Monday, January 31, 2011

An Inspiring Patient



INSPIRATION is key to cancer patients - just ask anyone who is battling cancer and they will tell you the same. 

The amazing thing though about my husband is that HE is the one who is always there to inspire others!

How he does it some days I will never know.  He is a man of strength who holds such a strong belief in God above. 

One morning last week the telephone rang.  It was another cancer patient, Mike, who was calling my husband.  Why?  Well, two years ago, this particular patient was taken off his cancer meds and sent home with no other options only to prepare for the inevitable.  But then someone told him to go and meet my husband...so he did.

My husband's conversation to Mike that day, changed his entire outlook on how to deal with his cancer and more importantly, it taught Mike to LIVE!  I also have met Mike on a few occasions over the past year, and everytime, he always asks how my husband is doing and relates to me just how grateful he is that he did follow his friend's advice that day to go meet my husband.  He said he never worries anymore about his cancer even though sometimes his reports are not always what he would want them to be, but instead he now always looks to my husband for his inspiration and he says without a doubt, that is what keeps him positive everyday.  "No point in worrying", was Mike's last remark to me as I passed the telephone over to my husband.

What a great point of view that was from Mike!  Yes, there is no point in worrying, but when you have someone else to talk with on difficult days and someone to inspire you to get through them, that is what makes a huge difference.

It's a two-way street now between Mike and Willard.  They both draw upon each other's strength at times when they need it the most.

Yes, my husband is an inspiration to not only cancer patients but also to his family and friends.  Having cancer changes lives but it also shows the courage and determination of those who refuse to quit!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

MRI Laser Procedure May Help To Reduce Some Cancers

Research and follow up testing at the Mayo Clinic has proven to reduce kidney and liver tumors in five patients with complete success  While the therapy is relatively new, just tested last fall,  this MRI laser procedure that basically heats up to destroy cancerous tumors, shows promising signs to combat other type of cancer as well.

Here is the link to read more and I've included a video by Dr. Eric Walser, a radiologist who has pioneered the technique

http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2010-jax/6006.html


(Don't forget to turn off the Playlist to the right before watching the video)




After watching the video, it should remind us all that any cancer patient should never just give up, as there are always new developments in treatments and methods to eradicate cancer.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Post of Assurance

I have three friends who will begin chemo next week.  I've spoken with each of them and while sometimes I feel like I have alot of experience with cancer, I am not the patient and I cannot relay just how a patient might feel before starting his/her first treatment.  I can however, tell them a little of how my husband and I felt before his first treatment.

I didn't sleep much the night before.  All I could think of was what would tomorrow be like for my husband and would I be strong enough to help get him through?  I always tend to wear this suit of armor and my persona is that of someone who can get through whatever comes my way - but little does anyone know, looking in from the outside, just how I truly am feeling. 

We arrived at the cancer clinic early that morning.  First we had to check in at the clinic desk, my husband had a blood test to ensure his blood levels were ok for the treatments (blood tests are always done before having any chemo treatments so this will be routine) and we were told that it would be about an hour wait before the results were in.  We went to the hospital cafeteria for coffee to help pass that time and to try and alleviate our anxieties.  My husband appeared calm, but then again, that's the way he always seems no matter what comes his way.  I know that he was a little nervous though, because who in this situation would not be - after all, he was the one going to have the chemo.

And soon the time had arrived and we were standing in front of two huge doors that had CHEMOTHERAPY written right across them - as we entered I held my breath.  It was a rather long room with loungers all along one side and beds along the opposite side.  There were a few patients already there receiving their treaments, but it was not overcrowded, no doubt due to the early hour of our appointment.  A smiling face introduced herself as Nurse Paddy and then she asked my husband if he wanted to sit in one of the loungers or lie down on a bed.  He chose to lie down and she went over some of the possible side effects of the cancer drug and then handed him a paper to sign for his acceptance. (One thing to note here is to NOT stress out when you read all of the possible side effects from any of your cancer drugs - they are all possibilities and not actualities so don't let that worry you.  My husband never had any harsh side effects, so hopefully you will be the same). Before long he had his IV of Benadryl to counteract any allergic reaction.  Soon he was lying there, eyes closed and actually resting quite comfortably.

