Archives For Society

21783809_s

An issue or an unmet need has come to my attention due to some recent personal experiences. For the purposes of Cancer, The Nation of Cancer, and the treatment of cancer there should be a new age group.

Now

Currently we basically have three cancer groups: Childhood Cancer, Young Adult Cancer and Adult Cancer.

The group Childhood Cancer includes babies up through adolescence, or age18. One can say with complete certainly that the needs of children and adolescents are unique to their group demographic. They are still physically growing; their brains are not fully developed. They are not legally responsible for their decisions. While they may be consulted, others, usually parents or other adults will decide what is to be done regarding treatment and care. And by equal measure the responsible adult will shoulder the financial responsibilities. Among other things, this group requires different doctors, drug dosages, social workers, case managers, and different support in general. Their training is even age specific. One could argue however, that this age group should be broken into a narrower age range.

The next group is the Young Adult group of cancer patients. These are people in their late teens up to what? 30? 35? The needs of this demographic are unique as well. Some of these patients are in pursuit of their education, starting careers or businesses, dating, forming relationships, and starting families. This group is starting out on the adult journey of their lives. Then cancer hits, the journey is suspended. Changes in body image, trust in one’s body, fertility, desirability, loss of time, wages, starting over again, are all issues. ‘Stupid Cancer’, ‘First Descents’ and other groups support some of their needs but not all needs are being met. There are financial issues, insurance issues. The issues of autonomy vs. dependence are huge.

The demographic of the Adult Cancer patient begins where Young Adult ends until the developmental stage of old age and herein lies the problem: We are missing the stage between the group Young Adult and the older age adult!

Personal Experience

In my personal experience, at 36 years old and even more than a decade later, I did not have much in common with many people in my ‘Adult’ cancer cohort. Most people in the chemotherapy treatment rooms, oncology floors in the hospital and in the support groups were people much older, patients in their sixties and beyond. Other than having cancer, I really didn’t have much in common with most of them and where they were in their lives. I was their daughter’s age, my children, their grandchildren’s age and so on.

I was a Young Adult cancer patient if you stretched the age group to 36 when cancer first hit.  I was working full-time, was already having some career success, and was the mother of a toddler and a preteen. I was very involved my children’s schools and activities. I was married, had a mortgage, my salary was depended upon. In reality, I was too old to be a young adult. My parents were becoming elderly. I was too young to get cancer.

Proposal

I propose a completely new group:

THE PRIME OF LIFE CANCER GROUP

This is the group of adult cancer patients say between 30 or so and 45 or 55. These patients are old enough and experienced enough to know who they are. They may own homes, be married or in other committed relationships. They may have children. They may be caring for these children as infants, or while the children are in school, or possibly starting college. They are well on the way up the ladder of their career. They have responsibilities. They have very busy lives.

This was the age when I had five different cancers, was juggling a job, chemo, working and raising kids. This group is not getting enough support. For example for many, too many decisions need to be made: medical leave vs. career, childcare issues during treatment, after school activities. How does one manage it all? What about cancer’s effect on sex and sexuality? What about dealing with cancer’s effect on the children? What about cancer’s effect on the non-effected spouse or partner? This is a funny term since they are absolutely affected. (affect/effect, who cares, on a roll here) What about their career? Dreams? Who picks up the slack and shepherds the family through the crisis? What kind of unique financial needs does this group have? I would say most certainly as a group they are unique unto themselves vs. the needs of a 22 or a 55 year old. What do you think?

The cancer patient in The Prime of Life Cancer Group currently is falling through the cracks and is held up by friends, family and community support. The problem is the friend group is also in their prime of life and they are busy too. Family and the community can help but it is not structured by any means. So as the cancer patient you may be reduced back to your younger days of the Young Adult group or the Older Adult patient group, not really able to relate to either.

Please share your experience if you find any of this true. Please share if you know of services directly and specifically helping the cancer community in The Prime of Life Cancer Group. If you can think of more issues please share and I will post on the blog. (Since not everyone is on Facebook, I prefer comments on the blog). Please share this if you think there is a HUGE GAP in cancer care and support for people in The Prime of Life Cancer Group! Unfortunately, I know too many people with cancer in this age group.

 

Is there a better name? What other groups of cancer patients do you think have unique demographic needs that are not being adequately addressed? Do you think cancer demographics should be more finely stratified to appropriately, successfully and inclusively address the needs of all ages?

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_Tawng’>Tawng / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

11134638_s

It has been a few weeks since I wrote anything!

The Accident

My husband and I took a much-needed vacation for ten days in Hawaii. It was at least 7 days until we both could unwind enough to get into the ‘hang loose’ groove.

