Monday, September 20, 2010

Being Delt a Streamer

Good Morning Cancer Survivors

As a cancer survivor I can't help wonder if there are more cases of cancer being diagnosed because cancer is everywhere or has it always been with us and with the medical advances being made, earlier recognition and diagnoses are being achieved. The good news is there are more cancer patients surving cancer than ever before resulting from earlier diagnoses as well as the advances being made in cancer treatment.

However, as a former military pilot friend of mine once said, " Your personal battle with cancer is like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute that doesn't open, it's a streamer.... you now have the rest of your life to figure it out." Every cancer patient's battle with cancer is a personal battle with an enemy that is working 24 hours every day to defeat you. Your cancer treatment team is playing offense doing everything it knows to do to defeat your cancer. You now have to help by playing defense to help the offense win. But how you may ask? Focus on staying healthy during treatment and providing the nutritional, physical and mental requirements your body needs to endure treatment. This is the worst battle of your life and for your life. Your immune system is being attacked by the treatment that kills not only cancer cells in your body but good cells as well. You have to help your body rebuild and recover from the treatment by putting more protein in your diet and adding much more anti-oxidant rich foods to your diet to help it fight the cancer. Your calorie intake needs to be calories that will nurish your body by helping your immune system stay strong and help rebuild the damaged good body cells. Every cancer treatment center has diaticians that can help you develop a strong nurishment meal plan, and don't be affraid to add the vitamins you need ( multi-vitamin, vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, and CoQ10. Everyday should include some level of exercise whether it be walking, use of a treadmill, weight lifting, swimming or other exercise. Don't over do it. There is data to indicate cancer patients that exercise while in treatment do better in treatment. I believe it helped me and it took my mind off of the physical pain treatment caused me. Mentally, you need to stay engaged with your life, your work and the things that are important to you. Your not sick you just have cancer. The treatment will make you sick, so by staying engaged mentally, it helps you not dwell on the the cancer. Get an attitude about your cancer and about winning your fight with cancer. It will help you stay motivated on the journey.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rebuilding the Immune System

Good Morning Cancer Survivors

Recovering from the rigorous toxic abuse cancer treatment inflicts on your body is a major undertaking. It took me 18 months from my last chemotherapy treatment before I could say I felt good again. When your treatment is completed you are in a depleted state. Your immune system is low, your strength and stamina are weak, your blood counts are low and your energy level depleted. The first thing to do is begin rebuilding your immune. Depending on your white blood count level you may need to get a booster shot in the hip to help with your white counts. Don't hesitate. Your hemoglobin ( red blood cell ) will probably be low and this takes time to rebuild. If you have fluids on your lungs from the chemo treatment you may need to have a prescription for the drugs to remove it. You must guard and take caution not to get sick now that you've completed treatment and your immune system is low. You can help your immune system recover with the right nutrition and exercise. Increase your food consumption and calorie intake. Add more protein to your diet and eat more high antioxidant-based foods and beverages.

Foods to consider to help rebuild your immune system will be high in beta-carotene such as carrots, cantaloupe, kale, mango, pumpkin, yams. In addition, foods high in vitamin C and E,and foods high in zinc will help rebuild the system. I especially liked spinach, cooked or raw in a spinach salad. If you are not taking a multiple vitamin then start taking one. You can also supplement your vitamin requirements with commercial vitamins. Start an exercise program to rebuild your physical strength, stamina and muscles. The physical exertion will improve your circulation, put more oxygen in your blood and help with the neuropathy.

Rebuilding your immune system as quickly as possible should be your focus now that you have finished with treatment. Don't underestimate the time and effort it will require to regain your immune strength and physical strength and endurance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recovering from Treatment

Good Morning Cancer Survivors
Your last round of treatment is not the end of the journey but the beginning of the recovery process from the toxic abuse cancer treatment puts your body through. When you finish your last round of treatment you will not receive a certificate of suffering, certificate of completion, recognition for surviving treatment or a warranty card. This is the part of your journey that is critical to your future health: How quickly you can recovery from the treatment by rebuilding your immune system and your physical strength. You have just survived the worst battle of your life and for your life which leaves the survivor in a susceptible, depleted state. The immune system is weak and compromised, physical strength depleted and there may be numerous side effects' carryovers.

