Archives For Support

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For as long as I can remember, throwing myself into a new and challenging activity has helped me cope with anxiety and grief. It has been a lifelong desire of mine to really learn how to dance. My husband gave me six ballroom dance classes as a gift more than four years ago and last March I finally signed up.

So, for the past 10 months I have had to focus on being in my body and moving it in very different ways. I have had to overcome my physical space bubble, touch and be touched by strangers in a way that didn’t involve IVs, blood sticks, surgery or other physical assaults. I have had to learn to be SEXY (still Continue Reading…

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I love going to the movies. It is the only place where I feel completely unplugged and immersed in someone else’s story, especially if it is a good movie. This year I have started ‘Wednesday is Movie Night’ and I go with a very good friend each and every week.

Even before the 2015 Academy Awards where Julianne Moore won best actress, I was interested in seeing “Still Alice”. My movie partner wasn’t as interested but went this week with me to see Moore’s Oscar winning performance. Continue Reading…

IMG_1185As you may or may not be aware, I have not been ‘out’ much lately. I am trying to come to grips with the latest cancer ordeal in our family. I’ve been digging in the dirt, watching mindless television, reading and shockingly – cleaning my house.

I have been saying that I am grieving. Grieving what? Am I grieving a dream, a vision of the future, an expectation? I realized that I’m not really grieving although it can feel pretty bad. Continue Reading…

Leiomyosarcoma

The wave is coming!

There has been so much going on since my last blog post necessitating my absence. In July, from a biopsy, my daughter was diagnosed with a leiomyosarcoma in her liver. This required finding a liver surgeon to determine if this was operable, while all of her and my usual doctors were on extended vacations. We knew the wave was coming and were trying to strategize how to get to the highest ground to be able to survive the hit. Continue Reading…

 

 

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed at a recording studio by a wonderful talk show host, Jim Foster. He has been the host of a weekly radio author interview program called “Conversations on the Coast” for many years. The studio was in the main office of Clear Channel Communications and iHeart Radio. My friend drove me to San Francisco for the appointed time since I was still on crutches and in a leg stabilizer, not yet able to walk.

Jim Foster was a very gracious gentleman and, it seemed, had read the whole book. In the interview he focused on my ability to overcome adversity and my resilience. I honestly felt a sense of pride at my accomplishment in living the life of ‘A Kick-Ass Fairy’. But after I left I felt a bit uneasy and didn’t know why. Continue Reading…

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This past week I was the ‘featured’ guest of Cancer Nation Radio, a weekly talk radio program whose goal is to provide a forum for those who lives are touched by cancer. They broadcast locally in Las Vegas at 1230AM and live to the world over the Internet. (See: http://www.klav1230am.com/Shows/Cancer-Nation-Radio.html). (Please ‘Like’ them on Facebook and tell your friends!)  Continue Reading…

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During the past few months, I have been the main support person for my very good friend. Our journey began when her doctor wanted her to get a colonoscopy due to a steady decline in her red blood cell counts. I was there functioning as her ears after the procedure when the GI doctor described the ‘mass’/’lesion’ in her sigmoid colon. I was with her when she received the surprising news that the pathology came back with no cancer cells evident. I was with her when she was told that she needed surgery anyway due to an imminent occlusion of her bowel and continued risk of finding cancer beyond the biopsy. Continue Reading…

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As communication has evolved to include blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, we now have this new term called ‘selfies’. A selfie is defined as someone who takes and posts pictures of oneself on the Internet. But the term or label has now somehow expanded to those who share anything personal.

Humans, being social creatures, have a need to connect, even when society in the larger context doesn’t want to. Unfortunately, once again, I am appalled by the non-supportive view of cancer in the press. On Sunday 1/12/2014, The New York Times – The Opinion Pages, posted a piece by Op-Ed Columnist Bill Keller (former executive-editor) entitled ‘Heroic Measures’. Continue Reading…

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It has been a couple of weeks since my last post.

There has been much going on in my little microcosm in a corner of The Nation of Cancer during the past four weeks.

First of all, my Aunt Marion of whom I wrote about in my last post, was diagnosed and has since died of metastasized lung cancer. From the time of actual diagnosis to hospice to death was less than three weeks. It was quite a bit to deal with for all concerned both near and far. Her funeral is Monday.

