Category Archives: Diary

Lung Cancer: Guide to Signs and Symptoms

When my father was rushed to the best cardiac hospital in Las Vegas, NV following an episode of chest pains and shortness of breath while he was at work, we all just sort of knew that it wasn’t a heart attack. Just like we knew that it wasn’t the Tuberculosis or chest infection that they originally thought it might be after ruling out a heart attack. And when he was sent home with medications to treat the Staph infection that the doctors all agreed was causing his symptoms, we watched him closely.

Six months went by and his cough only worsened. He lost weight. He had no energy. And he just looked ‘sick’. When he went back this time, the doctors had an answer – cancer.

The amount of misdiagnosed cases of lung cancer in the United States is staggering. Sometimes the misdiagnoses don’t affect the outcome. My dad’s lung cancer was terminal even before he was rushed to the hospital with the possible symptoms of a heart attack. Had he been diagnosed with the cancer he had, any treatment they could’ve given him would’ve only prolonged his life by a few more months.But in other cases, had a patient been diagnosed correctly and gotten the proper treatment the first time, a life could’ve been saved, or at least prolonged enough to make a positive difference in that person’s life, and the lives of their friends and family.

But to look at it another way, had my father gone to a doctor about his worsening cough instead of just passing it off as his “Smoker’s Cough” getting worse as he got older, that doctor may have found the cancer before it became terminal and took his life. Looking back, there were many symptoms that even those around him noticed that pointed to cancer long before the seriousness of his illness hit our family full force. Hindsight is always perfect. But at the time those symptoms seemed benign and were easy to brush off as something that wasn’t so serious a thought as the idea of cancer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, lung cancer does not usually show many symptoms in the early stages. Because of this, you’ll want to go for regular check-ups. Sticking with the same doctor can help someone to get to know you, as well as your body, so that they notice small changes in your health and can check for problems such as cancer should it be warranted. This is especially true if you are at risk for lung cancer because you smoke, have been around smokers, there is a family history of lung cancer or you have been exposed to radon gas, asbestos or other carcinogens during your lifetime (especially prolonged exposure).

When the signs and symptoms of lung cancer do start to show themselves, they can be varied in type and also in intensity. How you feel may lead you to think you are coming down with a cold, or it could send you to the Emergency Room. Often times the milder symptoms are overlooked or passed off as something else until there’s no overlooking the fact that you’re sick, and the idea that it might be cancer.

Cancer in general usually leads to some basic symptoms once it has spread to a certain point or is attacking the body. Unexplained weight loss should be monitored and should be looked at by a doctor if not controlled. Many signs resemble the common flu with fever and fatigue. Depending on where the cancer is, it can lead to pain in those areas – the pain can be mild or severe. The skin can also be an indicator of cancer if it becomes darker, yellow, reddened, itchy, or if you experience more hair growth than normal.

Most of those symptoms are not something that you would rush in to see a doctor about until they became excessive or started to interfere with your daily life.

Lung cancer itself can have some very distinctive signs, though. When most people think about lung cancer they think of the coughing that is usually associated with it. Coughing up blood, even just a tinge of red, can be an indicator of many respiratory illnesses and should be looked at, even if just to rule out cancer. Related to that, a steady or chronic cough is common among early lung cancer patients. If you’ve smoked for awhile, you may have what is known as “Smoker’s Cough” and if this worsens over a short period of time you’ll want to get yourself checked out. Even if your symptoms are not pointing to lung cancer, they may be pointing to another respiratory illness such as emphysema or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that will need treatment to keep from worsening.

Once the cancer has progressed, more definite signs of lung cancer are wheezing, hoarseness when talking, and shortness of breath. This is caused by the body being unable to get enough oxygen through the increasingly damaged lungs. Chest pain may lead many to think they are having a heart attack, especially when experienced with the shortness of breath, as in my father’s case.

What this comes down to is this… If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it may be because of a respiratory illness, an infection, or even a chest cold. But if you are at risk for lung cancer, and you don’t feel right, you’re coughing, losing some weight, or especially if you are feeling chest pain, then get to a doctor and get yourself looked at. If caught early, lung cancer can be treated in most cases, but you’ll need to undergo a battery of tests that can include X-rays, CT scans, or even a biopsy to determine what the best treatment plan for you would be. Your doctor will give you options, and it is up to you to weigh the outcomes.

Knowing your body, taking care of it with a healthy diet and exercise, and being conscious of your risks for lung cancer can go a long way to keeping yourself healthy, happy, and productive for a long time to come.