There are three recovery"Must Get Rights":
  • Focus on recovery- this is your mission, develop a recovery plan, don't worry about reoccurrence,
  • Rebuild your system- your immune system, physical strength and feed the system nutritionally, physically and mentally
  • Live your life- resume your activities, don't waste your time and cherish every day

If you had an infusion port inserted I recommend you keep it in and have it flushed every three months. You don't want to have it replaced if the cancer returns. Build your recovery plan with your oncologist. Rebuild your stamina and physical strength with exercise and high nutrition foods, good calories, extra protein and antioxidant rich foods. The cancer journey isn't over yet. Don't waste your recovery.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Join the Journey

Good Morning Cancer Survivors

Every cancer patient decides how they will respond to the challenges of their cancer. How you deal with cancer and the treatment journey is your choice. There is no good time to be diagnosed with cancer and no good time to start cancer treatment. Make no mistake, as soon as you start cancer treatment you make a decision to get on the bus your oncologist and cancer treatment team are driving. You may not know where the bus will take you on the journey or where the bus will stop at the end of the journey. So when you get on the bus, join the journey and do everything possible to make the journey a success. More cancer patients survive today than ever before and by making a conscious decision to join the journey you are committing to becoming a cancer survivor and contributing to the improvement in the survivor statistic for your type of cancer. No matter what the survival statistic is for your type of cancer, somebody has to be in the statistic, why not you? The journey can be long and challenging and will require you to have the courage, strength, commitment and motivation to stay engaged and not get discouraged. Every day will not be a good day when you are deep in treatment, and there are generally more bad days than good days because you feel so miserable. Don't despair and keep in mind the excitement of life has the power to drown out all the pain and nausea. Get excited about life. It won't make you feel any better but it will keep you from dwelling on your cancer, and the treatment side effects won't bother you as much.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Loneliness of Cancer Treatment

Good Morning Cancer Survivors;

I was giving a session with cancer patients at a local hospital's Cancer Resource Center and a patient in the audience asked me a question that threw me for an answer until I thought about it. The question was " How do you deal with the loneliness you feel when going through cancer treatment"? During the course of life there are many occasions when you will have to do something alone and surviving cancer is one of those occasions. When you go through cancer treatment you can be supported by your caregiver, family, friends, relatives, your treatment team and oncologist, local cancer support groups and many others that can accompany you on the journey,but it's up to you to endure cancer and cancer treatment. No one can do this for you or with you . Contributing to the sense of loneliness are the feelings of fear, despair, self-pity and depression. Dwelling on the feeling of loneliness makes it worse. To remedy the feeling, begin to engage others, continue living your live and doing things you did before you were diagnosed with cancer. You had a life before cancer and you still have a life. You may not have the energy to engage life like you did before cancer but you can still engage. This will help the feeling of loneliness subside but I don't think it ever totally goes away. Don't dwell on it. You waste too much energy and attitude you need for treatment. Do something to engage yourself when you begin to feel lonely. Take a walk, call a friend, talk with your kids, go grocery shopping, do anything but don't dwell on it and the feeling will be subdued.

Bruce E Jacobs

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finding the Humor in it All

Good Morning Cancer Survivors
In most situations humor can be found, even in cancer treatment. The medical profession is ripe for humor; the medical practitioners just don't expect it from their cancer patients which is why you have them at a disadvantage when you use it. I am the first to agree there is nothing humorous about being diagnosed with cancer. Once you've internally reconciled your diagnosis of cancer that it is what it is, and you've started the treatment journey, you have to let your sense of humor resurface and use it to your advantage during treatment.

I used humor as a defensive mechanism during treatment to mask my fear and anxiety and to provide a little enjoyment. I thought, even though I have cancer, I still have to live life and humor is a part of living life. Several months ago I had to get a CT scan of my lungs because of an infection. When I arrived at the radiology department for the scan they asked me the reason I was there because they knew I had been released and was finished with CT's and PET's for cancer. I responded that I had been getting my dose of CT radiation quarterly for the last five years and had felt my radiation level had declined and needed a radiation booster to keep my body's radiant glow in the dark. More importantly, I had become accustomed to being there every three months at 7:30PM and was going through withdrawal.

