Friday, September 26, 2008

Cancer Creates a Community of Caring People

I've been receiving some good comments on this website and I was amazed to see that I have now acquired followers from over 70 countries around the world. Wow! Technology can be so wonderful, when used for a good purpose. I know many of you may not even be able to read my blog due to language barriers, but hopefully I will soon have a translating device added. The one constant though that creates a universal language is music, so I hope you are all enjoying my selections this week. I've tried to provide a wide range from sacred, to very upbeat, inspirational and modern choices. If you'd like anything added, just let me know and I'll try my best to accommodate your request.

Now to get back on my topic.....yes, all of us who are affected by cancer are definitely one big community of love. You may be a patient, a caregiver, a family member or friend, but with over 200 different types of cancer, in reality, there are not very many people who have not been touched by it from a personal perspective. Each of us are looking for support from others, for advice, for inspiration and for whatever it takes to keep going. The journey is difficult most of all for cancer patients, but it can also be a struggle for their family and friends. Knowing that there are others who care and are there to support us, makes all the difference.

My husband and I are indeed very blessed to have such a wonderful circle of family and friends. We probably don't always say that to them, but they are always there whenever and whatever time we should need them. We cannot do all of this on our own, it takes a community of people to help us along our way.

We strongly believe that my husband is doing so well because of his great faith, his positive attitude, medical research and because of those whom we have met along our journey. Reading many of your emails, I know that even though we are probably living in different countries, and speaking different languages, we all have that common bond of trying to find what might work, what has worked and what will work. It is through out discussions about cancer that we all unite and become that community of love. Loving your fellowman is the best gift you can really give anyone, and by sharing our thoughts and experiences with cancer, we are really doing just that.

Websites, like mine, are bringing families that live thousands of miles away, right into our homes.
Everyday we are meeting new people and making new discoveries about cancer. All of us are here to help, whenever you need it. As I said in an earlier post, "all you have to do is ask"!

As I check my stats about this website everyday and my global map appears on screen, each country is lit to indicate where my viewers are located. Every day those lights appear much brighter and in more areas. To me, it means that in some way, I might have brought some sort of inspiration to another person affected by cancer. If I can help just one person a week, then my goal for creating this website has been fulfilled. So today, I hope that each of you will pass along your stories, inspirational happenings and ideas to others who are affected by cancer, through the many websites, live chats, blogs and other forums that are available through this media. No man is an cannot do it alone.

Together, we can all light up the world and show just how much we all care about each other!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Diagnosis Can Make You Sick

I happened to meet a friend this morning that I'd not seen for quite sometime. He's not been feeling so well himself for many months now, but still manages to get out and about. We were commenting on our beautiful scenery and fantastic weather for this time of year. Even though it's been a little colder than usual, the sunshine certainly makes up for the loss of warmer temps.

During the usual chit chat, he asked how my husband was doing. After relating a little about how he's been feeling lately, my friend very non-chalently quoted the following:

"Yes, sometimes it's not the illness, but it's the diagnosis that can make you feel so miserable!"

I took a second to go over what he had just said, and realized that his words were so very true. It is very usual for doctors now to tell their patients the worse possible news about their illness, right up front, with no holes barred. Some may say that is the correct way to relate the news, while others, like myself might ask that physicians should take a step back, and really assess the patient's medical situation before telling very devastating news in such a negative way.

I guess you just can't sugarcoat something like that, but then again, for many patients who are told discouraging results from testing, they should also be told "any" smidgen of good news that may relate to their medical condition as well. We all tend to focus more on bad news. All one has to do is listen to any news broadcast on the airwaves, and you must agree, that there's not too much good news coming over those wires. The good news stories just seem to go by the wayside.

That's the norm as well for most patients and specifically for cancer patients. Of course I am no authority to say what is the correct way to discuss a serious illness with any patient, but I can only relate to our situation in my writings. Thank goodness my husband has a very positive attitude, never worrying about what bad news a doctor might tell him. To say it does not affect him when he first hears such devastating news, would not be accurate, but once it has time to sink in, then he pulls up his socks and he's off and to speak. No doubt, each person deals with their medical reports in different ways, but if physicians gave more focus on the positives that patient may have going on with their health, it would cause less stress. If something like their blood pressure is fairly normal, then the doctor should tell them. If their blood count is relatively good, then also tell them. If their appetite is good, even tell them how wonderful that is for them to maintain a healthy weight!

Physicians should stress the positives more and not the negatives when giving those test results. Give patients something that they can cling to for hope and not news that will bring them nothing but despair. Not every patient has that get-up-and-fight attitude, and believe me, every patient needs to hear whatever encouraging words they can when a serious illness strikes. Maintaining that positive attitude, can make the difference sometimes between their survival or their demise.

So, for readers out there who might be going for test results in the near future, try to stay focused on the good news this time. Certainly, you'll want the whole picture of just what your reports are showing, but make certain that you get the positives on your health, as well as the negatives. It will provide that extra something to keep you encouraged.

By the way, this same friend also said the following:

"No matter how high the fuel prices go, we still have to purchase it to keep the car running"!

There's a positive statement and it is next time, no matter how devastating the news might be, keep going and focus on the positives in your life!!!

One More Valley, One More Hill

Listen closely to the words of the hymn "One More Valley, One More Hill" (it's right on my playlist) as it is my husband's favorite, and it's helped to carry him over many difficult days along his journey with cancer. Being given a timeline for life is unimaginable for most of us. Personally, I'm very sure I would not be able to continue my daily routine, knowing such devastating news. That's not the way it's been however, for my husband right from the first day he heard the words "You have three months to live"!

I remember quite vividly, as the doctor stood by his hospital bedside and uttered that sentence. My husband very calmly seemed to accept his fate, while my daughter and I instantly went into shock. Was this a very bad dream? Did we really hear those words? Surely, there must be some mistake! We knew he had not been feeling well for the past few days, but we didn't expect this. He was just one month away from his final five year medical follow-up, after having had a nephrectomy five years earlier. We were always under the impression after numberous scans, MRI's and testing that there were never any signs that the cancer had metastasized. We had taken our lives for granted and now suddenly, in just an instant, those words changed everything.

Climbing that hill, was not an easy task for my husband, but he was determined to try his best. Our youngest daughter had one more year left before she'd convocate from university, and that in itself, gave him determination to not give up. And so his journey along many valleys and up very steep hills, began.

A few days later, he came home from the hospital, very weak and very ill. He had accepted his fate, but at the same time, did not accept the fact that he should just lie in bed and prepare to take his last breath. Within a few days, he did return to the emergency once again and was re-admitted to hospital for several more days. Apparently, he had been allergic to the morphine that was prescribed, as well as several other drugs, and this was causing him most of his discomfort and pain. Once the correct diagnosis was made, he returned home and began his slow descent down that mountain.

