Thursday, September 23, 2010

Storms Give Us Strength

Today was the calm after the storm.  We were in the path of a hurricane yesterday which brought alot of destruction to our island.  Electrical power is still out in many areas since yesterday, roads are washed completely away. Huge caverns appear where only yesterday morning, highways existed.  Heavy flooding has left many homeless with properties in ruin and windswept landscapes have left fallen trees with mass lawn erosions.  The fury of nature can be seen everywhere. 

Our hearts go out to the family of our lone fatality....such a terrible loss!

Today however brought rainbows, blue skies and calm seas........

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.

For those of us who have lived with CANCER, there have been many a stormy day to endure.....but just like yesterday's hurricane, there will be calmer days ahead so stay strong and you WILL whether the storm!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Info on Cancer Stats

I have been researching a bit more info with regards to cancer stats and I will provide a few links for you to obtain additional information that might help to clarify my post of yesterday a little better.  I of course am just a novice in any of this, so please understand that this is information that I am pulling from internet sources.

Why are cancer stats for the most part always determined within a five-year survival rate?  My opinion would be due to the fact that cancer is difficult to predetermine and providing five-year stats gives a better perspective.  Here is a link from The Mayo Clinic as well as Wikipedia  

Here is a link posted on The National Cancer Institutes site where you can determine the stats for your paticular type of cancer based on a rate from 1988 to 2006.  For the most part, especially if you look up kidney cancer in males in the 50+ age range, there is a dramatic decline in the survival rate of patients during that time.  Now however, based on my post of yesterday, and from all ages and genders of patients, it shows an increase in the survival rate of kidney cancer patients from 60% now up to 67%.  I personally think the latter is great news and I also personally know that kidney cancer patients are living longer and are also living with a very good quality of life for the most part.

How do I know?  Well, back in 2006, the medical experts in our area knew very little about kidney cancer - we know that for a fact!  Maybe it's because they have so many other types of cancer that they deal with on a daily basis - still no excuse though in our fast paced technological world where information can be obtained in an instant at the touch of a computer keyboard.

One thing I know for sure is:

  • Kidney cancer patients are living longer now because of new treatments that have been introduced since 2006 - as my husband was among one of the first ones in our area to begin Sutent treatment back then.
  • Patients are becoming more informed about their type of cancer and their caregivers/advocates are asking more questions of the medical specialists and not giving up until they find the right answers.
  • Patients with kidney cancer and other types of cancer are obtaining more support from other patients/caregivers through mediums such as blogs, chat forums, etc. and they can now obtain information on types of treatments that are available and how to get them, even if your oncologist cannot!
  • Patients are looking at their cancer as a chronic disease more and more, and not thinking of their cancer as a death sentence.  It's all in the attitude - and the patient's determination to never quit!
I really don't think that effective stats can be produced right now to determine a fairly accurate 10-year survival rate, as in the earlier years of this range, there was not enough information out there to derive the appropriate information.  

The main thing for cancer patients to keep in mind, is that cancer stats are improving for the majority of the different types of cancer.  Survival rates are going up and any patient with cancer in today's new technological innovative society, is in a much better place, then they were five years ago!!!

Keep strong, keep the faith and NEVER QUIT!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cancer Survival Rates Are Going Up !!!

Great news today from Stats Canada in an article entitled

"An Update on Cancer Survival"

seems that for many types of cancer, survival rates have increased dramatically and as I have written before, receiving a diagnosis of cancer DOES NOT mean that you are definitely dying - it does mean however that you have a chronic disease just like those who have diabetes or heart disease.

Click the following link to read more 

I hope you will be encouraged after reading this so keep positive, don't think of the negatives but "always" focus on the good news about cancer!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Take a Second Look

 We all complain... sometimes it's about the weather, about the news, or maybe about all of the things that have to get done today that should have been done yesterday....and the list goes on.  Having cancer in your life sure puts a whole different perspective on things.  

Yes, there are days in our family that we think things are not going so well, but when you see others who have it sooo much worse, then it's a wake up call to appreciate everything you have.