Sources

Lung cancer

Mayo Clinic

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer

American Cancer Society

Lung Cancer Symptoms

LungCancer.Org

Massagers For Health – Everything You Need To Know Before Buying One

Nothing compares with a relaxing massage, after a long day, so we invite you to discover the benefits that you can have from using a massager for health. The industry is still relatively new, but the increasing demand convinced more companies to manufacture these devices even for accessible prices. Today, a massager for health is not a luxury anymore, being even recommended by some medics to treat body inflammations and for improving blood circulation.

Massagers are not only used by people at their home. You definitely saw them in malls or shops, and you probably wondered about the prices. Even if the quality models are not exactly cheap, you will save money on the long term. It is why a massage chair for health must be considered as an investment on the long term, not as an expense.

If you and your family members would use it only 15 minutes a day, this means money saved on one hour at a massage chairs in the mall. Plus, you get to use your massage chair while reading, watching TV, or simply to relax before bed and to make it easier to fall asleep.

Advantages of a massager for health at home

Massage chairs and armchairs have a strong influence on your general state of mind. They will give you a good mood by eliminating the stress and by offering total relaxation. By using those, you will improve your blood circulation, observing progresses in terms of flexibility in reducing spasm and tension.

Many people using massage chairs at home say they suffer less of back and neck pains, while the relaxation increases the level of endorphins.  Using the chair every day will help you improve your body posture and the way you sit at a desk on the long term.

The most efficient programs of massages for health

If you are confronting with health problems in the back area, or other problems that come with the long hours of sitting at a desk in front of a computer, the massagers for health are a solution that you can have at home.

Modern chairs of this kind come with 3D technology for a profound massage. Advanced ones have scanning features allowing them to identify the most tensed parts of the body, and to apply acupuncture techniques. The infrared massage warms the body, leaving it with a pleasant sensation long after the session is finished.

 

The air pressure chairs are equipped with silenced elements allowing complete massage without disturbing you while watching TV. The 3D technology offers a personalized massage for users, allowing the adjusting of rolls so you can choose the intensity of the massage based on your preferences and goals.

The advanced massage chairs can replace not only your masseur, but also your acupuncture specialist. These devices can actually scan and identify the spots in need of special massage, applying puncture pressure on these spots.

Of course, those models are a little more expensive, but many users see it as an investment and they are willing to spend more at the moment, but to save money and time in the long term.

A Healing of Cancer and a Faith in God

Her cancer treatments began seven months ago when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I remember coming to her home last June and seeing her with her daughter, sitting on the couch.

Tears filled her eyes as her broken words filled my ears. I heard her say, “I’m going to die.”

Being set back for just a moment, I replied with, “ok… We all are going to die one day… What’s going on?”

That’s when she told me about the cancer. I took a breath and assured her that she wasn’t necessarily going to die. It was in Gods hands as to the pending results.

I told her my twin brother had Lymphoma cancer and he was supposed to be dead 20 years ago, yet he is still running around the beaches on the gulf coast.

I think what I said to her made her feel a little better, still I know her heart was filled with unknown fear. Her future was uncertain and being a widow of cancer and loosing a son to cancer, she cried outwardly and deep within her soul.

She asked me if I would leave her as her friend. I answered that when I make a friend, it’s solid through thick and thin and I would be there for her through the whole ordeal.

I told her that she had to promise me something from the get-go. I asked her to put it completely into Gods hands. To let God work through the doctors to heal her. I asked her to believe this and for argument sake to just believe she was already healed. She again asked me to help her through and to help her believe.

Immediately, we began to read the New Testament and pray on an every day basis. It wasn’t much longer when she asked if she could be baptized at the local church. We contacted the preacher of the church, told him of her situation, and requested him to fulfill her wishes. After he discussed the mater with her, he set it up and that alone brightened her outlook to a new, positive one.

She began her treatments as required by the doctors and I encouraged her in her daily treatments of Gods word.

Time went by slowly for her and soon her fears of loosing her hair began to surface. I, being the comic I am, made jokes about it and kept her laughing. I said she could be a female Ko-jack, a GI Jane, or a real chrome dome. I volunteered to polish it for her so she could let her light shine. I know it all was stupid or silly but it kept her mind off of her problems.

She still refused to totally drop the hair thing and so soon enough we were visiting wig stores. That was fun! Have you ever gone into one of those places and just tried them on for the fun of it?

It was the visits to the cancer center that saddened me as I stood by my promise to go with her. I saw people with all sorts of cancer, people who had a cancer and refused to quit the cigarettes, people that cheerfully went about their lives and being torn up on the inside didn’t let it show. I saw people that looked like and acted like they were already dead. Still mostly, there was laughter and friendships being made as each person waited on their turn to be treated.

