Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are you Scared of C-A-N-C-E-R ?




MUSIC: "The Monster Mash"









It's Halloween!




Tonight there will be scary little critters all around your neighbourhood as they go tapping on doors looking for trick-'o'-treats.


Their costumes will be hair-raising, spine-chilling and yes, even unnerving for some. That's the whole point of dressing up on October 31st...it's to scare you into giving out those yummy treats.



Did I say SCARE?












It's a time for pumpkins, skeletons, friendly ghosts and goblins










The title of my post today, and of course the theme of Halloween



is all about being scared...........BUT nothing can make one feel as scared as when you hear the words



"I'm sorry, you have cancer"!





or



"I'm sorry, but there's nothing else we can do for your loved one"!




Most of my readers, whether as patient or caregiver will never forget the first time those words were uttered. Instantly, we all go into shock, at least I know "I did"! The words are



horrifying



they strike terror in your heart



they are dreaded words




Immediately you feel this is some mistake and you feel weak and it's hard to breath.........






Soon you will experience the feelings of



denial
anger
fear
stress
anxiety
depression
sadness
guilt
loneliness

Yes, a cancer diagnosis will change your life, but the thing to remember is that cancer is NOT a death sentence, it is a chronic disease. Patients who were once told these same words, are now survivors. Not just one or two year survivors, but the numbers have increased to ten, fifteen and twenty years plus in numerous cases. With continuing research, exchange of information throughtout the world, and new discoveries of cancer fighting therapies, we personally can attest to the fact that an original diagnosis of "there's nothing more we can do" is no longer accurate in many cases.

Positive atttitudes, communication with other patients/caregivers, finding out everything possible about your type of cancer and determination by the patient to



NEVER QUIT




are all key ingredients for success!



Most of all "don't let the word CANCER scare you"!!!




Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scanxiety

MUSIC: "Lean on Me"

I just checked Wikipedia and Webster's under the letter "S"........and just as I imagined, it was no where to be found.



You will find it though on most search engines and everyone who has cancer will experience it at some point SCANXIETY



it's the result of a

CT scan + anxiety





It's a normal feeling when you are expecting the results from a recent scan. You think and then you think some more, mostly about the worse possible scenario of just what your doctor will tell you.


Your head's in a whirl as you try to think of the possible results. Your anxiety levels are soaring and no doubt, your blood pressure levels have heightened. I am not the patient here, so I cannot personally relate to how one feels as they await their own report, but I can most definitely relate to how a caregiver feels each and every time when a scan report is about to be given.
My husband has had many scans, and I cannot say that after all of these, our anxiety levels have lessened over time. As I've said in an earlier post, I compare it everytime to similiar feelings as if you had a loved one undergoing life-threatening surgery, and you are awaiting the doctor's diagnosis. Each doctor though has his/her own way of relaying scan information. This is very important to remember!!! Some will present only the worse case scenarios, while others will include the negatives AND also focus on the "good" news as well. I strongly believe that this is the way every scan should be presented to patients whenever there may be positive results in their reports.
I'm referring to those results that may show increases of the cancer in some areas BUT also any decreases in other areas. Giving patients only negative results in this case scenario, does nothing to provide any sort of encouragement. Our experiences have shown that sometimes those areas of positive results, sometimes never get relayed to the patient. Some doctors no doubt don't want to paint that rosey picture for their patients, while others feel that by giving any encouraging results along with the negative ones, it is the best medicine available to boost a patient's spirits. Remember, positive attitude is everything!
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor to explain any areas of the report that you are having difficulty with. This is "your" time so don't feel rushed and never feel that you are imposing on the oncologist's time. Hopefully you have written your questions down beforehand, because if not, once you are in that office awaiting those test results, you probably will have forgotten them.
Always have someone with you on report days! It's good to have another set of ears there to listen to the report and also for moral support. If your caregiver is unable to go, then ask another friend or family member.......don't feel you have to "go it alone" and no one ever should.
One more very important note to pass along. ALWAYS ask for a copy of your scan to take home with you!
Good luck to all of you who are awaiting scan reports this week! Hang in there, YOU CAN DO IT! Keep positive and even if the results are not what you were hoping for, never give up. Keep searching, keep connecting with other patients and caregivers and learn everything that is out there about your type of cancer.
Becoming better informed is the key ingredient!
If you'd also like to chat with other patients/caregivers, don't forget to join us approximately 7:30pm ADT.....it's becoming a great support group that offers encouragement and inspiration to all!

SUTENT - Sharing Experiences



I've received quite alot of emails over the past few days with regards to Sutent. Inquires about what I may know about this chemo drug.

So I have decided to write today's post to seek your views, ask your questions and make comments about your experiences with Sutent.