Then on day 7, my husband slipped on some wet tiles in the lobby of our hotel and hit his head on a large tree pot and saw stars. I had food poisoning that night. The next day was beautiful weather and slathered in sunscreen under an umbrella, we sat on chaise lounges on the beach enjoying the surf. Continue Reading…

logo

February 4th has been declared “World Cancer Day”.

At first I was skeptical, thinking – Yikes, another awareness campaign!. Also, I was disheartened when I learned that Chevrolet would donate $1 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for every person that changed his or her social media profile to purple. Another color (purple already taken by pancreatic cancer and a host of other cancers and maladies but also used for general cancer awareness), another corporation that needs a marketing opportunity and social engagement, probably requiring emails and phone numbers too, to sell more cars. I was thinking why couldn’t these corporations just donate money to cancer research and not funnel money through the ACS and not have to make a big marketing production? With a twenty year personal history here, I wondered, am I just jaded, skeptical about all the hype?

What is World Cancer Day?

Interestingly, as I dug around, I was quite impressed. World Cancer Day was started in 2013 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It is a membership organization that exists to help the global health community accelerate the fight against cancer. (Hopefully this will not mortph into the Global Cancer Society the way American Cancer Control morphed into ACS – yes, as I said, jaded).

Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, UICC has a growing membership of over 800 organizations across 155 countries. This membership features the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes and patient groups. Together with its members, key partners, the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum and others, UICC is tackling the growing cancer crisis on a global scale. Pretty impressive I think! (See http://www.uicc.org/homepage)

So, What is World Cancer Day?

According to the UICC it…”is the one singular initiative under which the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. It takes place every year on the 4th of February. World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.”

So what is “World Cancer Day 2014” about?

2014 ‘World Cancer Day’ is about globally ‘Debunking Myths’. Here are the ‘Myths’ and their positions.

myth01

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE:

Talking about cancer challenges negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate myths about cancer, cause fear and stigma and prevent people from seeking early detection and treatment.

Governments, communities, employers and media all have a role to play to challenge perceptions about cancer to create a culture where people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE:

Investing in prevention and early detection of cancer is cheaper than dealing with the consequences

myth02

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

The success of early detection programmes can be measured by a reduction in the stage of the cancer at diagnosis with earlier diagnosis associated with a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

The provision of a skilled and supported cancer workforce is critical to the success of early detection programs for cancer.

myth03

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE: 

The implementation of policies and programs that support a life-course approach to prevention, and strengthen the capacity of individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles choices can bring about behavioral change, which can help prevent cancer.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Broadening the future internationally-agreed development goals to include proven economically-sound interventions that span the entire cancer control and care continuum can strengthen health systems and increase capacity to respond to all of the challenges to development.

The onus is now on the cancer community to push for cancer to be mainstreamed in the post-2015 development agenda.

myth04

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Cancer is not just a health matter. It has wide-reaching social, economic and human rights implications, and is a significant barrier to achieving inclusive and equitable development. Inequality is deepening – social and environmental factors and the double disease burden of exposures in many low- and middle-income countries are keeping the ‘bottom billion’ locked in chronic poverty and threatening national economies.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE

Cost-effective interventions must be made available in an equitable manner through access to information and education about cancer at the primary health care level, as well as early detection programs and affordable, quality medicines, vaccines and technologies, delivered as part of national cancer control plans. 
Social protection measures, including universal health coverage, are essential to ensure that all individuals and families have full access to healthcare and opportunities to prevent and control cancer.

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”

–       The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

See (http://www.worldcancerday.org) for more information and all that is going on. This is where you can sign up for a ‘cancer free world’.

My Takeaway

Most impressive is the overall global organization of UICC. Who wouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon to support their objectives? Hopefully they will do it without Madison Avenue-type marketing and purple washing!

My only question to the UICC IS:

WHY ISN’T EVERY DAY WORLD CANCER DAY? It should be!

WCD Goals

FYI: See my first blog post on whether The ‘Nation’ of Cancer is really The Fifth World!  http://www.thecancerian.org/2013/07/02/the-fifth-world-a-nation-called-cancer/

What do you think about all of this?

16062387_s

Breaking Bad

As I anxiously await the final episodes of the AMC hit drama Breaking Bad that begins tonight, I am reminded of how it all began.

Remember back to January of 2008, Walter White was diagnosed with potentially fatal lung cancer. His cancer diagnosis presumably set off the next 5 plus years of Emmy Award-winning drama. However, potentially there are other reasons for him ‘breaking bad’, one of which is not living the life that would afford him to leave behind enough money to support his family after his death.

Is it his anger at his diagnosis that forces Walter to evaluate that even though he’d played by the rules (including not even smoking) that he got screwed anyway that forces him to ‘break bad’? Or does his imminent mortality allow him to give himself permission to say what the heck and to hell with everything? Continue Reading…