They compared their treatments with each other and encouraged each other as the days turned into months. Some people didn’t fair well throughout the process and some did very well, yet I saw a bonding between the center staff and the patients, a bonding of friends who shared a common foe, a bonding of Christians and Non – Christians alike.

It amazed me how even the staff and the doctors encouraged prayer. It was said by one doctor that he could only point the radiation at the cancer but it was up to God if it was to do any good. I heard another doctor say that he had done all that he could but the rest was in Gods hands.

It amazed me that each and every person working in the center felt that strongly about their faith but I didn’t stop to think that they see and go through the demons of cancer on a daily basis; that they made a career doing it.

I smile at this thought and a twinkle enters the corner of my eye. I am so thankful to have made this journey, to see and hear what I have. I am truly grateful to have been a part of these peoples lives.

My friend has finished her treatments now and after her last pet scan, she was told by the radiation doctor that there was no evidence of the cancer on the x-rays. Today, the cancer doctor told her she was doing well and that her cancer had gone into remission.

This time I saw her with tears of joy as she praised God.

It’s not over yet, she still has to follow up and be monitored for the coming years because unfortunately cancer can rear its ugly head again.

Now she feels Gods hand on her life and she knows the rest of the journey will be a good one and made with smiles. “Ain’t God Good!”

Cherished Wishes: A Cancer Patient’s Prayer

My friend Buck has a post on Facebook that says, “Every person has 1000 wishes, a cancer patient only has 1, to get better.” Reading his post my thoughts turned to how much I take for granted and how seldom I give thanks for the things in my life that really matter. I live with my daughter and son-in-law and their two children and they love and nurture me. I have a job two and a half blocks from my back door that I love. My pastor once told me to get a roll of cash register tape and start writing down the things that I was thankful for on it, re-rolling as I went. I filled the tape and had barely scratched the surface. I wish now that I’d never quit writing.

At church one Sunday evening my pastor asked for testimonies of thanksgiving. A big, burly man stood to his feet and with tears streaming down his face began to give a list of things that he was thankful for. He said, “Thank you Lord for eyelashes that protect my eyes. Thank you Lord for fingernails that I just take for granted. Thank you for the hair on my head and for two strong legs to carry me. Thank you Lord for hands that can take a glass of water to my lips, or hand a bouquet of flowers to my wife or a kitten to my daughter. At this point he paused for half a moment as the entire church sat in silent awe. This was a tough man, huge in stature and this was a side of him that few of us had ever seen.

With a great sigh and a valiant sob he continued, “Thank you GOD for the dirt beneath my feet and the grass I complain about when it comes time to mow. Thank you for the rain, and the sun, and the stars, and all that you have provided for me, for butterflies . and starry skies. OH ! Forgive me Lord for taking all of this and so much more for granted.” It was as if he slid down the back of the pew. Once seated he took his face in both of his big work roughened hands and wept.

Our pastor started giving thanks and asked each of us to stand and thank the Lord for all that we each individually had reasons to be thankful for. It is an hour in my life that I will cherish unto death. The man across the aisle was giving thanks for his babies life. She had been born with multiple holes in her fragile, tender heart and saved by a surgeon’s GOD guided hands. The man in front of me was giving thanks for surviving the truck that he was under, working on, that fell off it’s jack and landed on his chest without killing him. The little girl behind me was thanking God for bringing home her lost kitten. A woman at he front of the church was giving thanks for her wonderful, loving husband and two precious, honorable sons. The pastor’s wife was giving thanks for GOD’s mercy and forgiveness.

I gave thanks for being so loved by GOD that I was allowed to be present and witness this big, burly man be called to stand and share some of his reasons for rejoicing and a church that boldly spoke out expressing their thanksgiving. Buck I;m thankful that I don’t have cancer and that my children and grandchildren don’t have cancer. I have faced death on more than one occasion. You know of the brain tumor that should have ended my life and you know of a magnificent FATHER who spared me. Your posting made me realize just how little I express my appreciation and how few look at me an recognize my love for GOD.

I complain of being hot instead of giving thanks for the sun. I whine when getting wet instead of giving thanks for the rain. I cry when I am cut instead of giving thanks for GOD”s healing power built into my cells. But right this instant I am thankful for a friend who provided me with a wake up call and in so doing gave me an opportunity to give 1000 thank yous to my savior and creator. My wish is GOD’s blessings on your life for giving all that would receive it “Such a Special Gift.” I told your son that the way I felt about you was that GOD had carved a special shelf in my heart and tucked you away inside. So I am not at all surprised that he opened up your shelf and used you to speak to me. Borrowing my daughter Steph’s words I say, Isn’t it just like HIM?