Thankfully, it was during late spring and early fall, so the weather was very cooperative and allowed him to spend time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Everyday his appetite was better and soon he was gaining weight. During this time, he was not taking any chemo, as nothing was available. He was determined though to not give up, and over the next few weeks, he amazingly grew much stronger. It was a slow process, but well worth the results, as he gradually returned to a relatively "healthy" state. Five months later, he began his first chemo treatment and began another climb up a very steep hill.

First scan results while on this chemo looked a little positive. These were vague signs that a little decrease in some mets was happening. At this point, any tiny bit of good news was encouraging, and most welcomed. A half centimeter decrease was glorious and good reason to celebrate. We focused on the good news whenever it came along, no matter how insignificant it might have seemed from a medical perspective, but it allowed my husband a gentler walk along that valley, rather than up a jagged and steeper hill.

Over the next few months, and with his first chemo failing, we started right back at ground zero. All he had endured, both mentally and physically .....had it all been for naught? Miraculously, another new chemo drug loomed on the horizon, and after several weeks of discussion and finally seeking it's approval, he began a much steeper hill with this intravenous chemo. More scans, more testing, more follow-up visits with his oncologists and more negative test results, all made that mountain climbing so very treacherous. He wondered when he would reach the crest of that particular hill, but it just never seemed to happen, as that type of chemo, also proved to be ineffective.

By this time, we were somewhat used to the bad news that we constantly received after every scan report. It's probably difficult for most of you to realize that we had the results almost memorized, each time "before" hearing the doctor say the actual words "your cancer is continuing to spread further"! We'd just sit there in the doctor's office, ask if there was anything else that could be done, and like each visit before, we'd shake the oncologist's hand, say thank you and begin our long drive home. What could I as caregiver say to make my husband feel better. I felt terrible, helpless and yes, even hopeless, but I kept encouraging him not to give up, as new treatments were always being developed. Once off the chemo, a few days later, any side effects he's previously encountered,would slowly disappear, and for the most part, my husband would feel very well again.

Another chemo drug appeared before too long, and once more he began his treck up yet another hill. This particular chemo was administered for the most part at home, by his private nurse, "me" who now knew how to give injections. For better or for worse, yes those were the vows we took many years ago, and although there were many times throughout this cancer journey that seemed like "the worse" times, we continued to focus on "the better" times to get us through. This particular chemo only lasted a very short time, for it was not long when we once again heard the same words of "this chemo is not working, your cancer is continuing to spread further".

Every time we'd return home after a doctor's visit, naturally family and friends would call to see how things went. It was very difficult to keep saying that things were once again getting worse..........there were just no words to put it into perspective as to how we were feeling.

A few more weeks went by and then my husband went on another chemo drug. He was blazing a trail for sure for other cancer patients. He remained very strong willed to continue with whatever was out there for him to try. As long as he was willing, we all stood by his decision. He was about to take another trek up another mountain, not knowing how long the journey would take. This particular climb, proved to be very short, as within only a few treatments, it was determined by scan reports not to be working. Now it seemed like after all the hills he had climbed, there was nothing left for him to try. The road ahead would be very uncertain, but he continued to keep going and not to give up!

Makes you wonder just how many times you can get knocked down in life, but still have the courage and determination to keep fighting back. Now you can fully understand why we all call him a miracle man! His story needs to be told for other cancer patients to listen, in a hope that it will give them the courage to not give up as well.

Miraculously, my husband is now back on a previous chemo. He continues to keep fighting, he looks very healthy and he is doing quite well. Sure, there are always obstacles along this journey. Sometimes the road gets very bumpy, and the hills more difficult to climb, but for the most part now, he's walking along a much smoother valley. He is blazing a trail for other cancer patients as the medical experts determine what works and what does not work. We have been very blessed, because as one door shuts, another one has always opened for him.

Cancer research has been vital in developing new drugs to fight cancer. Just when you think there is nothing else, something new is being tested. As you listen to my husband's favorite song, I trust that you will be encouraged to keep walking along this cancer highway. Most of all, keep the faith and never, never quit!

One more significant note to make before ending this particular daughter did convocate the following year after my husband's initial diagnosis. He attended the ceremony, beaming with such pride. It was a very special day for our entire family, but more importantly for my husband and our graduating daughter!!! Never, never quit!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Caregivers" Defined by David Foster

My post today has been sent to me by one of my very dear friends Mary, who is caregiver to her husband.

The following is a blog written by our Warrior David Foster who succumbed to RCC in April 2008. He fought a true fight and was indeed a true "Warrior" and a masterful writer. For those of us who walked with David through his journey, we were heart broken with the news of his passing. He wrote this blog for all the "caregivers" out there and what a tribute it is. David was a blessing in our lives and we miss him so.
If you want to read about David’s journey with RCC you can still access his website:

Here is his tribute to Caregivers:

May the Queen Bless Our Knights

I know. That's a strange sounding headline, since most of us, at least in the U.S., are not much into what the Queen blesses. But the idea of the Queen helps better develop the thesis for this post. And that is the value of our Knights as we fight our way toward a cancer-free life. That is not to say there is anything wrong with the word "caregiver." It is a marvelous word for many of the roles a Knight must play, but as an action concept it seems to lack something, as if a half or a third or whatever is left out, undefined, lacking a true understanding of the strength and commitment and intelligence total care giving requires. But the idea of caregiver as Knight? I like that. It seems so much more defining. And it fits.

When I was 20 or so, I went to the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan. My breath was taken away by the display of mounted knights in the armory gallery. Their armor gleamed in the yellowish-white light. Their war horses, though not alive, seemed at the attack under their own great armors. The Knight's long lances thrust out menacingly putting any enemy on call, from the bad guy down the road to the dragon in the forest. And, as we cancer Warriors know, "fire-breathing dragons" are no myth when they are growing inside you. It was (and is) a powerful display of the Medieval idea of power and honor.

The Knight of the Late Medieval years was always a man. That was a ceremonial designation and but with the designation went great responsibilities. Further, service was mandatory, yet to be taken with honor and dignity...not to mention resolve.

Shift the idea of Knight as a masculine term--and only shift it a bit--and suddenly you have a member of our caregiver cadre, whether male or female. To me, this seems especially true for sneaky cancers like RCC. Once it metastasizes, there is seldom just one call for action for our Knights; it can become as much his or her life as it does the Warrior's, including the weariness, the emotional scars, the too often overwhelming frustration and, of course, fear.

