Bob Lawrence’s journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer

February 18, 2012 by  
Filed under BRAIN, VIDEO

Bob Lawrence's journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer
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New Mothers – 10 Health Tips for Women After Delivery

December 29, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

This video features 10 health tips for new mothers. These recommendations are based on expert clinical guidelines published in UpToDate online version 19.3, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This video was produced by Nicholas Cohen, MD in 2011.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

When people are having a melancholic Christmas

December 15, 2010 by  

‘Tis the season to be jolly but not everybody is celebrating/has something to celebrate this Christmas. There are many reasons why people are melancholic rather than merry this Christmas. Let us look at the possible scenarios and see how we can help people in these situations.

Loss of a loved one. Loss of a loved person so close to the holiday season is hard. For a little child, the loss of a parent or sibling around Christmas is very sad situation. For a parent, losing a little child is a big blow. How we can help:

  • You can show sensitivity and understanding by downplaying your own Christmas cheerfulness when your bereaved friends are around.
  • You can provide distraction – a dog or a cat or a house pet to take care of, even if only temporarily.
  • You can let your bereaved friend take care of you – let them feel they are needed.

Health issues. There is nothing like health problems to dampen the holiday spirits. This is hard enough for adults, but much more for a child who is stuck in a hospital bed while his or her friends go Christmas caroling. How we can cheer them up:

  • Visit, call, visit. My husband’s grandma, who is 90 years old, broke her leg from a fall the other week and had to stay at the hospital. She lives in another country 260 km away, but we visited her on that first weekend after her admission, braving the snowy road conditions. Boy, was she happy to see us, chuckling at my husband’s joke that her ice hockey career for this season at least is over. We called almost every day afterwards even after she was transferred to a rehabilitation clinic, where she will stay till after New Year.
  • Donate. Donate time and money to cheer up the sick during the holiday season. I know somebody who runs a Toys for Tots fund drive every Christmas for a public hospital in Manila, Philippines. It is not only the kids but also other hospital patients who need cheering up during the holidays. The elderly, with no family to visit them, are especially lonely during this season of cheer.

Stress and responsibilities. It is not only the patients who need cheering up this season. Their caregivers need our help as well. Let us face it: taking care of the sick is a big burden both physically and emotionally. Here is what we can do to help them:

  • Time off. Giving caregivers time off even if only for a few hours is the best gift you can give them. A whole free day without responsibilities would be a special treat.
  • Moral support. Luckily, there are groups providing support for caregivers the whole year but more so during the holiday season. Some caregiver support programs can be found at:

the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and Leeza’s Place,

Stand Together for AD: Strength and Support for Alzheimer’s at

I’ll be bringing you some more tips on caregiving in the coming days.

The Ovarian Cancer Battle

May 8, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


Ovaries are the small almond shaped glands that attach to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. They produce eggs and hormones.

According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 71. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2008 there will be 21,250 new cases diagnosed and 15,520 deaths.

Most Ovarian Cancer develops from:

Epithelial Cells: surface cells covering the ovary, the most commonly diagnosed ovarian cancer
Germ Cells: the egg producing cells

While the cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, it is known what may reduce or increase your risk.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Your risk of getting ovarian cancer is reduced if you have had a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation (fallopian tubes are ‘tied’)
  • Your risk is lower if you have had children, and lower with each pregnancy
  • Women who have breast fed have a lower risk
  • Women who take birth control pills have a lower risk
  • The use of male hormones to treat endometriosis may increase your risk
  • Obesity may increase your risk
  • A family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer increases your risk
  • A personal history of breast cancer increases your risk
  • Use of estrogen therapy alone may increase your risk
  • Most ovarian cancers occur in women who are in menopause.

Please visit the American Cancer Society site for a complete discussion of these risk factors.
Ovarian cancer may be detected with a pelvic exam. By that time it may be advanced. Women with high risk factors and a family history should be extra diligent to maintain routine gynecologic exams and be very observant for possible symptoms.

