Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cancer And Financial Assistance Available



Pass this on to those that could use fiancial assistance while going through cancer.
Or have them go to and at the bottom of the page there are the 5 best sources for financial help
The Abbott Patient Assistance Foundation provides Abbott medicines at no cost to qualified patients who are experiencing financial difficulties and who generally do not have coverage available for these products through private insurance or government funded programs.
The Abbott Patient Assistance Foundation is made possible through the generous support of Abbott Laboratories as part of its Global Citizenship Initiative.

Our Mission
To enhance patient lives by providing Abbott products to financially disadvantaged individuals who cannot access needed treatment through meaningful coverage
Our Vision
To deliver innovative patient assistance programs that provide access to Abbott’s pharmaceutical and medical technologies while delivering high quality patient assistance services to the patients that need our programs and the caregivers who treat them
To contact us, please call: 1-800-222-6885
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Encourage someone today! Smile


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There is always something to be thankful for. Everyone can find
hope, opprtunities, peace, and encouragement, even through cancer!

Monday, November 12, 2012

"As a cancer patient, your primary focus is to survive. But that shouldn’t be your only focus. Experience life as you go through cancer. Go out and meet new people, experience things. Live life!"
Lauren Erdman, Lakemoor, IL

My story

I was a freshman in college when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was more annoyed than upset or scared because all I could think was, “I have stuff to do. I’m too busy for this.” I was working two part-time jobs to put me through school full time, and volunteering at my church part time while also taking care of family matters. And I had a new boyfriend named Michael. I wasn’t really sure how he was going to take it.
But I wasn’t about to let cancer stop me. The thought of getting back to school and life drove me to fight and get better.

How it started…

I had been sick for about six months with what my general physician thought was mono. It really started getting bad around the three-month mark because I began to have severe pains in my legs. I couldn’t understand why. I ended up losing function of my legs. By the time I was diagnosed, I was in a wheelchair. My doctor did blood tests, which led her to believe there was a possibility it was cancer.
After seeing a local oncologist, my family and I decided to see a specialist at a major teaching hospital in Chicago. I went through 40 hours of tests—everything from MRIs, CT scans and a PET scan to a spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy. That’s when I found out I had anaplastic large T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The specialist at the teaching hospital had a very “grab-the-bull-by-the-horns” kind of attitude. He wanted me to start treatment the next day, which I did. I began my first of several cycles of Hyper-CVAD chemotherapy.
But my family and I were not happy with the care I received at the teaching hospital. We decided to transfer my care to a hospital closer to my home. I continued with my chemotherapy treatment there, but was equally disappointed by my care.
My mom heard about Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) from a friend and decided it was worth looking into. My family’s home in Lakemoor, Illinois is less than a 45-minute drive from the CTCA hospital in Zion, Illinois. She called CTCA and was able to set up an appointment. Initially I was very reluctant to go. I told my mom I just wanted to finish out the hell I was dealing with because it’s just what cancer is. I figured the care I received was how it was supposed to be.
We went for a consultation at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in October 2010. At first impression, what changed my mind about transferring to CTCA was the food. After three or four cycles of hospital chicken and fish for weeks at a time, a stuffed portabella mushroom with pine nuts and spinach in it was like heaven to me. That’s the kind of healthy and delicious food they serve. It’s a far cry from what you’d expect from a hospital cafeteria.
When I met with my doctors, I knew I got the “A-Team.” With Dr. Redei and Dr. Abutalib, I got doctors who were knowledgeable about my disease and how to treat it. I was really impressed with how calm and confident Dr. Redei was in coming up with my treatment plan. He knew what I was dealing with and that made me feel better about what I was up against.
I continued to learn as much as I could about my disease and went through more cycles of chemotherapy at CTCA. I also met with my dietitian there pretty regularly about what I was eating and how I was doing. What I learned from her helped me keep my strength up and better manage nausea caused by the chemotherapy.

