Monday, June 27, 2016

Underarm Care for Cancer Patients - Read Ingredient Labels


This blog post is an abbreviated version of the post: 
Nurture Your Armpits – Especially When You Are Undergoing Cancer Treatment
which appeared on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog in March 2016


What you put on your body matters – especially when you are undergoing cancer treatment. Oncology patients often have unique needs when it comes to personal care products for the skin, hair and body. Many people don’t read the labels on personal care products, and even if they do, they are hard to decipher because many items on the ingredient list have unrecognizable chemical names. While general skin care is an important topic, this article focuses specifically on underarm care.

Unhealthy Ingredients in Mass Market Deodorants
What you put on your skin matters. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It absorbs the materials that you put on it, they circulate inside your body, and can reach internal organs. For more information refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and WebMD. The following disturbing chemicals are frequently found in mass market deodorants and being aware of the contents may influence your decision about the deodorant you use and encourage you to read ingredient labels:
  • Aluminum 
  • Phtalates 
  • Propylene glycol 
  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens
According to a 2012 Huffington Post article: “What we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our body; both affect the well-being of our entire body (skin included!). The next time you slather on that chemical laden lotion or soak in a toxic tub, remember that your skin absorbs a large percentage of what you put on it.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering mentions underarm care in their Patient and Caregiver information: "Radiation Therapy to the Breast or Chest Wall" as follows:
"You can use nonaluminum-based deodorant on intact skin in the area being treated. Stop using it if your skin becomes irritated."

PiperWai: A Healthy Solution to Underarm Care

PiperWai became a popular brand soon after the founders appeared on Shark Tank in late 2015. PiperWai all natural deodorant is the first creme deodorant that contains super-absorbent activated charcoal to keep you dry. PiperWai rubs in clear and won’t discolor your clothes. PiperWai is applied with your fingers – this deodorant’s skin-conditioning qualities also make it great for your hands. Of utmost importance for cancer patients - PiperWai is made with only healthy ingredients. No Parabens, No harsh ingredients. And, especially important for individuals undergoing radiation therapy to the breast or other areas of the body: NO ALUMINUM

PiperWai Is Gentle On Sensitive Skin

Crafted with skin-conditioning ingredients like organic coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and pure vitamin E oil, PiperWai is great for people with sensitive skin. It’s perfect for individuals with chemical sensitivities, or skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. PiperWai contains a proprietary blend of 11 therapeutic-grade essential oils gives PiperWai its signature gender-neutral fresh scent. And, in addition to smelling great, these essential oils are believed to have specific anti-microbial properties that work with the other ingredients to keep you smelling fresh.  Try PiperWai today - your armpits and your body will thank you!

Alra Non-Metallic Deodorant

Alra Non-Metallic Deodorant was developed at the request of oncologists, as metallic ingredients can interfere with radiation therapy treatments and is another option for safe armpit care during cancer. It is made with Aloe Vera Gel, Oil of Cypress and Lichen Extract (a natural bactericide and fungicide)

Read Ingredient Labels On All Personal Care Products

Its not just deodorant that patients have to be careful about. Remember to read ingredient labels on all personal care products. Many skin-care products on the market contain ingredients that can be carcinogenic, estrogenic, or teratogenic, with the potential for long-term neurological disorders and conditions. The use of Endocrine-disrupting xenoestrogenic chemicals, such as parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), BHT, and BHA are commonly found in everyday personal care products such as cosmetics, shampoo, lotions, sunscreens, hand washing soaps, lining of canned foods, and flame retardant clothing such as children’s pajama’s, to name a few. Avoid the pretty outer packaging, and the possibly misleading catchy phrases in the advertising for most mass market personal care products. Instead Be Proactive: Read the labels, Learn the ingredients and Protect your health!

This blog post was written by: Margot Main, Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Relief: Comfort Slings Help Relieve Abrasions and Dermatitis Beneath The Breast

by Margot Malin, CEO and Founder of Lots To Live For, Inc.