Hopefully other viewers will obtain the information they are seeking and together, by sharing our experiences and knowledge, it will most of all provide some resolution to all of our questions.


To ask your questions and review what others are revealing about Sutent, you have two choices:

1) Use the "live chat" forum at the top of this page. All you have to do is enter your name or some other identity that you may wish to choose in the "Anonymous" area of the chat screen. Press enter. Then you can type your questions or remarks in the blank area at the bottom of the chat screen. Press "enter" once again and you should see your words appear. Maybe someone will reply immediately if another viewer happens to be on at the same time. You can always review whatever has been entered on the chat, by checking the "archived" feature. Most of us usually connect approximately 7:30 ADT or a little later for a live chat, so you are always welcome to join in. Maybe you'll meet another viewer and arrange a chat time that is convenient to both of you. Remember, this is a live chat, so you have the advantage here of receiving immediate responses.

2) If you are not familiar with the chat process, just post your question or remarks in the "Comment" section at the end of this post. These posts can be read by everyone later, and if you'd like to respond to a particular one, then everyone will have access to read it at their own convenient time.

We are beginning to have a loyal following of cancer patients, caregivers, family and friends. All are very welcome. Although my website address appears to be specifically for kidney cancer patients, we like to hear from everyone. It is my hope that together each of you will find encouragement and inspiration when it is needed most.


I'll look forward to meeting you all, and thanks for taking the time to check out my website.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One Day at a Time



MUSIC: "His Eye is on The Sparrow"
"Don't Worry, Be Happy"








Life as a cancer patient is very unpredictable.



I'm sure that most of my viewers who are cancer patients, are probably thinking the same thing. But wait a minute, my title for this post today, is meant in a completely different context.

None of us, whether we are affected by cancer or some other major illness, or even if we hold a clean bill of health...........none of us know what tomorrow may bring. So my point is,

why worry about something that you have absolutely no control over?
If you listen to the news on any given day, there's always unexpected tragedies happening around the world. Just this past weekend I've heard of an early morning car crash that took a young man's life, a victim of random shooting who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and an innocent young woman whose life was taken so very tragically due to a robbery. I'm sure that none of these individuals started their last day with thoughts that they would die before seeing the next sunrise.
Realistically, it is senseless to worry about the "what-if's" because all of your worry will not change what will happen in life.
I've been a lifelong "pro" so to speak at worry. I've worried about the simplest things and also about the serious things, but needless to say as I look back over the years, not one second of my constant worry has changed anything....nothing....nil.....zilch (yes, that is a word). So, I've resigned myself to the fact that I now just take one day at a time.
My husband is the perfect example of taking "one day at a time" and his attitude to never worry is half the battle in fighting his cancer. Keeping positive is the key, as I've stated in previous posts, and he definitely does stay positive. His strong belief in God is what gives him his positive outlook on life.
It's a medical fact that anxiety will lead to an increase in your blood pressure and other medical symptoms....not to mention increased stress levels and heart ailments. So............



Why Worry by Author Unknown

- 40% will never happen, for anxiety is the result of a tired mind
- 30% concerns old decisions which cannot be altered
- 12% centers in criticism, mostly untrue, made by people who feel inferior,
- 10% is related to my health which worsens while I worry
- and only - 8% is "legitimate,"

showing that life does have real problems which may be met head-on when I have eliminated senseless worries.
-Next time you have your blood pressure taken, don't worry for it will only help to elevate the result
-Next time you are scheduled for a CT scan or other medical testing, don't worry about the results, until you actually have received them
And here are a few comments from other cancer patients that I'd like to share with you:
Yes positive thinking is very helpful in all types of illness even cancer!!! It's like everything else in life if you give up, it gets worse not better!


A positive attitude will help you to be happier and healthier even with a terminal illness.
As a two time breast cancer survivor I believe that your mindset is very important in achieving improved or good health. It is helpful to have positive thoughts and to set long term goals for the future. The cancer patient needs a mental break from being in cancer world. Try not to sit around and talk about cancer. In my case, I decided that cancer had already robbed me of enough joy and I was determined not to let it steal any more unhappy days from me.
It is absolutely true and statistically proven, positive thinking releases specific chemicals which encourage growth and cell regeneration and recovery. There is lots you can do to promote posititve thinking. your emotions and thinking are the only thing you have control over in such times and the should be used to your advantage.
Remember to take one day at a time, and enjoy it to the fullest without worrying about the "what-if's!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Have You Forgotten the Caregiver?

MUSIC: "I Have Been Blessed"



As I checked through the mail yesterday, there was an envelope addressed to me from a friend. I could determine that there was a card inside, and I immediately began to ponder these thoughts





" it's not my birthday, there is no special occasion happening, so I wonder why she is sending me a card?"


