Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Survive and Live Well – Internet Radio for Cancer Patients, Cancer Survivors and Cancer Thrivers

By Elyn Jacobs, Guest Blogger and Cancer Coach

I am no stranger to cancer. My father survived prostate cancer fifteen years ago; my mother battled breast cancer for thirteen years and lost her battle months after my own diagnosis. My sister would then be diagnosed mere months later. I was 45. We were young and healthy; young, healthy people don’t get cancer. We were wrong. We had to be missing something.

I reflected on my mother’s life with cancer. My mother’s journey was strife with episodes of doctor’s orders, not teamwork, and I had to intervene many times. I knew that she had been pushed into one final treatment that had little promise, and was to be the cause of her sudden and rapid decline. With one last gasp of air and the flickering of her eyes, she was gone. The fear in her eyes as they flashed and she fell silent is a sight I would never forget. It haunts me. I don’t want to die like that, of the terrible death cancer inflicts. I would not let this cancer take me from my two wonderful boys. I then reflected on my own journey. I had an incredible team of doctors who empowered me to take control of the situation and to be an active participant in my care. My questions were answered, my voice heard. Clearly, to have the best outcome, one must have a great team who is willing to work as a team. Still, team Elyn knew that just because treatment had ended, life without cancer had just begun.

I realized that I would do everything possible to avoid recurrence and to help others avoid getting this disease. I began with extensive research to better understand the causes which led to certain lifestyle changes I have made. I learned that healing requires more than just the best medical team. I learned that by changing the environment in which my cancer was permitted to grow, I could reduce its ability to take hold again. I found there was a gap between utilizing the best of medical science and supporting the body’s own innate ability to heal itself; nature provides ample resources for healing as well as enhancing conventional cancer treatment, but this ability requires support.

I like to say that my encounter with breast cancer propelled me on a life-changing course. One that took me from the darkness of cancer to empowering women to find the best treatment and team for their cancer, and to move on to a life of wellness. I realized that I could not return to my Wall Street job. I knew I had found my new passion. I wanted to be the voice. I wanted to make sure that all women were heard by their doctors and received the best possible care. I wanted to help women to reduce their risk of recurrence. I wanted others to know the value of complementary therapies during and post treatment. I wanted to help others get past their cancer and into cancer-free lives. I became a cancer coach. My life would be forever changed.

However, along this path I realized that coaching was not enough. I decided to host a radio show to give people access to doctors, peers, and critical information direct to their home or office. My show, Survive and Live Well, tips to treat and beat cancer, is part of the Cancer Support Network, W4CS.com. (Women4CancerSupport). Join me weekly as I chat with the experts; hear the stories and paths taken by those who have traveled before and alongside you. We have an amazing lineup; upcoming shows will cover surgical options for breast cancer, genetics, and alternative options for treatment. Want a peek at upcoming guests? Click here for the show schedule of bios of past and future guests. We have fun, we learn a lot. You can listen live Tuesdays at 1pm, EST, by logging into http://www.w4cs.com/. Join us in the chat room to chat with other guests and to ask questions. Find the best options for you, for your cancer. Learn how you can help prevent recurrence and minimize the treatment side effects that compromise your health and well being. My goal is to empower you with information to help you regain control of your health; to not only treat cancer, but beat cancer, survive, thrive and live well.

To view a list of upcoming and past shows click here. Past shows/interviews have been archived and are available for you to listen at any time on your computer. There is no charge to listen to upcoming or archived shows. Click here for guest bios and topics.
Elyn Jacobs
Twitter @elynjacobs
Facebook @Elyn Jacobs and @Elyn Jacobs Consulting
Linkedin @Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit: http://elynjacobs.wordpress.com. To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit www.W4CS.com, Tuesdays at 1pm (EST).

To view products and other resources that can be helpful to cancer patients please click here: http://www.lotstolivefor.com/

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yes, Ma'am! Mammograms Are a Must!