Patients who are undergoing radiation therapy on the underside of their breasts may develop radiation dermatitis, painful sores, and even weepy lesions in the skin folds beneath their breasts. The inflammation can be worsened by excessive perspiration and the chafing resulting from skin-to-skin contact. Once these side effects occur the patient experiences significant discomfort.

Relief: A new product called the ComfortSling(R) can help to improve comfort and prevent the continuing abrasion or fold over effect. The Breast Comfort Sling allows the breast to rest on a soft cushion giving freer air circulation while wicking away perspiration to keep the sore area dry. The straps are adjustable so there is no pressure on the neck or shoulder, or on the sore areas beneath the breast. The cushion provides a comfort barrier between the breast and the skin beneath it to prevent excessive chafing, and the antimicrobial material discourages bacteria growth.

The Slings are available in either a single sling, or a double sling.
The Single Sling: Women have found that wearing the Breast Comfort Single Sling from the onset of radiotherapy, even before any side effects have begun to appear, is the most effective way to minimize uncomfortable side effects to the skin. Wearing the sling as many hours as possible throughout the day, especially when sleeping, is most effective.
The Double SlingWomen with large breasts often suffer yeast infections, skin rashes, fungus and other irritations due to excessive perspiration and poor circulation under their breasts. The moisture irritates the skin and the area becomes further inflamed as the breast tends to rub against the skin beneath it. The ComfortSling® Double-Sling is an ideal solution.

The fabric for the Breast ComfortSlings and Pads was specially selected because it is very soft and has both wicking and antimicrobial qualities. The straps are soft enough to be comfortable yet firm enough to hold their shape when worn across the shoulders. The slings stay in place, yet they are loose enough to avoid pressure and constriction across the neck and under the breast.

Breast ComfortSlings and Pads were developed by Elizabeth Silver during her radiation oncology treatment and they proved so effective that her radiologist and oncologist were amazed at the excellent condition of her skin during her treatment. In fact, it was they who recommended that she begin to market the slings so that more women could benefit from the relief they provided.

Patients have found amazing relief from using the products, as described in these reviews: 

Life Saver!! 5 Star Review

Posted on May 12th 2016
My cousin was in her 20th treatment of radiation and we started noticing that the crease under her left breast was raw and peeling to the point of extreme pain. I was desperately searching for some type of treatment that would help and I did. This breast sling is the best . It allowed her breast to heel so much faster. If anyone is going to be starting radiation, please, please get this before starting treatment! It will help sooooo much! 

Posted on May 31, 2016
Using the breast comfort sling and the pads, combined with clotrimazole (an antifungal cream found in lortimin AF athletes foot cream), I have managed to heal a 1/2 dollar sized very painful and itchy irritation under my breast. It has been there for months and within 5 days of using the pads and cream it has greatly reduced and virtually healed.

This post is a condensed version of  Comfort Slings Help Relieve Soreness and Abrasion Beneath the Breasts published on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog in December 2015.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Recording Gratitude as a Daily Ritual to Improve Happiness

by Margot Malin, Founder of Lots To Live For, Inc.

What makes you thankful?

Focus on what you have - not what you don't - by identifying and noting at least one positive thing in your life each day.

Cultivating gratitude by recording the things we are grateful for can help enhance our health, mood and spirit.

One way to cultivate gratitude is by keeping a Gratitude Journal or using a Gratitude Note Pad. Simply record one to three things that you are grateful for every day. Avoid fixating on material items and do not dwell on things that you do not have. Spiritually refocus on what you do have.

This Gratitude Note Pad (sold by Lots To Live For, Inc.) is easily carried in a purse or portfolio, and can be taken with you to chemotherapy infusions. It is a great addition to a chemo goody bag, or chemo gift kit.

Studies have shown that the simple act of writing down the things that we are thankful for can help improve our outlook leading to a sense of calm, well-being, and increased happiness.

