Tuesday, September 13, 2011

95. Guest Post: David Haas

Human's Power Over Cancer

Humanity has an incredible ability to persevere through hard times and unfortunate situations. This ability is enhanced when positivity is displayed through all the people that one deals with.

Cancer survivor networks have helped thousands of cancer patients understand and cope with their condition. Moreover, it surrounds patients with other people in the same situation. There are groups for different kinds of cancer, such as colon cancer, breast cancer and skin cancer. There are even groups that are specially designed for patients with a rare cancer, like mesothelioma. Here are some specific reasons why cancer survivor networks are important.

It allows patients to exchange thoughts

Cancer patients are constantly thinking about their situation and need a support group to sort all the thoughts they have. Many patients have questions that they either are scared to ask a doctor about or forget to ask a doctor during their visit. These relaxed groups help patients, and even encourage patients, to write a list of questions that they want to ask the group and group leaders.

Some common topics during a session include
life expectancy questions, tips to help recover from chemotherapy, how to stay positive during treatment, and why it is so important to stay positive during treatment.

It helps patients develop a positive outlook and sense of well-being

Having talked about their condition, many patients leave each group session feeling
positive and ready to embrace the world during their battle with cancer.

This positive outlook and sense of well-being not only helps patients mentally, but also physically. Studies show that a positive outlook helps the body to relax, allowing the immune system and other important bodily functions to operate in an efficient manner.

It allows patients in remission share their experience

Cancer survivor networks are for patients in all stages of cancer, including remission. Therefore, remission patients can share their experience to other patients who are still going through treatment or have yet to go through treatment. A remission patient's uplifting and encouraging stories can help other patients to feel empowered and less anxious about their condition.


This link
http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/SupportProgramsServices/index connects patients with survivor networks. However, there are also online cancer survivor network programs to help patients who are confined to their house, though some people may say they are not as effective as in-person groups.

If you are going through cancer treatment, you should connect yourself to a survivor network. The friends you will meet and the information you will gain will be invaluable.

By: David Haas

Sunday, September 11, 2011

94. following up and my health

so i had my appointment with the genetics counselor a while back. here is what happened...

i found out our brca2 mutation of unknown significance had be down-graded to a status 4-5 which means through study, they consider this mutation harmless and not responsible for the cancers in my family.

this is good i suppose, but it doesn't put the puzzle pieces together for my family. it also does not qualify me for additional surveillance on top of my mastectomy.

in canada, post mastectomy follow up consists of annual clinical breast exams by my family doctor. no additional imaging. i asked about a base-line mri and they don't do that here either. should something "show up", the steps would be an ultra sound and then possible mri.

we went over my family tree again. there are still a lot of questions on my mother's father's side. this side has not been tested. there is still a lot of gaps in data but because most of the family past the 1st generation lives in holland and is not english speaking i have put all the digging around to get information on hold. it is too stressful and school takes up way too much time.

as for my health...i've been in reasonable good health through out the past 2 years and my whole ordeal. i had been eating exceptionally well and only had one cold. aside from complications that i could not really prevent (c-diff and pneumothorax post surgery in april of 2010), i was surprised to find out a few weeks ago that i had been walking around and going to school with pneumonia for the past 2-3 months!!!

i had been complaining often of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing on extremely hot and humid days and remarked to many that i thought i was developing asthma or that i was anemic. blood work came back perfect. i feel slightly embarrassed that i did not recognize that i had pneumonia as this is now the 4th time! had i known, i would have sought treatment much earlier. the only thing i think that threw me was every other time i have had pneumonia in the past, i had an aggravating cough that would keep me up all night and fever/night sweats. i had none of that with this bout.

after a 2 week round of antibiotics and a bout with a superinfection (again...but thankfully not c-diff) i think i am feeling better. i did not get a phone call from my follow-up chest x-ray so i hope that means its all clear. i am still feeling short of breath and tired but this could be because my body has been deconditioned (to cause to decline from a condition of physical fitness, as through a prolonged period) so i need to work on increasing my fitness level again.

sorry for the late response/follow-up from my last post. i do blame this on the pneumonia. it's great to have excuses. lol. my excuse now if i don't post is that semester 3 just started for nursing. i am officially half-way through the program. this semester i will get to go into the OR and witness a few surgeries. this is very exciting for me. maybe i will get to see a double mastectomy!

***stay tuned for a guest post this week from David Hass on "Human's Power Over Cancer" and how to utilize Cancer survivor networks.