Kindness is a wonderful trait. It is a trait that every individual has.  How often it is displayed; however, depends on our mood, our situation, and our desire to do so. To be kind can be tough, because cynics attempt to squash the motives of others and moreover people tend to take kindness for granted. It is this lack of positive reinforcement that diminishes peoples’ desire to be kind. Therefore, I thought I would take a moment to heap praise on the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the people of San Francisco!

              If you have not heard about the recent superhero that has appeared in San Francisco, please meet Miles Scott a.k.a. “Batkid.” Miles is a five-year old boy who has fought Leukemia since his diagnosis at eighteen months old.  The fine folks at the Make a Wish Foundation bestowed upon Miles a wish… and what a wish it was! Miles’ desire was to fight crime like Batman and not only did he accomplish this feat, but the city of San Francisco delivered one of the greatest examples of kindness ever displayed. The city transformed itself into Gotham City and created numerous situations which only Batman and Batkid could undo. Racing out of the bat cave, Batkid saved a damsel in distress, dispatched the Riddler, saved the San Francisco Giants’ mascot and brought safety and peace back to the people of “Gotham.”

     At each step of the way countless people appeared to cheer on the pint-sized superhero. The attention this sensation spurred celebrities, including previous “Batmen” Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and the forthcoming Batman, Ben Affleck, to herald the efforts of Miles. Miles’ efforts were even recognized by the White House, including a vine message from President Obama himself.

Meanwhile, back in the city by the Bay, the Mayor of San Francisco presented Miles with a key to the city and proclaimed that it was “Batkid day forever more.” For those citizens of San Francisco who were unaware that their lives were saved by our hero, the San Francisco Chronicle renamed itself the Gotham City Chronicle and published thousands of newspapers to document the diminutive caped crusader’s adventures.

San Francisco Chronicle front page!

San Francisco Chronicle front page!

This story clearly demonstrates the good-hearted nature of people and the power of positivity. All of these are drastically important for those of us fighting any illness, or even the day-to-day grind. Please take a lesson from the people of San Francisco and the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make the dreams of the people around you come true, or if not their dreams, maybe just start with their day.

Tell me you didn’t think of this song when you read that last line:

If you didn’t think of that song maybe you’ll hear this song soon and think of this one:

http://www.gigwise.com/news/86193/Batman-composer-Hans-Zimmer-pens-theme-song-for-Batkid

Cancer Support Groups Provide Balance and Help

I’m very excited about today’s post! Recently, I was supervising this blog and was prompted to approve a post of an individual who wished to contact me. This isn’t unheard of, and often I’m excited by the opportunity to discuss the effects of cancer, cancer treatments, experiences, and most importantly how we as members of the cancer community can give back.

This post asked if I believed in allowing others the opportunity to ghost write. I think this is a great idea, because it allows more voices to be heard and an opportunity for readers to see the larger cancer picture. David Haas’ beautifully written post , which follows, thoroughly explains the availability of cancer support groups and the differences that exist between  the different styles of support. I hope that you enjoy his writing and appreciate his focus on the mental and emotional side of the broader cancer experience.

How Cancer Support Groups Help Cancer Patients

One of the fastest growing diseases affecting many people is cancer with some of examples being breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma. While the impact, treatment and life expectancy of each cancer may vary; there is one thing that stays the same. There will always be people to help you with the fight. Cancer is often dreaded because of the debilitating effects it has on the physical, emotional and social life of patients, families, friends and caregivers. However, with new treatment methods and successful support groups, survivorship and recovery have improved. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, becoming a member of a cancer support group to help you on your journey is critical to your managing the disease and living a fulfilled life.

A wide range of support groups and programs that cater to the different needs and types of cancers are available. In addition, there are special cancer survivor networks that are designed for men, women and teens, transportation, lodging and education classes. Cancer support groups play an important role in helping men and women understand and cope with this disease. These include people who have been diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing treatment, those who are in remission as well as survivors.

Cancer support groups may help cancer patients experience a better quality of life, which includes improved self-worth and interpersonal relationships with family and friends. People who are in support programs are likely to be less anxious and to feel hopeless. In addition, support networks can educate you on cancer treatments, challenges, recovery and coping methods as you learn from their experiences.

Regardless of your situation you should be able to find a cancer support group to help meet your needs. If you prefer the face-to-face interaction, you may join a group where members meet in person. However, for those who desire less personal contact and who may have difficulties traveling to meetings, there are online as well as telephone support groups where you can share you story and your feelings. You may also find support groups that are organized at the workplace, in the community and at medical facilities.