Symptoms May Include:

Simple acronyms shared by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance are:

B for Bloating
P for Pelvic or abdominal Pain
D for Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
U for Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

It’s obvious these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases. Per the American Cancer Society, “If you have symptoms that you can’t explain nearly every day for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor right away. “

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 (or Breast Cancer 1 and 2) genes are responsible for many cases of familial ovarian cancer and familial breast cancer. Women with a familial link to ovarian cancer should consult their physicians about this test. Source: The Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

As part of diagnosis, your physician may order a blood test. A CA-125 will show higher levels in women who have ovarian cancer. Other tests may include various radiographic imaging exams and possibly a biopsy, colonoscopy and or laparoscopy.


Currently a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the modalities for ovarian cancer treatment. Early diagnosis is the key.

For up-to-date treatment options for ovarian cancer see the National Cancer Institute pages which includes information on antiogenisis, the process of reducing the blood supply to tumors.

teal-ribbon.jpgOvarian Cancer Initiatives and Resources:

One of the strongest voices in the battle against ovarian cancer is the The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Their National Agenda has three initiatives:

1. Advance Ovarian Cancer Research
2. Improve Health Care Practice for Ovarian Cancer, and
3. Expand the National Advocacy Movement for Ovarian Cancer

February 13, 2008, a Yale University Phase II clinical trial released the following information: ” Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed a blood test with enough sensitivity and specificity to detect early stage ovarian cancer with 99 percent accuracy. ”

For more information on clinical trials for ovarian cancer see the American Cancer Society Clinical Trials Matching Service, the National Cancer Institute or The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Clinicial Trials Matching Service.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) offers support and advocacy. Upcoming classes include: 2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course.

Ovarian Cancer Canada, and the Winners Walk of Hope: ” Join thousands of people in 14 cities across Canada on Sunday, September 7th to help commemorate September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

Conversations! The International Newsletter for those Fighting Ovarian Cancer.

SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer: hotlines, support groups, education and advocacy.

Battling Books:

100 Questions & Answers About Ovarian Cancer, Second Edition by Don S. Dizon (2006)

A Guide to Survivorship for Women With Ovarian Cancer by F. J. Montz, Robert E. Bristow, and Paula J. Anastasia (2005)

It’s My Ovaries, Stupid! by Elizabeth Lee Vliet (2003)

Tomorrow is your last day–comment on any blog post through Friday May 9th, for a chance to win a free pound of Bald Lady coffee.

Cave Days

April 23, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

cave.jpgNo matter how much you educate yourself, how much you prepare for battle in every way; there will still be days you feel like crawling into the cave and giving up.

You had those days before you had cancer and its normal to have them now.

Rules for the cave:

  • Give yourself a time limit for the cave
  • Get it all out. Try writing a letter you don’t send, have a good cry–whatever helps you express your grief, anger, sadness, frustration or pain
  • Track back. At least do yourself the courtesy of figuring out exactly what triggered how you feel
  • Rest. Battling too long without extra mental, physical and spiritual nourishment drains the warrior.
  • Indulge in something that makes you feel special like silk pajamas, a hardback book, a special tea cup, or a slice of baklava

When the buzzer goes off and its time to come out of the cave- take a moment for review.

Have you activated a support team as part of your treatment plan? Do you have an advocate who can take some of the load on days when you can’t put on your battle gear? Have you cultivated friends with cancer who understand exactly what you are going through?

What about you?

Is it possible you haven’t allowed any you time in your busy schedule? Are you trying to maintain a ‘normal’ life and dealing with your ‘cancer’ life on the side. Are you trying to juggle all the balls all by yourself in an effort to not let anyone down?

Again. What about you?

Get out your calendar and plan you time.

  • How about a movie that makes you smile. You can go by yourself you know. How about Nim’s Island?
  • What is your favorite store? Hardware store? Bookstore? Used Clothing Boutique? Fabric Store? Art Gallery? Plan an outing around your store. Allow yourself a few hours to window shop then go for a nice cup of tea or the beverage of your choice.
  • Take yourself back to your youthful innocence. What haven’t you done since you were a kid? A picnic? A trip to the zoo? Had a fudge sundae? Looked at all the pets in the window of the pet store.
  • Pencil in an hour or two to laugh. How about You Tube’s Best In Jest Videos?