Except for the possibility that the Warrior may be physically dying from the cancer, the psychological experiences are very similar for Knight and Warrior. In addition to care, the Knight also often has to deal with finances, or, worse, a diminishing source of them; when bad news comes to the Warrior, the Knight too, no matter how weary, must mount up and charge the cancer as well, not from horse and lance, but with care, commitment and, most of all, compassionate firmness. He or she also must deal with their own personal frustrations of the disease, the cruel interruption of their lives, perhaps never again to continue in that life's "old" ways.

It is the Knight who sits through the long empty nights in the hospital rooms, holds the Warrior when his or her nerves give out and tears of frustration follow. It is the Knight who so often has to demand the facts from medical professionals. It is the Knight who so much wants to will away the pain, but can't do a damn thing about it. It is the Knight who suffers in silence, in the spirit of Knighthood. It is the Knight who has the power to weep alone so as not to show their Warrior there is a crack in that confident face; and then show that confident face smiling a few minutes later. It is the Knight who is told he or she is "so strong," when the truth is only another Knight truly knows the strength Knighthood requires.
And if the cancer takes the Warrior, it is the Knight left to take the Warrior's memory forward while at the same time finding the strength and resolve to build another life. Again.

And he or she does this with an honor and loyalty that would make Sir Lancelot proud. An honor and loyalty that amazes us all.

God Bless You, Knights. On your shoulders stands the Warrior. And from your strength we take so much from you of what we need to kill the dragon. Without you so many Warriors would lose. Yes, may the Queen too bless and honor the Knights. May all of us.
I had the honor to meet David online and to realize that he truly defined the words of "Hero", "Courage" and "Friend". May his legacy live on for all cancer patients and caregivers. It was a privilege to know such a humble man. I thank Mary sincerely for wanting to share this very special writing with all of us.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You Are Never Alone Along Your Cancer Journey

I talk about our experiences as patient, caregiver and family on this blog, but for some of you visiting the site, you may be a patient who lives alone. I'm sure at times, it must get very difficult, but I wanted to write today's post to assure you that there's no such thing as being entirely alone when you are dealing with cancer.

I cannot relate personally to how a cancer patient feels but of course, having a caregiver at home certainly must take alot of stress and worry off one's mind. Having said that, any patient who does not have an at-home caregiver, I want you to know that there are other resources available to you.

First and foremost, depending on the severity of your cancer, if you need help, then Ask For It! If you have no immediate family living in your area, then call a neighbour or friend for assistance. Maybe there's no one who immediately comes to mind because you feel you're not that close to your neighbours. Don't just sit there and wonder, pick up that phone and call. You're not going to be a bother. You'll be surprised that they are so very willing to help. Perhaps you need a prescription picked up at the local pharmacy or someone to run for groceries. You might need a drive to your doctor's office for an appointment or even to the hospital for testing. Don't be afraid to ask! All of us at some time in our lives, must rely on others. No one person can do everything on their own, so if now is your time for support, then don't hesitate to ask for it. The worse answer that anyone can give you is "No" and I doubt very seriously that anyone will, unless there are circumstances beyond their control that prohibits them from helping. For the most part, people really want to help those in need, but usually they are also afraid to come forward.

Ask your neighbour or a friend and if no one is readily available, then contact your local cancer society to see if they offer caregiver assistance programs. Your hospital as well, can provide information about healthcare resources and even your doctor has links to people in your community that are available to assist. Religious organizations may also offer assistance to you, but you have to ask. Attend a cancer support meeting in your area and if one isn't available, then maybe you can connect with other cancer patients and caregivers to begin such a support system.

By investigating all possible resources, I'm certain you will find people who truly want to be there for you. Knowing that someone will stop by on a particular day, even for a visit, will help provide that encouragement to a patient who lives alone.

If you are computer savvy, then the internet will be an excellent resource for you. Although it will not provide a physical friend, there are any number of websites that provide chat forums specifically for cancer patients to obtain support and encouragement and all types of invaluable resource information. Many sites directly provide answers to more specific questions and if your computer is equipped with a webcam, then you can directly interact with that physical entity.
Once again, the important thing to remember when you are a cancer patient who lives alone, is that you are not alone. It is your choice, as to whether you seek others to help you or look for varying resources to provide the information you need. Start today by taking action. I'm sure you will be surprised and inspired by the people you meet and the resources you find. Millions of people walk your same road everyday.......You Are Never Alone!

Coincidence or Fate?

I'm sure everyone reading this, can relate to a particular incident in your life that you thought may have happend by coincidence. As I reflect over these past few months, what at first seemed like pure coincidence has now become most definitely acts of fate. There have been too many events that are unexplained as chance happenings, and it's clear they have all evolved for a reason.

Take for instance a kindly lady who just suddenly walks into our place of business, on a day when things are going terrible for me. My husband is at home, too ill to go to work and I definitely need a pick-me-up. So there she is, getting out of her vehicle, opening the shop door and then wearing a warm smile that seems to say "I'm here, just when you need me most"! Seems to be trouble with one of her tires and it needs a little fixing, so while the repairs are being completed, we exchange a few get-to-know you's and then instantly, a bond is created and it's like I've just found a long, lost friend. Since that day, everytime we meet, there's always a hug and a "How is everything going" greeting. There's perserves from her garden, cards on our birthdays and Christmas, and telephone calls at least once a month to check on my husband's health. It's like we've known each other for years, but it's really only been for a few months.

Then, there's the connection with an on-line friend. Never met the woman in my life before and I just happend to log on to this website about cancer and caregivers one day. She had posted a comment and I replied and also for some unknown reason, typed my email address. Apparently, the site administrator monitors all messages and no emails are permitted, but she did receive mine and neither of us can figure out how that happened. Since then, we have become wonderful friends. Her husband also has RCC and we have that special bond. I always throw her a lifeline whenever I'm sinking and she's always there to catch it. Since that time, I've connected with many other cancer caregivers and patients. Amazing how you can become friends with someone whom you've never met in person!

About four years ago, I was on a chat line for no particular reason and connected with another wonderful person. At that time, her daughter was receiving chemo treatments and it was a very difficult time for all of the family. I had no idea just what cancer was all about, but I could offer my friendship to her on-line. Now it has become very clear just why we met. She's been an exceptional friend to me and has always encouraged my husband to keep going, no matter how the odds may be stacked against him. The tables have turned and we are the ones now who are dealing with cancer. Her daughter, I'm "very" happy to say, is living life to the fullest and is free of cancer!!! What an inspiring young woman and mother. She was determined from the start to beat it.....AND SHE DID!