With the many cancer support networks that exist, it is important for you to find the one that best fits your needs. Here are some great online resources, which can help you find cancer support networks and groups:

American Association for Cancer Research – Article on how to choose a support group

Inspire

By: David Haas

I believe that Haas’ writing brings to life an important side of cancer treatment, one that is often misunderstood, and forgotten, that being the mental and emotional toll that cancer can take.  I believe that, often, we become obsessed with the medical aspect of treatment, that we  neglect the  lingering effects of this disease, and its impact upon the patient, the caregivers, and family/friends. Cancer takes its toll, and has been compared to war, and in many ways it is.  This is evident in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) article on the effects of cancer, where they draw a comparison between war-time Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the development of PTSD following cancer treatments. The NCI’s recognition of cancer related PTSD further illustrates the importance that Haas discusses. Like Haas, I highly encourage cancer patients and their support structures to look into these forms of care, because the lasting effects on the patient and those that surround them will far exceed the diagnosis and the disease.

To supplement Haas’ links for cancer patients, I have included a link which provides support groups  for caregivers and families: Caregiver and Family Support Groups

I would like to thank David Haas for his time, and efforts and I hope that this article and the links provided will aid others in finding the help that they need.

Furthermore, if you enjoyed this article or wish to add a post, as well, feel free to contact me and we will hopefully work together to bring this terrible disease to an end.

Now, I know exactly what your thinking…. and No, this isn’t that kind of post… but if you were thinking like I was thinking then you automatically started thinking about this:

Ahhh, yes… old school Double Mint gum commercials. If you thought that commercial was ridiculous you should go to Youtube and check out the rest of them, because they are hysterical. My favorite at the moment is this one:

Now, I didn’t send you here just to look at Doublemint gum commercials. It just happens to be one the big benefits of coming to by blog of randomness from time to time. The purpose of today’s post is to ask you donate to the LiveSTRONG foundation.  This is where you immediately start thinking of the millions of other things that you would rather be doing right now or that you cannot be bothered by this whole idea, or that you’ll get around to it later. Let me outline a few reasons why I think this is a worthwhile donation and overall how it relates to the Doublemint commercials. 

Why you should donate:

1st: The donation to the Livestrong Charity is a donation to aid the 28 million people currently fighting the disease. 

2nd: It is a donation to try to end the number 1 global killer and the number 2 killer in the United States:

3rd: In terms of money raised, The Lance Armstrong Foundation provides more money to actual cancer programming on a percentage basis than is used for any other “expense.” The foundation raised 32 million dollars in 2008 and its administrative costs were just over 1 million dollars. To put this into perspective the Livestrong Foundation provides more money on a percentage basis to cancer research then  the American Cancer Society:

This is where you say, “Prove it!” and I say, “Bring it on!”  Here’s the proof. An independent, non-profit organization named Charity Navigator, which also works like the Better Business Bureau and American Institute of Philanthropy (which also have ratings and guides that you may use to find out how charities use the money you donated) have rated the Livestrong Foundation as a higher donor to programs as compared to the American Cancer Society. 

Check it for yourself: Charity Navigator

4th: Most importantly for this post and the reason for the title is that whatever money is donated by the Game on, cancer team will be doubled through the kind workings of Pfizer, INC.  That means if you donate 5 dollars it will actually be 10 dollars. And because of number 3 more of that money will go to cancer programming!

5th: Remember your donations are tax-deductible! Our government and the fine folks at Internal Revenue Service actually admire the fact that you provide money to charities and cut you some slack on your tax returns!

6th: Are you aware that we are slowly moving to a point where nearly 50% of the population will have cancer in their lifetime. Wouldn’t it be better to start working on a cure now, rather than to wait for you to develop the disease and then think about how you should have done so from the start?

Why you think you shouldn’t donate:

1st: I don’t have enough time: Honestly – It takes 5 minutes, actually probably less Donation Page .  Look I’ve even given you a link to a donation page!

2nd: I’ve already donated: Listen so have I… and donating money that can be doubled is like donating 3 times. If you’re like me, I can’t turn down girl scouts and their cookies or the Salvation army when they are outside the mall… why turn down cancer patients?

