Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Healthier 2012

Didn't get a chance to post my Christmas wishes here but now I wanted to send everyone best wishes for a Happy and Healthier New Year in 2012.

This past year has been a challenging one for my husband, but he continues to face each adversity with courage and determination to once again, NEVER QUIT!  I trust that each and everyone of you will do the same.

My wish to everyone in 2012 is for good health, love of family and friends and peace for all!  Let us not forget those courageous warriors who have passed away in 2011 and let us never forget the legacy that they leave behind for each of us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

B12 - Another Health Enhancer

My husband takes one B12 tablet everyday (it was originally recommended by another cancer patient) - that's another reason why his last blood report was PERFECT as I have previously mentioned.

Always ask your doctor before starting any new medication or vitamins but from our perspective, the B12 will definately enhance you health!

I'll be posting again before Christmas so stay tuned!!!  Oh and don't forget, NEVER QUIT!!!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Have You Eaten FISH Today?

I have without a doubt realized the nutritional value of cancer patients eating fish.  I have been serving fish in various varieties to my husband over the past two to three months and the results are amazing - no let's say jaw-dropping so you can better realize the difference it has made to him nutritionally.

I have served up fresh fish, mussels, cod tongues, fish cakes, and salmon.  Whatever fish variety is available in your area will work.  Sometimes he has had fish for lunch and then another version of it for supper.  It has omega 3 fats and does not have chemically induced enhancers so right away that puts it in the forefront for nutritional value.  The servings may not be large in portion, but they are nutritional.

I don't have to google "nutritional value of fish" as I know for certain it is a wonder food for those who are not feeling well, and more especially for cancer patients who have lost considerable weight.  My husband's last blood test was "excellent".....that's EXCELLENT!!!  His doctor told him that everthing on his blood report was in perfect order so you can't ask for better than that.  That is major accomplishment after being so ill at the end of August!!!

It's a combination of everything - not just the fish, but the orange juice, the nightly smoothie shakes, and always nutritional snacks inbetween. If you are having trouble with appetite, try this combination and I'm sure you will find a difference.  It's not going to happen overnight - it will take diligence on your caretaker's part to ensure you have all of these nutritients coming your way and of course it will take adherence on your part as a cancer patient to stick with it!!!  You CAN do it!

I know it has worked for my husband so that's verifies it for us.  Everyone agrees that he is doing sooo much better and looking great!!!  Need I say more?

Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going so start today and remember to NEVER QUIT!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

If Something's Not Right, Just Fix It

Rec'd my husband's next apptment date yesterday in the mail.  The date was fine but it was scheduled with another doctor so that kind of got me to wondering.  Rather than wonder too long, I picked up the telephone and called our oncologist's secretary.  She is the kindest lady one could ever wish to know.  Always very obliging and nothing is ever too much for her to check out.  Seems I have called her several times this past year alone, but always for good reason.

So yesterday when I asked if my husband's oncologist was sick or had moved away due to the change in doctor on his next apptment, she assured me that the info needed to be checked out as there must be some mistake.  She thanked me for calling and bringing it to her attention. Within two minutes my phone was ringing and another secretary was calling to say she had booked my husband's apptment incorrectly with the wrong doctor!!!  No problem, at least the error had been corrected before his apptment date.

Lesson to note here is to never hesitate to check things out such as apptment dates, prescriptions, medical tests and advice if things just don't seem right.  We have experienced errors in all of the above and then some, but after all, I guess human error does happen.  Be vigilant though - it is your right!!!  No one in the medical field should ever mind you giving them a call..if they do, then that's their problem because you do need to get it right!!!

Take care everyone - it's blowing a gale in my part of the world tonight.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Looking Good!

My husband had a follow-up six week appointment with his oncologist just a few days ago and I'm happy to report that his doctor was amazed at his improvement since last visit!!!  Whoa.....just goes to show that you can Never Quit as I keep saying. 

So what do I account this transformation to?  First of all - be consistent with eating nutritously - for those who are new to this blog go back a few posts and read about the orange juice, my super nutritously powered smoothie and the recipe for morning porridge just to name a few.  Secondly it's always good to seek another opinion which we did and the more medical input you have, the better your chances are at resolving medical issues that are making you feel ill.  Third and very important is that in our house - we "always" keep the atmosphere POSITIVE!!!  I can't say that word enough.  I absolutely hate when people visit and they are gloom and doom and then if they see my husband not looking great, nothing is said to encourage him.  Some visitors on the other hand "always" keep the conversation encouraging and they are the ones you can count on to help lift my husband's spirits just when he needs that most of all.  Remember that it only takes one small negative comment to bring down anyone's day, and more especially if you are already having a bad one.  So remember everyone, keep the conversation positive, and uplifting and don't focus on talking about cancer, or how anyone is feeling but talk about what should be a normal everyday conversation whenever you speak with cancer patients.