Now that you’re out of the cave…

I have to tell you the cave could use a little renovation. It’s depressing. Consider a new coat of paint, maybe in soothing blue tones, or calming pink.

Have you considered candles and artwork? Or posters? Let me direct you to cave wares:

And finally, from the archives a few post to review:

Is Anybody Out There?

Patient Advocacy

Spring Cancer Events

April 16, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

tulip.jpgSpring is in the air!

Many cancer support organizations are gearing up for warm weather events.

Consider participating, donating dollars or volunteering your time to support these activities.

Cancer events have many purposes including:

  • fundraising for research
  • awareness and information dissemination
  • inspiration
  • remembering those who have and are still fighting the battle
  • an avenue for loved ones and caregivers to offer support

What’s Going On…

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The Facts: Breast Cancer In Men

April 9, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Male Breast Cancer comprises 1% of all diagnosed cases of breast cancer.

While rare, breast cancer can occur in men at any age, though it is usually diagnosed in men over fifty, primarily in the 60-70 year age group.

Just like breast cancer in women, early detection is the key to beating male breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 some 1,990 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States. In 2008, about 450 men will die from breast cancer in the United States.

Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • High levels of estrogen related to other disease entities
  • A history of Klinefelter syndrome
  • Hereditary altered gene factors (BRCA2 gene)
  • Family members diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Excess weight and excessive use of alcohol

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

Lumps or masses discovered in male breasts tend to be smaller than a female breast lump, though often more widespread, probably due to the fact that there is less breast tissue in males. Unfortunately men tend to ignore lumps, masses or redness, of the breast area, instead attributing it to other issues. Other symptoms of male breast cancer can include skin dimpling and nipple changes.

Initial diagnosis steps are the same as those for women and include a complete physical including breast exam, a mammogram and may include a biopsy.

Types of breast cancer found in men include:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma-The most common type of breast cancer which begins in the ducts of the breast and breaks through to breast tissue.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ-This type of cancer begins in the ducts and has not moved past the walls of the ducts. It is most often curable.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer-An uncommon cancer that does not begin with a lump, caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph ducts.
  • Paget disease of the nipple-A rare cancer that appears as a rash on one nipple, or areola area of the breast and may include an inverted nipple or nipple discharge.

Treatment and Recovery:

Treatment is determined after staging. Staging of breast cancer follows The American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM System.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery-lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node dissection
  • Radiation-external beam, brachytherapy
  • Chemotherapy-in conjunction with other treatments or alone
  • Hormone therapy-most often utilized to prevent cancer from reoccurring
  • Targeted therapy-clinical trials are utilizing laboratory created antibodies to block or kill cancer cells

More detailed information of breast cancer treatment options for men can be found at the National Cancer Institute site.

Further resources and support for Male Breast Cancer:

The New York Times, June 10, 2003, Surprise Role for Ex-Senator: Male Breast Cancer Patient. Former Massachusetts Senator, Edward W. Brooke, discusses his journey with breast cancer.

Male Care-Men fighting cancer together. hosts the Male Breast Cancer Online Support Group.

Is Anybody Out There?

April 3, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


Cancer Blogging.

First, what exactly is a blog?

“A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.” Source.

And how many blogs are out there? The estimated 112.8 million English speaking blogs is probably an underestimate.

So why blog? Why write a book or create the lyrics to a song? Do you have something to say that others want to hear?

If you are a cancer patient, you are one of 10,326,000 people. Source.

This doesn’t include cancer survivors.

That’s a lot of people you have a commonality with, not to mention every single person touched by cancer.

Does your journey have a value to others? I think so and obviously so do others.

