In various posts throughout this website, you will see me talking about the benefits of having a spouse when you are a cancer patient. There’s someone who’ll never leave your side even if you are not blood-related; he or she already knows what you want or need before you even ask. Your better half can also serve as your anchor into this world when worse comes to worst.
Cancer is among the many incurable diseases that make people’s knees wobble. Anything will do except for that because it is an ultra-sensitive and expensive condition in comparison with the likes of diabetes, skin asthma, and much more. The survival rate varies as well, depending on which organs the cancer cells get activated.
However, is it possible to keep your marriage healthy if you cannot escape a cancer diagnosis?
There are many things in my life that I am truly thankful for, and one of which is surviving cancer. To be honest, I thought that my situation was a lost cause. It never crossed my mind that my illness would be cured; because I believed that cancer is undefeatable. When I found out that I have a malignant tumor, it felt like my world turned outside down. I was frightened of all the adverse effects that it can bring in my life. Most importantly, I feared death. I do not want to die at a young age, especially when I am at a point in my life where I just started a family and took a significant leap in my career.
Just when I was about to give up, there was a sudden turn of events. I met someone who inspired me to keep fighting. This person helped me to believe that better things are coming in my life. He told me that if I want to kick cancer out of my life, I needed to make an effort to make it happen. According to him, I have to start by changing my views about life. He made it so convenient and easy for me to change my attitude and to become more positive. After years of living life in gratitude and happiness, I became a cancer survivor.
Now, allow me to share with you how a positive attitude changed my life:
- It Made Me Want To Get Better
At first, I was hesitant to undergo chemotherapy sessions. Aside from it was quite exhausting; it was also exhausting on my part. I lost interest in going to the hospital and participating in all the healing sessions. “Most people have a loud inner critic which makes their life more stressful.” David Klow, a licensed therapist. That perfectly describes my situation. However, things changed when my friend told me to become positive. Because of a positive mind and attitude, I got the courage to show up for all appointments with my doctor.
- More Happy Hormones
Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC once stated that “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” So my change in attitude also motivated me to exercise more. As such, I tried my best to become physically active. I started going to the gym or attending yoga classes. As you probably know by now, these activities can release endorphins all over the body. For this reason, I was always in a good mood. Whenever I exercise, I feel like there are helpful chemicals released all over the body. It was as if my cells are regenerated.
- I Started Eating Healthy
Another great effect of a positive attitude is that it made me want to continue a healthy lifestyle. My doctor was happy with the development in the way I looked at my situation. I did everything I can to change my diet into a healthy one. I avoided soft drinks and junk foods. Instead, my daily diet consisted of vegetables and fruits. As the day goes by, eating greens became a part of my lifestyle. With this one change, I became a healthier individual. I strongly agree with Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT when she said, “Eating healthfully, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep are all important elements in a mentally and physically healthy life.”
I am forever grateful to that one friend of mine who helped me attract positivity in my life!
Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases. Being diagnosed with cancer is often equated with palliative care and ultimately, death. More than ever, there is much research on different treatment and preventive strategies for cancer. In fact, many are seriously considering natural therapies, complementary and supplementary modalities, and Eastern medicine such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, and acupuncture but the accepted treatment in Western medicine: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Undergoing chemotherapy is something an individual with cancer should prepare. The effect of chemotherapy can be debilitating to a person for days at a time which will leave his/her responsibilities hanging.
Chemotherapy is defined as a drug treatment that utilizes potent chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in the body. Treatment protocol of cancer will vary depending on the origin, size and the immune system of the patient. These drugs can be used alone or in conjunction with other chemotherapeutic agents. Though chemotherapy is accepted, it still poses risks and side effects. Also, it cannot differentiate cancer and healthy cells as well as unable to specifically target affected cells. Chemotherapy is often used in cancer cases, but it can be used in other disease condition such as bone marrow diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Preparation for the side effects of chemotherapy will vary depending on the drug administered; however, it is wise to expect to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, constipation, and bruising. These side effects might be felt immediately right after, days prior, or a few days after the treatment. Other than this, another concern to watch out for is long-lasting or delayed occurring effects like heart problems, damage to lung tissue, nerve damage, the risk for development of secondary cancer and kidney problems. In other words, it is like a double-edged sword. It has both risk and benefits.
