Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks and Appreciation to All Caregivers





Yesterday, one of my regular viewers left a very kind comment about caregivers. Manuel stressed the important role that a caregiver plays in maintaining the health and well being of the cancer patient. I am a caregiver and I know the impact that my actions have made along my husband's journey with cancer. I am so very blessed to have the opportunity to be there for him.




I trust that cancer patients all have caregivers by their side, whether they are your spouse, children, family members or friends. You do need someone to be there for you every step of the way.

Caregivers are those who accompany you to doctor appointments, testing, treatments and test results. We act as your second set of eyes and ears. We listen to everything that your doctor is saying, because we know once you leave that oncologist's office, you will most definitely forget most of what he has said. We carry our notebooks and write everything down for future reference. We take alot of your worry from you, so you can reduce your stress and we stay awake most nights listening intently in case you need something. We research to see what else is out there to ensure you are getting the best of treatment and care. We are experts with blood pressure monitors and thermometers. We know when you are just not feeling right and we go through the necessary processes to ensure you feel better soon.

I always say "whatever it takes" to make my husband get through any difficulties....that's my role as a caretaker. I've called people when things need to get done, I've put my name out there on a limb right with the best of them when I need action and I go right to the top if I don't get the response that I know is the best one for my husband. We are most definitely NOT understood sometimes by thsoe looking in from the outside, but we know that our actions are always in the best interest of those we love and care for.

Caregivers can help mend an aching heart or lift spirits that are shattered from too many treatments or a bad diagnosis. One very important thing to remember though as a caregiver, is to "take care of yourself"!

I do appreciate the comment about how we deserve a medal, but my reward is in my husband's smile and sound of his laughter when he's having a good day.

I'm going to list a couple of excellent websites for caregivers if you need information or support

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/caring-for-the-caregiver

http://www.cancercaregiving.com/


"My journey as caregiver is not one that I would wish anyone else to travel, but it is one that I am very blessed to have the opportunity to take"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Great Thou Art


"In every flower........
see a miracle!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

You're Our Hero



My husband had a wonderful Father's Day yesterday!

It was made extra special when both of our daughters were home to celebrate their Dad's special day with him. One daughter was expected home for dinner, while the other arrived home as a total surprise. Needless to say, their Dad was delighted beyond words.

My song today is about HEROES and as I've posted a couple of times before, I most definitely refer to all cancer patients as true heroes. They need to be recognized for all they endure, for their determination to never give up and for the inspiration and strength that they pass along to others.


Our family has been truly blessed and we cherish each and everyday.
Even though yesterday was a day of celebration to honor our fathers/husbands/sons/brothers....let's make everyday extra special by telling ALL CANCER PATIENTS just how much we appreciate their heroism and their immeasurable courage!
My husband is without a doubt our hero
and a true warrior!

Recipe for Dry Hands/Feet


A very common side effect of chemo treatment is dry hands and/or feet which can become very painful and irritating.


I'm going to post a recipe using "Henna" that a caregiver Belinda passed along to me. Thanks so much Belinda!


Let us know how it works for you! Remember as well, that I have posted other suggestions for this particular side effect on my worksheet.


Here it is: a quick summary of everything you need to know to get
started
using henna to relieve your Hand Foot Syndrome!

HOW TO USE HENNA TO TREAT HFS/PPE

MAKE IT
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup henna powder
A squirt of lemon juice

Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add the henna slowly
and stir until it is like cream of tomato soup. You will probably use
about 1/8th of a cup. Add a squirt of lemon juice. Let it cool. (If you
already have cracks, skip the lemon juice. It will sting.)

APPLY IT
Cover a work area with plastic bags or an old towel (henna stains).
Paint a thin layer on your bare feet and hands. I use a foam paint brush
to apply it.

LET IT DRY
It takes up to 15 minutes to dry. You can rinse it off. Instead, I put
socks on and leave it for my next shower.