Now it was my turn to look around.  Some patients were receiving their treatments while sitting up and others were lying down like my husband.  A couple of patients were reading books and looking quite relaxed despite the fact that they were having chemo....no doubt this had become somewhat routine to them by now.  Another patient and her husband were seated directly across from us and as I smiled at them, her husband instantly could understand just how I felt.  He smiled back and with comforting words told me to "Just make myself feel at home....|"    Home?  I wondered....how could this place ever make us feel like home?  Strangely enough though after a few visits to this chemo ward, we both did feel as though we did acquire this homely atmosphere everytime we entered through those big doors.

It was a busy place...nurses were constantly checking on patients IV's and/or ports, they continually checked everyone to inquire if patients or those accompanying them would like anything to make them more comfortable, and doctors on occasion would stop by to see how some patients were doing.  A kind elderly lady rolled past with a cart filled with tea, coffee, juices and light snacks for those who wished to indulge.  She stopped and chatted with everyone, no doubt to make them feel more comfortable and she easily accomplished this with her warm smiling and caring personality.

My husband was soon feeling a little colder, so the kind man across from us showed me where I could get blankets from an electric warmer at the end of the room.  I brought two back and covered him which made him feel more comfortable.  The nurse soon arrived with the chemo meds and as I watched them drip into the IV,  I couldn't help but wonder if this would be the miracle cure that we were all hoping for. 

Popsicles anyone?  Apparently popsicles are a regular in any chemo room for patients who might like a cool treat.  In this particular chemo roon, there are glass windows that entirely encompasses one side of the unit where one can look out over a beautiful flower garden when in season.  The array of color and the miracle of nature, allowed my husband and I to feel quite complacent as the sun shone so brightly on the beautiful blooms in front of us.  There were books on a shelf for those who liked to read and televisions at different venues.  For patients who may be receiving chemo now - I would suggest that you may want to bring along a small hand held protable DVD system that you can place right beside you or on the tray top and watch your favorite movie to pass the time and keep your mind off the treatment itself.  I had brought along a journal, so I occupied myself with my favorite pastime - that of writing.

Once the IV's were completed - (this will take various times, depending on the type of treatment you are receiving) - then the nurse removed my husband's IV lines and advised him to stay for a few minutes longer to ensure he was feeling ok.    When she returned to give him the final release he was actually feeling really good!   Not tired at all, because he had rested throughout the whole procedure.  We went to the clinic desk to receive our next appointment schedule, bid farewells to those who were still in that room and whom we had met that day, and then we were off!

Thinking back to the indepth anxiety we had felt prior to entering that chemo room, there was really no need to be that scared at all.  The staff were extremely friendly and reassuring, the unit was very inviting and relaxing and most of our fears, as it is normally in life, were ones that we had imagined.  Once we both experienced the situation, I have to say that my husband felt so much more relaxed when he returned for his second treatment the following week.  Next time, I brought a small lunch, a crossword book and another book for my husband as well.  We were more prepared and less stressed as we knew what to expect on the second trip.

I have found this great website that you really should check out and please scroll down to read "Lessons From the Chemo Room"...I think it is one of the best things I have ever read and definitely a must read for those who are new to chemo.

https://www.brgeneral.org/site.php?pageID=601&TID=1490&Document=41405



For those of you who are going to have your first chemo treatments soon, I trust our experience will help to reassure you in some way.  While I understand that each patient's journey is different sometimes, the fear that we all experience as patients and caregivers, as well as family members is very similiar.  It is a difficult road to travel, and there are no words to dispel that, but my best advice would be to keep positive, take each step along this highway with courage and I know for certain that you will meet such wonderful people along the way who will leave a lasting imprint on your heart.

Good luck to everyone and remember that you are never alone!





Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DATING Is "Very" Important

So this morning I have learned a very important lesson and that is

 WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN !!!