Since chemotherapy can disrupt daily living, it is wise to plan early on. It is recommended to have a device to ensure easier access to the peripheral veins or implantation of central devices. Chemotherapy treatments are extremely damaging to the peripheral veins, and it is advisable to administer such drug through a central device.
The catheter or device will be surgically implanted into a large vein, and the most common site is in the chest. Blood tests will be prescribed, beforehand, to check for the liver and kidney function. Also, the status of the patient’s heart will also be crucial in determining the dosage of the drugs especially if the patient will use doxorubicin and epirubicin.
Visit your dentist. You will need to check your dental health as well as check if there are signs of infection. Treatment of open cavities and existing infections will reduce the risk of complication during chemotherapy.
Before the start of the therapy, begin to have healthy eating habits. After the treatment, it might be helpful to share meals with family members or friends. Studies show that patients are more likely to eat when surrounded by people. When nothing seems appetizing, prepare soft, bland food like cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, and eggs.
On the first treatment, make sure you have enough sleep the night before and consume a light meal before going in the infusion unit. Ask family members or loved ones to accompany you to your first cycle.
The infusion will often take a few hours depending on the protocol. Bring a book, easy crafty projects, or laptop for movies, music, etc.
If it can add up to one’s well-being, consulting a spiritual advisor or counselor is also beneficial.
Cancer is reported as a rare health condition among children ages 0-19 years old. Nonetheless, it has been the leading cause of death by disease among children past infancy. In 2016, statistics reported that approximately 80,000 deaths of children worldwide were accounted for cancer. Childhood cancer differs from adult cancer due to various factors. One common ground is that most diseases are not due to the lifestyle element where adults’ cancer are linked. Cancer in children almost develops without any distressing symptom until it is detected, at most of the times, it is already in its advanced stage.
Researchers are still leaning towards heredity and genetics as the primary etiological agent for childhood cancer. The DNA mutations passed from the parent to the child increases the risk of a child to develop specific forms of cancer. Scientific investigations are still ongoing on finding other possible reasons for cancer development; because until now, there has not been a universal statement on its actual cause.
Childhood cancer is not easy to take. Parents go to a cycle of grief and depression upon knowing the diagnosis. When the child undergoes a series of treatment, the financial aspect becomes a burden, and the after-effects of the surgery become a dark cloud whether the child survives or not.
Compared to adults, cancer cells in children shows a good reaction to treatment showing good prognosis of survival. However, the side effects of the medication will take its toll after about several years later. Late-effects can occur to nearly 60% of childhood cancer survivors such as heart problem, hepatitis, sterility, sensory problems, and secondary cancers. Also, long-term medical follow-up is a significant concern to ensure that cancer processes are detected early if there are any.
Medical advancement in the treatment of childhood cancer has vastly improved its survival rate. Let’s take for example the case of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a most common childhood cancer that has dramatically increased its survival rate to 88% compared to less than 10% half-century ago. This is promising for this type of cancer. Other types of lymphoma, brain tumor, and soft tissue sarcoma remain to have a poor prognosis and low survival rates.
Experiencing cancer at an early age exposes the vulnerability of the child’s body. Cancer can be localized, or it can affect the whole-body system. If this happens, the child will have multiple medical problems to handle, and the ordeal of going through various treatments is not very welcoming. The different treatment modalities may also have some effects on the developmental stages of the child. Surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, complex medication administration, and transplantations can have some positive impact, but the adverse reactions can sometimes take years to be detected.
The financial aspect can also be a significant factor in consideration of surviving cancer. Some cancers require the newest form of treatments, and these are way out of budget for some families. Some medications are only available in some countries thus acquiring them will require the family and the child to travel and stay there for a duration of time. All of these falls under the financial factor. So, it is easy to say that if you don’t have enough financial resources, the chances of survival become nil.
Cancer is not always a good thing – at any age. Getting cancer is like getting a death sentence. The human response is only limited to facing the challenges it brings. The worst thing about having children with cancer is not always a welcoming idea. As parents, we tend to rationalize that they don’t deserve to suffer this condition. But then again, as humans, we tend to fight the battle at any cost. Fighting cancer is still one’s most significant battle there is—especially with children. At this point, all we can is wait and hope that the next treatment or scientific discovery can bring positive outcomes in overcoming cancer.
