Thursday, June 27, 2013

"I looked at cancer as a team sport" says cancer survivor

Mark Ciccarelli

Connecting people to people

Mark Ciccarelli Mark Ciccarelli

Mark Ciccarelli was diagnosed with Hodgkin disease when he was 9 years old and just about to enter the fourth grade. He did his best to pretend it wasn't that bad, forcing a smile and imagining a time when he'd be cancer free.

Mark missed a lot of school that year, because of the chemotherapy and then the radiation. But he took part in as many activities as he could. There were times when he'd go outside and play kickball hooked up to a catheter in his chest—partly to feel like a normal kid again and partly to reassure his family and friends that he was alright.

Now Mark is 26 years old and cancer free, and he works as a financial advisor. He recalls that when he was going through cancer treatment as a kid, although he couldn't know all the specifics of his cancer, he did know that he had to endure and find strength in every way possible.

Today he credits his support system in helping him do that.

There’s nothing better
than being able
to help others.

"I looked at cancer as a team sport; on my own I would never win, but if I opened up to the positivity of others around me, I knew I would have a fighting chance," he says. "While every day brought on new challenges, both mentally and physically, I always felt love and support from my family, friends, and classmates. Those were the key factors that helped me get through my cancer diagnosis."

Mark also realized how helpful it was to connect with someone who was having a similar experience. "It gives you a lot more strength to talk to someone who understands what you're going through firsthand," he says. "As a 9 year old with hair falling out and constant nausea from medication, I had a really hard time understanding why I was sick. It caused me to be quite shy. I finally felt better when a family friend who had cancer sat me down and spoke to me about our shared experiences. Then I didn't feel like I was the only one."

Mark now helps other cancer survivors make these kinds of helpful connections through Conquer Together Exit Disclaimer, an interactive Web site that he created. The site allows cancer survivors, family members, and caregivers from around the world to share their experiences, reasons for hope, and other messages of encouragement. The site has hundreds of members and gets thousands of hits a day.

"I understand that I'm very fortunate to be here doing what I'm doing," Mark says. "There's nothing better than being able to help others."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Call Cancer An Inconvenient Blessing (says cancer survivor)

My story

I remember being diagnosed with cancer like it was yesterday. In the summer of 2003, I’d gone to my doctor complaining of some swelling on my neck. He ordered a biopsy and the test result came back as a benign cyst. We made plans to surgically remove it and on December 26, I finally did it. While doing surgery, my doctor discovered that the cyst was actually a tumor the size of a tennis ball. He also found three other tumors in my neck and a tumor at the base of my tongue.
On New Year’s Eve I was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma. It was the same cancer in the same area that my mom had been diagnosed with more than 20 years earlier. She lost her battle just one year after her diagnosis.
I went to visit a local oncologist in Kansas to discuss my treatment options. My ear, nose and throat specialist had only been able to remove the large tumor, so I was curious about the best course of treatment for the four smaller tumors left behind in my neck and mouth. He suggested chemotherapy and no further surgery.
I’m a big believer of getting to know your illness. I’ve always advocated doing your research so you know what you’re dealing with. When I went to get a second opinion from one of the premier medical oncologists in Kansas, he gave me similar treatment recommendations. I wanted to know what else I could do to fight my cancer.
The following week, I was all set to start chemotherapy, but something just didn’t feel right. I didn’t trust the information my oncologist was giving me. I decided not to treat and sought out an alternative clinic in Kansas that offered intravenous vitamin C treatments. By the end of 2004, I was told I needed more aggressive conventional cancer treatment or I was going to lose my battle.
When I searched online I found Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). I wasn’t delaying anymore and I made an appointment at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in December of 2004. When I arrived, I met with Dr. Mellijor. I loved the way he handled things from the start. He was very straightforward and told me he recommended chemotherapy, but said that I was the one who had to make the decision. I hadn’t been treated like that by any of my other doctors.
I decided whatever I had to do, I would do it. It came down to the fact that I trusted this man. I saw his honesty and compassion, and it instilled confidence in me. When I met my oncologist, Dr. Granick, I had another honest exchange between a patient and doctor. He sat with me and took the time to answer my questions. He told me I was “the boss” and when I had questions about treatment options, we would discuss it. To this day, I tell people that if your doctor won’t answer your questions, find another doctor! You’re the one with everything to gain and everything to lose.
I started seven rounds of chemotherapy treatment, spaced three weeks apart. I would travel home in between treatments to be with my wife, Cindy, and 4-year-old son, Isaac. Little did I know that every time I left, Isaac thought I was going back to the hospital to die. Cindy finally told me and we made arrangements for all of us to go to the hospital. We sat with Dr. Granick and his physician assistant, Larry Wiggins, and they answered all of Isaac’s questions. He asked everything he wanted to know. It soothed me and my wife to see these men talking to and trying to calm down a 4-year-old child. Cancer is a very difficult experience for a child to go through and it amazed me that they took the time to acknowledge that. Isaac also got quite a bit of attention from the nurses, which he loved every minute of!
After completing my chemotherapy, I returned to the hospital in June 2005 for two months of radiation and hyperthermia treatment. This time, I stayed in the hospital’s guest quarters. I took advantage of the many supportive therapies offered at the hospital, including nutrition, massage, naturopathy, acupuncture and even some mind-body medicine. To please my wife, I took a Laughter Therapy class with Katherine Puckett and I didn’t think I would like it, but I came out of there a believer. I really felt better afterwards!
The best part for me was that Cindy was able to find support and comfort, too. I knew how I felt physically and that I was getting better, but Cindy had no indication. She was scared and would ask me how I could be so calm. I felt relieved that she could find some support, because as my caregiver for all those months she needed it. I think Cindy took more advantage of the massage and acupuncture than I did, and she deserved it.
I like to say that all of the people at CTCA sweat the small stuff—and that’s how it should be. A hundred insignificants become a big problem, and the team at CTCA deals with issues as they come up. They even helped my wife and I celebrate our anniversary. My first round of chemo took place during our 24th anniversary. My nurse found out and she brought two pieces of sugar-free, chocolate cherry cake to my room so we could celebrate. She made us feel very special!
I call cancer an inconvenient blessing because nobody wants to get it, but it can be a benefit to your life. If you can have the low moments, and not let them overwhelm you, you can learn about yourself and find strengths you never knew you had. My advice is to trust God and draw closer to him, as hard as that may seem at the time. And if you don’t have a sense of humor, get one! It’s just as important as everything else.
It’s been years since I completed my treatment and I feel so grateful to be here. I’m taking care of my wife, and we’re living every day as fully as we can with our son. He’s only going to be young for so long and I want to be there for him in every way. If it weren’t for CTCA, I know I wouldn’t be here to coach his baseball team and cheer him on at his football games. I’m looking forward to watching him grow into a successful man and being part of many life moments still to come for our family.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Positive Results In Kelly Changed Her As Person!