As I quickly revealed the contents, I read the words "Thinking of You" and upon opening it's cover, the following verse:

"Hope today is a good day for you, and that tomorrow is even better"

and it was personally signed "just wanted to let you know we were thinking about you today!"









A few days earlier, I had received a card from my sister-in-law who lives quite a distance away. There was a beautiful pink flower on it's cover and very carefully inscripted words inside of


"I saw this card and thought about you......"


Then there was a telephone call from a dear friend, just wanting to know how things were going this week and how "I" was doing......"



Why am I telling you this?

As caregivers, we all need that little boost to help get us through difficult days. Having constant worry about our loved ones as well as the extra reponsibilites that go along with being a caregiver, is not an easy task. I am very fortunate in that my husband continues to do so well, but at the same time, it does not lessen my worries and stress levels on days when he's having the slightest bit of downtime or when I'm accompanying him for medical tests.

There's another wonderful friend who never fails to ask me this question "every" time we get together:

"And how are you doing?
If there's anything I can do to help, just ask"


Just hearing those words and repeating them on days when I need it most, helps to renew my energies and gets me back into a positive mode once again.

Yes, it's the little things that we do without even realizing it, that makes such a BIG difference in the lives of caregivers. Words of encouragement or a warm smile to show how much you admire what they do, makes such a difference when they need it most.

If you know a caregiver, please take the time to let them know you are thinking of them and make a point during your conversation to ask the question of


"And How Are You Doing?"
Personally, I would have never imagined myself as ever being a caregiver, but this is one role which I consider very blessed to have the opportunity to lead.

Why don't you reach out today to a caregiver who you know. It's such a simple act of caring and you'll never imagine how much it will mean to that person.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air




















It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.



















MUSIC: "Let there be Peace on Earth"


n order to write a post, I have to be inspired...this morning it's just not happening. So instead I've decided to share a few of my fall photos with you. I think they are breathtaking..not because I took them, but because of the beauty that our fall season offers us.



'Tis easy enough to be pleasant, when life flows like a song. But the man worthwhile is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong.















If you are having a bad day, or if there's just no sunshine in your neighborhood today, maybe my pictures will help to get your day going. I think this is a beautiful season, even if it does remind us that winter is close at hand.






Some of my viewers have probably had a
difficult week with medical tests, chemo or
radiation treatments, as well as anxiety of what
lies ahead.




Hopefully some of these pictures will help to bring a breath of fresh air to your difficult days.





It's been great meeting some of you this week as well through the chat forum and also through your emails. We all share that common thread of cancer and we can all appreciate the stress and uncertainties it brings to every family.


Dogberries


















A Golden Retreat

A Quiet Moment

"There is no such thing as failure - there is only success or quitting. I'm not a quitter."






Peaceful Waters

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."

Confucius


Thursday, October 23, 2008

No Man is an Island

MUSIC: "No Man is an Island"


Our chat forum is starting to grow and the best result is that we are all becoming more informed on RCC. Even though I thought I knew alot about kidney cancer, after chatting with several patients and caregivers over the past few days, I have realized that there are many more areas that I need to research. Knowledge is power, and as cancer patients, caregivers and families, we should never stop searching for information or interacting with others.


Based upon our personal situation, it is only through our research and the knowledge we have obtained from others in similiar situations, that my husband is doing so well. Had we accepted his initial diagnosis and just basically sat on our laurels, I know he would not have survived.

As my title today strongly indicates, no matter what our circumstances are, we all need others to help get us through. No one person can fight battles alone, and it's the same when you are faced with cancer.

Over the past few days, our chat forum is becoming a refuge for those who need to just interact with others in similar situations. It allows us all to ask questions about cancer, to provide information based on our own experiences and also it's a great place to vent when you are having a difficult day.

Interacting with others who share congruent adversities gives us all encouragement.

I've spoken to an individual recently whose son cannot accept the fact that his father has cancer. As a result, he has basically cut all ties with his father and refuses to even speak with him. He needs to know that it's not only the cancer patient who is affected by a cancer diagnosis, but it is the entire family as well. It is a natural phenomena. Hopefully he will realize this and once again open up those doors to communcation and be there for his dad, especially now when they both need each other most of all.