A few days ago a good friend came with me to run an errand.  Along the way I met several people and each of them asked how my husband was doing.  That was fine, but my friend realized this must be a common question everytime I go out.  She wondered how I've managed to keep my sanity in all of this and believe me at times it's not easy but I have learned the best answer to give is "he is feeling alot better or he is feeling good"...that way there's no need to go into detail and while I appreciate their care to even ask how he is feeling, it does get a bit trying on me over time.  His cancer is not like having major surgery and then getting on with your life, it's something that is staying around so we each have to deal with it the best way we know how.

Have a good day everyone and remember "KEEP IT POSITIVE"!!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cancer and Perks? Check Out This Great Blog

Yesterday while driving home from the supermarket, I was tuning in to our local CBC radio station and was introduced to a breast cancer warrior who has created her own blog
I have never thought that living with cancer will afford you certain "perks" but after reading many posts from this blog there definitely are many.  I don't want to give it away, so take a moment to go check it out and I'm sure you will agree.

Keeping connected with other cancer bloggers is wonderful and sooo very informative because you get to learn about their cancer journey via different perspectives.

Stay connected with others who travel the cancer highway and your rewards of support, friendship and the opportunity to become inspired will be endless!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You Can "NEVER" Quit

After a very difficult couple of months, my husband continues to do much better!  All the kudos go to him, as he is the one who continues to keep going no matter what comes his way.  The daily milkshake and orange drinks, along with nutrituous eating has enhanced his appetite and weight gain - YES!!!

New meds are making a difference as well so it's a combination of alot of things.   I'm sure his oncologist will be very surprised at his next visit!!!

For readers of this blog who also are going through difficult times due to their cancer, remember once again to NEVER quit!  You have to roll up your sleeves and decide if living is worth fighting for, and if it is, then it will take alot of hard work, but you CAN do it!!!  Your caregiver will have to play his/her part as well and the going will be very slow at first, but your hard work will pay off towards a better quality of living.

I have met new patients/caregivers this week via this blog.  Some are doing quite well while others are devastated due to hearing bad news. I don't have a magic wand to wave to make things ok, but I CAN tell them to keep going, keep hoping and keep doing everything they can to beat this beast!!!

Take care!

2 Chronicles 15:7 "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feeling So Much Better!!!

I wrote a few posts back about how my husband had not been feeling so well with loss of appetite, extreme tiredness and being prescribed medications that only made him feel terrible.

Well now I'm here to tell you that he is doing soooo much better!!!!  With the meds almost gone now he is back to his old self, his appetite has improved and although he is tired on occasion, it is nothing compared to how he was feeling some time ago.

This cancer stuff is very tricky.  You would think after all of this time since way back in 2006 when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we would have it all figured out by now - but each episode of illness brings new issues and experiences that we have not encountered before and it continues to be a journey with more highs and lows than anyone could ever imagine ......anyone that is except another cancer patient. 

One thing I know for certain is  "sometimes you or your caregiver have to take charge of your health" - my husband is the perfect example of this.  You have to do what your gut tells you is the right thing to do, even when everyone else thinks there is no hope left.  My advice if you are ever in this situation is to keep hoping, keep positive and don't quit despite the odds being stacked against you at times.

Far too many cancer patients have passed away too early - why? 
  • their medical care has failed them
  • the patients themselves have just out right "quit"
  • many cancer patients unfortunately do not have someone to care for them and be their advocate
  • cancer patients receive very little or no encouragement from others

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cancer Coaching - What An Amazing Idea!!!

Just heard about this remarkable new cancer coaching inititative to be located in our nation's capital of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at the Maplesoft Centre.

I have included a link that will provide excellent information about this new venture.  You can email

jlaucius @JoanneLaucius for additional information.   I'd love to hear from you if you avail of this service so please connect with me at when you do!

The link is about Dr. Chandra Martens who will be a coach at this centre

A cancer survivor who will be one of the four coaches at this centre is Greg Hebert.  You can Google him and watch videos of his journey wtih cancer on YouTube.

What a fantastic idea this cancer coaching is!  Who better to coach any cancer patient then an oncologist and a cancer survivor.  This coaching centre will allow cancer patients "to be the best they can be".

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Orange Juice - Are You Drinking It?

As I mentioned in earlier posts, my husband has lost weight and it's been a struggle trying to get him to put some of it back on but one thing that is working, along with my Smoothies, Porridge, along with other nutritous foods is

Not the store bought kind, but freshly squeezed orange juice.  Everyday now for the past two weeks, I've been giving him two cups of the juice which equals three oranges in the mornings with his breakfast and another two cups of it before bedtime.  I don't strain it as the oranges I've been getting have very little pulp and very small seeds so it's even more nutritous that way.

He likes to drink it when it's cold, so just pop it in the freezer for a few minutes and voila!!! 

Remember, don't give up, even sometimes when the going gets tough!  Keep positive!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Copy That

Some of you may be aware and some of you may not BUT

- did you know that you can always request a copy of the results of any medical tests you may have done as a cancer patient - that would include blood test results, MIR, CT and bone scan results.  Of course, most of us do not have a medical background and may find some of the results a bit difficult to decipher - sometimes it's best not to even try, but at least by having these results in print, you can always go back and compare your results.