Last week I was in a restaurant in the city having breakfast.  A couple came in who we have known for the past few months.  The husband has had cancer now for several years and recently his wife was diagnosed.  She underwent surgery and is presently on treatment.  While his wife was ordering breakfast, he whispered to me that just a few days ago, he returned to his oncologist for a medical report, only to discover now that his cancer has returned more aggressively than ever.  He is the one who is the primary caregiver to his wife so I can only imagine what an incredibly difficult situation that must be. 

We continued with breakfast and conversation and I couldn't help but notice when the waitress brought their order, that it consisted of one slice of toast and one cup of coffee.  Maybe not that unusual you might think, but after watching them share that meager breakfast, it put things into perspective for me all too well.  You see, having cancer can be very expensive with treatments, prescriptions, travel, hospital stays and apparently this couple are really finding it financially challenging.  It was very sad to see, but at the same time it made me realize that our complaints are very minimal compared to what so many others have to contend with on a daily basis.

I would never attempt to offer them any monies personally, but no doubt there will soon be an anonymous something showing up in their mailbox. 

Yes, next time I start complaining, I just need to reflect back to that encounter last week.

No matter how challenging we sometimes think our lives are, take time to take a second look as there is always someone out there who has it worse!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Live Chat Tonight

Another reminded about our first Live Chat tonight at 7:00pm ET. Just click the Cancer Chat Forum Tag at the top of this page, scroll down to view the chat.  I'll look forward to meeting you, as well as chatting with my regular viewers.

This is a wonderful way to meet other cancer patients and caregivers, exchange ideas and concerns and most of all to get support from those who truly understand.  You can remain "Anonymous" or just provide your first name - the choice is yours!  Hope to see you there!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Bit of This and That

As you may have noticed, I'll be changing the backgrounds to my blog quite frequently.  Change is good!

I have also added a CROSSWORD PUZZLE at the right for those of you who enjoy completing a daily one.  Enjoy Bindy!!!  Crosswords are great to energize your mind so I trust you all will give it a try.

I will also be having a LIVE CHAT on Monday, Sept. 13th @ 7:00 ET so I will look forward to meeting you!  Just click the tab "Chat Forum" at the top of this page, then enter your first name in the Guest area at the bottom of the chat forum, and click the Signin button.  Then you will be ready to post your question or comment.  Give it a try before Monday, to ensure that you understand just how it works.

That's it for now...enjoy today's music!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Through the Years

My husband and I are celebrating our Wedding Anniversary today.  It's a day in which we both count our blessings for all the goodness that we have been given, not only during our marriage, but more especially during these last four years since my husband was first diagnosed with terminal cancer.  A diagnosis like that, definitely puts the important things of life into perspective.

The little things that we once probably didn't even notice before, have now become the focal point of our everyday lives. As I reflect back to our wedding day and our vows of "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" neither of us of course never anticipated our journey with cancer, but we both count our blessings everyday.

We know for many families who are dealing with cancer, your situations are much worse.  Only yesterday I talked with a close friend whose sister passed away earlier this week with cancer, while another friend attended the funeral of her relative today, who also passed away due to cancer.  Yesterday as well, I was told of a close friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer while another lady awaits a very grave diagnosis of this disease.  Although both my husband and I try not to put cancer in the forefront of our lives, we of course cannot ignore it's presence and it brings it so much closer to home when you hear of another family who is struggling with all that cancer brings.

 If you are one of those families, please know that you are never alone.  We have learned that no matter how difficult some days may be or how uncertain your future appears at times, no one can truly predict "what tomorrow holds" so enjoy "today to the fullest"!  We have learned that many healthy people pass away suddenly without warning so don't dwell on your cancer.  Live your life as normal as possible and most of all, keep positive!

My husband and I won't be exchanging anniversary gifts, but we will receive very precious gifts......

the company of our children, our family and our friends and the blessing of celebrating another anniversary together...

We could not ask for anything more!!!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blueberries Anyone?