Our phone rings whenever we are going through difficult times and there's always a friendly voice on the other end. It always happens! As soon as you hang up the phone, another person is calling. I've wondered how those close to us know when we're having that down day, but they do..... and just keeping in touch, makes all the difference.
When my husband was about to begin a new chemo treatment that had not even been introduced to our region, I was constantly searchig the internet to connect with someone who could answer some of my questions. Amazingly, I did. It was a lady whose sister had just started the same treatment two weeks earlier, and now she was my contact who readily answered my questions and quieted my concerns. We still keep in touch.
As I look back, there have been numerous events that have happened in our lives, not by coincidence but by fate. Doctor's who just happen to be there when you need them most, co-workers who have been understanding beyond belief and for certain, guardian angels who lead us along this unknown path.
Take the time today to reflect on things that have happened in your life. People you've met and events that have happended, when you needed them most. Do you think it was just a coincidence?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Photos & Your Music Suggestions

I've just discovered that a few of my pictures have sudddenly been deleted, and I think I'm the culprit. As I said, technology is not my expertise. Please bear with me, and I will upload them again later today along with another post.

I also need to change the music, so I'd appreciate your suggestions. Just send your request in the "comment" section, and I'll try my very best to have your song available later today. Inspirational and sacred selections please!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Are You Ready for Your Oncologist's Appointment?

Yesteday my husband had another appointment with his oncologist. It was just routine, but then again, when you have cancer, very little can be classified as routine. As we entered the doors of the Cancer Clinic, it made me realize just how many times we have visited over these past two plus years. Most of you reading this post, may think that a hospital visit is not something to be very upbeat about. Probably not, but for our family, each visit has made the difference in my husband's survival.

We are very fortunate in our community to have a separate cancer facility. Although it is still contained within a central hospital system, it is used primarily only by cancer patients. After our many, many visits there, it now almost seems like we're going to visit "family", every time we enter those doors. For it is in this place where we have had to listen to the most devastating news of our lives, as well as receive very positive and encouraging reports on other occasions. Here we have met cancer patients with whom we have formed a common bond. Everyone may look different in appearance, but at the same time, they share the same goal of fighting their cancer and crossing the finish line to survival. On most appointment days, we usually have the opportunity to once again meet some of these "friends" that we've connected with. Sometimes it appears to be a chance meeting, but when I look back on it, for the most part, I believe that fate has stepped in and allowed us the opportunity to meet these patients, just when we need each other the most. Nothing is more inspiring than speaking with another cancer patient who may be taking similiar treatments and discovering what works for them, or discussing side effects that they may be experiencing.

It's also a time when we see the medical staff who are so very devoted to all cancer patients. We have become family with them as well, and there is always a smile that says "welcome". All of these professionals are so very devoted to their chosen career, and over time, one comes to realize just how committed they are to each and every patient. Whether it's the nurses in the chemo ward who are always there to answer your many questions and reassure you that everything is going ok, or the technologist who overtime can now remember your daughter's name and asks how her career is going, or the doctor's secretary who assures you she'll call first thing in the morning with your blood results, the many clinical pharmacists with whom you've developed that special relationship after many telephone inquires about your meds, or the front line secretary who always greets you with such a pleasant smile and calming voice. And last but not least, your oncologists, who have been right there with you from the beginning and who are always there to offer support and encouragement.

Yes, strangely enough, it is a place where we do feel at home.

As caregiver, I always ensure that anything that needs to be asked, is written down in advance. Nothing worse than remembering that important question, after you've left your oncologist's office and are heading home. Bring a magazine along, just in case the waiting times are lengthy as reading will help reduce stress levels and anxiety. Make notes during the oncologist's examination, in case you may need to refer back to something at a later date. It's so very easy to forget what is being said, and once outside, believe me you will forget if it's not written down. Don't hesitate to ask your oncologist any questions that may be on your mind. It may seem very trivial, but it will help eliviate stress levels if he/she can resolve questions that are on your mind.

Good luck on your next oncologist's visit! I trust you will reunite as well with patients whom you may have met on previous visits and I hope you can also feel somewhat "at home" at your health care facility. Take the time to look around your health care facility, ask about resources that might be available to you or your family and introduce yourself to another cancer patient or caregiver. The rewards will be immeasurable!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Take Time to Sooth the Soul

I remembered how much I relied on music when I could not be at home with my husband due to work commitments. I downloaded a CD with songs that have always been in my musical repetoire over our many years of marriage. Songs from our "courting" days, from our wedding day, sacred music for spiritual solace, songs that have really meant something to both of us over our years together, and some that were just upbeat to help give me inspiration to keep going on difficult days. The one constant to remember when playing your favourite music, is to keep it loud!!! My solace is increased as I increase the volumn.

All of us as patients or caregivers, need to take that time to find that solace. Regeneration is good for everyone and it helps to put our problems and adversities in a different perspective.
My husband loves to fill up our many bird feeders and watch as various fowl come to visit.
It is relaxing to listen to their distinct calls and he's always amazed at the many varieties that frequent our property.
Each of us has our own way of finding peace in our often turmoil world. It may be by taking a walk along a beach, or just watching your favorite sunset. If you are fortunate to live near the ocean, as we are, then listen to it's roar and watch the waves roll in. Maybe you have a family pet that provides hours of comfort for you and helps take your mind off your struggles. Spend time with nature and you will be rewarded. Each and everyone of us should take look at the little things in life and prioritize. We all live in a very fast-paced, hectic and sometimes way too busy routine. It is usually not until a health crisis suddenly comes into our lives, that we realize just what really is important and what should take priority.
It's not the hours you spend at work, the amount of money you make or where you may take that vacation this year that should be the main theme of your life. It's the little things, and taking time to enjoy them should be top priority for all of us.
Hope you enjoy the photos today and I trust you will take the time to spend time with family, find solace and smell the roses along life's highway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What to "Do" When Someone You Know Has Cancer

Since my husband has been diagnosed with cancer, I've been approached by many people who ask the question "I want to reach out to family and friends who are struggling with cancer, but don't know exactly what to do. Would you have any suggestions?" First and foremost for all of us to remember, is that every person's situation is different. I can relate our experiences to you, but once again it will only be a guideline.

All patients and caregivers react to a diagnosis of cancer in their own specific way. Some may become withdrawn and absolutely do not wish to speak about it at all. Others may need absolute privacy during this very difficult time, as they try to deal with the physical and emotional aspect. Some patients may be very ill, while others may appear relatively well. Each situation is completely different, so we all need to step back and take time to "think" before we "act"! Remember that those affected, will need time themselves to deal with the initial shock of their diagnosis, as well as their caregivers and families.

My first advice is to just be there for patients and their caregivers and family. Talk to a family member to let them know you are thinking about them and to see if there is anything you can do. Assess the situation first before rushing in.