WHERE TO BUY IT
I recommend this type of henna: “Jamali, most recent harvest.” You
might find that at an Indian grocery store. Most people buy online or by
phone. Here are two excellent sources.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Wishes

Sending Father's Day Wishes to all Dad's out there on your special weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Priceless

I just finished reading another post by my friend Jane in the UK at the following link

a-journey-of-another-kind.blogspot.com/

Yes, it's impossible to put a value on a life, and it is indeed priceless. When you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, how can governments deny patients who cannot afford life-saving therapy, the very drugs they need to stay alive?

The cost of these drugs are enormous and how can any one individual afford them? Some insurance companies will cover a portion if you are fortunate to have that kind of coverage, while other companies refuse to accept the liability.

Wouldn't each and everyone of us want drugs that are available to sustain our lives? You may not have cancer, but another terminal illness that would require similiar life saving medicine. I wonder how government officials and the powers that be would feel if one of their loved ones were suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness and they could not afford coverage of such detrimental drugs.

Governments most definitely need to take a very indepth look at the new medicines that are now available for terminal patients to sustain their lives. Measuring costs against a life is NOT acceptable in any part of the world in which we live.

The creation of life is a miracle and those who fight each day against terminal illness in order to survive, need to be recognized and need to know that they are receiving the BEST treatments available.
COST shoud NOT be the main factor involved!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OK, I'm Excited



Wow...I just added an Excel Spreadsheet to my blog!!! Now that's exciting!!!





No, I haven't lost my marbles but just think what this new feature will mean to cancer patients who check out my blog and discover what works to help alleviate side effects. It's in the early stages of design but now I need your input. Tell me what works for you and your side effects and I will add it directly onto the worksheet. I will need to know what type of medication you are taking, your side effects and what you do to combat them. The sky's the limit here!!!





I've just listed two possible treatments of Sutent and Torisel, but there are many others to add to the list. I'll include any type of meds, not just those for kidney cancer so let me know.





Also, with this spreadsheet I can add new sheets with various information for all of my viewers such as your contact information if you would like to share that with others. I need suggestions!





Give me suggestions "please"! You can send me an email at daandrews@eastlink.ca or you can just post your information directly onto the chat forum and I'll take it from there. It will probably take a few days to get this all up and running more efficiently. The spreadsheet is in it's initial stages, so please bear with me.





Suggestions, suggestions, suggestions......send them my way!




The purpose of this spreadsheet is to provide information to all cancer patients that will help make their lives a little easier in any way that's possible.




Together we CAN do this
Use the "scroll" key at the bottom right of the worksheet to see more information

Friday, June 12, 2009

As Long As They Call Your Name





Today my husband and I had another visit to our local Cancer Center for a follow-up visit with his oncologist.




It's a place, as I've said before that we kind of feel at home whenever we step inside the main entrance. It's been my third visit there this week as a result of a conference, my husband's tests and now today, a visit with his doctor. We both have spent so much time there, it's no wonder we feel rather comfortable at each visit.

The main waiting areas and clinics are located downstairs and each time I descend down the staircase, I always scan the waiting rooms for patients/caregivers that we may know. Today was no different, as we had the opportunity to chat with some friends who were also awaiting their oncologist's appointment.

As I look at the faces of other patients/caregivers I can instantly detect the fears and unknowns that they are dealing with. My husband and I are very comfortable to a point of being in that Clinic, but for those who are relatively new to those waiting rooms, it can certainly be a place that is filled with anxiety and nervous feelings. We always introduce ourselves to those around us and try our best to help lessen their uneasiness. All of the staff are so very helpful and comforting, but it does take a few visits to get to know them and feel more at ease.


My one thought as I look around, is how ignorant to cancer facts and how nieve we were about kidney cancer at the beginning when my husband was first diagnosed. We accepted everything that his doctors told us as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, never questioning anything or doing our own research into his type of cancer.