One more note with regards to our present chat forum. I'm going to try and make it a "Sign-In" chat forum, where registration will be required. By doing this, we will all feel more secure in relaying our personal situations. It may not happen today, but be assured that I'll be working on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Newfoundland & Labrador Cancer Patients - Take Note

Today, I am doing something very unusual. Because I believe strongly in the following appeal for citizens to make a difference, I am going to post the following link for Newfoundland & Labrador cancer patients to investigate further

http://www.cancer.ca/Newfoundland-Labrador/How%20you%20can%20help/NF-Take%20action.aspx?sc_lang=en

There's a campaign ongoing "Stand up and be Counted" by that provincial chapter of the http://www.cancer.ca/ society to enlist the public's help in support of changes to the present funding and expenses of cancer patients. From travel, to accommodations, meals and prescription drugs, as cancer patients and caregivers, we all know the costs can be overwhelming - to say the least!!!

I trust you will check out the above link and place your name on the list if this is something that you strongly believe where changes are needed.

For other provinces and viewers from other countries, if you also have a similiar website that encourages government change in cancer funding and financial support for cancer patients, then I will be willing to post the link on my website upon your request.

"Together we can all make a difference if we stand up and be counted"

Canadians - Are You Aware of the Disability Tax Credit?

Thought I would stay on the topic of tax exemptions again today and also thanks to Mary for her reminder about the following.:

Canadian tax payers who have a qualifying impairment, may be eligible for a non-refundable tax credit recorded on Line 316 of your tax forms. The key word is "qualifying" as you have to send a completed Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate to the Canada Revenue Agency and await their approval, dependant of course on your particular medical condition. Follow this link and answer a few questions to first determine if you "may" qualify for this exemption before rushing to acquire the form.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns300-350/316/lgbl-eng.html

If it appears you might be eligible, then you obtain the form at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t2201/README.html and note there are both printable and fillable available there. There is also a self-assessment on the form, and you or your representative is required to complete Part A, while the remainder is to be completed by a qualified physician. Sometimes your family doctor can complete the form rather than your specialist, as this may speed up the process. The CRA will advise you if additional information is required.

It is very important to note that this particular form does take quite awhile to process by CRA, due an individual's particular health condition so if you think you may qualify, it is best to have it completeed ASAP. Even if you have not received a reply from your original application by tax time, you should submit your tax return before the deadline to avoid penalty and interest charges, and if you receive approval of the T2201 after tax filing, then you just forward a T1-ADJ Adjustment Request Form and your tax return will be adjusted. Here is the link for additional information when requesting an adjustment http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/chngrtrn-eng.html


It is also important to note, that if you do receive approval from CRA for the Disability Tax Credit, this is NOT monies you will receive. It is a Non-Refundable Tax Credit which will help to reduce your taxes owing. You may also be able to transfer all or a portion of this tax credit to your spouse or common-law partner or to another supporting person
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns300-350/316/clm-eng.html



Links to both forms are once again listed below

Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate

T1-ADJ T1 Adjustment Request


Viewers from other countries should check with their government's tax authorities to inquire about similiar tax exemptions for which you may be eligible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Are Your Medical Expenses Tax Deductible?

MUSIC: "If I had a Million Dollars"


The information that I'm about to relay will only apply to Canadian tax payers.

However, residents of other countries should check with their tax regulators to determine if they might also have an eligible claim when completing their next tax return.



Most of my Canadian viewers are probably well aware of the Canadian tax rules and regulations, as it relates to medical expenses that you or your family incur in any particular year. All information is available online at http://www.cra.gc.ca/ or in your annual Income Tax and Benefit Guide for the appropriate tax year.


We can all attest to the fact that cancer patients incur very high medical expenses each year. Chemotherapy medications have enormous costs associated with them, and if you are not fortunate enough to have insurance coverage, then your life savings or retirement nest eggs can be wiped out within a few treatments. Constant travel to hospital for oncologist appointments or the never ending barrage of MRI's, CT scans, blood tests, X-rays, ......and the list goes on for various cancer testing, can also lead to excruciating depletion of your hard-earned savings. Then, many of you may have to leave your home to receive cancer treatments for extended periods of time, once again costing you exorbitant amounts of money.


When tax time rolls around, it is crucial to be aware of the tax laws and regulations as it pertains to your financial situation and how you could possibly tally up any amounts under medical expenses to reduce your overall taxes payable.


My first advice would be to check out the Canada Revenue Agency's website at http://www.cra.gc.ca/ and more specifically to review the CRA's Guide RC4064 Medical and Disability-Related Information by following this link http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc4064/README.html It will provide a detailed analysis of eligible medical expenses with regards to the above, and if you are in further disarray of not really understanding the full concept, then you can call their toll free inquiry line at 1-800-959-8281 and speak personally to a client services representative who will be most obliging to respond to your tax concerns. The above phamplet is available online and can also be mailed at your request by calling 1-800-959-2221.


For example, on page 11 of that particular Guide, it lists the eligible medical expenses associated with travel.