3rd: With all of the turmoil around Lance Armstrong, I feel that I’m donating my money to a “villain” or a potential villain.  Trust me: There are few people more than I who will be any less devastated by a confirmation against Lance Armstrong, but I’ve been thinking about this and the more I think about it the more I can look past the cycling career and focus on the fact that this man and his recovery from cancer is still an incredible thing and the message that he puts out is positive about ending a disease that will ravage many of us in the years to come. Here’s my history lesson for the day: How many of us go to Rockefeller Center, go to libraries, colleges, and other educational facilities created by Andrew Carnegie.   How many of you use Windows – remember the story is that Bill Gates sacrificed his partner to take it over himself and now he is promoting the return of half of his fortune to charity. He’s also convincing other billionaires to do the same! The funds for those good endeavours came from the exploitation of millions of workers at the profit of those business tycoons, but yet we do not dare tear those structures down, because now they are viewed as positives in our community. I’m not promoting cheating (if in fact Lance is guilty) but I am promoting the message – The idea to overcome a challenge that seems insurmountable, the idea of promoting positive symbolism to take down cancer, the image of strength in knowledge and power of knowledge to take down a disease that threatens us all. I am for that.

One Last Stand

July 26, 2010

Yesterday ended an era.  Lance Armstrong, the 7-time champion of the Tour de France stood on the podium for one last time. The image was not nearly the same as it had been in years passed, the solitary figure, alone, wearing the Maillot Jaune (the Tour’s General Classification Champion), but it was Armstrong  surrounded by the members of his Radioshack Team each wearing  a customized black Radioshack Kit with the number 28 inscribed on the back and the name of each rider in yellow font.  This moment is the perfect finale to Lance’s career.  

Team Classification Presentation

Team Classification Presentation

 

Photo from the following link: Presentation Photo from Team Radioshack website 

Here Lance is surrounded by a team of individuals all working for the good of the whole, but at the same time working for each of the individuals within the team. The symbolism is breathtaking.  Each of these men was wearing a jersey that represented the 28 million people who are currently living with cancer. Each of those individuals fighting cancer feels isolated as they remain locked in their personal battle with cancer, but at the same time they are surrounded by a team of family members, friends, neighbors, nurses, doctors, and other medical practitioners each working for the good of the whole, but at the same time fulfilling their individual roles, similar to that of a cycling team. Each individual allows the darkness and bleakness of the disease to enter their minds at some point thinking of the grim possibilities, but their remains a light of hope in bright yellow rays that illuminates new cures, treatments, and possibilities. Therefore, the design of these kits with their black coloring and yellow lettering illustrates this concept and also, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  

The questionable jerseys?

 

The link for the above photo: 28 Jersey Photo and article 

Team Radioshack’s finish also highlights an increase in cycling’s popularity  in the United States, as many Americans, became aware of cycling by hearing of the dominating performance of “the Boss” and his US Postal compatriots later Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team.  Now Americans are aware of names such as Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, David Zabriske, Chris Horner, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador, Roberto Heras, Victor Hugo Pena, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.  As American’s involvement in cycling rose so too did their involvement in understanding cancer and battling it as a collective. 

Lance Armstrong may have appeared to be on  his trek as an individual champion, but in reality he led the rest of us into a deeper understanding of cycling and cancer,  both of which have the ability to reward the individual, but are based upon the combined efforts of the individual and the team that surrounds them. Therefore, the ending in Paris even though not what many (myself included) may have wanted was probably more perfectly suited to the analogy of the cycling and cancer movement. 

Side Note: Did you know that the organizers of the Tour de France fined Team Radioshack for wearing the black jerseys at the beginning of the final stage and threatened to disqualify them. The fine was approximately $6,000.  The organizers did say; however, this money would be donated to cancer research. 

  

Photo courtesy of: http://www.livestrong.org/Take-Action/Team-LIVESTRONG-Events/LIVESTRONG-Challenge-Series/LIVESTRONG-Challenge-Philly 

It’s that time of year again, folks! Hopefully, you have all been getting ready for the biggest LIVESTRONG event in the Philadelphia area, and for that matter on the East Coast!!!! Remember that there are 4 LIVESTRONG Challenges: San Jose, Seattle, Austin, and Philadelphia. You will notice that out of the four only ONE is on the East Coast!

Here are the official details from the official website: LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE Website

“In Philly, on August 21—22, the LIVESTRONG Challenge takes place in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell on the Montgomery County Community College Campus. This year we’ve expanded our Philly event to a 2-day format. Because of the growth of the event, moving the run/walk to Saturday will allow us to welcome more participants and add an additional 10K distance and Post Event Party for our runners and walkers. On Sunday, our riders can enjoy bike rides varying from 10, 20, 45, 75 and 100 mile options. For the first time ever in Philly, enjoy both activities of the LIVESTRONG Challenge.”

