Free Yourself…..


IN HONOR OF NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY:

In response to the egregious verdict of having cancer and learning to collaborated with the unknown of the process of understanding your feelings can be a shocking experiences to say the least.  I will attempt to highlight what I learned and the wider issue it may raise in each one of us, in a partial aspect or as a whole.   So how do people cope and adjust to it all on a grand scale. Most people respond to life threatening events in the following ways, shock, acute distress, looking for meaning, searching for mastery or a way to improve their self- esteem. Of course this all depends on the type of cancer you have,  the stage of the cancer and the support of family and friends in your corner.

You ask your MD am I going to die? Will I have to lose a body part, such as your breast or other. Cancer has its own special place in the chambers of horrors. It is also hard to accept that the closest think to a cure is accepting mutilation and loss of your breast/s or other sexual organs. The questions of Why me? Why now? and even Why not me, instead of a family member? Getting 2nd or 3rd opinions is very common. The diagnosis drowns out your thoughts, until it all settles in and you come to terms with it, some do sooner then others.

The initial emotional reaction depends on the patients personality and attitude and how they were told about the diagnosis. Another way you may respond is saying to yourself that you know what cause your illness (looking for a meaning) as we search for an explanation of its cause and the implications for our life. We do so to win back a feeling that we have control over how we developed cancer in the first place and therefore can affect what happens in the future. At last but not least is improving our self- esteem, that you feel that you are better off then a lot of other people that has different forms of cancer.

You feel once the operation is over you can get back to your life again, in most cases it really is the beginning of the uphill battle to return to a normal life or close to the old life you had before. The time to grief for what you have been through is the first step and all the experience you undertook can cause a numerous ocean tides of emotions from shock, uncertainty, disbelief, fear, denial, anxiety, feeling a threat hanging over you with smallest change in your bodies, in case it means a return of the cancer. Most people eventually develop ways of coping and make sense of it by humor or comparing themselves to others.

Women who had a lumpectomy thank their lucky stars they do not need to have an mastectomy, while mastectomy patients thank God their cancer has not spread. At the end of the day the most important thing is that you can explain your cancer to your own satisfaction to yourself and therefore adjust to it the best you can. It you can do that, then you have freed yourself from the extreme horror of it all.

Breast Cancer and Hair Dye


The moment we all waited for and longed is our last treatment and when it is done, we can’t believe it is here. Getting back to life without treatment and embracing everyday struggles can rekindle uneasy thoughts at times. Take for instance it took me 1 year to decide if I should dye my hair, that was developing a little gray streaks. I finally had the nerve to do it, this weekend. (black is back, and I love it) Years ago, I never would have to think is dying my hair a bad decision or not or asking my oncologist if it is safe to do so!!! Even though I did dye my hair, the fear of cancer from any cause swirls in the back of my mind. I refuse to let the cancer be front and center any more, it can stay hidden in the back of my conscious for good. And only surface when it can beneficial. 

During my journey this weekend, I did a little research of a controlled study by New York Medical Center for Environmental Medical Investigation and the results of this studies, taken in conjunction with the findings of epidemiologic studies, do not implicate hair dye use as an important cause of human breast cancer. In addition the Susan G Komen has studies that show that permanent hair dyes does not increase the risk of breast cancer of occasional users.

On the other hand, hairdressers do have a history of developing bladder cancer from chronic exposure to hair dyes usage of ingredients containing artificial coloring agents, now days you can buy products on the market that do not have the dyes of prior years that were carcinogenic.

 However, it is always wise to have a heart to heart with your self and how you feel about exposing yourself to dyes is extremely important, like I stated I waited until I was 4 years out of treatment before I considered dying my hair. I probably will not dye it again, but I did feel it was worth it after losing my hair twice (one involuntary and one voluntary), having it grow back a different color and eventually developing gray hair. I wanted to feel like myself, one last time, before I allow nature to take its course on my hair.

Breast Cancer Action


There is nothing comforting, secure, soft or reassuring about breast cancer. The reality is doctor’s visits, radiation appointments, chemo infusions and their aftermath. And there’s always the uncertainty of recurrence.

Breast Cancer Action is NOT like most mainstream breast cancer organizations. We aren’t afraid to stand up and speak out about the uncomfortable realities of this disease and we don’t cover up the hard issues with pretty pink ribbons.

Estrogen-positive breast cancer and alcohol are like fire and gasoline:


Estrogen-positive breast cancer and alcohol are like fire and gasoline:

At my last medical appointment my primary MD, informed me that drinking alcohol and having a history of cancer is asking for problems. Of course, I do not drink alcohol anyways, but was a bit interested in what the studies say. So when I went home, I researched this topic. I was stunned to discover how high the odds are ( 90% ) increase of remission when drinking any type of alcohol.

