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.

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?

Laryngitis!

September 6, 2009

As you can tell from the heading of this particular post. I have been struck down by a great case of laryngitis! It has been on coming for a few days, but it achieved full course this morning. I went to speak and nothing came out!
Frustration! You never truly appreciate how often you hum to yourself, talk to yourself until you’re limited in your ability to communicate!

My voice typically leaves the beginning of every school year! I think it’s due to going from casual conversation during the summer to mass overuse teaching and coaching! There’s no subtle slide into it!

So here I am on Labor day weekend silenced by an unforseeable enemy who struck the final blow while I was sleeping. The benefit of this; however, is that I don’t need my voice to continue packing my house, which is coming to an end. The plan to finish tonight and move the majority of my belongings out tomorrow. Then the house can officially be sold and I can complete my retun to Downingtown! Another point of amusement is that I sound like Muttley from “Wacky Races” when I laugh! For those of you trying to remember here’s a picture:

                                                               Muttley Laugh

If you still don’t remember look up wacky races on YouTube! You should find some good clips of Dick Dastardly and Muttley!

The only other great part of this is that I have to try and eat things that will get the inflammation down! Cherry Garcia anyone? If you’re looking for me I’ll be in the ice cream section!

Yes, I know that I have overused my exclamation points, but I’m excited I can communicate and secondly I figure if we were in actual conversation it would take a lot of energy to even make even one sound.

On another note I want to thank wordpress for making an iPhone application otherwise I wouldn’t have had this opportunity either! Until next I speak?

So I have a variety of ideas that I want to post about, but I figured I would use today to bring some other information to the forefront and follow up with some articles that reinforce some of the previous posts…

First: Being an Informed Patient

So in previous posts, I’ve discussed the idea that patient involvement is essential to ensuring top quality in your medical endeavours and to safeguarding those that you care about. Most people take for granted the “would be magic” that takes place within the walls of a hospital. Hospitals have ground breaking technology and a world of extremely intelligent medical practitioners that have prepared for the various illnesses and issues that will arise. Even with all of their expertise, hospitals are still businesses and are still victim to the same issues that plague any business. The coordination of various parts, allocation of staff, allocation of funds, cleanliness, public relations, and of course customer error.  One way that you can safeguard against the last piece is to create your own family medical history.  Fortunately, for you and for me… US News and World Report has already written an article about how to put together a family medical history.
Creating your own Family Medical History. US News and World Report.  Think about it.. this could be fun… it’s like investigating your own family mystery… You can play Sherlock Holmes, or Nancy Drew if you desire… just guys be careful …wigs… they truly make the part.

Creating your own medical history will alleviate some issues when you are admitted to the hospital, plus it keeps a general record for your entire family and generations to come.

Another possibility is to research the hospital that you  may choose to go to.  Consumer Reports recently discussed this very idea in their September 2009 installment.  They stated that, “fifty-nine percent of patients in [their]survey did not enter the hospital through the emergency room, so they  might have had a choice of which hsopital to go to.”  Therefore, one thing you should consider is quality of care that exists within the hospitals around you.  Consumer Reports later goes on to provide a list of links to aid in the research of various hospitals.  I will provide those here for you:

  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Commonwealth Fund – contains free performance data on hospitals nationwide from a private foundation.

Consumer Reports Health

The Joint Commission – Free nonprofit group that inspects and accredits most U.S. hospitals.

Leapfrog Group – A nonprofit employer-advocacy group on overall patient safety and safety of selected procedures, based on a voluntary annual survey of acute care hospitals.

US News and World Report

Second: There are some new updates for those of us attempting to avoid cancer:

1.) For those of you who like to use tanning beds …Tanning beds = Confirmed leads to cancer. This is an article from Yahoo, but reported by the Associated Press. Thanks to @LIVESTRONGCEO from bringing this one up…

2.) For those of you who are a fan of Oral Sex.  Unprotected Oral Sex may increase your chances of neck and head cancers. This article comes from medicinenet.com, which is owned and operated by WebMD.  Thanks to @stupidcancer for this one…

3.) Latest reports from the National Cancer Institute

4.) Some specifics about a variety of different types of cancer from US News and World Report

5.) Here’s a side effect of Chemotherapy as reported by the New York Times.