I usually always write my husband's appointment dates down, along with his CT scheduling, his CT report dates, dates when he started his cancer meds, dates from start to finish of any hospital stays, dates when he stops any meds, dates when he started any other new medications, and the list goes on.

But.....seems I'm beginning to get a bit complacent about keeping track and that's not good...... no, not good at all. 

If you are new to this cancer business, I trust you have gotten yourself a large journal or yearly planner.  Either the patient or the caregiver must keep track of all the related information and don't miss a thing because one day you never know, you just might need to refer back to it.  Even if you have not yet started to track these types of things, it's never too late!

How do I know, because it happened to me today!  Not good when you don't have exact dates for reference.

Chin up......Keep the faith!!!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daria, May She Rest In Peace


I am sure that many of you who follow cancer blogs, most definitely have been a regular visitor to Daria's site Living With Cancer - here is the link   http://daria-livingwithcancer.blogspot.com/ 

She was such an inspiration to me as well as I'm certain to each of you.  She shared her journey with breast cancer through her good times and through her difficult days.

Sadly she has passed, but her legacy will live in the hearts of her thousands of followers since her blogging began several years ago.  It is amazing how this one person has touched the lives of so many!

She is now at rest!

To live in the hearts of those we leave behind, is to never die

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Cancer Diagnosis

So, you have just received your medical report and your doctor has just relayed the dreaded words of

YOU HAVE CANCER!


Hearing that diagnosis can be one of the most terrifying and life changing experiences you will ever have to face.  We first heard those words back in 2001, so it's now been ten years that we have had cancer a part of our lives.  My husband had a nephrectomy back then and he was told after the surgery that "they got it all".....but five years later it was back with a vengeance so we know all too well just how hearing the words of YOU HAVE CANCER can affect not only the patient, but the caregiver and the patient's immediate family. 

It may not happen the instant you hear those words, but be assured that soon after you will feel numb, your body will go into shock mode and the world that you once thought was secure, is now shattered beyond belief.

I'm going to list some emotional feelings that YOU as a cancer patient will experience, and not only the patient but their immediate family will also have to deal with some or all of the following once you hear that cancer has come into your life.

DENIAL - There must be some mistake?  It must be another patient's report?  Did I just hear the word "cancer"?  But I don't feel sick at all?  Your first emotional reaction will be that of denial..it happens to all of us.  You will need time to deal with this and then to accept what you have been given, and then prepare yourself to move forward.  For us it was so devastating, because almost five years previous, my husband had been told "we got all the cancer and go home and enjoy life" and now it was back with a vengeance!!!

FEAR - Fear of dying and leaving your loved ones comes first and for caregivers and families, they face the fear of losing their loved one.  Who will care for my family?  How will we take care of the medical costs?  Will I have to stop working?  The fear that you will feel is normal and you will need to talk with other patients/caregivers to help get you through. 

ANGER Why did this happen?  Why am I the one with cancer?  I have always taken good care of my health.  It's just not fair!  Why do they keep calling and asking how I am?  Again, the patient and his/her loved ones will become angry.  Each for their own reasons.  I know I was angry as caregiver as suddenly many people wanted to ask questions about my husband's illness - questions that even I didn't really know the answers too and it was not the time to do that.  Everytime our telephone rang it made me angry, as I knew that it was someone else calling to find out how things were today.  How many times could you tell the same story and it became overwhelming at times, so eventually I just didn't answer my telephone.  I didn't want to discuss my husband's health to strangers and more importantly, I definitely did not want to discuss it while he was sitting right next to me.  He had enough to deal with and he surely did not need to constantly hear me telling others several times a day.  Just read my poem "A Caregiver's Poem" as you scroll down to the right of my blog and you will certainly be able to realize how emotional all of this was for me back then.