In 2003 Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough reported the results of an important study on gratitude and well-being which separated individuals randomly into four groups who were asked to carry out different tasks. The results of the study found that those participants randomly assigned to the group who were instructed to write about things they were grateful for on a daily basis became the happiest and most optimistic when compared to 3 other groups performing different tasks. Other studies have shown that additional benefits of practicing gratitude can include improved mental and physical health, enhanced relationships, higher self-esteem, and overall satisfaction with life.

Other methods of cultivating gratitude include: meditating, mindful breathing, practicing yoga mindfully, showing appreciation, writing and expressing thanks to individuals in your life, praying (if religious), or repeating an affirmation.


Recording gratitude as a daily ritual can help improve your happiness. By extension, it can also help to improve your perspective on life, and positively impact your health.

This is a shortened version of a longer post originally appearing on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog:
Practicing Yoga Can Imporve Your Health, Mood and Spirit
https://breastcanceryogablog.com/2016/01/22/practicing-gratitude-can-improve-your-health-mood-and-spirit/

Also read: Sansone RA, et al. "Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation" Psychiatry (Nov. 2010): Vol.7, No. 11, pp. 18 -22.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be An Informed Patient: Questions to Ask Your Oncology Team About Your Cancer Treatment Protocol


by Margot Malin, Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

A longer version of this blog post originally appeared on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog in a post dated 10/9/14. You can view the full post entitled 22 Questions to Ask Your Oncology Team About Your Cancer Treatment Protocol by clicking HERE.

Patients who are well informed and take a proactive role in making choices about their cancer treatment protocol are likely to be more comfortable as they progress through treatment. Knowledge is empowering and knowing what to expect and what comes next demystifies the process.

Be Your Own Health Advocate
Be your own health advocate by asking questions to become informed and “buy in” to your treatment protocol. It is a good idea to bring a friend or relative with you to medical appointments both for emotional support, and also because a second set of “eyes and ears” might understand what is being said differently, they may think of a whole different set of questions, or might interpret ambiguous or confusing information in a different way.  Take notes so you can remember what was discussed. After all, going to a doctor can be both emotional and terrifying.

Here are just a few of the 22 questions in the original post to ask your oncology team about your cancer treatment protocol: 
  • What is the goal of chemotherapy and/or radiation for my cancer? 
  • Why are you recommending chemotherapy / radiation? If you had cancer would you treat yourself with this protocol? How long have you been prescribing this treatment and how many patients have received it? 
  • Which specific chemotherapy drugs will I be given? What are your expectations for this medication? Are there other options that can produce the same or similar results? 
  • What has the success rate been? Do you expect that the tumor will disappear completely, or just shrink in size? Will the cancer start growing again after treatment?
  • How will I know if the chemotherapy or radiation is working? How do you plan to assess the effectiveness of the treatment? 
  • What is the likelihood that my survival time will be increased as a result of this treatment? What is the expected survival time increase as compared to no treatment? 
  • What is the likelihood that my quality of life will be improved after I receive this treatment?
  • What are the risks associated with this treatment with regard to morbidity (adverse effects from the treatment), mortality and the risks of developing another cancer?
  • What can I do to prepare for treatment and decrease the chance of debilitating side effects?
  • What side effects should I expect and how long will they last?  What can I do to reduce uncomfortable side effects if they occur? (please visit www.LotsToLiveFor.com for products to reduce and relieve side effects of cancer treatment) 
  • Are there any clinical trials which might be suitable for me which I might want to explore? 
  • Does your practice or does this facility offer an Oncology Nurse Navigator for their patients? (See blog post entitled “What is an Oncology Nurse Navigator?” At http://lotstolivefor.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-is-oncology-nurse-navigator.html)
  • What lifestyle changes will I need to make to prepare for treatment, during treatment and after treatment with regards to: Diet, Activities, Work and Exercise?
  • Do you recommend complementary therapies such as yoga, exercise, acupuncture, meditation, and do you have other suggestions? 