Going through a stem cell transplant

Once I completed my chemotherapy regimen, I underwent a stem cell transplant.
Dr. Abutalib explained the procedure to me in terms I could understand. Basically, I would receive a medication that would make stem cells leave my bone marrow and enter my bloodstream. The stem cells would then be collected and frozen until the time of the transplant. When I was ready to receive the transplant, the stem cells would be thawed and returned to my body in a procedure that’s like a blood transfusion. The stem cells would travel back to my bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells.
I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t know it was going to be as hard as it was. But I walked into begin the treatment with my head held high and I said, “I am going to kick this thing in the ass.” I thought if I had an “if” in my mind I might not come out, I’d be giving that “if” the opportunity to take hold of me.
My stem cells were harvested at the end of November. The process of removing the stem cells from my body sort of reminded me of donating blood. Although, I had to sit still for about six hours while my blood was pumped into a machine. My sisters kept me distracted during the long wait. I was so relieved to go to the bathroom once it was over.
I was then able to enjoy the holidays with my family and Michael. I returned to CTCA January 4 for the actual transplant.
Following the transplant, I was hospitalized in the Stem Cell Unit at CTCA for about a month. The whole time, I ate healthy and worked really hard at getting better.
By the beginning of February, my doctors felt I should be OK to go home. They had me come back every couple of days to ensure I was doing well in my recovery.

Coping with the effects of cancer and treatment

For a matter of months after the transplant, I really didn’t do much. My focus was on recovering. I was so tired all of the time. I felt like I got hit by a Mack truck. It was like my body went into so much shock after having its “reset button” pushed.
Losing my hair because of the chemotherapy was not all that bad. It was a lot easier to manage. Before the cancer, I had thick, straight hair that reached down to my waist. The only time I was self-conscious was when I was around Michael because I wanted him to have a normal relationship. I would always put my wig or a hat on when I was around him. But there was one night when he lifted up my hat, kissed me on the forehead and said, “It doesn’t bother me.” That was the day I realized he loved me no matter what.
The most difficult part of going through it all was losing a year of my life. I lost the opportunity to transfer out of the community college I’d been attending at the same time as all of my friends. Many of them have moved on with their lives to the point I can’t yet. Another disappointing thing is I can’t have kids. I want to have children so badly, it’s disheartening. The cancer ate away at my lower vertebrae and the doctors feel I won’t be able to carry kids.

Life lessons

CTCA gave me the greatest gift and that was to be able to look back and laugh on a lot of the things that happened. I could crack jokes with the doctors, nurses and techs, give Dr. Abutalib a hard time whenever he egged me on, and just make light of the situation. My mom and I laughed about a lot of the stuff too.
When I was going through cancer treatment at the other hospitals, I only left my home to go to receive treatment. I shut myself into my house and alienated myself from people. I didn’t go to parties or Bible study. I was so afraid of catching germs that I just didn’t go anywhere.
When I met Dr. Redei, he helped me understand it wasn’t so much about what I couldn’t do, but what I could do. He encouraged me to continue to have a social life. He’d tell me, “Go out and see a movie with friends, but just wear a mask.” Go out and go and do things. That message really stayed with me. CTCA isn’t just about surviving…it’s about living. As a cancer patient, your primary focus is to survive. But that shouldn’t be your only focus. Experience life as you go through cancer. Go out and meet new people, experience things. Live life!
In a lot of ways, my cancer experience brought my family closer together. When my mom wasn’t there, my sisters would come over and hang out. I also had friends that would visit. I had a really good support group. I made a lot of friends in the hospital too. I did feel like the youngest patient. Our biggest decision was whether I should go to a children’s hospital and get treated or a grownups’ hospital. I chose to go to a hospital for grownups. I’m glad that I did because I learned so much from all of the older patients about what they were going through and how they handled things. I learned a lot about myself too. It made me grow up and take this in a mature manner.

21 years and counting

Life is great! On May 30, 2012, I celebrated my 21st birthday. Starting in the fall of 2012, I will be going to Fontbonne University in St. Louis to study dietetics. My hopes are to graduate and become a dietitian at a pediatric cancer center.
I’m also planning my carnival-themed wedding to Michael. We got engaged on Thanksgiving Day 2011. We started out our day by going to our favorite lighthouse near Kenosha, Wisconsin. We read our favorite Bible verse and prayed. Then Michael got down on one knee and proposed. The first place I thought about going to was CTCA. So we drove down to the hospital, I walked up to the Stem Cell Unit and announced to my nurses, “I’m engaged!”
I continue to go to CTCA every six months for checkups. I also go to hang out and talk with patients. I love going there to see everyone and catch up.
For Finacial help if going through cancer please go to this link and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Saturday, November 3, 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. “ (Article in American Cancer Society)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection?