I remember one thing that really played havoc on all of us once we arrived back home from the hospital and my husband was feeling miserable, was a ringing telephone. Such a simple thing, isn't it? Maybe it was the fact that none of us had very much sleep during this time and it seems that darn phone would always ring, just when you were settling down to rest. Or more important, just when my husband finally fell off to sleep after a very restless night, that phone would ring and he'd instantly wake. It is natural that most people would call the family home at this time, but in situtions where the patient may not be feeling well, it's best to check with a family member first.
Respect the family's privacy at this time as well. Instantly their lives have been turned around, and they need this time to spend together. They don't need people constantly stopping by at the most inappropriate times. It is important for all of us to remember that this is the family's time now, so please wait your turn for when the time is right. Why don't you mail a card to show you are thinking about them. Don't worry that the card itself may not be cancer specific, but a "Thinking of You" will be perfect. We received lovely cards during our initial return home from the hospital and we still remember each and every individual who sent one. It was a wonderful way to let us know that they were there if we needed them.

If you really want to do something, preparing a nutritious meal for the patient and their family would be an excellent idea. Who has time to do that when your loved one is very ill? Everyone needs to maintain a healthy eating ritual, so make that meal and quickly deliver it without inviting yourself inside. Of course, as I said earlier, every situation is different, so if the patient and family are open to visitors, then accept the invitation inside.

Once you do have an opportunity to visit the patient, please don't make your conversation all about "cancer".....don't even bring up the topic, unless the patient wishes to discuss it. Talk about usual topics and not constantly bring up the "C" word. The patient needs diversion at this time. Don't talk about someone else you previously knew you also had cancer and about the difficult time they had or how sick they may have looked. That is the worse possibly thing you could do!!!! What patient with any illness wants to hear that??? I've had people tell me similiar stories of their loved ones and how much they may have endured during their journey. As much as I appreciated what they may have gone through and that they needed to talk with others about their struggles, that is not what I wanted to hear when our family was trying to deal with our own crisis. You can never compare how two individuals react to illness, so don't cause additional stress to patients and their families by talking about what others may have endured. Try not to talk to the patient about another person who may have recently lost his/her battle with cancer, unless it is someone who they may have known personally. Visits to funeral homes as well, should be kept to a minimum and never ask a cancer patient if he/she will be going to the funeral home or service. If they want to, they will attend without your urging....once again each situation is different so this is just a suggestion. You need to keep them as positive as possible! They already have so much to deal with as a cancer patient and we can all imagine just how difficult it must be at times to keep that positive mind. Our experiences have proven without a doubt, that a patient who does not dwell on negativity, can beat the odds. One who keeps his mind occupied with other things than the cancer diagnosis, is a very strong ingredient to survival!
If a cancer patient is feeling relatively well and would love to have company, then by all means, check with the family first and then go visit. Maybe a short drive would be the perfect thing to do, or sitting outside to have a nice chat. Let the patient lead the way and you follow. Let them know you care about them and you are there for them.

Our family could not spend every minute of every day together while my husband was convalenscing, so we "escaped" from our home whenever we could all spend time together. We felt that if we stayed at home, we would have company for sure, and neither myself nor daughers, wanted to share our precious time with my husband, with anyone else. It was "our" time, and if leaving home was the way to spend it together with no interruptions, then that's what we did. We'd take short drives at first or visit nearby beaches on a Sunday afternoon. On days when my husband was feeling relatively good, we'd escape for sure and that was our special time together!

Don't overstay your visits! Our friends and family have been very understanding. They know that for the most part, my husband goes to bed early, so they respect that and know the appropriate time to leave. Rest is so important to any patient, and especially if someone is receiving chemo or radiation treatments, feeling tired is the norm, and rest is very critical.

We know personally that dealing with cancer can be a very difficult journey. There will be times when everything will appear very normal, but other times when the patient and families are dealing with difficult test results, medical issues and restless nights. Overtime, many of you will get caught up in your own personal lives and if things seem to be going well for the patient, you just might not keep in touch as often. Remember, that the patient is still living with that diagnosis everyday, so don't wait too long to let him/her know that you still care. Patients always need inspiration to help them get through very difficult days, so don't ever forget that they need your support and encouragement!!!
A cancer diagnosis can also be very expensive for patients and their families. Travel to hospitals for oncologist's appointments and testing, not to mention cancer fighting drugs can reap havoc on their finances. Some patients are forced to sell their homes and relinquish their hard earned savings. Keep this in mind, if you may be discussing your vacations or new purchases. Now is not the time grateful for your own blessings.

Just "be there" for cancer patients and their families. The best help you can provide is inspiration, encouragement and support to the patient, the caregiver and their immediate family. It will form a lasting relationship and your rewards will be immeasurable!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Soundtrack Added Today.....Yes!!!

I've finally figured it to add music to my site! So it just goes to show, that anyone can do anything!

Some of the songs are louder than others, so you'll have to adjust your volume accordingly until I have all the bugs worked out. I've listed sacred and easy listening music, along with some up-beat get-up-and-g0 tempos. The music will automatically start once you've hit the "icon " on the player at the right. I've installed it this was, as some viewers may not wish to hear music at all. You can also scroll through the list of songs I've added.

If there's something you would like to hear while viewing my site, just send me an email or leave a comment...I'll do my very best to have it here for you.

Hope you enjoy the music...

My husband will be paying particular attention to "In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride, as he is the proud father of two very wonderful daughters who have always been there to inspire him along this cancer journey.

The words for "Just Stand Up" are included in my blog from September's the link..if you'd like to sing along.

A Bouquet - Just For You!

Sending you all this beautiful bouquet to help brighten your day!

I'm thinking of my readers who may be having a difficult day with diagnosis, treatments or just coping. Always remember that whether you are a patient, caregiver, family or friend - you are never alone along this journey with cancer!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
Lance Armstrong

Keep the Faith!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Informative Link for RCC Patients - New Treatments Bring New Hope

I'm providing another link, especially for newer RCC patients that consists of 4 different videos that are "very" informative with regard to some of the newer treatments that are presently available. Each video is approx 10-15 min in length. The terminology may be more suited for medical experts, but for the most part, you'll have no problems in interpreting the message. My original intent last night, was to watch only the first video, but they were so interesting, that I just had to view all four sets before finishing. I take no credit for finding this website, as the link was sent to me from my partnet in crime....oh, and did I mention, one of my dearest on-line friends, Mary, who has been there since we first met on a chat forum. For those of us who are more familiar with some of these chemo drugs, the content was still very informative and I'm sure it will provide alot of hope to cancer patients who choose to visit the site.