I personally find as caregiver, that it's best not to let my husband see these reports.  To me it serves no purpose for him at all but for me, since I am the one who is the advocate and I am the one doing all of the "secretarial" work from dr appoiutments, to follow-ups, to researching and finding what is new out there for his type of cancer, then I'm the best one to keep track of these reports and keep them somewhat hidden from him.  My husband never ever asks to see them as in his case, he just never wants to, so that makes it easy for me.  For patients and caregivers reading this, you will have to decide what works best for you with regards to the test results presented on paper. 

If you need some of these results such as MRI's or CT's in digital format, they can be provided by your health care system on DVD.  This would be most beneficial if you are seeking another doctor's opinion out of your area and rather than carry all of the paperwork, it's much easier to have the info in digital form.

Doctors here in Canada can access most of your health results via a PACS system where your doctor can retrieve your test results just by going on their own hospital health system no matter where their location may be.  This is a great way to use today's technology.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A True Smoothie With Umph

Sometimes it's difficult to eat when you are a cancer patient.  Food can get that metallic taste or there's no taste at all.  You may have mouthsores which makes eating even more challenging or you just don't have much of an appetite.

Here is my recipe for that extra meal in a glass - very easily digested and as I mentioned in yesterday's post, if you have a sore mouth, drinking this with a wider straw will definitely help to get it down, rather than drinking it directly from the glass.  I use my Magic Bullet which is an invaluable device for making fruit shakes or smoothies.  If you don't have one, then just use your blender or beat with an electric mixer - even a hand mixer will do although it is a little more difficult.

Deb's Smoothie

Add all of the following ingredients directly into the Magic Bullet glass:

1 Egg
2 scoops Ice Cream
1 small Banana (cut in small pieces)
2 Minigo Yogurt
1 cup 2% Milk
1/4 cup Whey/Protein Powder
5-8 frozen Strawberries

add more milk if needed to make a liquid consistency

I also add a Shot Glass of Brandy!!!

Of course you can substitute a different type of frozen fruit and yogurt but it's a smoothie that is loaded with nutrition.

Ideally you should try and have one everyday for at least one week and then determine if you have more energy as well as a little weight increase.  Of course always continue to eat nutritous meals along with this smoothie - you CAN do it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Straws Are Beneficial

If you have challenging mouth sores due to a side effect from your cancer treatment and are finding it difficult to drink, don't forget to try drinking from a straw.

Such a simple little device but it can really help alleviate some of your mouth discomfort as the liquid through the straw will not directly irritate the inside of your mouth as much as it would if you drank from a glass or cup.  Try to get the bendable straws as this makes it much easier to sip if you are in an inclined position or lying down.

For milkshakes you can use the wider straws which will allow for a better flow as the thick shakes will not be easily accessible through the regular straws.

Just a simple idea, but thought I would pass it along and share it in case you are having problems with mouth sores.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Sending congratulations to all those who have been receiving great news from their recent MRI or CT's....! 

Keeping positive and living life to the fullest is what it's all about - way to go KJE and Joanne!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do You "Really" Need Those Pain Meds?

Speaking once again from the voice of experience, I wanted to share some information with you about pain medications.

Many cancer patients experience intense pain with their cancer while others have tumors with relatively very little pain or no pain associated with them at all.  A word of advice here would be to check very thoroughly with your oncologist or family physician to ensure your pain medications are prescribed for the right reasons.  It's very easy to make that mistake when you have cancer and pain.  Right away you may think your pain is due to your cancer but always take the time to investigate to make sure it's not something else causing your pain.

There is nothing worse than pain!  Any of us would gladly take whatever is offered to help alleviate our pain but be careful and always check out your pain meds!!!  There are all types of pain medications from anti-inflamatory, and corticosteroids to narcotics - just to name a few.  The big ones are the narcotics which you have all heard about, but these vary in strength and composition from slow-acting to fast-acting and of course their side effects and additions vary as well. 

If you have been prescribed these heavy duty meds it is usually trial and error so be ware!!!  If you find the strength of any pain medication you are on is making you incoherent, unaware of what's happening around you or constantly just plain out-if-it, then maybe it's time to reconnect with your physician and reduce the dose or re-examine the type of drug you are presently taking.  Believe me, you don't want to be on these narcotics unless it's absolutely necessary as getting off them can be just as dangerous as taking too high a dosage.  If your eyes just don't seem right - a very small pupil size - that is a possible sign as well that your pain medication may be too strong!

My point here is - always use your instincts or those of your caregiver if you are ever in doubt about the medications you are taking. If something does not seem right, if your appetite is not good, if you are sleeping way too much or if you are becoming incoherent, then go see your doctor immediately.  Find the "exact" cause of your pain as it just may not even be due to your cancer and then get the correct meds to treat you.

Good luck and take care!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do People Realize?

I felt I had to post this today because sometimes people just don't "think" before they speak.

 While out on a short excursion this morning my husband met up with someone we have known for awhile and who knows that cancer has been a part of our lives for years now.  It's fine to exchange the common greetings and the usual talk, but does my husband want the constant reminder that he has CANCER always put right in his face????  NO!!!!