When I was deep in chemo treatment of five days a week for 4-5 hours each day, every fourth week, I found mosquitoes and chiggers wouldn't go near me. We would sit outside on the patio, mosquitoes biting everyone and swarming everywhere but they wouldn't bite me. The summer I was in chemo treatment and the following summer after I completed my last treatment round in early June, I never got a chigger bite. Before chemo, chigger bites would be all over my ankles and legs like bees on a hive. The humor was I had found a good side effect from treatment and a really expensive mosquitoe and chigger deterant that was covered by medical insurance. There were numerous occasions where humor rescued me from the drudgery of treatment and its side effects. Use your sense of humor to get through it. It's a great resource.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More than Hope

Good Morning Cancer Survivors:
I recently discovered cancer patients are considered cancer survivors as soon as they are diagnosed with cancer. Surviving cancer has to start somewhere and this is probably a good place to start surviving. Having attended several sessions for cancer survivors and their caregivers, provided by major support groups and cancer treatment programs of major hospitals, I found it curious and then disturbing these organizations encourage survivors to have "hope". Am I missing something? Obviously they haven't sat in the infusion chair connected to the chemo juice or laid on the radiation table for their daily tanning session of radiation or woke up in the night from the excruciating pain from the treatment or experienced the other agonies cancer treatment inflicts. Any cancer survivor in treatment or completed treatment knows Hope won't get them through it. Hope is what you need when your cancer treatment team informs you there is nothing more they can do for you.

Starting the cancer treatment journey with hope is like going into battle hoping not to lose rather than fighting to win. Hope doesn't instill confidence and a resolve to win, which is what newly diagnosed cancer survivors need at the start of the journey. So until the time for hope in your cancer treatment journey arrives, get in the fight and join the journey with the commitment, resolve, determination and mental fortitude you will need to do everything to win this fight. But when you start treatment you will need to develop a "get tough no bull" attitude which will require you to contribute everything you can to achieving the treatment's success. Getting motivated to do this at the start of the journey is easy. Staying motivated during the journey is difficult. What do you have to lose? If you don't do this, what is your alternative plan?

There may come a time on your cancer treatment journey when you will need to have hope but don't start the journey hoping not to lose, start the journey fighting to win.

Bruce E Jacobs

Monday, March 8, 2010

Caregiver's Corner

The Caregiver's role caring for a cancer patient is an enormous act of undeniable charity. The position comes with no rules, no defined role and no measurement of performance. When the cancer patient was diagnosed, the newly anointed caregiver stepped into a new journey equally as gruelling as the cancer patients journey. The caregiver assumes new responsibilities as well as added stress and frustration from the role. Staying healthy is extremely important for the caregiver during this time, and with the added stress and responsibilities, it becomes more difficult. So what do you do?
-Eat right and nurish the system
-Mentally extract yourself from the environment
-Exercise your body physically
-Try to maintain some resemblance of a life you had B4 becoming the caregiver
-Make time for you
If being a caregiver for a cancer patient was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's not easy and the toll it takes on the caregiver cannot be underestimated.

This blog is for the caregivers of cancer patients to share their information about "What works for them" and how they deal with the caregiver's journey. By sharing this informtion, a Knowledge Base can be developed and built for caregivers, to help them with their journey.

LCJ coach4cancer

Inaugural Posting 3-8-10

Good Morning Cancer Survivors:
It's a great day to be alive. Spring is near, the sun is shining, the song birds are back and the bleakness of winter is fading every day. This blog is in place for cancer patients and cancer survivors, to provide a venue to share with each other " What works for them" going through cancer treatment and surviving cancer. I am convinced if we can share this information with each other, we can build a Base of Knowledge for Cancer Patients and their Caregivers, and become a resource for them and to them. As the blog develops and evolves, we will use folders to place subject content for easy access and referral.

Cancer is being diagnosed in more people today then ever. The good news is more people survive cancer then ever before. Every cancer has a survival statistic and every patient should know what that statistic is for their type of cancer. Knowing how large of a challenge you have is important for you to get motivated and to put your cancer on notice you are in for the fight. Somebody is in the statistic, why not you? What do you have to do to be a survivor. You are in the worst battle of your life and for your life with a formidable enemy working 24/7. You are already a survivor since you were diagnosed. Now you have to join the journey and do everything to win your battle. Your cancer treatment team and your oncologist will do everything they can to to treat you and defeat the cancer. You have to help them. How?
-Get an attitude and believe you can win
-Do everything possible to stay healthy during treatment
-Eat right and stay nurished to keep up your strength and imune system
-Keep your sense of humor

Bruce E Jacobs