What to Eat After Cancer

One thing that helps prevent cancer and helps prevent the re-occurrence of cancer is the way we eat. Once we have been given the clean bill of health, we need to watch what we eat. How we eat makes a big difference in our health and our energy levels. Sometimes after surviving cancer or being told we have cancer we need to change our eating habits. There are dangers within many of the common things that we eat daily. Cancer makes us take a more active role in paying attention to the things we cook, and even what we eat when we eat out.

MEAT

A staple in any meal is meat of any sort. Beef has many different dangers, raw or medium rare meats can be the most dangerous thing for our health. According to E. coli: Dangers of eating raw or uncooked foods, the bacteria exists in many animals, most commonly cattle. If beef has the bacteria and isn’t properly cooked it could be passed on to us. Beef also contains other bacteria that could be very dangerous for us and cause us to get sick. One of the things my doctors told me was to never eat rare or medium rare beef.

While there are dangers of eating uncooked beef, there are benefits to eating fully cooked beef such as the proteins and other minerals it contains. Fully cooked beef and other meats could help provide the daily requirement for iron, which is something we all need. According to Benefits of beef article a research study done at Purdue University found “that that CLA (polyunsaturated fats) slows or reverses skin, breast, and stomach cancers in laboratory rats and mice at all three stages of tumor development. That study is interesting and holds a lot of importance for those of us with cancer.

VEGGIES

Fresh fruits and vegetables hold many benefits for us. They all hold different nutrients and vitamins that we all need to remain healthy. Many articles have stated that vegetables have different antioxidants that help stop certain cancers from forming in the body. That is something we all need to pay attention too. We don’t want cancer to reoccur so why not try eating more vegetables. The vitamin C in vegetables can help reduce stress and repair the body after long bouts with stress.

Vegetables have high fiber contents which help make the digestive system more healthier and toned. Vegetables also have proteins that meats do as well as amino acids that our bodies need to survive. When we have cancer, our bodies need various different amino acids, fibers, antioxidants and more to help keep our energy levels high and they can help keep us from getting very sick during chemotherapy treatments.

SUGAR

Ah sugar. We all love sugar in all forms, but sugar can be really dangerous for us especially if we have cancer. It has been found that cancer feeds off of sugar, so while going through treatments and eating after treatments we need to cut out as much sugar as we possible can. That doesn’t mean we can’t have sweeteners like honey or splenda, but we should really cut down on them. We need to learn how to control glucose levels through how we eat, exercise, supplements and if needed prescription medication.

Some things we can substitute for white sugar would be honey, splenda, sweet and low. I prefer honey because of the taste and that it is more natural than other sweeteners, but you really need to do research in order to cook with honey and make the right substitutes. It works best in teas like green tea, adds to the taste and really sweetens it better than sugar.

A great recipe to cook of Autumn Greens And Apple Salad. I know it sounds different and it is a different kind of salad than many of us are used to, but isn’t that the point to try new things? Here is the recipe for it:

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
½ shallot finely shopped
3 rib celery, thinly sliced on an angle
2 crisp Gala apples thinly sliced
1 small head red leaf lettuce torn into pieces
½ small head green leaf lettuce
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (toasted)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the evoo, vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper then add the celery and apples then toss. Add the lettuce and toss again. Top it off with the seeds.

You can easily add some nicely grilled chicken sliced or even fully cooked steak sliced for a variation of the recipe. You can try different apples or different kinds of seeds or even granola to top it off. The main point is try and take some things out of our diet and replace them with more healthy things. We need to pay close attention to what we are putting into our bodies, especially after having cancer.

Dealing with the Possibility of Having Breast Cancer

It all started when I was on the Depo Provera shot for birth control. I got on the depo shot in 2000 and got off of it in 2006. I was on it for 6 years. They say it is not good to stay on it longer than 2 1/2 years, but nobody told me that until I got off of it.

So in result I went to the doctor one day because I noticed a discoloration on my left breast. My doctor felt around and said he didn’t feel anything, but to be on the safe side he sent me to the hospital for a mammogram to make sure everything was ok.

Well I went for my first mammogram the next day and they found something. So I went back to my doctor and he told me that the findings they found was very suspicious and he wanted me to get another mammogram. So I went back for another mammogram and after the mammogram I was sent to the ultra sound department so they could get a better look at my breast. Well the lady could not find anything from the ultra sound and then the doctor himself came in and tried to find what they were looking for and he found something. Actually he found a couple things. He found a lump behind my nipple part of my breast and another lump on the right side of my left breast.