My husband does have a tumor behind his ear and of course for some it may be noticeable.  So what does this person say to him this morning?  "Wow, that's a huge lump you have there behind your ear???"  Good thing I was not there or I would have probably said something so that this person would never make a similiar remark to any other cancer patient.

I have constantly told friends and family to keep the conversation with him as normal as possible.  While we know all too well that he has cancer, don't think for one minute that it's easy to put it aside on any given day and try to find a bit of normalcy in our lives, so we don't want to be constantly reminded of it either by those on the outside, and more especially my husband does not need to hear it from anyone.  This cancer is not like coming down with the common cold or flu as all of us who live each day with it can attest to.

OK....that's it I've said it.  I sure hope that everyone who reads this post will pass it along to others next time they strike up a conversation with any cancer patient.  KEEP IT NORMAL! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stomach Cancer and Not Eating?

As my viewers already know, I honestly don't relay alot of my husband's medical condition right here on my blog.  That is just my choice as I don't want those who know us personally to have the inside scoop on just what's happening with him.  There are some things naturally that we all want to keep private but I do share important issues in hopes that it will help another cancer patient out there.  Also as you may or may not know, you can always email me at with any personal question and if I can be of any help, then I most certainly will email back a response.

With that being said, I thought I would share a recent diagnosis with those of you who may have recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Yes, my husband now has mets to the stomach and of course at first the news was devastating.  Those of you who also continue to hear such increases in your cancer can definately relate, and no matter how long you may have cancer or how you may have thought you have heard everything about your cancer, it's always like an atomic bomb has hit when there's more negative news.  So that's the way it was this summer when my husband received that diagnosis.

The main thing to remember though is "no matter how bad the news is, always keep positive!!!"  Hearing that news is never good, but you have two choices - 1) give up and eventually the cancer WILL have it's way  "OR"  2) try your very best to do everything you can to keep living - the choice is yours. My husband always chooses to "NEVER QUIT" and of course I totally support him on that decision!  This choice is never easy however, but a patient has to be prepared to accept the hard knocks as they appear and then move on. 

Now back to the reason why I'm even telling you all of this.  Of course when you have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, the first thing you may probably hear is that you will not be able to eat.  Bah humbug I say!!!  I hope the little event that I'm going to share will help others who have been diagnosed with stomach cancer and that it will encourage them to keep eating and in return keep living!

One evening after we returned home from hospital, I presented my husband with his supper.  Of course his portions are much smaller than he usually would eat a few months ago, but I always try to offer him nutritous foods.  If you scroll back a few posts, you will see some examples.  My husband ate everything I had given him but before long it came right back up.  I could tell by the look on his face that he was thinking "well this is the end of my eating" as he sat back in his chair looking a bit dazed.

I however had a different thought and immediately took his plate and refilled it.  I told him to eat slower this time, to chew the food really good and most of all, to eat small portions each time rather than what he usually was used to.   Voila!!!  It worked!!! And it has been working every time since that day!

The lesson learned here is to Not Quit!  If I had not given my husband more food that evening and if he had not tried to eat it to accommodate his stomach problems, then no doubt he would have just given up and next time I gave him a meal, he would have just not wanted to eat it, for fear it would not stay down.  I trust that anyone else out there who has ever encountered this problem, will eat based on what I have relayed and Not Quit when the going gets tough.

My husband's appetite is improving, so I can't ask for more than that.  It's a slow process but each day brings better results.  Always try though to keep the food nutritous.  You can do it, just give yourself a second chance!

Take care everyone and have a great day 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Memory

Yesterday I learned of the passing of a very courageous cancer patient and today I have added the animated candle to my blog in her honor.  Bec was a beautiful young lady who was a true inspiration to all who were privileged to follow along her cancer journey. 

My deepest sympathies to her loving and devoted family.

I have also added an automated blog roll to list names of other brave warriors who have passed on.  If you would like me to add a name, please enter it on my Chatroll blog or leave the name in the Comment section under any post and I will include it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Give Thanks

Today is a very special day for all of us as it's Thanksgiving Day!  Most of us will be sharing cooked turkey with family and friends.  Many people will go about their day as if it were any other Sunday, but our family will be Giving Thanks for all of the blessings we have received this year.

Sometimes we tend to take things for granted - it's a natural thing to do.  When cancer or any serious illness strikes, then you stand back and take a very close look at just what really matters in your life and what the important things are.

I trust that each and everyone of you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Big "C"

 Just this past week I watched my first episode of The Big "C"!  Have you seen it?  Apparently season 1 of this series began in 2010, then went on to season 2 and now season 3 began last month.  It's a show about CANCER!

Maybe it's not a show for everyone to watch, especially some cancer patients - you will have to decide yourself.  It's a show about it's main character, Cathy Jamison a high school teacher being diagnosed with terminal (stage IV) melanoma and deciding initially not to tell anyone, including her husband and only child.  At first she fears that it would be too much of a burden for her family and friends to accept the news so she tries to continue on with her daily routine as if nothing is wrong.