There is a huge relief that comes from reading a journey similar to your own. That sense of not being alone is hugely comforting. As we’ve discussed before regarding social platforms, sometimes it does take one to know one. Who truly knows what you are dealing with every moment of every day better than someone who IS there, right beside you, in a similar situation?

A New York Times article, February 26, 2008 discusses the value of chronicling for cancer patients. The Power of Words for Cancer Patients.

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20 Communities Where You Can Share Your Cancer Stories

February 6, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my friend’s recent cancer diagnosis in the last few days. I think I’m coming to realize that you or a person you love becomes sick, it’s natural reaction to feel as if you’re the only person in the world who has ever been through that situation before.

In the spirit of strength in numbers, I’m compiled 20 positive and supportive internet communities for cancer patients, survivors and their family and friends. I hope that you find them useful!

  1. I’m too Young for This!Aimed at young adults, this support community has blogs and social networks to help cancer patients meet up and share their stories.
  2. Out With Cancer – Specifically for gay and lesbians with cancer, this site is an excellent place to meet up with other members through their blogs and message boards. You can even write your own blog or chat in live support groups at any time.
  3. Right Health – This general health site has a cancer community where you can meet up with others in forums and discussion groups.
  4. Revolution Health – Another general health website, Revolution Health has an active cancer community that boasts discussion groups, blogs, personal stories, and even a  question board.
  5. WEGO Health – This portal for high-quality health information has a brand new cancer community. Add your story to their message boards!
  6. WebMD – Probably the most popular general health website, WebMD has a cancer health center that has specific information about many different types of cancer. Stop by their message boards and introduce yourself!
  7. Discovery Health – Best known for their documentary-style health programs, this television network’s companion website also has a cancer community.
  8. National Breast Cancer Foundation – While compiling this list, I tried not to focus on a specific type of cancer. However, the MyNBCF network is one of the most friendly and supportive groups that I’ve seen on the net.
  9. American Cancer Society – If you’re looking for information, or if you are a patient, family member, friend, or health provider, don’t miss the ACS’s message boards. It’s one of the only communities out there that provides expert guidance to their members.
  10. Canadian Cancer Society – Sometimes all you really want is to talk to someone who understands. Check out the CCS’s one-on-one, group and telephone support resources.
  11. My Cancer -Leroy Sievers is blogging about his cancer, and he has an incredibly active community of fellow cancer patients and survivors.
  12. PC-REF – The Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation hosts a live call-in show with Dr. Israel Barken that you can listen to on the internet.
  13. Experience Project – Looking for a place to vent? Trying to find someone who’s going through what you’re going through? The Experience Project has some interesting discussions going on relating to cancer, including I Have Cancer, I am Afraid of Cancer, I Have Lost People I Love to Cancer, I Survived Cancer and I Hate Cancer.
  14. MD Anderson Cancer Center – The chaplaincy program at MDA hosts a Spiritual Pathways community message board.
  15. Fertile Hope – Aimed at cancer patients or survivors who have had medical treatments that present a risk of infertility, this community offers support and answers from women who are going through the same thing. The group is fairly new, but immensely useful.
  16. Re-Mission – Re-Mission is a video game aimed at children and teens to educate them about cancer, and the companion website has a thriving community, complete with blogs and a message board.
  17. Strength For Caring – While not specifically aimed for cancer caregivers, this is an excellent site for connecting with others going through the unique challenges of supporting loved ones health conditions.
  18. WikiCancer – For the web 2.0 savvy, WikiCancer shares stories, advice, and support from individuals going under treatment and those who have already completed it.
  19. CancerCompass – This message board includes sub-topics for all types of cancers and also general groups to discuss nutrition and after-treatment care.
  20. Beliefnet – Because my husband and I both work in fields where we are in direct contact with individuals who have either just learned of their diagnosis or are in treatment for it, we routinely asked by patients and their families to join them in prayer. Beliefnet, an inter-denominational website focusing on faith, spirituality and inspiration, offers a cancer support group where you can exchange prayer requests and ask the tough questions.

Am I missing your favorite cancer community? Let me know in the comments!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.