Receiving a diagnosis and discussing treatment options can be overwhelming. It is helpful to be prepared for appointments with a concrete list of questions and to take thorough and complete notes. Sometimes it helps to try to take a step away, and approach the discussion clinically. As hard as it is, try to be unemotional and evaluative. Do research, take notes and keep thorough records. We hope these questions will help you take control, and understand your treatment better.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Know your options and embrace your informed decisions.  Be your own health advocate! Information empowers, allows the opportunity for choices and makes patients more comfortable with their protocols, and ultimately can improve outcomes.

If readers of this blog post have additional suggestions to add to this list, please comment on our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/LotsToLiveFor

You can visit the original Breast Cancer Yoga Blog Post and read all of the 22 Questions for Your Oncology Team by clicking: HERE

Lots To Live For, Inc. offers a collection of cancer resources. Visit Lots To Live For, Inc. for products to help reduce and relieve the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of radiation and chemotherapy and to learn more about cancer care products


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tips to Reduce Chemotherapy Nausea and Vomiting

by Margot Malin, CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

This blog piece was originally posted as: Tips to Control Chemotherapy Nausea and Vomiting (CINV) which was published in the Breast Cancer Yoga blog on March 25, 2014. 


One of the most dreaded and anxiety producing side effects of cancer treatment is chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). In this blog post we offer a variety of tips to help you reduce chemotherapy nausea. Controlling nausea can significantly improve your comfort and help ensure completion of your chemo treatments as scheduled.


Medications
Speak with your oncology doctors and nurses to find the antinausea medicine that works best for you. Anti-nausea medications, also called antiemetics, are sometimes so effective that experts have shifted their focus from treating nausea to aggressive prevention. Unfortunately however, the majority of people on a chemo regimen still face some risk of becoming nauseous. Some patients have to try a few antiemetics before finding the one that works best. Sancuso patches are another prescription item that patients may ask their oncology team about.

Food
Try eating bland foods. For example – toast, oatmeal, bananas, broiled or baked chicken with no skin, or similar items. Eat small quantities more frequently. Delay eating for at least one hour after treatment. Try not to start treatment with an empty stomach. Avoid greasy, fried, salty, sweet, or spicy foods. A recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute showed that ginger, even in small amounts, can help reduce nausea.

Hydration
It is important to stay hydrated. Try taking small sips of water during the day instead of gulping or consuming large quantities at a single sitting. Broth is another liquid that may be easy to sip. Drinking natural root beer and/or ginger ale may be effective ways to reduce CINV. Some herbal teas may ease digestive discomfort while stimulating a weak appetite. Suck on hard candy such as Queasy Drops, popsicles or ice during treatment.

Smell
Avoid foods with strong odors. Avoid strong smells such as flowers, perfumes and some cleaning products. Some personal care product scents may irritate your senses. Some essential oils can be helpful, but they must be administered carefully.

Body Position
Do not lie down flat for at least 2 hours after eating. Rest by sitting up or reclining with your head elevated.

Products to Help
Biobands – This simple and inexpensive wristband utilizes acupressure, a natural pressure therapy applied to a specific acupuncture point that controls nausea and vomiting. Wearing Biobands can help control nausea during treatment and throughout the day. 

QueasyPops and Drops are the natural way to ease a queasy stomach. They are effective due to their special formulation of essential oils, aromatherapy and their unique delivery method. They are also a great way to help with dry mouth symptoms.


Frog Toggs Chilly Sport Cooling Towels can be worn around the neck. They can help patients by cooling and comforting.


Integrative Approaches and Alternative Treatments

Deep Breathing Exercises and Guided Meditation can help you relax before and during treatment. They can help put your mind in a calmer, positive and more proactive place.  An example of a CD to help teach you breathing techniques is Breathe With Purpose.  Calm.com offers a guided meditation app. Saagara offers two pranayama apps, with guided breathing.

Acupuncture lowers nausea and/or vomiting in some people. In addition to reducing nausea, some patients find that it also helps to minimize hives and joint swelling, which can be other side effects of treatment.