 There are serious as well as comical overtones to this show.  My first reaction upon watching one particular series, was show me more.  Why?  Well as caregiver, I want to learn everything there is about cancer, I want to know how everyone reacts to the good and the bad situations that cancer brings and even though this is not a reality show, it does obviously allow me to see the good, bad and ugly situations that cancer creates in patients and their families.  I could relate to a little in just that first episode and then definitely even more, as I watched the second one.  It allows patients to realize that they should NOT dwell on their cancer, but to get out there and enjoy life to the fullest!  That is an excellent model for all to follow.

It's on SHOWIME television and you can also watch the episodes online.  Just google it to find out more.  Good luck with watching it and feel free to post your comments on it right on the Chatroll blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Don't Give Up! NEVER QUIT!

I recently read the following quote that I wanted to share with you:

Don't give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don't listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.
Sidney Sheldon

Maybe you have not been feeling quite as well recently.  Maybe your most recent cancer report has not been as encouraging as you were anticipating or maybe you are just getting a little fed up with all you have gone through since you were first diagnosed with cancer.

Well, I'm here to tell you "Chin Up!".   Easy for me to say I know, for I am just the caregiver and not the patient, but I know what I say about not giving up is true.  My husband has not been well recently, no, not well at all but just watching him everyday in his fight to live, certainly encourages me to never give up on him!!!  Sure, we can all just live in gloom and doom when you get that bad report, you can allow the negative remarks that others say right in front of you to want to just give up, or you can pull up your socks and FIGHT!  It's all up to you. 

Just last month, my husband's medical prognosis was not very encouraging but one month later, he continues to feel a little better each day.  After all, you have to give yourself time to get back on track because it's not just going to happen overnight.  He is not looking for a cure for his cancer - although that would be the most amazing thing that could ever happen - but he is looking for results that will give him a better quality of life everyday.  He's doing his part and I'm making sure that everyone else who can help him accomplish this, is doing their part. 

If you are determined as well like my husband, then first of all, go seek the advice of your medical team and relate what you would like them to do.  Unless you have tried all the options that might be available for your cancer treatment, then you have not done everything there is to acquire that better quality of life.

I trust this post will encourage you to never quit! 

Have a good one!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Constipation Remedy

Constipation affects everyone but more specifically, patients who take pain medications or who are receiving chemotherapy may experiene bouts of this discomfort.

If you experience excessive pain with your cancer, then of course you are not eating properly. If you are not eating nutritionally, then constipation will occur as well.  If you have tried everything to remedy your situation but nothing seems to work, maybe this will help.

Thought I would share a tried and true remedy that is proven successful for my husband - Pitted Prunes !

Yes, pitted prunes are an easy solution!  You need to purchase the dried pitted (seedless) ones which seem to work more effectively than just drinking the store bought prune juice alone.  Put approximately 6 prunes and two cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 min.  That's it - plain and simple!  Don't forget to not only eat the prunes but also drink the liquid - that is the solution!  I usually double the number of prunes along with the amount of water and then put the extras in the refrigerator for a another time. 

NOTE:  Adjust the amount of prunes you eat accordingly, based upon your weight and medical condition.

Such a simple solution to a problem, that if not acted upon, can make you feel very miserable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High Tech? More Cancer Connections & More Cancer Resources

My daughter insisted last week that I upgrade my cell phone so that I could send her longer texts messages in a much shorter time.  It was becoming painful for her to await my text replies which took forever for me to compose.  While my cell phone has endured many a harsh treatment by me from falling into a full pan of water, to being dropped at least twice on my paved driveway as well as having gone missing endless times (that will be another post one day), it has continued to provide me with the best service without fail!  But after a bit of persuasion, I was ok with at least going to the tech store to take a look at the latest gadgets that would make my texting faster.

It didn't take long for me to choose the one that seemed to offer the most features - an iPhone!  That was the one my daughter was not expecting me to choose, as she thought it was way to high tech for me!!! After all, I am only the mother, who I guess sometimes appears to their siblings NOT to be able to maneuver around today's tecky gadgets.  Anyway, I left with my new iPhone and I must admit, without my daughter's excellent instruction on just how to find my way around it, things would have taken a very slow road to using it.

I first started this blog back in 2008 to connect with other caregivers and cancer patients for support and also to learn more about my husband's cancer and what was available out there to help him.  It has proven to fulfill all of that and so much more.  I've met people right across the world, constantly keep in touch with many patients/caregivers via email, and have learned so much more about kidney cancer than I ever would have if my blog had never been developed.  So now with my new iPhone, I've decided to set up a Twitter account to connect with more people and more cancer organizations in a hopes to expand my present knowledge about cancer.  I've included my Twitter feed in the right sidebar, but now I need to try and include comments that others leave for me on Twitter (not sure how to do this, but I'm sure someone out there will give me direction).  Please feel free to leave a message right on the Chatroll blog at anytime.  It would be most appreciated.  Already I'm beginning to get Followers for my Twitter account so that is wonderful!  My account is @mckenziemoments