If you Google blueberries and their benefits in fighting cancer, you will be surprised to find that these berries have the highest antioxidants compared to twenty other daily varieties of fruit. Just click the following link for more great information on the excellent benefits of eating blueberries...

Today, my husband and I went blueberry picking.  It's the first time we have done this for quite a few years and to be honest, I really never would have thought we would do that again a few months ago, but voila, there we were encompassed in a field of blueberries this afternoon.  (Note to Self:  Never say Never)   They were everywhere!!!  All I had to do was sit and pick and our final tally brought us well over a gallon of these precious berries.  There were other advantages as well to picking those berries today.  Lots of fresh air that ordinarily we might not have gotten, the opportunity to be totally in touch with nature - hearing only the wind blowing through the trees and the sound of wild birds chirping.  Ah.....such peace and solitude!!!  Good for the mind and good for the soul.

If you live in an area that offers you an opportunity to go pick some blueberries, then GO DO IT!  The rewards will be felt both physically and mentally.

  You will get a chance to enjoy solitude and be refreshed as you breath in nature's peacefulness.

Monday, September 06, 2010

How Does Your Country Rank Against Canada?

Most of you by now may have possibly read the latest edition of the Reader's Digest and one article in particular entitled "Map of Shame".  It describes Canada's provincial standing with regards to accessibility of cancer fighting drugs to those patients who need them most.  I am posting the link here for you to read, and I will write my comments about this article shortly.

For those of you who live in Canada, take a very close look at the chart below which outlines the number of deaths per 100,000 people for each province and the amount of dollars per capita for cancer agency.  Albeit, this report was initially published in 2004-2005.

(Source: “Your money or Your Life II” by Dr. William Hryniuk and Dr. Anthony Miller, Cancer Care in Canada, Winter 2004-05)

Now for a little more up-to-date information, you may want to read the following 
by the Cancer Advocacy Coalition.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Are You Part of a Team?

Strange title isn't it?  Let me explain....

Last week while we were at the cancer clinic, my husband was first screened by a new doctor before he saw his regular oncologist.

The new doctor began to explain to us a little about RCC and about the treatments, side effects, and all of the other good stuff that go along with having cancer (now I am being a bit sarcastic when I use the word good). After hearing what the new physician had to say, then it was our turn, my husband and I.  We both relayed some of my husband's medical history, the pitfalls that we have encountered along the way, how my husband has been sent home, not once, not twice but three times and taken off all treatments since he was first diagnosed and the list goes on..................

The doctor knew instantly that both of us knew so much more about my husband's type of cancer than most patients and their caregivers do.  That was no surprise to us at all, but I think we threw this new doctor a loop so to speak.  I am sure that most of his patients never add additional information on what he has already told them, I am sure they probably never ask for copies of ALL medical tests that are completed, I am sure that most patients/caregivers cannot recite all of the treatment names and dates on which they were first started and suddenly stopped, and I am sure that most patients don't keep a carbon copy of most everything that has happened from hospital stays to doctor visits since first being diagnosed with cancer.  I could tell that this new doctor was a little impressed, if that is the right word to use about both my husband's and my knowledge of his cancer journey.  The doctor looked at us after his initial consultation and with a smile said:

"I can tell that you and your husband are a TEAM"

Yes, I never really thought about it like that, the fact that we are a team, but I guess that statement is very true.  I have learned that both patient and his/her caregiver must be a team in order to ensure that the patient is getting the best possible care and treatments that are out there.  Sometimes it can be a stressful position to be in, but it's well worth all the effort you put into it.  

If you are a patient who is battling cancer, it is vital that you have someone right by you to be your advocate and your second voice, second sight, and second set of ears who will hear things that you as a patient will most definitely not even hear when your doctor is giving you test results or asking you important information if you become ill.  Sometimes I don't even hear all the info, but I do try to write the important things down that you will need to refer to at a later time.

So being on a team is very important for any cancer patient.  If you don't have that someone special to make you a team, then don't delay...go find him/her today!  It's probably going to be one of the most difficult jobs they will ever have, but it well be one of the most rewarding and worthwhile one in all of their lives!