God turned my mess into a message
By Lee McCracken, Guest Blogger

Dressed like twins, even though we were 13 months apart, my older sister and I were a striking pair at ages 5 and 6. She had red hair and freckles, and Mom dressed her in blues and greens. I was blond, and I donned the reds and pinks. Perhaps it was foreshadowing, but probably not.

Fast-forward 45 years. Pink is a staple in my wardrobe. Having been diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) in 2009, I’m a member of the pink-ribbon club … whether I like it or not. I am lucky it was caught at Stage 1 (nothing had spread to the lymph nodes), and I now reflect on the nine months of surgery, reconstruction and recovery with a shrug as if it were no big deal. Truthfully, I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal and always tend to look on the bright side.

Before my diagnosis, I NEVER liked getting a mammogram — I was fibrocystic, and it always hurt and required an accompanying ultrasound. Today, I tell women breast cancer hurts even more!

In spring 2011, at the threshold of my 50th birthday, God laid a message on my heart … one that I thought just was going to be my team’s name for a breast cancer walk. Yet, the sassy, upbeat and inspiriting phrase has grown bigger than I could have imagined. At the urging of many marketing-savvy girlfriends, Yes, Maam! Mammograms Are A Must grew into a philanthropic social enterprise and a pink T-shirt I began merchandising on a local, and now a regional and national level.

It’s a simple, straight-forward message that doesn’t sexualize the female body. The feedback has been remarkable — women ages 25-85 and older say, “It’s really catchy!” And even though it’s for women about women, men are embracing the message in support of the ladies they love.

“Get Your Squeeze On!™” is my mantra, because early detection of breast cancer assures more options for treatment and higher survival rates. I envision women all over the country wearing their Yes, Maam! Mammograms Are A Must tee to the coffee house, grocery store and gym. It makes a sassy statement in southern style, and ladies take notice. I’ve seen them look at my tee and then shake their head, almost to say, “Oh yeah, I need to schedule that!” It’s even better when they give me a thumbs-up, indicating their annual appointment is behind them and the report was “all clear.”

Sadly, though, the fear factor is real … and women are BUSY. Research shows more than 50 percent of women ages 50+ either cancel their appointment or never get around to making it. Perhaps they don’t know this fact: When mammograms are scheduled every other year, some 30 percent of breast cancers can be missed.

To be totally honest, when a woman says, “Oh, I keep forgetting …” I want to smack her silly — especially if she has health insurance. Given the current economic climate, many women have to put the needs of their children first before tending to their own health. From the very beginning, T-shirt sales have helped to fund mammograms for women who don’t have health insurance. The cost of the tee is $20, and 25 percent ($5) is donated. Individuals, businesses/groups and stores that purchase or sell the tee are encouraged to designate a women’s healthcare charity in their community to receive the funds (hopefully earmarked for mammograms).

Having been a writer/editor - http://www.joyfulleewritten.com/ - for more than 28 years, I am energized by this second act of my life — an entrepreneur who’s engaging communities of women in the early detection of breast cancer. (Who knew a 50-year-old could master making memes and tweeting?) But beyond learning new skills, I’m living passionately with a new purpose. Building the Yes, Maam! Mammograms Are A Must  brand, connecting with awesome women and making new friends is a blessing I never could have imagined three years ago when I heard those fateful words: breast cancer. Yes, Ma'am, I'm a surTHRIVER!
Lee McCracken
@YesMaamMammos (Twitter)

Lee McCracken lives with her husband, Stuart, in Denver, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte. She has a 20-year-old daughter, Megan, and an 11-year-old Bichon Frise, Benny. She enjoys traveling, photography, reading and gardening. Lee’s girlfriends keep her filled with inspiration and laughter!