So here is a bit of a summary of Dr. Kathleen T Ruddy’s article:

Alcohol and Estrogen Compete:

Alcohol and estrogen are both metabolized in the liver using similar biochemical pathways. So if the liver is busy clearing alcohol from the bloodstream, estrogen levels will rise as they wait their turn through the liver. Therefore, women who drink regularly, like every day, will have chronically elevated levels of estrogen circulating in their bloodstream. And since estrogen is the equivalent of light, sweet crude for the breast cancer engine, it’s easy to see why regular alcohol consumption is directly linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. In fact, there does not appear to be any “safe” level of alcohol use: even 1/2 glass of wine per day increases the risk for breast cancer.

Avoid alcohol if you want to avoid breast cancer:

The preponderance of data confirm that drinking alcohol on a regular basis increases the risk for breast cancer by approximately 40%. Therefore, my advice is to NEVER drink alcohol if you have/ or had cancer before.

Estrogen-positive breast cancer and alcohol are like fire and gasoline:

The link between alcohol and breast cancer is old news, really. But there is more recent news about alcohol and breast cancer, per se, that ought to set off an alarm down every corridor of preventive medicine: alcohol dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women with estrogen-positive tumors.

Here’s the story:

Dr. Li of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied 365 women between 40-79 who were first diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and who were then diagnosed with a second cancer in the opposite breast. He compared these women to 726 similar patients who had not had tumor recurrence. Li was looking for differences between the two groups that might explain why one group suffered new cancers in the opposite breast, while the other group remained disease-free.

One thing stood out: having one drink per day increased the risk of a ( second cancer by 90%.)

Another unexpected finding: the majority of patients with estrogen-positive tumors did not take or complete anti-estrogen therapy (tamoxifen, anastrozole, femara etc.)

In studying both groups of women, Li made a totally unexpected discovery, not related to alcohol, but that should be viewed as a cautionary revelation nonetheless. Only 39% of patients with tumor recurrence ever used anti-estrogen therapy – although all such women are eligible for this treatment which reduces breast cancer recurrence by 50% – and of the 39% who did use anti-estrogen therapy, only 14.5% completed five years of treatment.

In the 726 women who were used as controls (the patients without tumor recurrence), only 30% ever used anti-estrogen therapy, and of these only 18.5% completed five years of treatment.

Li’s study was not designed to understand why, when 100% of the women enrolled in the study were eligible for anti-estrogen therapy, so few ever used it, and even fewer completed five years of therapy. But for all women in Li’s study, one thing was abundantly clear: drinking alcohol was a very bad idea.

SUMMARY:

Alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer, specifically estrogen-positive breast cancer. Furthermore, in women with estrogen-positive breast cancer, drinking alcohol increases the risk of a new cancer in the opposite breast a jaw-dropping 90%.

TAKE HOME LESSON:

Avoid alcohol – save it for special occasions only. If you have estrogen-positive breast cancer, avoid it like the plague.

And, please, take and stay the course with your anti-estrogen medication (tamoxigen, anastrozole etc.)

India Women and Cancer


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According to a study by the World Health Organization, one in 12 women in urban India will develop cancer in their lifetime. Approximately 40 per cent of new cases of cancer in India afflict women. In the past decade, breast  cancer has overtaken cervical cancer as the most common cancer among women  in Indian cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. Also, India has the highest rate of cervical cancer in the world. One in every 10 cancer deaths worldwide is in urban India. What’s more alarming, 75-80 per cent of patients are in advanced stages of the disease at the time of diagnosis.

Visit http://www.csrtindia.org to get more information about cancer screening.

Learn more

If you are seeking information on cancer, the Internet is your best option. Here are a few useful websites:

http://www.acor.org
This website hosted by the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) is a collection of online communities that provide accurate information n a supportive environment

http://www.cancer.org
The website of the American Cancer Society is focused on research and education, patient and community services and patient-based program

http://www.indiancancersociety.org
The website provides information on its various activities, branches and other useful cancer links

http://www.cancerguide.org
This website has been created by Steve Dunn, a cancer survivor, and covers individual experiences and a collection of articles on medical literature, clinical trails, cancer statistics, etc

http://www.cancerindia.org
The Gujarat Cancer Society (GCS) website provides substantial cancer-related information and case studies

www. http://nih.gov/
The focuses on the program of the National Institute of Health, USA, coordinating a national research program on cancer causes and prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment

http://www.oncolink.upenn.edu
A comprehensive website from the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center that contains information regarding sites, treatment and emotional support as well as current articles, literature and research information

Breast cancer

http://www.breastcancer.about.com
This website provides basic information through a series of articles, forums, a newsletter and a chat room

http://www.nabco.org
The National Association of Breast Cancer Organizations, USA, provides information and assistance to patients and family members

Cervical cancer

http://www.cervicalhealth.org
The Centre for Cervical Health provided information on Pap tests, useful information and resources

http://www.vulvarpainfoundation.org
The Vulvar Pain Foundation provides information on treatment, support and research and promotes awareness

Ovarian cancer

http://www.ovarian.org
This site provides information on ovarian cancer, its symptoms and treatment

http://www.ovariancancer.org
A support site for ovarian cancer, it offers details about women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the survivors

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