My purpose for writing this post however is not to advertise my Twitter account or my new phone "but" to relate the fact that I can't see for the life of me how in this high tech 21st century with all of the technological resources that are available within our health care sector, there still seems to exist such a lack of communication between and among cancer experts in the fight against this beast???  Why is cancer still so rampant?  Why can't the experts apply what works for some cancer patients to other cancer patients?  One such example would be when my husband had his nephrectomy back in 2001, he was told "we got it all - so go home and enjoy life"!  After all he has been through during these past 10 years, I shutter everytime I think about those words.  Just yesterday, I was speaking with another patient who just three years ago was told the exact words after his nephrectomy, and now is battling metastasis to several areas.  Why in the world are they not offered ADJUVANT THERAPY post cancer surgery to try everything possible to prevent the recurrence of their cancer?  If I had know such a thing even existed back in 2001, my husband would definitely have been a recipient of this therapy, but we were not even presented with this option.  Now, 10 years later, you would think just this particular topic would "always" be discussed with any cancer patient after they have undergone cancer surgery.  OK....don't get me started because I'm sure you can tell that I'm very adament about this particular topic when I read obituaries everyday in my local paper of those who have passed away after fighting a courageous battle with cancer.  I wonder immediately if they had ALL the facts about their type of cancer and if they were given every opportunity there was right from the start to beat their cancer.

Yes, this high techology provides more resources and more connections right around the world in an instant -  and my hope for today and always is that cancer experts use it to the BEST means possible to reduce cancer, to help those who continue their struggle everyday and to prevent earlier mistakes with cancer patients from every happening to anyone else again!!!

If you are a regular viewer of my blog and enjoy returning, please join my Followers gadget, leave a comment or just post a "hello" or a "comment" directly on my Chatroll chat forum at the beginning of the blog.  It's always encouraging to see that I may have provided some inspiration or knowledge to help you get through a difficult day!  Take care everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What To Eat When You "Can't"

Those who know me, also know that I'm not a person who gives up when the going gets tough.  Recently my husband has had issues with trying to find foods that will encourage him to eat.  For the most part, even the smell of cooking some foods will automatically discourage his appetite, so that has become a challenge indeed.

After reseaching information on foods he needs that are high in protein and carbohydrates to regain weight,  the list seems to be quite long.  I have also realized just how unhealthy so many everyday foods that we all eat can be, especially those that contain tons of sugar.

My earlier post about drinking fully loaded shakes such as Ensure or Boost discusses the value of these supplements

Another great soure of daily nutrion is Carnation Instant Breakfast powders.  They can be purchased in different flavours such as vanille, strawberry or chocolate and you just add them to a cup of milk.  The main difference with this drink versus the Ensure or Boost is the taste. You can hardly taste the additives, and only the milk.  This same product offers a much higher protein and carbs supplement as well in the form of a liquid - Carnation Instant Breakfast Lactose Free VHC

This particular produce is great for those who have stomach or throat cancer and just one can will provide you with half of your daily requirements.

Sometimes it's best to offer those who don't have much of an appetite - very small amounts. 
One product that fits this category is Yoplait Minigo Yogurt
This product while it was manufactured primarily to appeal to younger children it is very nutritional to adults and more importantly, very easy to eat as it's taste is not overpowering for those with delicate stomachs.

My personal  advice is  cook a turkey!   This meal is timeless and of course can be served in so many different ways from it's original hot turkey meal to hot turkey sandwiches (always in small portions) and most nutritional of all, by making turkey soup.  I just finished making a LARGE quantity of it for my husband and of course put the excess in small containers which are now in my freezer.  I add pearl barley, carrots, parsnip, and lots of tomatoes to increase the soup's nutritional value.  This would be my best recommendation for a nutritous meal when your appetite is at an all time low.

One important thing to remember as well if you are having problems with your appetite or if you find you can't seem to keep much food down, is to eat is SLOWLY and in SMALL AMOUNTS - remember that slow and steady wins the race!!!  By the way, if you have eater solid foods and they have not stayed down, don't despair!!!  Maybe you did eat the way too fast and in pieces that were too large.  Go try those same foods again but in smaller portions and smaller pieces. Chew them thoroughly.  If you don't try to eat that same food again, then you never will because you will have that fear of vomiting them up again.  Remember when you were a child just starting to ride your first two wheel bike.  Did you do it the first time and probably fall off???  If you didn't get back on and try it again, then you would NEVER have learned how to ride that two-wheeler, now would you???  So, now you get my point!

Offer small helpings of fruit every now and then as well throughout the day.  It all adds up and oh yes, patients/caregivers should keep a journal of just what your patient ate today!  Why?  Because it will give you a better prospective on what works and what doesn't for another day.

Good luck with your appetite.  Some days are diamonds while others are rough, but keep eating and you WILL feel sooo much better! 

If you have suggestions as well on what works for your appetite, please send them along.  I'll write another post about them.  I'll also be adding more ideas as well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too Many Meds Can Make You Sick

Just wanted to pass along something that my husband and I have recently experienced.  As I've mentioned earlier, he's been in hospital for most of August and upon getting released, I received a very long list of medications for him to take - some we already had at home while others needed to be filled.