I'm going to list a couple of the chemo drugs as discussed in these videos for your reference, by their more familiar name:

Sunitinib is the pharmaceutical name for SUTENT developed by Pfizer

Temsirolimus is the pharmaceutical name for TORISEL developed by Wyeth®%20(temsirolimus)%20Injection/Torisel®%20(temsirolimus)%20Injection_overview.html

Once again, I'd appreciate your comments after you've watched the videos.....

Live Webcast from KCC - Sept 17th

Kidney Cancer Canada is hosting a live webcast on Wednesday evening at 7:00pm (EDT) entitled "Understanding Your Pathology Report" by Dr. Andrew Evans, Staff Pathologist at the University Health Network in Toronto. It no doubt will be a very informative presentation for patients and their families to watch on-line. You just need to click on the following website before that time to attend via the Internet. You will have the option of viewing it directly as a "Guest" or you can create a login name and password for future visits.

This should be a very informative presentation for lay people like myself, who are not knowledgeable on the medical terminology that is used in reports or by our oncologists. I'm sure it will be very beneficial as well to all cancer patients, caregivers and their families and not specifically for kidney cancer patients alone.

Take the time to check out the KCC (Kidney Cancer Canada) website as well, as it offers support and information, as well as a discussion forum.

One more item to note, since my topic references a patients pathology report. Always make certain that your oncologist provides you with a copy of your report to take home with you, after every scan or MRI or other testing. It is important that you receive a full report on paper. Most of us never hear the entirety of exactly what the oncologist is saying when we visit for test results, but if you take it home, then you can always reference it. It is especially important for the caregiver to receive this and keep it on file, as it will provide comparitive information against future test results. At first, my husband and I never knew we could get this as our doctor did not readily provide one. So don't forget to ALWAYS ASK for a take-home copy next time you visit your oncologist for test results.

I'll be tuning in to watch the presentation on Wednesday evening as well.........I'd appreciate it if you'd post a comment to let me know if you found it informative!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

You CAN Soar Like an Eagle

I'm still trying to find my own way around this website so please bear with me. Lots to learn about setting up this webpage and I have lots of things to add. Over time, I will get all the bugs straightened out. In the meantime, I want to give each of you a very big THANK YOU for continuing to check out this site. Everyday, there's more and more new viewers and I hope that everyday as well, someone out there is being helped by what they read.

Yesterday, my family attended the Cancer Relay for Life, with my husband walking the Survivors' Lap. Every survivor wore a bright yellow T-shirt, and it was amazing first of all, to see so many people there from our local area, who are survivors. Very inspirational to say the least, for all of us who attended! It made me wonder about how many survivors were not there for various reasons......but the main theme for all of us to realize is that cancer patients are definitely beating the odds.....BIG TIME!!!! A few years ago, the survival rate was very low, but now right across the world, the rate of survival for cancer patients is SOARING!!!!!!! Survivors that attended yesterday's event were not only 1 year survivors, but some who boasted some 10+ year survival banners.....WOW!!!

Cancer research, new cancer fighting drugs, technologies such as websites that allow those affected with cancer to learn more about what is available out there and what works, and a greater awareness by cancer patients and their families to find out everything there is about their specific type of cancer, are all making the difference towards that soaring survivor rate!(whew....that's a long sentence)

The lesson to be learned from all of this for patients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, is to not just give up. My husband didn't and neither did I or our two daughters. You keep looking and searching. The news is very shocking, the treatments may be difficult (remember though that each patient is different and just because one person has alot of side effects, another may have relatively very few) and the news of having cancer will definitely change your world around, but just don't give up!!! Your doctor will discuss your options, but also search the web for
information (I've added some links on this blog (scroll down right side under My Blogs) and there are many, many more), talk with other cancer patients and their families, participate in an on-line discussion, contact pharmaceutical companies that specialize in developing cancer fighting drugs to find out what might be avalable and what just might be looming on the horizon. Remember, there is always HOPE! Ask others in your community to form a support group that will help patients, caregivers and their families as well. For we are all affected and we all need support. No one person can fight cancer alone.

The theme that I want to leave with someone who might have recently been diagnosed is to NEVER, NEVER QUIT.....keep asking, keep searching and most of all, keep a positive attitude!!!

Remember that you can soar like an eagle if you have the courage to give it a try!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

If You Missed It, the SU2C Show is Available Here!

Here's the link from September 5th of the Stand Up for Cancer show that raised more than $100 million dollars for cancer research! Great things are happening!!

Relay for Life - Tomorrow - September 13th!!!

The Canadian Cancer Society, will hold it's Relay for Life in our community tomorrow, September 13th. It is an annual event that is held at various times right across Canada to honor cancer survivors, to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer and to bring awareness in finding a cure for cancer. It is a 12-hour overnight event that is held to "Celebrate", "Remember" and "Fight Back".

Tomorrow is an extra special Relay, as my husband will participate in the Survivors' Victory Lap!!! Watching these courageous individuals who walk in this event, will definitely inspire all of us and give strength to many. Check out your provincial site, for the date it will be held in your local area.

Please find the time to get out and support someone you may know who is participating in this event. Be there to show your support to cancer survivors as they walk the Victory Lap, sponsor a participant who walks the Relay event, buy a luminary to remember those who have lost their battle or volunteer your time for this very special event.

Each of us can contribute in own own way, to help make cancer history!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What "Not To Do" Once You Hear Someone Has Cancer

You may know of someone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. This is a very traumatic time in the patient's life as well as that of his/her family. It is a time when support is needed, but do it gradually and in the proper way. One very important thing to keep in mind, is to not intrude. You need to wait until the patient and family have time to deal with the emotional shock. The following will not be for the faint of heart, but I do need to say this honestly.

Be careful when you visit!!! Every patient's diagnosis and situation is different, so one cannot assume that however you responded to an earlier patient, it would be similiar now. If the patient is in a health care setting, don't rush right over and demand to see them. Believe me, it does happen! If you insist on going to the hospital, check first at the nursing station to see if visitors are allowed....if not, then don't persist and "please" respect the patient's or family's request if they desire "No Visitors". Maybe the patient needs complete rest, and your entrance and vocal chit-chat will only cause disruption. Maybe the patient does not wish to see anyone except the immediate family at this time, so you should be mindfull of this, and abide by their wishes. If however, visitors are allowed, then respect the hospital's visiting hours. Don't overextend them just because you were late arriving. Patients are usually on a rigid schedule and getting plenty of rest is high priority. Don't stay there for extended periods of time unless specifically asked. This will only increase stress levels for everyone!
Don't visit someone whom you have not seen for many months, just because you've heard they may be dying.......... Oh, and please don't go see the patient just on speculation, visit because you truly care. If the patient is at home, ensure to ask the family whether visiting would be appropriate. I know people usually mean well, but just take the time and think out your actions first to ensure you are not intruding. Patients, caregivers and their immediate families are already under enormous stress at this time, and believe me, any of the above only makes the situation worse as well as cause additional stress to the patient. If however the patient does not need to rest and wants to see visitors, by all means go ahead and spend that quality time. Having people around them, might just be the best medicine in many cases, so as I said earlier, every situation is different.