Exercise – Get moving as soon as you can! Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it!  Even if the movement is minimal or slow at first, or on the days of treatment, don’t be discouraged. Exercise should help you through chemo fatigue as well.  However, exercising too soon after eating may slow down digestion and increase discomfort. A good resource is the new book Exercises for Cancer Survivors by Carol Michaels.

Hypnosis has been suggested by some professionals as another helpful complementary therapy.


Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
There are a number of essential oils and herbs that can be helpful. Discuss the use of these treatments with your oncology team before using them, because they have the potential to block the effects of your medication. Natural Remedies of CINV by Pamela Taylor is a helpful book that can help to familiarize you with herbs, essential oils, and aromatherapy.

Medical Marijuana
It’s long been general knowledge that marijuana can soothe nausea. This is now an option in some states where medical marijuana is legal. A synthetic version of the active ingredient, THC, is in the prescription drug Marinol (dronabinol).

Important NO-NO’s
No caffeine. No smoking. No alcohol.

The more comfortable you are during treatment, the better your mental and emotional state.  A more comfortable state of mind will contribute to optimizing your outcome. Don’t hesitate to consult with your oncology team for additional ideas. We hope our suggestions will improve your comfort by reducing your nausea during your cancer journey.

Visit Lots To Live For, Inc. to learn about more products to reduce and relieve chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, and to learn about products to combat other cancer treatment side effects. You will also find a collection of helpful cancer resources.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Creating the Best Chemo Goody Bag - Helpful Items to Bring to Chemotherapy Treatment

by Margot Malin, Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

This is a condensed version of the post entitled GREAT CHEMOTHERAPY GIFT IDEAS AND HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN CHEMO GOODY BAG which appeared in the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog on February 11, 2014

It is important to try to be as comfortable as you can during chemotherapy treatments. There are many things that can cause discomfort ranging from feeling chilly to feeling nauseated. We have put together some suggestions of items to bring to chemotherapy treatment to help you feel more comfortable. Its a great idea to make a checklist, buy a nice bag with several compartments for organizing, and keep the bag ready to take to treatment.

PHYSICAL COMFORT


Taste changes are a very common side effect of chemotherapy. Your sense of smell might also change, and you might become overly sensitive to fragrances.  You might get chills frequently or constantly feel cold. Your mouth may develop sores and feel very dry. You may feel nauseous. Here are some ideas to combat these effects.

Warmth:  Be sure to include a warm fuzzy blanket, soft and warm socks, fuzzy gloves, a hat or other head cover such as a scarf or head wrap.  Wear comfortable clothes.

Oral Care:  Drink plenty of fluids. Carry a water bottle. Bring a thermos with organic tea or broth. Mouth moisturizer products such as Mouth Kote oral moisturizer and Biotene dry mouth gum can help dry mouth.  Be sure to include a lip balm or lip moisturizing product because you lips can get very dry. Bring a disposable toothbrush for gentle brushing and hydration.

Skin Care:  Different chemotherapy medications can cause a variety of skin issues.  Dry skin is very common. We suggest a hand moisturizer such as a tube of Atopalm Moisturizing Hand Treatment. If you are experiencing hand/foot syndrome we suggest CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin BalmLindiskin face serums (lavender or citrus) are very helpful for acneform rash. 

Antinausea Products (to combat CINV):  Biobands are clinically proven, effective acupressure wristbands that provide relief of nausea associated with chemotherapy. Queasy Drops are also an effective way to relieve nausea associated with chemo. They also help to alleviate dry mouth symptoms.

Overall Physical Comfort:  Bring a travel pillow.  Don’t forget individual packs of tissues. Don’t forget to pack a small hand sanitizer.

Create a Chemo Goody Bag to Enhance Comfort During Chemo Treatments


SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL COMFORT

In addition to personal care products to alleviate physical discomfort, we offer suggestions to boost your mental, spiritual and emotional state of mind.