After all of this time being his caregiver and after numerous discharges from hospital over these past few years, it never occurred to me that I should inquire further into this long list of prescribed meds upon his release.  So, he came home from hospital feeling terrible, I got the meds that he needed and since his requirements now were to take more than 20+ per day my daughter somehow managed to get a very nifty medicine case which held them all in perfect sequence. 

I continued giving him the meds four times each day.  Each day he continued to feel worse than the day before but again both my husband and I assumed that his increased illness was due to his medical condition and it never occurred to either of us that was not the case.

After two weeks of this constant medication taking we had some company one night.  My husband went to bed soon after feeling terrible.  He asked for pain meds which I promptly supplied and it was not until the next morning when I went to get his morning meds from the nifty medicine case that I realized his previous evening's meds were still there - I had forgotten to give them to him!!! Now being the diligent caregiver that I usually am, I could not believe I had messed up and instantly went on a guilt trip.

Once my husband was up and about that morning, he was amazingly feeling better!!!!   So we both came to the conclusion that he was feeling better due to NOT taking those pills the night before.  For the next two days, just before my husband's scheduled visit to his doctor for a follow-up from his hospital stay, we slowly decreased the meds that we thought he didn't need.  Slowly as well, my husband was returning more and more to his old self, with a little more energy, more appetite and an overall better feeling of wellness.

On the day of his apptment it was indeed determined that he did NOT need all of the prescribed meds!!!  He is now down to a little over 6 per day, versus 20+.  How did this happen?  Well after thinking about it, he was prescribed meds in hospital before a procedure that he to have completed their, and of course after he encountered enormous pain, many of the pain meds that he took while in hospital were to be continued upon his release. 

Lesson learned here though is that when you are in hospital you may have two or three different doctors from the time of admission to release.  While your prescribed meds may seem fine upon release, you should ALWAYS ask your doctor to review them carefully before you leave the hospital to ensure you really do need everything that is on the list.  If you don't need them all and you begin taking them, it will probably make you feel worse.

Just a word of caution here - thought I would share our experience with you but always check of course with your medical professional first of all before deleting any meds from your prescription.  I would definitely NOT recommend anyone to stop taking their medication - only upon your doctor's advice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile

I've not posted here for quite awhile.  My husband has been in hospital for the mostpart during August but happy to report that is now back home once again.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to check in.

Health Care Accuracy is Vital

I appreciate the recent comment about my original post on the problems that exist in every health care system and thank you for taking the initiative to respond.  It definitely shows your organization is aware of what can happen and no doubt is acting on every issue that is presented.  I applaud you for this!

Yes, these problems do need to be acted upon immediately and should not be taken lightly by any health care institution.  Unfortunately though, complaints by patients/family about issues within our health care systems are not acted upon until something drastic happens and then it is too late for the patient(s) involved.

My husband has been a patient periodically within our present system now for over 10 years!  That is a long time indeed and during that time we have encountered many health care issues that, had I not been there with him, he most certainly would have passed away a long time ago - not because of his cancer, but because of negligent acts within the system. 

During his first ever stay in hospital back in 2001, the thought of my having to be diligent in his care during his stay never crossed my mind, as I always thought that any hospital patient always received the best care possible and to think that a mistake could happen was completely uncomprehensible!  That was my thought as well until during his second stay, but then the unthinkable happened and ever since, I'm very diligent in keeping a close eye.

I don't want to make it seem that errors in hospitals happen all the time.  I feel quite confident that in the majority of patient stays, the care and overall experiences they encounter there are very professional and always accurate, but it only takes that "one" error to make you more apprehensive about what could happen.  I totally agree that all such instances should be reported immediately and acted upon by health care officials so that the same errors will never be repeated again.  I wonder though, are they always being acted upon after they have been reported???

During the majority of my husband's many hospital stays, he has also received excellent medical care, for which we are both very thankful.  The devotion of his medical attendants has been exceptional and I applaud them for the care and treatment that they provide each and everyday to those in need.

For other health care organizations who may read this post, I would strongly encourage you to be adament about ALL complaints that are received from patients/families and investigate them thoroughly and act upon them immediately to ensure that every patient always receives the best possible care without incident.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lost Weigh??? Here's A Lifeline!

So, It's been a couple of stressful weeks as I have slowly watched my husband lose ALOT of weight!  As caregiver, I instantly felt responsible for his weight loss, as I continually blamed myself for maybe not cooking the right meals or offering the nutritous snacks that I should have.  Caregivers tend to blame themselves for things that go wrong with their loved ones - think I would have learned by now that it's not my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I guess it's just mother nature that we will always feel guily about not doing or trying something else.

Anyway, to get on with my story........