- Did you know that if a particular medical treatment, such as a CT scan is not available within a 40km distance of your residence, the cost of travel may qualify as an eligible medical expense. There is a set per kilometer rate which varies each tax year for this claim, depending on the province in which you reside, and the rates can be determined for 2007 at www.cra.gc.ca/travelcosts
Note that the 2008 rates of course will not be available until the new year.


- If your medical travel in greater than 80km, then you may be eligible to claim the costs of meals and accommodations, using either the Simplified or Detailed methods of calculation.


- Another item to note as well is, if your doctor certifies that you are unable to travel without assistance, then you may be eligible to claim travel expenses for someone who accompanies you.


These are only some of the possible tax exemptions for which you may qualify, there are various others, depending on your medical situation. It is always important to investigate all expenses for which you may be eligible, based on your medical situation. Of course, these medical expenses do not relate specifically to cancer patients alone, but I have referenced them in this particular post just for those dealing with cancer.


My best advice is to check out your countries tax laws thoroughly, ask experienced tax preparers and don't be afraid to telephone the experts for advice.
Why am I posting this now you may ask? To give you ample time to check out the tax rules and regulations before the tax season arrives.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reflections on Family Portraits


I've been spending alot of time lately, going over old photo albums and digital photos on my computer. It's good to look back and reminisce. Of course, my recent photos far outnumber the older ones, due to the innovation of digital photography and of course, due to our passion to get as many family pictures as we possibly can.


Each photo tells a story of celebrations we have had over many years. One very special photo is that of our family that we had taken just a little over two years ago, a few months after my husband's diagnosis. We suddenly realized that our last family portrait was taken some fifteen years earlier, and due to everyone's neglect, we just never took the time to make that portrait appointment on at least a five-year basis. Now, faced with a major life threatening illness, we longed for my husband's return to health so we could take that precious photo.



Miraculously, he did recover and off to the paparazzo we went. We took several changes of attire along with us, and in the end we created many different poses. Some of our two daughters together, just hubby and I, dad with his precious girls, our dog with dad, and on and on the shutterbug continued.


Today, our large family silhouette is aligned perfectly on our living room wall. It is a reminder that we have been so very blessed to have had the opportunity to not only get that family portrait of us, but also it stands as a reminder of how ill my husband was back then and how he has fought cancer with such grace and courage.


If you haven't taken the time to get a family photo, don't delay. Make an appointment today. When it's displayed on your wall, it will become a constant reminder of how important it is to celebrate life. To our family it is a reflection of one man's determination to never quit!


MUSIC: "Some Days are Diamonds"


This is such a beautiful time of year! Leaves are magnificent in all of their grandeur. The air is crisper, the evenings close in very early, and Mother Nature is preparing to put her foliage into hibernation for the winter season.


I enjoy taking scenic pictures, and especially now. The hillsides are alive with color, the burning bushes are vibrant in their crimson coats and even the slightest breeze will cause a shower of leafage to appear outside your window.

For some, it is a season that brings a hint of melancholy, as it reminds us that the cold days of winter and the long evenings of darkness are right around the corner. Sunshine helps to lift all of our spirits, and with less of those rays now in store, there is an opportunity for most of us to become less energetic and downhearted.

I remember a couple of years ago as my husband and I watched the first snowfall from our living room winter. Sure, the flakes of snow were beautiful, but at the same time, it was a reminder of snow shoveling, less outside adventures and when one is feeling ill, a definite time for dreariness to set in. We all seem to adapt though, irregardless of our mindset at the start of winter. Every season has it's beauty and even though we sometimes don't always enjoy the weather that accompanies fall or winter, we do get through it. I always tell myself that our evenings suddenly start to lengthen a couple of days after the Christmas celebrations. Lighter evenings can bring encouragement that spring is right around the corner.
Isn't this burning bush a true sight of beauty? I'm going to plant this here on my website, to help lift your spirits on gloomy days. It's crimson color can bring a sense of brillance to a colorless day.



To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

ecclesiastes 3:1-8
My husband and I know first hand that some days are diamonds, some days are stones ..... or in other words, there will be good days, along with the not-so-good days. Some days will be brighter like spring and summer, while others will be gloomier like fall and winter.
Whatever your season, enjoy your good days to the fullest. Don't let the lack of sunshine, get you down!!!!

We Are Family

MUSIC: "We Are Family"

First I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments about this website and how it is helping others on those difficult days. Your emails really meant alot to me. My postings may not always appear on a daily basis, but I trust you will all continue to take a look and be encouraged by what I say, and also by using the chat forum to exchange ideas and experiences with others. Communicating with other people who are in similiar situations, helps us all to get through those difficult days.