STRESS/ANXIETY - We all feel stress, even through good times, so just imagine how more stressful you will feel when you receive that cancer diagnosis.  It's easy for me to say, but now you have to try to beat that feeling as much as you can.....why?  Because "stress and anxiety" will only INCREASE your cancer symptoms and make you feel worse.  I know that for a fact,  as when my husband had a day of stress, most definitely he would feel alot worse so he resigned himself to the fact that he had cancer, decided that worrying was not going to make it better, and eventually DID NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING - that may be difficult for most of you to understand but honestly, my husband does NOT worry about his cancer, he takes life one day at a time and his philosophy is that worry will not change anything so why stress out about the diagnosis!!!  He soon developed his own stradegy to respond to others whenever they asked how he was by saying one small word "GOOD"...and that seemed to answer their question immediately without having to prolong the answer, which he did not want to deal with.  Good thinking for sure!  Even today he still used the same stradegy.
I on the other hand have encountered the stress and anxiety that goes along with being a caregiver, but I feel if I can take some of my husband's worry and take care of things that he does not need to know about, then it's well worth it.
Try to handle your stress by going for a walk, reading a book or just do something that will take your mind off your problems.  Stress will cause you to have headaches, you will lose your appetite and you will have trouble sleeping - so try your best to destress!!!

GUILT - A cancer patient may feel guilty for causing this burden on his/her family or for causing them financial difficulty.  "Nonsense" - so tell your loved one that, as they would feel the same way if you were the one sick.

LONELINESS - Your life will definitely change now that you have cancer - there is no way to avoid it.  With the help of friends and family you will adjust but be prepared that your social life will change.  You will need to rest more and in order to do that, you will sometimes have to reduce the amount of social activity that you are accustomed to.  One important note here for friends and family would be that they remember just because the patient needs rest, does not mean they do not need to have them around anymore.  If anything, they do need to socialize even more, but on a quieter scale and in a more homely atmosphere.  So, stop by and see your friend or family member when they are ready for visitors and please by all means "don't ask them anything about their cancer"!!!  Just keep your conversation the same as you would if cancer was not there - keep it normal!!! 


One very important fact for cancer patients, caregivers and their families to remember is that all of these emotions are normal.  Hospitals and cancer clinics have professionals there to help get you through difficult situations if you need extra support, so please don't ever be afraid to avail of these services.  Creating a support system with other patients/caregivers/families is vital to help get you through the difficult days ahead.  How do you find these people?  Maybe your community or town has cancer support groups already established - keep in mind that they may not be for your particular type of cancer, but that does not matter.  They will welcome you with open arms.  Search through various blogs such as mine for that connection with others via their email, or FB or Skype....there are lots of wonderful people just waiting to hear from you.  Ask your cancer clinic to advise of what support systems they have in place as well.

The main thing to remember in all of this is that YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT
 So keep positive, don't quit and remember that you are never alone!!!




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saffron Tea

After a request from one of my viewers, here is another post about the Saffron Tea.  Thanks to the viewer for asking as I honestly did not think to write about how it tastes.

So here's my husband's comments......

   "It has a stronger taste than green tea, but it tastes ok" ........and he drinks it without sugar, as he has high glucose levels, so even though the taste is not sweet, it is not that bad either.

I serve it to him first thing in the morning....I do think it is the best way to get the benefits from this particular spice.  Don't forget to strain it so that the drink is totally clear of any saffron pieces.  The tea will appear yellow in color.

Hubby has been taking it now every second morning and we alternate with fresh carrot juice on alternate days....he is feeling great.....much, much better than he was last week.  Am I certain that these two remedies are working, you might ask?   No, we can't say for sure, but I'm sure that they are not hurting him either.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Great Way to Use Saffron

Here's a recipe for Saffron Tea that you may want to give a try:

Put approximately 12 saffron stigmas in one cup of boiling water and let stand for a few minutes.  Then pour through a strainer before drinking.

Seems to me this might be the best way of all to get the best benefits from this spice.  I'm only going to give this to my husband every "second" day for now while alternating with the carrot juice tonics.

Good luck!





Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Newest Cancer Fighting Grocery Item

So a couple of days ago, I told you about a friend who had been watching Dr. Oz and suggested a possible cancer fighting agent.  I have gone into the Dr. Oz website but unfortunately I don't really see much information there in great detail so I'm just going to share what I know with you. 