Yes, she was 84. She lived three years longer than the U.S. average life expectancy. But while living those amazing 84 years, she battled bladder cancer, uterine cancer and lung cancer previously. She had much of her end-of-life plan in place and most of her wishes were made known to her loved ones. She tried to sing ‘Somewhere, Over the Rainbow’ less than 48 hours before her death. She reached to hug her dead grandson less than 24 hours before her death. She waited for her eldest daughter to leave the room, and then she died. Continue Reading…

On July 4, 2013 I came across an essay that was featured in The New York Times Health section – Well Blog written by Mikkail A Sekeres, M.D. entitled “Keeping Cancer a Secret”. In the essay the doctor tells of his relationship with his patient that he has treated for two years with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone marrow cancer. During the course of the examination the doctor learns that the patient has not told his children or his grandchildren about his diagnosis because he didn’t want to burden them. He didn’t tell his employees because he didn’t want them to worry that the boss was sick. The doctor then postulates on why people keep cancer a secret: it’s personal business, a fear of professional discrimination, or altruistic i.e. not wanting others to bear the emotional weight of knowing. He goes on to say “Keeping such a diagnosis hushed, a secret from those who love and care for us, is an unfair burden we shouldn’t allow cancer to dictate, too”. Reading this article disturbed me and I believe points to a much bigger problem in our society – the stigma and shame still associated with a diagnosis of cancer.

(Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/keeping-cancer-a-secret/?_r=0 )

Back in the Old Days – The Origin of Wrong Thinking!

In 1913 fifteen prominent physicians and business leaders in New York City founded the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC). At that time, a cancer diagnosis amounted to near certain death. Rarely mentioned in public, this taboo disease was steeped in fear and denial. Physicians sometimes did not tell their patients they had cancer, and patients often did not tell their friends and families if they had been diagnosed. The ASCC set about writing educational articles for popular magazines and professional journals; publishing Campaign Notes, a monthly bulletin of cancer information; and recruiting physicians throughout the country to help educate the public about the warning signs of cancer. This was the first concerted effort to bring cancer out of the shadows.

In 1936, Marjorie G. Illig, an ASCC field representative and chair of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Committee on Public Health proposed creating a legion of volunteers whose sole purpose was to wage war on cancer. They called themselves the Women’s Field Army, its’ recruits donned khaki uniforms, complete with insignia of rank and achievement. They went out into the streets to raise money and educate the public.

In 1935, there were 15,000 people active in ‘cancer control’ throughout the United States. At the close of 1938, there were 150,000. In 1945, the ASCC was reorganized as the American Cancer Society (ACS). According to the ACS website, after WWII “the nation could at last focus its attention on the public health enemy at home”. In 1946, philanthropist Mary Lasker and her colleagues raised more than $4 million for the Society – $1 million of which was used to establish and fund the Society’s cancer research program. In 1947, they began their famous ‘cancer signals’ campaign, a public education effort about the signs and symptoms of cancer.

(Excerpted from Source: http://www.cancer.org/aboutus/whoweare/our-history )

My Family History

As a child I learned my grandmother died in the mid 1950’s of cancer before I was born but no one talked about it so we didn’t know what type of cancer she had. I understand it was common at the time not to keep good records or even disclose this information within families. When I was older I surmised that my grandmother probably had some form of pelvic cancer since I learned that she had radium implants inserted through her vagina. That’s all I knew. Was it bladder, uterine, ovarian? Nobody talked about it. People diagnosed with cancer and succumbing to the disease often had ‘natural causes’ reported on their death certificates. So I was curious — when did doctors begin to document a cancer diagnosis?

The History of Cancer Registries

  • 1926 — First hospital registry at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT
  • 1935 & 1946 — First central cancer registries (Connecticut and California)
  • 1956 — American College of Surgeons requires a cancer registry for approved cancer programs
  • 1971 — National Cancer Act budgets monies to the National Cancer Institute for research, detection and treatment of cancer
  • 1973— Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of NCI establishes the first national cancer registry
  • 1992—Congress establishes a National Program of Cancer Registries (Public Law 102-515)
  • 1993 — State laws make cancer a reportable disease

(Source: http://www.ncra-usa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3301#sub2)

The Big ‘C’ Continue Reading…