I've added a "Followers" option at the top right of this blog. It's a place where you can just add your first name and a photo (that's opitional). Of course it's completely your choice if you wish to do this, but I'm thinking that it would be great to see just how many people check into the site and together we can form our community of cancer patients, caregivers and friends. There are very few people who have not been affected by cancer in some way, so by adding yourself as a "Follower" on this website, you'll really be showing all our readers that they are never alone along their cancer journey. The photo is optional, and as you can see, I've added a picture of our pet yorkie, Gabbygail.



I've also added an invitation on the chat forum for anyone who might wish to chat or rant in the evenings, to view the site approximately 7:00pm EST and check out the chat feature. It might take a few days to get going on this idea, but hopefully we'll be able to provide information and discuss our concerns with others.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beating the Odds!!!

MUSIC: "Beat It"
Yesterday, as my husband sat in the waiting room of the cancer clinic, a nurse who cared for him almost three years ago, passed by. Instantly they both remembered each other and getting
re-aquainted was great. The best thing though, was her comment of
"You sure are continuing to beat the odds"
as she could remember the oncologist's diagnosis for my husband back then and just how ill he was
Yes, he definitely has beaten the odds and just as we all hear the phrase
"cancer can be beaten"
it is not impossible.
Everyday we are hearing of cancer patients who continue to do quite well, despite receiving a grave report initially. One of the posts on our chat forum yesterday was from a dear friend Mary, whose husband is now a
10 year survivor of RCC
Yes, that is "10" "Ten" "Dix" "Diez" "Shi" years.......truly amazing!!!
So my point to all of this, is to not be discouraged or most of all don't give up when you initially receive that bad news. Sure, it's devastating, but it's not the end. As I've said before, it is up to you and your caregiver to keep searching for whatever else might be out there. Obtain a second opinion from a oncologist who is a specialist in your type of cancer. It is your right as a patient to always get that second opinion. Search for results of new trials that are taking place and new cancer fighting drugs that are being developed. Connect with another patient (the internet is a great resource) and keep asking until you find the answers to your questions.
At least you will know that you've done everything possible, and you've not just sat there and accepted your fate.
Remember, just like my husband, you might be another cancer patient who could also
BEAT THE ODDS!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moments That Matter




MUSIC: "Moments That Matter"
(Sorry for the poor quality of this particular version..
hopefully I'll find one clearer later today)






It's only when something major happens in your life, do most of us realize what truly matters.

Our Yorkie - "Gabbygail"


If some of my viewers today have not yet been affected by that "major" happening and are all caught up with working long hours to make your bank account soar, or have not been in touch for awhile with those who matter most in their lives, then this is your wake up call to GET GOING!


Believe me, all of us who are traveling this cancer journey as patients, caregivers or family know all too well the value of living each day to the fullest and appreciating those little things that seem insignificant to many. Actually , anyone who's been affected by any illness will agree with that statement.


I heard the following song this morning on the car radio. I was instantly inspired to share it with you. Take the time to read each line very carefully and I trust you will find what truly matters in your life.

Moments That Matter
(Aaron Lines/Mark Irwin/Josh Kear)


I used to think I was a bigshot
Thought I had it all but guess what
Can't measure life by the things you got
In the end it all ends up to nothing

I swear I missed so many birthdays
Valentines, hallowe'ens and anniversaries
Left me lonesome in the worst ways
But mister I learned something

Chorus
You can't buy back the moments that matter
You can't buy back the moments that matter
There's a big pot of gold at the top of the ladder
But you can't buy back the moments that matter

Gonna play some football in the backyard
Teach my nephew how to play the guitar
Call up some old friends and play some cards
Waste a few Saturday evenings

Gonna take my wife out dancing
Every now and then without her asking
Spin her around singing and laughing
There's memories we should be making

Chorus

All this talk about the good life
Makes me realize I got a great life
Gotta keep my priorities in sight
You just get one time around

Chorus

You can't buy back the moments that matter
You can't buy back the moments that matter
Years pass you buy and the days start to scatter
But you can't buy back the moments that matter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So You Think You Have Stress?

MUSIC: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"



In our adolescent years, the word "STRESS" usually did not enter into most of our everyday vocabulary. We took life for granted and never paid any attention to it's actual meaning. I personally remembered wondering as a teenager, just what adults meant when they uttered that word.


Now move ahead several years and, stress has become an everyday phenomena that our family and millions of others live with. We know it's meaning all too well and it doesn't seem like we'll be losing it very quickly.


You might say that everyone has stress.....and you're right! Sure, there's the stress of life in general as we try to meet our financial obligations, raise a family, and just basically try to survive in our ever busy and fast-paced society. But when a family is affected by a serious illness, that same word takes on a whole new connotation.