Cancer was once considered a rarity, but nowadays statistics show that the incidence of cancer is steadily increasing. These may be attributed to various factors such as genetics, exposure to carcinogens, lifestyle, hazardous environment, and immune system.
Cancer – despite its groundbreaking research and extensive studies on treatment modalities – remains to be dreaded by many. It is comparable to receiving a life sentence because the individual with cancer knows the death is just lurking in the corners. The anxiety and anticipated grief associated with cancer are believed to be more stressful than the treatment itself. It forces individuals especially in early adulthood and not only the patients, but the family and loved ones to confront the reality of death and how fleeting and fragile life is.
Set Your Battleground
If cancer runs in your family or you have loved ones who are fighting cancer or a cancer survivor, the idea of cancer happening to you is not farfetched. Having genetics susceptible to mutation does not mean 100 percent chance of developing cancer in the future. People with a family history or those under moderate-risk and high-risk category should not accept their fate sitting down.
Preventive measures and screening tests are recommended by experts to prevent tumor growths or at least detect the cancer cells at the early stage. There are preventive programs available in different cancer centers.
In women, breast cancer is a prevalent type of cancer. While the incidence of this particular type of cancer is quite high as a comparison of the other types of cancer, the only consolation one ponders on is the fact that there is much research done explicitly for breast cancer and its treatment.
Also, the prognosis of breast cancer is high and the survivor rate quite favorable. High-risk women are often managed aggressively by oncologists. For instance, prophylaxis mastectomy and hysterectomy may be recommended for women who have a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. These mutations are linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Also, these women will be under strict surveillance with six months of general physical examination checkup and monthly breast self-examination regardless of the age. Also, annual mammograms might be performed for women with high risk as early as 25 years old or 10 years younger than the age of the relative with the earliest breast cancer diagnosis in the family.
Lastly, chemoprophylaxis may be prescribed. Chemoprophylaxis is regulation of the endocrine system which plays a crucial role in the reduction of the risk of invasive and in-situ breast cancer. Examples of the medications given are Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, and Anastrozole.
More than this management of high-risk cases, it is still advisable to follow the general guidelines for ensuring a healthy and manageable stress lifestyle. Maintaining weight might be neglected, but excess weight predisposes one’s self to different forms of cancer. Next to the neglect is having an active activity level. Exercise is not only a mood booster but also, prevents obesity and the development of cancer. Consumption of green leafy vegetables, as well as fruits, moves us away from diseases and that includes cancer. Avoidance of carcinogens is quite essential because exposure to these chemicals is established to lead to cancer. Therefore, no smoking and avoid second and third-hand smoke.
The number of cancer cases diagnosed every year is steadily increasing. Many of us dread the diagnosis of cancer, even associating death to the disease. While it is true that some cancers are fatal and that some are diagnosed in the later stage which will mean reduced prognosis, more than ever, research and early diagnostic screenings are put in place to provide early and better detection, up to date evidence-based treatment regimen and continuous drug development. It is often said that surviving cancer is a battle and each warrior has a higher chance of winning when one is prepared and apt with the right weapons to succeed.
If you need to deal with the cancer symptoms and treatments for months, one question that a curious fellow may ask is: “Do you still have time for love?”
I know – there is no straightforward answer to that. Every patient has a unique way of handling their condition and relationships. Some individuals tend to swear off dating or getting married entirely to prevent “becoming a burden” to anyone. Others, meanwhile, do not give up on love and still form or maintain romance with someone special.
When a cancer specialist tells you that you have the disease and you speak with a religious leader, you will often hear them say, “God will not give you a challenge you cannot overcome” or “I will pray for your early recovery.”
The former denotes that you are an active person, while the latter is a confirmation you only need prayers to complement the treatment you are getting. Both sentences, of course, have a way of making you feel better once you listen to them. It is as if cancer will not hurt you as much as it should since the big man in heaven will ease your pain.
Getting diagnosed with cancer can mean a couple of things for you: 1) you might need to start taking a lot of pills or undergo chemotherapy; and 2) you may need a therapist to help you process everything you are going through. The latter is the fact that many people are not aware of, frankly speaking. They try to deal with pain on their own, as well as the possibility of losing their confidence due to the physical changes they might experience. In truth, however, these folks should have a counselor to turn to when the situation becomes mentally unbearable. Continue reading