The item of which I speak is a rare spice called SAFFRON ! I personally know very little about it, but you can be sure that I'm going to find out every little detail that I can.  Here is what it looks like as I bought it just yesterday.  Found it at a bulk food store and bought it in a small 1 gram plastic container.  Not very much at all, but apparently it's a very potent spice and you just use a little of it.
It is one of the most expensive spices by weight in the world apparently.  I paid $6.75 CDN for that "1" gram amount, but if you calculate how much one ounce of this spice costs, it would amount to approximately $190.12 and to take this even farther, if I had to purchase 1 pound of it, well I would be looking at around the $3041.92 figure !!!
Wow.....no wonder it is considered to be one of the most expensive spices in the world.  The expense results from the time it takes to hand pick each of these stigmas from the crocus - not an easy task at all as you can see



Anyway, for now I'm not concerned about the price of my first purchase, all I really want is some good results while my husband is using it.












It consists of long, dried pieces of crocus stigmas

It is actually derived from the stigma of a Saffron Crocus.....to read more about it, check out this Wikipedia description

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron

So I'm guessing if Dr Oz has given this rare spice a thumbs up in the fight against cancer, then it can't be all bad.  This is what it says on his website http://www.drozfans.com/dr-ozs-advice/dr-oz-saffron-cancer-rosemary-allergies-horseradish-digestion/



 I of course did not see that particular television episode and I'm flying totally blindfolded with saffron and how to use it, but I'm hoping that if any of you have already used it in recipes, etc. you will pass it along and then I will post it here for everyone to read.

For now, this is how my husband tried the saffron yesterday.  I made a blueberry/milk shake and added "3" of the saffron stems...gave it one more turn in my Magic Bullet and it was ready. 

I have located a recipe in which you use the saffron from The Canadian Living website.  It is a rice recipe and actually the lady at the bulk food store yesterday told me that her daughter makes a similiar rice recipe quite often - not because she has cancer, but because she wants the nutritional value of this particular spice in her weekly diet.

Once again, if any of you have already tried saffron, please send along your recipes and experiences and I will post them here. 

Good luck everyone in your fight against cancer and remember to keep positive and never quit - even when the going gets very rough!

 

 Dr Oz explained that cancer cells grow through bringing and building their own blood supply in your body.  The saffron can actually enter the cancer cells and send a signal that causes the cancer to “commit suicide.” 

Organic is "Always" Better

        Had a very informative tip passed along to me about my carrot juice posting by a dear friend.  And she is absolutely right!  I should have included the fact that cancer patients should always strive to use organically grown foods. Here is a definition of "organic" that I obtained from the following website

http://www.pickyourown.org/organic.htm

Organic food is produced by farmers who avoid the use of bio-persistent nonselective chemical pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers.

With that being said, many organic foods still might have been grown with the use of pesticides, but in a much smaller quantity.

I usually do look for the certified organic label when buying some of the fruits and veggies for my husband.  Of course in most cases you will pay more for organic, so like most of us, it's not always the norm to buy all of our produce from the organic section, but at least, try to buy the foods that you are consuming in your fight against cancer.

Thanks for checking in...I will be posting about the new type of herb that was passed along to me by another friend within the next couple of days.  It's been a bit of a problem trying to find it, but once I do, I'll let you know.

Take care everyone!  And please keep any comments you might have coming my way as I always enjoy hearing your input.  I am just a novice and we are all in this together in our fight against cancer so don't ever hesitate to let me know about any of your ideas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All About Carrot Juice

My topic is today is all about carrot juice.  Some websites

 http://www.agriculturalproductsindia.com/beverages-juices/beverages-juices-carrot-juice.html

 say alot about it's benefits for cancer patients while others don't really have any scientific information, but I figure since it is extremely high in a cancer-fighting agent, then why not give it a try.  I have posted this previously, but not in as great detail, as many have asked me just how to do it and what is involved.  Soooo, I've decided to all lots of pictures here today to help you.

