-workers, and students.

Unexpected complication

For years, Jordan suffered with heavy, painful menstrual periods. She sought medical help, but none of the remedies her doctor prescribed worked. The mother of 2 teenagers, Jordan decided in 2010 to have a hysterectomy to take care of the problem once and for all. Jordan’s doctor told her he planned to do the hysterectomy vaginally, but warned that if there were any complications, he might have to do it abdominally.

When she came to after the surgery, Jordan found that she had had abdominal surgery. The surgeon explained that when he pressed on her abdomen, he had felt something hard on one of her ovaries. Once inside, he could see cancer on both ovaries and the omentum, which is a layer of fatty tissue that covers the organs. He removed Jordan’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and omentum.

Weeding the garden

A couple of weeks after the surgery, Jordan went to see a gynecological oncologist. The doctor told Jordan she had stage III-A ovarian cancer. Because the cancer had spread from the ovaries, she would have to have chemotherapy.

Jordan said, “She told me it’s like planting a garden. You can pull the weeds, but you still have to spray it with Roundup or you’ll have weeds a couple of weeks later. So, every time I went in for my chemo treatments, I was going for my Roundup.”

Jordan had 6 rounds of chemotherapy in about 6 months. She lost her hair after her first treatment and said she avoided mirrors because she hated to see herself looking “sick.” She said she felt as if her life was put on hold while everyone else was living theirs.

“I had some really rough days, had to have blood transfusions, and there were days when I felt like just giving up,” said Jordan. “But I’m no quitter. I held my head high and took it one day at a time.”

Finding support

Jordan joined a couple of online support groups and found other patients who were going through what she was going through. She made friends with a woman from Tennessee who received the same diagnosis the same day Jordan did, and went through chemo treatment at the same time. Jordan said it helps to know someone else who is going through the same things.
Jordan’s school supports the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event. Between treatments, she returned to work to support the team – raising funds and participating in the walk.

Before going out in public for the first time, Jordan bought a $300 wig identical to the hair she lost. But she felt so self-conscious, she only wore it once. She bought some pretty scarves to cover her head, but was hot and uncomfortable in the Florida heat. Jordan credits her students with helping her make peace with her appearance:

“My students said, ‘Don’t hide under your hair, Miss Jordan; you’re beautiful. We love you the way you are.’ I finally pulled off the scarf and said, ‘This is who I am’ and went bald.”

Brighter days

After her chemo treatments ended, Jordan’s doctors ordered some scans. They detected no evidence of cancer. She gets a checkup every 3 months.

Jordan said, “I have my life back, but now it’s even better. I appreciate every day, every smile I see on my children’s faces, every laugh I share with a friend. It’s important to keep the faith. Brighter days are ahead.”(Article from  "American Cancer Society")

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fox Interview for ovarian cancer

(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because the warning signs are so vague.

This year, there will be close to 23,000 new cases diagnosed and most will be late stage. Because of that, over 15,000 women will die from the disease.

Dr. Ursula Matulonis, Medical Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Margaret Winchester, an ovarian cancer survivor And Dana Farber patient, joined the FOX 25 Morning News during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to talk about the signs, symptoms and treatments.