I got a call from my doctors office the next day and hey asked me if I could come down so the doctor could have a talk with me. So I knew what it was about. I called my husband at work crying my eyes out and asked him if he could come home and go with me to the doctors office because I did not want to go alone. So we both went to the doctors office and no sooner I got in the room my doctor comes in and tells me and my husband that they found two lumps, but one lump he was very concerned about because I am a medical professional and when you have a lump and it has little wiggly lines coming off of it it does not look good. So my doctor told me that the lump had little hair like wiggly things coming off of it and the only thing that went through my mind is that I have breast cancer.

The look on my husbands face told me he was scared and so was I. So my doctor sent me to another hospital that specialized in breast cancer and stuff so I could have a piece of mind. So I went to the hospital and had my 3rd mammogram done and the doctor there told me there was something to be concerned about because it looked kind of like cancer because of the hairlike wiggly lines coming off of it. So I went back to my doctor and he told me of the findings and he scheduled a biopsy with the hospital I had my 3rd mammogram done at.

Before I went to have my biopsy done my life in the mean time was horrible. I done nothing but worry all day long whether I was gonna die or not or if I was gonna lose my left breast because of cancer. I could not sleep my life just felt like not living anymore. It was horrible. My relationship with my husband was going the wrong way because I couldn’t do nothing but think about whether I was going to die or not.

I went back to the doctor before my biopsy because I was having trouble sleeping and he could tell that when he walked in the room. He asked me if everything was ok and I told him no I could not sleep. I hadn’t slept in like 4 days so he prescribed Ativan to help my nerves.

Then the day of the biopsy came and my husband and my aunt went with me for support because I could not do it alone.

The time came when I went back in the room for my biopsy. I had to take an Ativan before I went in because if not I could not do it because of my nerves. So I lay down on the table and put my left breast in the hole in the table and they smashed it and then stuck me like 8 times with a needle to numb it and then I heard this loud pop noise which was the needle the size of a pencil going into my breast. Inside that needle there is a piece of metal that takes a dialing biopsy of the lump to see if it is cancerous or not. They placed a piece of metal in my breast for the rest of my life in case the lump ever came back they would know where it was the first time.

So I got done with the biopsy and they told me to come back in a few days to find out the findings. I went back and the doctor told me it was not cancerous it was a benign tumor. So that was the best news I have had this whole horrible incident.

After that my husband was so glad it was not cancerous because he knew how bad I was suffering with it just wondering about it and I knew he was relieved too.

So now I have a piece of metal in my breast and it will be there the rest of my life no matter what. I cannot go to the tanning beds anymore because of the metal and my breast hurts all the time because of the metal. So I live with pain in my breast all the time but it beats not having breast cancer that is for sure. This story is a true story of what happened to me last year.

Turmeric: The Miracle Cancer Inhibitor

The deep yellow-ochre color that Asian foods are rich in is because of the addition of the versatile Asian spice Turmeric. Turmeric is a root akin to ginger with brown skin and a deep orange flesh inside. This form of turmeric is rarely used in everyday cooking but the powder form of Turmeric which is a fine yellow color is used in many Asian dishes and virtually all Indian curries and gravies.

It has a slight peppery, bitter taste when consumed as is but when mixed into the food it blends in beautifully and also adds a warm pleasant flavor not to mention the rich color to the dish. Turmeric is a miracle nature cure for many health concerns like digestive problems, bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis and is also used as a powerful anti inflammatory. But this article is about how curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric, can be a cancer preventer and there are hardly any preventive natural foods available that works so powerfully against cancer.

Research has proven that a consistent intake of turmeric can lower the rates of colon, lung, prostrate, oral and breast cancer. A research study conducted by the University of Texas on mice suggests that turmeric actually slows down the spreading of breast cancer to the lungs! The study was made possible by injecting human breast cancer cells into mice to grow tumors that were subsequently removed to simulate mastectomy.

How does curcumin work? According to researcher Bharat Aggarwal, our genes have what is called transcription factors and these regulate the formation of tumors. When the transcription factors are turned off, some of the genes responsible for the growth and onslaught of cancer cells are shut down. Curcumin works against the transcription factors and renders them useless to regulate the formation of these cancerous tumors. In the instance of lung cancer, Curcumin is believed to suppress and arrest cancer cell multiplication and causes cells to kill themselves. Curcumin in the turmeric is also suggested to have chemopreventive properties against myeloma and pancreatic cancer.

When turmeric is added to onions the combination helps in reducing the size and the number of precancerous lesions in the intestinal tract. Similarly a combination of turmeric with cauliflower is especially effective to stop prostrate cancer. Prostrate cancer is a leading cause of death in American men but is extremely rare in Asian men due to their diet which is rich in curcumin combined with a variety of vegetables.