Your first requirement is a juicer.  Don't have to go buy the most expensive one on the market.  I have one that is very lightweight, all plastic for easier cleaning and can be easily stored.

I usually buy larger carrots for juicing if available as there is less peeling involved.  Two or three large size carrots will yield approximately 6-8oz of juice.
I was amazed the first time I used it to see how those carrots can turn into juice just like that!  I never ever imagined a solid carrot turning into a liquid so easily.



I Call This Part 'The Presser"

Once the carrots are peeled, then you will have to slice them in halves and slice those halves once again, then cut into about 2 to 3 inch chuncks.  Then place the pieces into the top of the juicer and use the presser that is provided to push the carrot pieces down into the shredder.  Be extremely careful to NEVER put your fingers in there!!!  Always unplug the juicer if you need to clear the pathway as well.


The juice will just drain into the plastic container.  My juicer has a strainer which I also use to avoid any stray bits of carrot from going into the juice.  You will have to experiment with the number of carrots you use, versus the amount of juice you want.  I usually aim for 8 oz.  One important thing to remember is to drink the juice probably within half an hour to one hour.  It seems leaving the juice too long allows it to lose it's nutrients and you want to get the best benefit from it so drink it within the time frame that I've indicated.




I place the container in the refrigerator for a few minutes to get the juice a bit colder.  It actually tastes good, a little sweet and not blagh as you might imagine.  Carrot juice is good for everyone and not just cancer patients, so if you are a caregiver making this for your loved one, why not make a little extra for yourself as well.

The biggest job (if you want to call it that) is the cleanup of the juicer. My suggestion would be to clean up right away rather than leave it. You can imagine that there will be alot of carrot pulp left over.  By the way, if anyone has any ideas on how that pulp can be used, please send it along.  Your first choice might be to put it into a carrot cake, but personally the pulp is so dry, I honestly don't think a carrot cake would turn out very moist at all. Don't rinse the pulp down your sink, because I'm sure before too long you will be calling in a plumber. 
Once the pulp is discarded from the juicer parts, then rinse each one and wash them as usual in soapy water.





I'm sure you have watched a younger child put stacking blocks or large puzzle pieces together.  Now I realize the benefits of anyone learning how to do that.  When it's time to put your juicer parts back together, you do need that know-how and what you leaned as a child sure will come in very handy.  It's just like putting that childhood puzzle back together.









































Some of these instruction may seem a bit elementary, but for those who have never used a juicer I thought it important to add all of the above information.  Good luck with the carrot juice.  Last night while talking to a friend, she advised of another possible cancer fighting food...I'm off to get it now!

Take care everyone,



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beginning 2011

Here I am again.  It's been many weeks since I've posted but as a New Year begins, I realize that I should get back to the writing of this blog.  Thanks to my loyal viewers who have continued to check in over all of this time, even though I've not been posting.

As I reviewed my blog followers, I notice that many of them no longer post.  Some have taken a break and I totally understand why you did.  I am not the patient, but I do know that from time to time I also have to take a break from all of the cancer stuff to rejuvenate so that I can be a good caregiver to my husband.  That is difficult maybe for those who are not affected with cancer to understand, but believe me, it does take it's toll on not only cancer patients, but also on caregivers and families as well.

I trust you all had a great Christmas and I'm wishing everyone all of the best in this new year.  As I listen to news reports it sure is unbelievable to hear about all of the clumate changes that are taking place right around the world.  Even in our little part of the universe, there has been no snow, absolutely NO snow during December and right up until today.  It's the first year I would think ever that kids have not been able to go sliding or even make snowmen during their Christmas school break.  Not such a big deal you may say, but the fact remains that the environment is definitely changing everywhere.

In this new year, I will be posting on several topics that I've already written about as it may help some new viewers along the way.  It's difficult to keep a topic going everyday, so I'll be writing on occasion and not on any particular schedule. 

I trust you will keep in touch..remember my email address is dannygabs@msn.com and I always enjoy hearing from you, listening to your concerns or just being there if you need someone to lean on.  Living with cancer is a two-way street and we all help each other even though sometimes without realizing it.