Today, we know the you have to be "always" a step ahead! At my seminar earlier this week, I sat around a conference table with other oncologists, pharmacists, and directors. My being there shows that I know everything pretty much that they know about my husband's type of cancer. I'm no medical expert, but at least I know the realities of it, the options that are there for him and the test trial results of every available treatment that is out there. I know the most informed people to talk with whenever a medical issue arises and I know who to connect with if a uncertainty should arise. Most of all, I am informed!!!
Today at the Clinic, I wanted to get up and tell everyone there to make certain they search for every bit of information that is out there on the type of cancer they have. I wanted to yell from the highest rafters that they need to have an advocate to keep informed with the oncologists, specialists, pharmacists and other patients/caregivers. It's the combination of knowing everyone together that makes the difference in how informed you are about CANCER!
How can you become informed you might ask?
  • Google your type of cancer on the web and find sites that are national, state or provincial organizations
  • Search for blogs written by cancer patients or caregivers for your type of cancer (I recently included a very good link in one of my posts to help find these blogs)
  • Contact the top pharmaceutical companies and read more about recent treatments that are available for your type of cancer
  • MOST OF ALL - find an oncologist who is a SPECIALIST in your type of cancer and be certain that he/she knows all about your present condition and is willing to discuss options with you, either in person or by telephone or via the web

Remember, if you have cancer, you are in one of the most informed eras to have it. There are so many contacts and so much information, that at times it can become mind boggling, but take your time and you can learn so many important things. You need to stay informed.

As the title of today's post reads: "As Long As They Call Your Name" you always need to keep searching!!!

Take care everyone!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dance in the Rain

I usually don't post emails that I receive, but this one in particular is definitely worth copying for all of you to read. It has a wonderful message for all of us to follow, more especially for those who are facing adversities in life.





“LIFE ISN'T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS........IT'S LEARNING HOW TO DANCE IN THE RAIN".



When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.



A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.


When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full.


They agreed that it was.




The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.


They agreed it was.




The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'




The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively, filling the empty space between the sand.




The students laughed..




'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.




The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, yourhealth, your friends and your favourite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.




The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.


The sand is everything else---the small stuff.




'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.The same goes for life.


If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.




Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.




Spend time with your children.




Spend time with your parents.




Visit with grandparents.




Take time to get medical checkups.




Take your spouse/partner out to dinner.




Play another 18 holes of golf




There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.




Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter.




Set your priorities.




The rest is just sand.




One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.


The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.'The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.




Please share this with someone you care about.




I JUST DID!




LIFE ISN'T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS........IT'S LEARNING HOW TO DANCE IN THE RAIN.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

beingcancer.net


I received an invitation on my last blog to check out the following website


beingcancer.net


One page in particular that really caught my eye was one that lists numerous blogs that relate to the different types of cancer. It must have been an enormous task to locate these blogs and then list them. This is a very good resource for those who wish to connect with others about not only kidney cancer, but the many other types that are out there.





I can speak personally on how it's of the utmost importance to interact with others with whom you can discuss various side effects and what works to subdue them, you can learn about new treatments and you can find wonderful support and inspiration on those difficult days.


So.....check it out! Pass along this information to others......get connected....and get informed!!!


Friday, June 05, 2009

I've recently been contacting patients who have undergone surgery for RCC to inform them of an upcoming seminar and invite them to attend.


Not surprisingly though, most of those contacted are not too eager to be there as they have been given a clean bill of health with followup by their physicians. I understand completely as I would have felt the same way after my husband had his nephrectomy a few years ago. We were told at that time all of the cancer was gone and we of course took that diagnosis, hook, line and sinker without even contemplating there might be the slightest chance the medical experts were wrong.


That of course was a few years ago and our medical experts knew no different. Things are very different now with modern technology and an enormous communication system that has been established among RCC specialists, patients and their caregivers as recently as the past two years. Everyone is totally committed to learning all there is to know about kidney cancer, and medical specialists are taking the necessary precautions and extra testing to ensure even the smallest lesion is investigated immediately.


RCC patients today have an incredibly much better chance of survival than even a few months ago!!! One of the main ingredients in this survival rate is being informed and the fact that patients and their caregivers are keeping currrent on the most recent treatments and information that is out there. Information at times can be overwhelming, but then again it is only by learning everything possible about kidney cancer, that we can stay one step ahead of it.


I would encourage everyone to attend any information sessions that might be held in your immediate area whenever the opportunity arises. You are guaranteed to learn new things as well as have the incredible opportunity of meeting other cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and their families.


If you have recently been given a cancer-free diagnosis, you can attend these seminars and provide comfort to others who so desperately seek it.