To Pass the Time:  Ask a friend or relative to sit with you during treatment if they have the time.  If you will be alone, be sure to bring a variety of things that can help you pass the time.  You might not feel like concentrating too deeply so bring a variety of different types of distractions – some that might require focus, some that require less engagement.  Choose as many or as few of the following:  An ipod, an ipad or tablet, a Kindle, a book, magazines, and/or a journal. If you like to draw, bring a sketchbook. We also suggest bringing pictures on electronic media or a photo album to surround yourself with pictures of loved ones.

Spiritual and Breathing: There are a number of CD’s, ipod downloads, and cell phone apps that can help with visualization and breathing.  Both can be very helpful during chemotherapy treatment.  Whip Cancer is an example of a visualization app which can help empower patients and reduce stress. The Breathe With Purpose CD is helpful for stress reduction, visualization, and meditation. There are numerous other apps for visualization, stress reduction, and meditation to explore.

THINGS TO AVOID

Many oncologists recommend that cancer patients avoid refined sugar. Therefore baked goods and candy should not be consumed. Well meaning friends and relatives like to gift these items (not knowing that they should be avoided), but we feel strongly that more healthy food options should be considered.  Sugary drinks such as soda are not recommended either.

A cancer patient may become very sensitive to smells so we do not suggest perfumes or flowers.

IN CONCLUSION

We have researched and reviewed products for many years to find personal care products that are effective in reducing and relieving the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy treatment. We invite you to visit our website at www.LotsToLiveFor.com to see all of the products that meet our high standards. 

To read the full blog post on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog: click here

To view Chemotherapy Gift Ideas please click on the following Chemo Goody Bag Collections below:
Chemo Gift Kit
Deluxe Chemotherapy Gift
Ultimate Chemotherapy Gift
Ultimate Chemotherapy Gift


Sunday, March 9, 2014

CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm Helps Healing of: Surgery Scars, Dry Skin, Shallow Skin Biopsies

by Britta Aragon, Founder of CV Skinlabs

This blog post is a condensed version of the original post on the new Lots To Live For Blog dated 2/25/2014: CLICK HERE

Cancer treatments cause a number of side effects, and some of the most lasting and potentially embarrassing are surgery scars. Whether from breast cancer, throat cancer, skin cancer, or other types of cancer, scars can be painful, irritating, itchy, and uncomfortable, say nothing of upsetting.

CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm was created to reduce surgery scarring side effects.  It provides soothing relief while encouraging healing.

The ingredients in CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm were carefully selected. The development team, composed of a toxicologist, a chemist specializing in natural formulations, and doctors screened every prospective ingredient for any known links to cancer, hormone disruption, or other health risks, as well as for any known potential to cause skin irritation, burning, itching, or allergic reaction. This team helped to develop the CV Skinlabs unique Tri-Rescue Complex which is a unique blend of turmeric, alpha-bisabolol and reishi mushroom. This combination of ingredients provides a powerful combination of anti-inflammatory, wound healing and skin-soothing actions which encourage repair healing and restoration. Other natural ingredients promote healing, immune boosting, antiseptic and skin-regenerating properties. The product is made of 100% natural ingredients and completely free of toxic ingredients (no synthetic fragrances, parabens, petrolatum, or other harsh ingredients).

An important testimonial to CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm's effectiveness, the product was named “BestAll-Around Healer 2013” in the Healing Lifestyle & Spa’s (HLS’s) Earth Day Beauty Awards. “There’s always something in need of a little natural TLC—a bump, burn, cut, rash, or bite,” HLS stated. “This balm takes care of them all, with ingredients that have real healing benefits (not just a barrier of petroleum and silicone).”

Britta says "I started CV Skinlabs because I was frustrated I couldn’t find natural, soothing products during my cancer experience, and my father’s cancer experience. I’ve put my heart and soul into these natural solutions so that others don’t have to suffer from difficult skin conditions we did. I hope you, too, will experience the soothing relief these products can provide!"

To see all of the ingredients in CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm CLICK HERE
To purchase CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm CLICK HERE

To read more about CV Skinlabs product development click here.

To learn more about Britta Aragon, Founder of CV Skinlabs, Cancer Survivor, Esthetician, and Published Author, visit her blog at Cinco Vidas.