First of all, for all new viewers here, you will discover that I don't always post the happenings of my husband's health on a continuous basis.  Why you may ask?  Well, it's because I don't want for his personal health and well being to be always placed here for all of the world to read about.  He has cancer and he continues to fight the good fight, but I don't think I need to mention every miniscule event that occurs.  This particular topic however, affects ALL cancer patients out there who are losing weight and after stressing out as I watched my husband's results on the weight scales go down more and more everyday, I think I now have found the solution to getting that weight back on - at least for him.  It's not rocket science or anything like that, it's just plain common sense which sometimes the medical experts don't always forcus on, outside of the actual cancer itself.  Don't mean to offend anyone but when you stop and think about it, yes the medical experts naturally only try to resolve the pain and suffering and they don't always try to help the patient fix what I refer to as the "small issues which later become huge ones" such as weight loss.

I personally have a very strong belief that maintaining your weight as a cancer patient is vital!!!  I am not a health professional in any way, but I base this upon my husband's past experiences since he has been a cancer patient and I know that a good weight means that you can tolerate side effects from cancer treatments and you will have more energy. 

So to continue with my weight gaining info......

First I would encourage patients to always check with their doctor to see why they are losing weight as every patient is different.  I can only relate my husband's experiences and as I have stated soooo many times before, every patient is different - so be ware of your own health status first and foremost.  I've taken a close look at some of his meds and have determined that there is one in particular I strongly believe has caused him to lose this weight.  It is a medication that is not vital to his day-to-day existence so that's wonderful, and although it's been prescribed for him on a daily basis, I know he does not need it.  His next dr's visit is coming up very soon, so we'll be asking for another med that will not cause this weight loss.

Now to regain the weight we are concentrating on foods that are high in    
PROTEIN and CARBOHYDRATES.  You can check this out on the internet and make your own decisions, but a few things that my husband has found to be more edible and is working towards his weight gain are:

  • daily milk shakes (one egg, vanilla, milk, fresh fruit)
  • protein bars (one a day is fine)
  • lentils, beans, macaroni with lots of cheese, porridge, milk which is at least 2%, bread high in protein and carbs, puddings
  • whey (ask your doctor to see if it interacts with your present meds)

  • trail mix (always have a small dish of this nearby for you to munch on) 
The main thing that we focus on here is to add lots of protein and carbs!  Read the labels carefully on the foods you buy to ensure they are high in carbs and protein and calories!  The heck with the healthy foods right now! By now you must be thinking that this woman is out to lunch, so to speak.  No, actually I'm trying my best to get that weight back on my husband so this is my reasoning.  Loss of weight + loss of energy = hospitalization eventually and DEATH!  Why worry about eating the low carb foods and the most healthy foods right now - what my husband needs is lots of calories!!! And lots of calories is what he will get. 

One thing to note though is NOT to focus on foods that are high in sugars.  There are alot of high protein and high carb foods out there that are not loaded with sugars.  Keep away as well from drinking more than one soda a day, if you are a soda drinker.  Those drinks are loaded with sugar that you don't need.  These sugars will only keep taking your appetite away and you don't need that.

Well that's about it for now.  If you know someone who has lost a considerable amount of weight recently as a cancer patient please pass this along to them.  Getting that weight back on, is the FIRST step to surviving cancer and patients have to eat by themselves - no one can make them, not even us caregivers, so get going and don't waste another minute of not eating!!!

Good luck with your weight gain - let me know how things go for you!  I'll keep you posted as well on how my husband is doing.


I will be having a LIVE CHAT right here on my blog on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:00pm EDT for cancer patients and/or caregivers.

If you would like to join in the conversation with a question or concern or just connect with someone who follows similiar situations along this cancer journey like yourself, just enter your "first name" in the Sign In area at the bottom of the chat forum and press "ENTER'.

Look forward to meeting you and chatting in real time!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saffron - Does It Work?

I received a message today from a viewer who asked if saffron really helped my husband's cancer.

To be very honest, I don't really know, but I do know that it didn't hurt him.  When he was on saffron his tumors did NOT increase in size - was it a coincidence?  I really don't know that either, but drinking a cup of saffron a day, or maybe even two or three will not hurt.  I would use approximately 5-12 strands, let it steep like tea for a few minutes and then strain off the strands.  I'm sure it is more beneficial to a cancer patient than drinking coffee several times a day.  My husband still has a cup of saffron from time to time, but right now is not taking it on a continuous basis - no particular reason for this but he will go back to a regular routine before his doctor schedules his next CT.

I just did a little more research via the internet and I came across the Lance Armstrong's website "Livestrong" and they also reference the benefits of saffron - especially with regards to tumor shrinkage benefits.  Here is the link and please read the entire post, especially the Anti-Cancer section

Again, I would suggest that you should always check with your doctor whenever in doubt to ensure you have a professional's opinion. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Search Engine

Added a search engine at the right side here yesterday.  It's not the greatest but if you want to check on a particular topic that I may have written about, try it out and see what happens. 

Again, please note that this particular "search engine" is very limited.  You will have to scroll back pages to probably find what you are looking for in my previous posts, but give the search feature a try - sure can't hurt.

With all the warm temperatures and humidity that is sweeping across North America this week, thought you might find this picture a bit of a relief!