Each person is affected by stress in their own individual way. Cancer patients live with the trauma and pressures of the diagnosis, caregivers live with the uncertainty of their loved ones longevity and families lives instantly are turned into a cataclysmic mode. You live from day to day, making the most of every moment you have with each other and even though you consistently remind yourself that life can be over for any individual in an instant, somehow the reality that cancer is right there in front of you, makes that statement seem very insignificant for those of us directly involved.
Those affected by cancer constantly live in a mode of suspension. From the first time you hear your physician give you a report that includes the word CANCER you are instantly transformed. Your once normal life no longer exists, those things in life that you once thought were important, now become so trivial and we all grasp at the most important aspects of life to make them now last.
Why have I chosen this topic today? Tomorrow my husband will receive another scan report ------that in itself is a stressful time for all of us. I compare it to the same feeling one would have if a loved one were undergoing major surgery and you were awaiting news from the surgeon about whether the patient will live or die. Scan reports are a regular occurrence when you have cancer, and high stress levels by all those involved are the norm.


I'm Giving Up - Not Really

MUSIC:
"The Power of the Dream" - Celine Dion
"The Power of the Dream"- Terry Kelly
"I Won't Back Down"

We all feel like just giving up sometimes. It's the easy way out. I actually thought of giving up everyday this week, only thing is, what I'm referring to is giving up this website and not giving up on a health issue.

The original purpose for this website was to relate a little of our story to other cancer patients, caregivers and their families to let them know that they are not alone in their journey with cancer. Maybe, in some small way, another person would find encouragement or inspiration to help get them through their day. Actually since I've started the site, I've received many emails from others who are glad to have someone to talk with, to share ideas with and to just be there for them. If I help just one person a week, then my mandate for starting this site as been fulfilled.

Well for the past few days, I've been seriously considering removing the site. Not because I can't think of anything to say, because I'm sure by now you all realize that I love to write, but removing the site because I'm wondering if my purpose for developing it, is really getting to those individuals whom I want to help. I get lots of comments about how you think the site is good, you love the music and the photos. I appreciate everyone viewing it, but at the same time, I am revealing some of our families personal life in order to relate our experiences and I'm not always certain my words are reaching those who need it most.

Although the COMMENT section is just below each posting, very few readers tend to leave their remarks. It's not mandatory to do this and I've not added that "sign-in" feature either, because I've wanted easy access of my posts to everyone. Don't get me wrong...I am having an excellent response to the site. I can see my traffic stats everyday and they continue to soar, but I "need" comments. Let me know if you like the site, what you don't like about it, what you'd like to see added, etc. etc........

Actually, now I'm the one who needs the inspiration! I'm realizing that in order to keep going I need to be told that my posts are reaching those whom I want to help and that you are being encouraged by what you read. Be honest, that will be the only way I'll know.

So, just a few minutes ago, I read a comment by kje telling me thanks for the site and how it was much needed and appreciated. Wow!! My spirits soared and now I'm back on track again to keep up the posts. Such simple words that made a huge difference.

You see, we all need encouraging words no matter if we are not feeling so great, or just second guessing ourselves about whether we are doing the right thing.....(like me this week).
OK...so I'm back on track....thanks kje. Now I'm inspired!!!

So after you've read today's post, say something encouraging to another person...pass it on and you WILL make a difference to their day. It's so easy to give up when the going might seem impossible but encouraging words will help get you through!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let Sunshine Brighten Your Day



MUSIC: "I'm Walkin' on Sunshine"
"Good Day Sunshine"
"Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows"
"You Are the Sunshine of My Life"



After just reading one of the responses on the chat forum about how a cloudy day can dampen one's spirits, I thought I'd try to make your day a little brighter by adding this upbeat song. Yes, a dull, rainy, cloudy and dark day certainly can deplete you of energy and make one want to stay in bed. It's just plain hard to get up and at it, when there's no blue skies up above. As we are now settling into fall and with winter not too far away, there will be many cloudy and just plain dismal days ahead of us for quite awhile. Somehow we all seem to get through it, but when you are not feeling well, that type of weather does very little to revive your spirits.


Getting up and seeing sunshine first thing in the morning, does wonders! Instantly we all feel energized and ready to meet the day ahead. So on cloudy days, we all have to keep thinking "sunshine" to stay motivated. How do you do this? There are many ways to keep positive, even if the weather might not be cooperating.


- Read a good book


- Call a friend and invite them over


- Listen to upbeat music


- Get engaged in a hobby


- Go for a walk

- Concentrate on the good things in your life (remember that no one escapes bad days)


- Get your hair done

- Go for a drive


- Etc....etc....etc.