Kelly Turner, a New Haven, Connecticut, police officer, found a golf ball-sized lump in her breast when she was 36 years old. It turned out to be stage 3 breast cancer.

In July of 2001, Kelly began 4 months of aggressive chemotherapy. She had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery the following January, then radiation therapy 6 months later.

The entire time, Kelly's close friends gave her a tremendous amount of emotional support and helped her through medical appointments and treatments. Her coworkers and church family collected money, and also organized a motorcycle ride and a hockey game to raise funds that could help with her expenses. Kelly coped with the uncertainty of it all with the help of her loved ones, with prayer, and with spiritual music and talks.

I went through cancer
so I could do what
I’m doing now.

On January 1, 2003, after missing 18 months of work, Kelly returned to the police force. Encouraged by the outpouring of emotional and financial support she had received from her friends and coworkers, Kelly decided to help other people the way she had been helped: she formed The Chain Fund Exit Disclaimer, an organization that provides financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. Even though she's helping others through the project, the project is helping her, too, by giving her hope and strength. As she puts it, "I love to be a blessing to others! I enjoy making someone else's life better—even if it's just for a moment in time."

Today, Kelly is cancer free. The Chain Fund has grown to address various emotional and physical needs for cancer patients and families, while continuing its financial focus. Kelly describes herself as shy, but she tirelessly solicits donations and grants for The Chain Fund, holds events and fundraisers, and always thinks of ways she can help others.

Kelly believes cancer changed her as a person. Although she would never want to go through the traumatic and difficult time again, she sees the positive result from it. "I don't think I went through that whole cancer experience to not do anything," she says. "I believe I went through it so I could do what I'm doing now."

Monday, June 24, 2013

The "Hope Through Cancer" Outreach

The "Hope Through Cancer" site has been created because of the journey my wife and I embarked on when we found out that she had ovarian cancer stage 3C. We were then on strange territory never trod or walked before. I started living with cancer because I was married to her, but she lived with cancer because she was diagnosed with it, not to mention the health was deteriorating and she new something was wrong. The future blogs will be her thoughts and feelings and encouragement to those that follow along and who need to know that you are not alone. If you have cancer be assured that hope and encouragement can be found on the journey we are on together.
Check the link below as we build the website.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This is my father's oil on canvas painting portrait. He had prostate cancer, and 1 out of 3 people will have cancer in their life time.
This could be your portrait or someone you love, or a gift to someone you love. Portraits are painted on canvas board 16"X20" and framed if wanted. "Hope through Cancer" is supported by arts and crafts to allow us to help those that are going through cancer. A support group is now in the making to encourage and give hope to the cancer survivors. For more info please go to our website     and join the blog. Direct others to this site especially if they are cancer survivors and that will already be a support to cancer survivors.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Cancer Does In A Positive Way!

When Gary Johnson went in for surgery to remove a cancerous prostate, doctors discovered that the cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes. Now he's on a treatment that is designed to hold the cancer cells in check for as long as possible. "Since there's no cure for my cancer, my challenge is to live as long and as well as I can," says Gary.

Unwilling to sit back and worry, he and his wife Marlys focus on being proactive in facing down the disease. They have gathered a team of medical professionals, family, friends, and other cancer survivors as a support system. Gary has also changed his lifestyle—he's getting more exercise, getting better nutrition, and finding ways to manage his stress.

My challenge
is to live as long
and as well as I can.

Gary's cancer diagnosis completely changed the priorities in his life. He's now focused on family, faith, and the outdoors. He and Marlys established the 501(c)(3) non-profit Cancer Adventures Exit Disclaimer, and travel across the United States, telling their story to cancer survivors, students, and health professionals.

"Not knowing what the future holds is the hardest part," Gary said recently. "The three things getting me through every day are my faith, my wife, and having this purpose to help others. Having a purpose has turned a negative into a positive."

Pass these stories on to your friends that are affected by cancer. Join the "Hope Through Cancer"
blog at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In Who Do We Trust Having Cancer?

Join the hope through cancer blog to get updates and encouraging news. Pass this on to those that are cancer survivors or caregivers.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No hands or feet, but very inspiring, and encouraging( must see)

See this inspiring video of this person that will encourage any one that is facing trials in life, be it sickness or loss. There is hope in any situation.  See video