How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for cancer? Much more than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are 2 key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that you do something about this.
Except for quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are:
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.
The evidence for this is strong: Each year, more than 572,000 Americans die of cancer; about one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight.

Control your weight.

Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, and kidney, among others.
Being overweight can increase cancer risk in many ways. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more estrogen and insulin, hormones that can stimulate cancer growth.

What’s a healthy weight?

One of the best ways to get an idea if you are at a healthy weight is to check your Body Mass Index (BMI), a score based on the relationship between your height and weight. Use our easy online BMI calculator to find out your score.
To reduce cancer risk, most people need to keep their BMIs below 25. Ask your doctor what your BMI number means and what action (if any) you should take.
If you are trying to control your weight, a good first step is to watch portion sizes, especially of foods high in calories, fat, and added sugars. Also try to limit your intake of high-calorie foods and drinks. Try writing down what and how much you eat and drink for a week, then see where you can cut down on portion sizes, cut back on some not-so-healthy foods and drinks, or both!
For those who are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.

Be more active.

Watching how much you eat will help you control your weight. The other key is to be more physically active. Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control. It can also help improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.
More good news – physical activity helps you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too! So grab your athletic shoes and head out the door!
The latest recommendations for adults call for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week. This is over and above usual daily activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or doing housework. For kids, the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.
Moderate activities are those that make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk. This includes things like walking, biking, even housework and gardening. Vigorous activities make you use large muscle groups and make your heart beat faster, make you breathe faster and deeper, and also make you sweat.
It’s also important to limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching television, or other forms of screen-based entertainment.
Being more physically active than usual, no matter what your level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Eat healthy foods.

Eating well is an important part of improving your health and reducing your cancer risk. Take a good hard look at what you typically eat each day and try these tips to build a healthy diet plan for yourself and your family:
Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Read food labels to become more aware of portion sizes and calories. Be aware that “low-fat” or “non-fat” does not necessarily mean “low-calorie.”
  • Eat smaller portions when eating high-calorie foods.
  • Choose vegetables, whole fruit, legumes such as peas and beans, and other low-calorie foods instead of calorie-dense foods such as French fries, potato and other chips, ice cream, donuts, and other sweets.
  • Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks.
  • When you eat away from home, be especially mindful to choose food low in calories, fat, and added sugar, and avoid eating large portion sizes.
Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat.
  • Limit your intake of processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs.
  • Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb).
  • If you eat red meat, choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions.
  • Prepare meat, poultry, and fish by baking, broiling, or poaching rather than by frying or charbroiling.
Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Include vegetables and fruits at every meal and snack.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Emphasize whole fruits and vegetables; choose 100% juice if you drink vegetable or fruit juices.
  • Limit your use of creamy sauces, dressings, and dips with fruits and vegetables.
Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
  • Choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals (such as barley and oats) instead of breads, cereals, and pasta made from refined grains, and brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrate foods, including pastries, candy, sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals, and other high-sugar foods.

If you drink alcohol, limit how much

People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower breakdown of alcohol.
A drink of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor). In terms of cancer risk, it is the amount of alcohol, not the type of alcoholic drink that is important.
These daily limits do not mean it’s safe to drink larger amounts on fewer days of the week, since this can lead to health, social, and other problems.

Cancer risk reduction in our communities

Adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier for people who live, work, play, or go to school in an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Working together, communities can create the type of environment where healthy choices are easy to make.
We all can be part of these changes: Let’s ask for healthier food choices at our workplaces and schools. For every junk food item in the vending machine, ask for a healthy option, too. Support restaurants that help you to eat well by offering options like smaller portions, lower-calorie items, and whole-grain products. And let’s help make our communities safer and more appealing places to walk, bike, and be active.

The bottom line

One third of all cancer deaths are related to diet and activity factors. Let’s challenge ourselves to lose some extra pounds, increase our physical activity, make healthy food choices, limit alcohol, and look for ways to make our communities healthier places to live, work, and play.
(From The American Cancer Society)