While curcumin and vegetables like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi etc helped in slowing the growth of human prostrate cancer cells, combining turmeric with these vegetables proved to be a potent fighter against the growth of tumors and the spread of the cancer cells. Make sure that when you cut cauliflower or other vegetable mentioned above you let them sit for about 5-20minutes to encourage the formation of phenethyl isothiocyantes which stop when they are heated. While sautéing add turmeric and other spices you’d like. This not only tastes good but is a great prostrate cancer prevention technique.

Research also suggests that eating food flavored with turmeric can reduce the risk of childhood leukemia. This is a heartbreaking disease, mainly in children under the age of five, that has increased in incidence by over 50% from the year 1950 mostly due to environmental and lifestyle factors like exposure to prenatal or postnatal radiation, pollutants, benzene etc and studies show that turmeric can actually help in inhibiting the effects of some of these risk factors.

The good news is that turmeric is not a strong Asian flavor that cannot be used in other types of cuisine. It can safely be added to most gravies, sauces and soups without fear of altering the taste radically. Try adding it to your pasta sauces, chili, dips and even your marinades for your meat and chicken. You can add it to you barbecue sauces too or just sprinkle some on to steamed vegetables while stir frying or sauteing. But do make sure you find turmeric that is of a reputed brand so that it is pure and free of any kind of adulteration. And remember to keep it away from your carpets and clothes unless you are planning on dyeing them!

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78

Help for Those Facing Cancer or a Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Common Cancer Terms Defined


When I was young, my mom once called me “Sissy Cystie.” We did not understand I had a genetic condition causing cysts, benign tumors, and in a few cases cancers. We had hope my body would eventually grow out of the terrible phase. We were in the midst of much confusion. Upon learning I have Multiple Hamaratoma Syndromeall joking in regard to what I experienced was over. People with MHS form lumps and bumps in various places of their bodies. I am no stranger to finding lumps in various places of my body whether accidentally or on scans. I understand the reaction of confusion and fear..

The first question when finding something unusual should be “is it benign or malignant?” Because there is always a question, it is important to go to the doctor for a scan before you notice any changes in the lump. People experience confusion with the words benign and malignant at times. 
benign tumor is not a harmless tumor. Many people die due to the effects of benign tumors. Benign tumors can be dangerous because of where they grow-certain places of the brain, for example. Benign tumors can also be dangerous if they grow to be very large. I had benign cysts covering my thyroid gland and if they were not removed, I would not be able to breathe by now due to the size they were approaching. . A benign tumor is one that will not spread to other areas of the body.

Malignanttumors are the cancerous ones and because they spread to other organs in the body they are the more feared. Usually tumors work by shutting off at least some function of whatever organ from which they originate. Benign tumors stay with the same organ even though they may grow.Malignant tumors move around to other organs. If the malignancy, or cancer, is not caught in time, malignant tumors spread to other organs and eventually stop their function. When a malignant tumor has spread, it is referred to as metastasized.

Relapse and recurrenceare terms sometimes causing confusion.. To relapse means the cancer returns in a period of five years or less following cessation of treatment. Survival odds usually reflect cure rates by those who survive for a period of five years or more after treatment ceases. Cancer can return after five years. The exact odds are not known but it does happen. The dysgerminoma I was diagnosed with at age nine returned when I was fifteen, for example.

When cancer comes back after a period of five years, the technical term to use is recurrence. My dysgerminoma case was treated as a recurrence. Someone who has a recurrence is treated as having two separate cases of the disease. Because I had two cases of dysgerminoma and have been free from both cancers for longer than five years, medical statistics reflect this as two cases of survival.

Remission is the word all cancer survivors hope for and it is the word used when cancer appears to be gone. Someone in remission has been free from cancer based on scans for a period of less than ten years. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitaldefines cure as being ten years from signs of the initial cancer. Patients become alumni and are dismissed from the hospital during their tenth year in remission. This is information I did not find online but know from personal experience.

Some long-term survivors of cancer may face asecondary diagnosis leading to more confusion. Some chemotherapy, radioactive scans, and radiation may increase the odds of another type of cancer. In my case, I was free from dysgerminoma for fifteen years the second time when I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. The odds of a secondary cancer diagnosis are different depending on age, tumor type, strength and use of different chemotherapy types, radiation, genetic conditions that cause a tendency to form cancer, and other factors.

Secondary cancer diagnoses are a confusing condition to describe as two cancers appearing at the same time can mean metastasizedcancer or two different types of cancer. In these cases, secondary cancer diagnosis usually means the first location of the cancer is the primary cancer diagnosis and the place where it has moved to is secondary. Cases of two different types of cancer such as brain cancer and thyroid cancer appearing at the same time tend to be rare and as such may not have a medical term to define them. In some cases, two different types of cancer may be present in the same organ. When two different types of cancer are in the same organ, such as the breast, the more aggressive type becomes the major focus.