Leave your camera at home....please!!! If you were diagnosed with a serious illness, would you enjoy having people take your picture? Just take a moment and think about that. I know, everytime someone would press that shudder, I'd shutter in a much different way. At the end of the day it only adds more stress to the patient, knowing that those pictures might possibly be the final shot. People mean well, but just don't take the time to step back and think it all out. If you missed that photograph with your favorite person, now is not the time to have that photo memory. Patients usually look ill and have lost considerable weight and this is not the time for that photo opt. I trust everyone can respect what I am saying. Sometimes you have to be in that situation to understand.

Don't pry......please!!! Most people are fine and will never ask anything personal, but sometimes it does happen. This is not the time to ask personal questions....heck, it's never the time, unless the questions relate to you directly. Never ask patients or families personal questions about whether they have their will completed, if they have life insurance and if so, how much and other invasive inquiries. Would you appreciate the same invasion into your private lives?

Don't talk about cancer, unless the patients wants is the time to be a good listener. Try to be very normal in your conversations and not focus mainly on the patient's cancer diagnosis. If they wish to bring up the subject, then it's ok to discuss it, but if not, then respect their desire not to talk about it. Keep the conversation as normal as possible and be yourself.

For the most part, people really do want to help, but sometimes don't take the time to think of their actions...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today We Celebrate Our Anniversary.....A True Blessing!

Today, my husband and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary! So much to be thankful for! We have been blessed with two very precious and caring daughters, and we are all so grateful for my husband's courage and strength that defies all description.
He is "living" proof for other cancer patients that you can never give up. Receiving two diagnosis of "there is nothing else we can do for you" from your doctor, would certainly put most of us into deep depression, and just give up any hope of survival. Not so with him, as he continues to pass on his credo of keeping the faith He's created the script and played the lead role in his own true to life drama of "Defying the Odds".
For those who know him personally, he has become a true hero! He has shown all of us another meaning for the word "courage" that none of us could have ever imagined. He has taught all of us to ignore those things that we once thought to be high priority in our lives, and to focus on just what is truly important.
We have realized just what is important in life, and tonight we will spend time with family and friends. No gifts by request, for the greatest gift is their friendship which we have come to realize is the most important.
Yes, we have been truly blessed!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hallelujah! We're Actually Having a "Normal" Day!!!

When your family is affected by cancer, it seems like the word "normal" puts on a completely different definition. One that neither Webster's nor Wikipedia can define. You have to live with cancer as patients, caregivers or family members, in order to understand just what I mean.

All of us take so much for granted, until something tramatic enters our lives. What once seemed high priority, is now very trivial in the overall picture of life. I remember two years ago after my husband came home from the hospital with the three month longevity, to say it was a traumatic time, would be putting it mildly. That is why today, I have the greatest of respect for anyone dealing with cancer, as well as their entire family. My having to work everyday to keep our family business going while leaving my husband at home, certainly didn't help with my level of anxiety, but you step up to the plate and do whatever needs to be done at the time. I remember longing for just a brief moment back then, to have things return to our normal way of life. I'd give anything to have my husband just walk through the door after a day at work, and I'd be preparing supper, as would be the scenario before any of this happened. We'd been married for almost thirty years when our lives suddenly came crashing down on us, and to just have one small moment of normalcy again, was more than I could ever hope for.

After several months of convalescing at home and his introduction to a new cancer drug, would you believe he did return to work? I remember his first day at work without me hovering over him and his return home later that day for supper. As I heard him unlock our front door, our dog barking to welcome him home and I in the kitchen preparing supper, I realized in that instant that we were experiencing a "normal" moment in our lives! Many months earlier, we never would have thought it was even possible, but miracles do happen if you keep the faith!

Enjoy your "normal" moments and days....we are proof that they can happen!!!

Monday, September 08, 2008


Hope most of you had the opportunity to see some of this past weekend's televised special "Stand Up 2 Cancer". Patrick Swazee amazed us all with his inspirational appearance on the show, along with numerous well-known celebrities to help raise awareness for cancer and aid in the research for new cancer treating innovations. Many cancer patients told their stories of how they have endured the highs and lows of having cancer, how they have benefitted with the new technological advancements being made, and how keeping a positive attitude is vital.

Never give up hope, because there is always something new being tested, and looming on the horizon for cancer patients. Just when we thought everything that was available for my husband was exhausted, a new drug became available for him to try. Focus on things for which you have a passion, whether it be enjoying your friends company, learning a new craft, sharing your experiences with other cancer patients and their families or just keeping busy.

The goal is to never quit, keep positive and together we can all "Stand Up 2 Cancer"!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Stand Up To Cancer

Don't forget to watch the "Stand up to Cancer" on ABC, NBC and CBS networks this weekend. You can check it out at the following link and here's the song that was composed for this event.

Just Stand Up

The heart is stronger than you think, it's like it can go through anything
And even when you think it can't, It finds a way to still push on...though

Sometimes you want to run away, Ain't got the patience for the pain
And if you don't believe it, look into your heart...the beat goes on!

I'm telling you that things get better, through whatever,
If you fall, dust it off, don't let up
Don't you know you can your own miracle
You need to know.

If the mind keeps thinking you've had enough
But the heart keeps telling you.....DON'T GIVE UP
Who are we to be questioning, wondering what is what?
DON'T GIVE UP.....through it all "Just Stand Up"!!!

It's like we all have better days, problems getting all up in your face
Just because you go through it, don't mean it, got to take control, no.

You ain't gotta find no hiding place, because the heart can beat the hate
Don't wanna let your mind keep playin' you
And sayin' can't go on...I'm tellin' you that

Things get better, through whatever,
If you fall, dust it off, don't let up!
Don't you know you can your own need to know.

If the mind keeps thinkin' you've had enough
But if the heart keeps telling you......DON'T GIVE UP
Who are we to be questioning, Wondering what is what?
DON'T GIVE UP.....through it all "Just stand up"!!

You don't gotta be a prisoner in your mind, If you fall, dust it off
You can live your life, yeah! Let your heart be your guide, yeah, yeah, yeah!
And you will know that you're good if you trust in the good
Everything will be alright, yeah
Light up the dark, if you follow your heart and it will get better
Through whatever.