The point being, find your own sunshine!!! We all have different things that make us smile and keep us positive. Don't let those cloudy days get you down. Our family have invented crazy ideas to help keep my husband motivated on his down days......the point being, is that it keeps his mind off his cancer and that is a definite "plus".

OK...so maybe I've overdone it a little with all of my sunshine songs...give a listen though, they just might help to brighten your day!




A positive attitude is half the battle when fighting cancer, so keep those spirits lifted!

Chat Forum Added

This chat forum has been added on a trial basis in a hope that through conversations between cancer patients and caregivers, concerns and questions can be discussed. If this forum is misused in any way, it will instantly be removed from this site. Please contact the administrator through the "Comment" area, if inappropriate language should appear.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thanksgiving - A Time to Count our Blessings

Music: "Give Thanks"












As we enter into the Thanksgiving weekend, it is truly a time for all of us to count our blessings. Even though you may be affected with cancer and all of the harshness that it brings to families, I always reflect on the words
"no matter how difficult your life may be, there is always someone who is going through a worse situation".

I remember sitting in the cancer clinic a few months ago while my husband was awaiting his chemo treatment. Every available seat was taken and as one looked around, I realized that it was not only us dealing with the struggles of cancer. After a short while, the door to the chemo ward opened and a small, frail figure of a little girl appeared. She was connected to her IV and appeared very weak and worn. Her parents walked along side as she was being transported to the adjoining children's ward. In that instant, it was a wakeup moment for me, as I tried to imagine what this little child had to endure, as well as her very young parents. It definitely put things into perspective.

Most of us tend to focus on our worse scenarios, instead of on the most positives in our lives. Our family will enjoy our weekend with family and friends. Our daughters will be with us for Thanksgiving dinner, and also our best friends. We could not ask for anything more and yes, we do realize just how blessed we are that my husband is in relatively good health right now.
Since creating this website, I've received emails from people all around the world who are looking for answers in their darkest moments. I personally know that any little bit of information is helpful when you are going through a health crisis and sharing your feelings, helps get you through. I'm very thankful that my writings have provided a little comfort, just as I'm very grateful to so many others who have been there in our darkest moments with words of encouragement to keep going.
We need to focus on the sunshine behind the clouds, and not the clouds themselves.
My husband has learned to never quit, to keep a strong faith and to realize the true meaning of having family and friends surrounding you with so much love. Could one ask for anything more? It's through watching him, that our family has become so very grateful for each day and to enjoy the little things around us.
As you all celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend, remember to appreciate those around you and to always count life's little blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Celebrate!!!

Music: "Celebrate"



We all take life for granted and for most of us, it's not until we actually experience something traumatic in our lives, that we realize what is truly important. Ever since my husband's cancer diagnosis, our family is always very grateful and especially thankful to celebrate special occasions.

Yesterday was no exception, as it was our daughter's birthday. Hubby was having a good day, so along with my daughter's




friends


and our family,


we all went out for supper. It was a wonderful evening and we cherished every minute of it. When cancer strikes a family, it certainly puts things into perspective! Trivial things that once seemed to take precedence, suddenly become immaterial and the milestones in life now take high priority. We have been truly blessed to celebrate our special occasions and to appreciate them beyond description.

There's been that surprise birthday party for my husband after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Family and friends were so eager to help in the preparations and the best part was that he didn't suspect a thing. We implanted the idea that he was going to his friend's birthday party and as he walked into the room, everyone shouted the infamous "Happy Birthday" and the celebrations began. Last year, the July 1st holiday became an outdoor celebration with our closest friends all in attendance. Singing, laughter and a greater appreciation of just what their friendship means to our family, was the order of the day. Last month we celebrated our wedding anniversary and this year we both wanted to do something different. Usually we are at home and family and friends stop by to visit, but this time we decided to change the format and go to a restaurant for supper. It was an evening spent with many of those who have been there with us through all of the good days and the bad. Some couldn't attend for personal reasons, but they were still there in our hearts. Such a special anniversary! There's been graduations, welcome home parties, summer barbecues and house decorating parties.....yes, lots of good times spent together, each of them lifting my husband's spirits and giving him inspiration to keep fighting his battle.

Each time we celebrate, it gives my husband encouragement to keep going and allows him to realize just how very special he is to all of us. It is a prescription that motivates him to never give up!



I've focused on the events when my husband has been feeling well enough to enjoy each one. Sure, there's been many occasions when he's not been feeling so great and I've had to alert the troops that he's having a bad day. In the big picture though, we focus on the good times. Cancer has robbed us of many things, but it cannot deprive us of the great memories we will always have of these special celebrations with family and friends.



Make everyday a true celebration!