While aspects of what I have written are frightening, even to myself who has been through a recurrence and a secondary cancer diagnosis, it is important to know these occurrences are rare. Also, if you succeed in winning the battle against one cancer type it does not mean you will not win the battle against a secondary one. The important take away from this is to have unusual lumps checked out as soon as possible. If there appears to be cancer, it is important to live your life one day at a time. If the lump is cancer, do not assume it to be the end of the world. My first cancer diagnosis was 24 years ago this approaching October 7 and I am not alone among the survivors.

*A lot of personal experience

Great Places to Find Breast Cancer Awareness Merchandise Online

Breast Cancer Awareness month (October) is just around the corner. To find the right breast cancer awareness merchandise for your company, check out these five online resources for breast cancer merchandise. These websites offer a variety of items in all different price ranges, so think pink and find your perfect breast cancer awareness items online.

Motivators Promotional Products has been in business since 1979. An excellent website for breast cancer awareness merchandise, they have over 130 breast cancer awareness products to choose from. Pricing depends on quantity ordered. There are 45 breast cancer awareness products on sale until October 02.

A large variety of breast cancer awareness products at all prices which can be used as freebies to promote breast cancer awareness or for a fund raising campaign. Custom printing is available for promotion of your organization. Some of the many breast cancer awareness items available include: Pens; key chains; cookie cutters; beach balls; jelly beans; pretzels; chocolate covered sunflower seeds; sugarless gum; coffee mugs; pedometers, umbrellas, water jugs, watch, and folding chair with carrying bag.

Purchasing your breast cancer awareness items here will also benefit cancer research. Motivators Promotional Products will donate 10% of every breast cancer awareness order to The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Funds. http://www.motivators.com

Positive Promotions offers 441 breast cancer awareness products. Many of these are educational items geared towards health care organizations: A breast self exam guide for the shower; breast care diary; know your numbers health test; a breast cancer awareness display baskets with 500 breast cancer awareness freebies for patients and a breast cancer awareness pack that includes 650 items. A raffle pack includes raffle tickets and prizes. Some of the prizes are a long sleeved T-shirt and a double pocket tote.

A huge variety of other breast cancer awareness products available include: Breast cancer awareness stickers, bracelets, desk items, lunch bags, various styles of T-shirts, a baseball cap, scrub top, football jersey, fleece cap. Excellent items for giveaways or fund raising. Positive Promotions will donate a portion of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. http://www.positivepromotions.com

Looking for something a little different in breast cancer awareness products? Check out The Pink Ribbon Shop. The Pink Ribbon Shop was started by a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer and wanted to help promote breast cancer awareness. As the name implies, all items are pink ribbon related. Just a few of the many unique breast cancer awareness items found here are: Various temporary pink ribbon tattoos, flip-flops, golf bags, ladies golf clubs, tennis balls, dog and cat collars, adorable purr for the cure cat T-shirts and a dog T-shirt; ornaments and scrap booking supplies. The Pink Ribbon Shop also carries some New Balance and Isotoner brands. Check out all this great breast cancer awareness merchandise at: http://www.pinkribbonshop.com

Check out breast cancer merchandise at Cancersociety.com Store. All proceeds from merchandise orders go to charity. Breast cancer awareness items available include pink ribbon jewelry (Charm bracelets, ankle bracelets, genuine Austrian crystal breast cancer pin, necklace and earring sets, crystal Angel pin with breast cancer pink ribbon); stuff bears, pill boxes, key chains; and a very inspirational T-shirt with the phrase “Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. We’re in this together” and h pink ribbons. A very unique gift for gardeners is a breast cancer awareness garden, which is a decorated metal bucket for growing pink Cosmos flowers. Seeds, potting soil and vermiculite for growing the flowers are inside the bucket. You can find these items and more breast cancer awareness merchandise at: http://www.cancersocietystore.com

Breast cancer awareness.the.shoppe.com has many breast cancer awareness items for decorating. There are different decorating kits that include tablecloths, balloons, banners and everything needed for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event. Other breast cancer awareness merchandise available are: Canvas tote bags, jar openers, seed packets, rubber stamps, pink ribbon gift packs, pink ribbon enamel pins, watches, rings, zipper pulls and more. For more breast cancer awareness merchandise, check them out at: http://breastcancerawareness.theshoppe.com

What Not to Say to the Parent of a Child with Cancer

My son was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2006, just a month after his tenth birthday. Even though he was flown from San Antonio to Houston, TX – to MD Anderson Cancer Center no less – it took me a couple of days to get it through my head that my child had cancer. I kept thinking, “It’s going to be a benign
‘growth’ . . . nothing malignant.” Seriously, how could my perfectly healthy son have cancer, right?