If the mind keeps thinkin' you've had enough
But if the heart keeps tellin' you......DON'T GIVE UP!
Who are we to be questioning, Wondering what is what?
DON'T GIVE UP.....through it all "Just stand up"!!

If the mind keeps thinkin' you've had enough
But if the heart keeps tellin' you.....DON'T GIVE UP!
Who are we to be questioning, Wondering what is what?
DON'T GIVE UP.....through it all "Just stand up"!!

You got it in you, find it within
You got it in now, find it within now.
You got it in you, find it within
You got it in now, find it within now.

You got it in you, Find it within, You got it in you, Find it within now, Find it within you, Find it within.

Through it all......JUST STAND UP!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Comments Appreciated

As this is my first attempt at ever creating a website, there are quite a few concepts that I have yet to learn about it's overall format. I am requesting that you would please leave a comment whenever you read one of my posts. Tell me what you think, what you'd like to see added to my website, what needs to be taken away, and any other improvements or comments you feel would benefit those that I am hoping to reach.

If you or your family are dealing with cancer, please tell us about your journey.

It is only through your comments that I can determine whether this site is fulfilling it's purpose of providing information and inspiration to cancer patients, their caregivers and families.
Your email is never shown and you have the option to remain anonymous if so desired.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Caregivers, You Have to Take the Lead

As you begin your role as caregiver, Mother Nature automatically kicks in and you realize it is up to you to become the advocate for your loved one. I have found that this is definitely not the best capacity in which you will win friends and family, but it is one of the most important roles that you will ever have, as you do everything in your power to care for the patient. Sometimes, that might mean going to the extreme, but if that's what it takes, then that's what you do.

Many times over these past months I have changed my persona from a meek and somewhat mild human being to a caregiver who realized I needed to establish my own task force, don the commando armour and become chief of whatever it takes to protect and serve my husband in his Cancer Battle.

It will consist of worry and sleepless nights as you try to diagnose the problems and think of the what-ifs, a cell phone constantly by your side for those times when you cannot be there, and staying close to home, if at all possible. You become the director of medical records as you record appointments, tests and results. You follow-up when someone else forgets to call you back and you ensure that medications are readily available when needed for stomach upset, headache, pain, or the slightest cough. You learn how to take blood pressures, temps and give needles. You learn about which meds go with what aches and pains and you constantly keep abreast of every new drug test, reports and whatever might be just around the corner in case the present treatment is not working. When asked numerous times how I've gotten through this myself, I always repeat this quote "This is a journey that I would never wish anyone to take, but one for which I have been very blessed to travel". That says it all, for every caregiver is more than willing to do whatever needs to be done.

Ruffling feathers is a "given" and when this happens, you don't let it bother you. Do what you think is right at the time and what is best for the patient. As caregiver, you will have to set out the perimeters and the "way it will be" for others to sometimes follow.

In our family for instance, we have always stuck to the battle cry that neither I nor anyone else

will choose what route we'll take along this highway, for it is solely up to my husband and his decision alone. We support him fully and follow his lead. Many, will of course give you their suggestions as to what they would do in similiar situations, what types of medicine should be taken or types of treatment should be followed. We fully understand that people are only trying to help, but in the end, it's not my decision or anyone else's, it is solely my husband's! After all, he is the patient, he is the one who has to endure the results and he is the one who knows what is best for him.

Caregivers are not just one person in the is the entire family. My husband is very blessed to have two wonderful daughters who are always there for him. Together, we all encourage him to keep the faith, never quit and do whatever he feels is best for him.

I trust that by reading this website, it will provide information to caregivers and encourage them through difficult times. It is important to note that as caregivers we also experience the seven emotions of


loss of control,





My poem at the right of this website, will describe some of my personal experiences when I first endured the shock of my husband's "terminal cancer" and I'm adding the following link for additional information that will describe each of these emotions in detail to you when a person and their caretaker hears this life changing news.

As caregivers, we can all only do our best! It is not something for which we have been trained to do. Supporting each other is very important and if you are fortunate, as I have been to have met other caregivers in similiar situations, don't be afraid to ask questions not only about the patient, but also about yourself.

Remember, the most important rule of all is to "take care of yourself".....your loved one needs your support!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Never, Never Quit

My husband was given a very special gift last year. It was from another person who has been courageously fighting cancer for several years, and who is continuing to beat the odds. The words engraved upon this granite stone "Never, Never Quit" are words that every cancer patients should definitely live by. There will be many difficult days to overcome, but one of the main ingredients to win this battle is to never give up, even when you think it's just too hard to keep going. Remember, you are admired by everyone who knows you, you are showing others just what the word "courage" means and you are an inspiration to all those who know, love and care about you.

Yesterday, I heard a story of a young man who had recently been given six months to live. He had only been married for five years and the father of a beautiful daughter. After hearing this death sentence from his doctor, he gave up his inspiration to keep going and passed away a short time ago.

My husband has been sent home twice to die! We believe that if he had not been committed to never quit, then he definitely would have succumbed to his cancer a long time ago. It is up to you! Stay away from negativity, keep busy, and I hope that all those around you will do everything in their power to help you maintain a positive attitue and most of all, NEVER, NEVER QUIT!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Necessities for Your Home

My husband and I have learned that the following items are essential to always have at home. Monitoring your blood pressure when receiving chemotherapy is vital and having a personal blood pressure cuff close by is a must-have. Some chemo meds can raise a cancer patient's blood pressure quite dramatically, and with this device always at hand, you will know instantly whether there is a need to contact your doctor for further advice. It is not necessary to purchase the most expensive model on the market, but one at mid-range should be quite adequate. A battery operated monitor showing blood pressure and heart rate that we purchased at a local department store, has been our reassurance on numerous occasions when my husband's blood pressure was fluctuating from high to extremely high and even low.

It's also a good practice to keep a notebook handy to record the date and time when the blood pressure was taken, as well as the current readings. Check with your physician on what he/she might consider a normal reading, as blood pressures vary, depending on the patient and their medical condition. These at- home models may not be as accurate as the one in your doctor's office, but their readings are a good indicator of how your B/P is doing. Oh, and one more tip for the patient........always take a few minutes to relax before taking your blood pressure to ensure you get a more reliable reading.

Having a thermometer at home is also a necessity. If you think a fever may be brewing, always check your temperature to prevent further problems. When taking chemotherapy, there is a limit to what is considered normal, and after you've reached that number, then most doctors advise that you should seek medical attention. Once again, check with your oncologist or chemo nurse, as they are the ones who can advise you properly.

These are inexpensive items you should have at home that will help to keep a closer check on the patient and as caregiver, help to ease your mind in the middle of the night. They have become invaluable in our home!