 (Me Again:) I’m again looking to put in an effort for one of the two  running portions of the event.  There is a 5k and a 10k. I’m going to do the  10k, unless I can come up with a road bike and start training for the actual ride. If so, I’m going to try and do both! I’m hoping you are looking to participate to do the same and join us or  come back out for another exciting adventure in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. This is a fun day of both exercise, friendship and unity in the fight against cancer. I personally have been involved in this event every year that it has taken place and I’m amazed at how every year this particular event  gets larger and larger.  In addition, I’m hoping that afterwards, we could BBQ or and enjoy the post party events. I’m also thinking T-shirts again as we did last year. Let me know if you’re interested email me at gameoncancer@aol.com! And register here:  Philly Registration

 Also, I believe if the rumour (Yes, I know it’s the british version of rumor. I’m being fancy) is correct that Lance, himself, will be making an appearance at the event, following his conclusion of his last Tour de France.

Everyday we go through our lives purchasing some small convenience or another. For many it’s the morning Grande White Mocha  from the local Starbucks or Boston Creme donut, etc.  As we go through our day we make our transaction and receive our change. Occasionally, we fall short by just a few cents. We look down at the counter and there in a small rectangular dish is the our salvation. This redeemer often has some teenager’s handwriting in black sharpie that reads “TAKE A PENNY, LEAVE A PENNY!” We naturally gather up the needed coins and to finish our purchase and go about with our sugary goodness, quite content with our fortune.

http://www.riseoverrunmag.com/images/1108.jpg

image courtesy of: http://www.riseoverrunmag.com/images/1108.jpg

This type of action takes place everyday countless times and we generally don’t think much of the value of those tiny “copper” coins, because they are so the lowest part of the American currency ladder, so much so, that the United States’ government was actually thinking of discontinuing them, because they’ve become more expensive to make then the coin is actually worth. Here’s the USA Today article that discusses the possible dismissal of the Penny: Penny Value

However, today’s post doesn’t deal with the day-to-day interactions and the use of the penny, but more importantly the power that the penny actually possesses. Recently the penny actually went so far as to prevent a cancer patient from receiving the benefits of her medical coverage.  This woman La Rosa Carrington, a single mother of two, encountered this problem. The issue was that her medical provider Discovery Benefits would not continue her treatments for form of leukemia that requires 5 chemo treatments each week for the course of a month, because she did not pay 1 penny. The interesting part of this is the following: that La Rosa actually went through the process of determining  how much she was responsible for paying in her medical coverage since she had recently lost her job. She had calculated her payment to be roughly $161.15.  Discovery Benefits calculated the payment to come out to $161.16.  The actual math should would have determined it to be 161.1545. 

Now this, is where your math skill should kick in. When you were taught rounding… you didn’t round to the nearest whole number unless that number was a five or above… for example if you had an 89.5% in Math, you hoped your favorite math teacher would round that up to a 90%.

image courtesy of: craigtmonroe.wordpress.com/2009/10/ 

 However, if you were to receive an 89.4% you knew it wasn’t going to be rounded unless you went in and asked for extra credit.

Fortunately, since this story was printed and publicized Ms. Carrington has had her medical coverage reinstated. It still leaves many questions; however, about the medical profession and the pursuit of payment. This article is meant not as a malicious attack on the medical field, but more of an awareness for people undergoing medical treatment and those that are caring for people undergoing medical treatment to be aware and cognizant of the bills that are coming and the payments required.  Hopefully, some steps will be taken to care for those in trouble or financial stress. Furthermore, it goes on to prove that Every “Penny” Counts, not only to help those undergo treatment, but to aid those who are searching for a cure. 

If interested in the reading more about La Rosa Carrington, here is the original article written by the Gazette: Colorado Springs Article.

Today, watching ESPN, I came upon the above story about Mandi Schwartz a center for the women’s ice hokcey team at Yale. This young woman is fighting Leukemia and is in desperate need of umbillical cord blood and bone marrow that matches her distinct combination of German, Ukranian, Russian DNA.  The fear is that if she does not receive these treatments within the next month that she will have to undergo a much riskier treatment and transplant.  The risk is that she would take on a transplant from someone that is a less than perfect match. This could ultimately be fatal.

In the meantime, Mandi’s teammates have begun an organization called Become Mandi’s Hero.  The purpose to raise the number of bone marrow donors on the national registry, as well as, to search for a donor for the stricken center. Here’s a link from Yale about the program: Become Mandi’s Hero

This article and push highlights a very important cause for people facing blood diseases as well as cancer based blood diseases.  I believe that many people are unaware of how important their bone marrow can be or are unwilling to donate.  I’m hoping this push will aid the process and potentially save this young woman’s life.  Therefore, in honor of this week’s tribute to father’s wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for those of you to bring life to another person and play the role of DAD for someone else.  I’ve registered. Have you?

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