Wrong. Keeghan’s tumor was malignant. But after two surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and a year (so far) of chemotherapy, he is tumor free. It will be my daily – hourly? – wish, for the rest of my life, that he stays that way.

One of the hardest things to deal with when your child has cancer is the way in which other people react when you tell them, and the things that they say. It has been proven to me time after time that most people really don’t think before they open their mouths. They’ll say things like, “Oh, I knew someone that had the “c” word. She died.”

The “c” word. I’ve heard cancer referred to that way numerous times, as though actually saying it would cause a person to get it. It’s not contagious people!

At the grocery store one day, with Keeghan standing by my side, the cashier asks me, “Did he have an accident?”

Keeghan has a very large scar on the side of his head. It’s a nice scar as far as scars go. It’s perfectly symmetrical – four inches up on one side, five inches across, and another four inches down on the other side. It’s so perfect that my husband used to joke and say that it looked like a trap door. He’d tease Keeghan by telling people that that was where he kept his wallet.

So to be asked if he had an accident seemed pretty ludicrous. “Yes, he fell out of a tree and landed on a cookie cutter. Hence the perfect scar.”

I wish I had replied that way, but alas, I didn’t. “He had a brain tumor,” I say instead.

“Oh . . . is he going to be okay?” she then whispers.

Keeghan is ten years old. He has cancer. But he’s not deaf, nor is he a complete idiot! And he’s standing right next to me! Don’t talk about him like he’s not there or can’t understand you. He can. In fact, if you talk directly to him, he can answer any questions you might have about his story quite well. Luckily for me Keeghan replied to the woman’s question with a very ten-year-old appropriate, “Yep, I am.”

After the first three months of Keeghan’s treatment was finished, and before he started his year-long consolidation chemotherapy regimen, we moved from Texas to Washington, DC. Not long after we moved into our house, we got new neighbors. The kids and I were leaving the house to head to the hospital for chemo on the day I met the new neighbor Bob. He noticed that Keeghan had no hair, and that he wasn’t looking very happy. Keeghan never looks thrilled when he’s heading for chemo. Go figure.

I am of the opinion that it is better to just tell people up front that he has cancer rather than leave them trying to figure out how to ask. So I told Bob, “He has cancer – we’re on our way to the hospital now for his chemo treatment so he’s not in a very good mood.” 
Bob asks, “What kind of cancer?” I reply that it is brain cancer.

“Oh, wow. My old boss just died of that.”

I can only imagine what the look on my face was. Incredulous I’m sure. I was so glad that the kids were in the car by that time.

Are you completely stupid?” is what I should have asked the guy.

“Well, we’re hoping that isn’t going to happen to Keeghan,” was what I actually said. I’ve come to learn in the few months that we’ve now been neighbors that Bob never thinks before opening his mouth, so it wasn’t just that one incident. But that is the one that sticks in my mind.

What’s really funny to me, however, is how other parents of children with cancer are just as bad when it comes to the things they say. Soon after Keeghan was diagnosed, I ran into a woman at the clinic that I had known at a past assignment of ours, but hadn’t seen in a couple of years. Ironically, her daughter was the same age as Keeghan and had been diagnosed with leukemia a few months before Keeghan’s diagnosis. As we stood in the clinic talking, she asked me, “So what’s his prognosis? Haley’s is 30%. If we hadn’t gotten her diagnosed when we did, she would have died.”

All of that was said very quickly, in a tone of voice that was sort of like, “I’ll bet my kid is sicker than your kid.” Like this was a competition!

“Lady, if this is a contest to you, I hope that you win!”

You’re right, I didn’t actually say that. But I should have.

“I refuse to let the doctors put a number on Keeghan like that, and I don’t want Keeghan feeling like he doesn’t have a good chance to beat this. So I honestly don’t know what his prognosis is. In my mind, it will always be 100%.”

Even though I didn’t say what I should have said, I think what I did say got my point across. But she’s not the only one that has done that. Maybe it makes parents somehow feel better to play comparison, whose-child-is-more-sick, games like that. I can’t do it though. I want them ALL to be well.

Maybe there should be an awareness ribbon for foot-in-mouth disease. What color would it be – flesh? I don’t think that color is taken yet. Or perhaps someday I’ll write a book and call it “What Not to Say to the Parent of a Child With Cancer.” I doubt anyone would buy it though. Everyone thinks they know the right thing to say all the time.

So maybe I should title it, “Hey YOU! Don’t Be Stupid!” That might at least get someone to pick it up and read the back cover.

Maybe there’s no hope at all and people will continue forever to put their feet in their mouths. But perhaps a little awareness can turn the tide of stupidity.