For products to help alleviate side effects of cancer treatment please visit: http://www.lotstolivefor.com/
The skin care, hair care, oral care and anti-nausea products on this website can help you resume your normal lifestyle during treatment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NEW THERAPEUTIC APP: WHIP CANCER - Innovative iphone and ipad Ap for Cancer Patients

By Larry G. Raff, MPH - Guest blogger (and founder of Whip Cancer)

Last July my brother and sister-in-law visited me and my family in Boston from the west coast. It was a great visit, but Kitty was dealing with some respiratory ailment that did not seem out of the ordinary. After returning home Kitty checked it out and finally learned that there was malignant tissue in the upper lobes of her lungs. The search ensued to find the primary tumor, but with no success.

Over the course of the next several months Kitty and I spoke and began to discuss how she was coping with her chemotherapy. We talked about the ways she was taking care of herself and I asked if she was trying any visualization to stimulate her immune system to fight the cancer. She said she was, but that it was difficult and she could use some help in doing it. It was soon afterwards that her condition quickly deteriorated and she was gone before Christmas.

My conversation with Kitty inspired the creation of Whip Cancer. Being a visually oriented person myself with a master’s degree in public health and clinical nutrition, it made sense to me to help people like Kitty by providing photos of the cancer cells they are trying to rid from their body, and to enable the placement of the cells at the body sight of the cancer. By combining visual support along with a guided imagery narrative with complementary ambient sound made profound sense to me.

I then rang up my friend Zack Spigelman, MD, Internist, Hematologist and Medical Oncologist at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston and he confirmed that imagery is frequently used by his patients to empower them to be active in the healing process, thereby reducing stress and focusing the body's energies on targeting the disease. In addition, I did extensive web research and looked at every iPhone app I could find on cancer and guided imagery, and to my surprise, found nothing that takes this approach.

I thought an app was the way to go to make Whip Cancer available to as many people as possible. People can use the app while receiving chemotherapy, when waiting to be treated, at a random quiet moment in the day, or at daily scheduled times.

I didn’t know the first thing about creating a mobile app, so I did my research and quickly realized I needed someone to do the programming. Using LinkedIn I found Makarand Sovani, a veteran computer software programmer in NJ who was learning how to create iPhone/Pad apps. I provided him with what is called a “wire frame” that laid out the content and relationship of each page of the app. I also provided him with 108 cancer histology images, and brilliant anatomical images.

Then I needed someone to do a specially tailored guided imagery narrative, and I had to look no further than my friend and colleague Diane Blumenson. Diane is a gifted Certified Hypnotist and member of the National Guild of Hypnotists (She has put me under a couple of times).

We were off to the races. After only two months the beta app was ready to test on friends and family members, some of whom have or have had cancer. The feedback was fabulous and very encouraging. We made a number of improvements and then launched the app in mid-June 2012.
Whip Cancer is a visually enhanced guided imagery immunotherapy tool. Its release coincides with findings by pharmaceutical researchers who are developing drugs that will use the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapies are intended to activate the body’s immune system, allowing it to recognize cancer cells as the enemy and attack them. Researchers are still seeking to develop a method to jump-start the body's defenses without injuring normal cells. This is exactly what Whip Cancer offers.
There is a great deal of sound research supporting the ability of guided imagery to positively affect the immune response. I’ve collected some of this research and other information at http://www.whipcancer.net/ to help others find ways to help themselves. Whip Cancer can be purchased for $2.99 on the Apple App Store or through the iTunes store. Whip Cancer is currently available for both iphones and ipads.

Larry can be reached at whipcancerblog@gmail.com and http://www.whipcancer.net/.

To learn about other products that are helpful for cancer patients please visit  Lots To Live For, Inc.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not My Mother's Journey: Author Heather St. Aubin-Stout Shares Her Personal Story

Guest Blog by Heather St.Aubin-Stout; author: Not My Mother’s Journey
The Importance of Sharing Your Story - Catharsis and Inspiration

Heather shares her personal story about breast cancer and her passion about supporting those going through the journey.

From the time I could read and write I wanted to be an author.  Looking back on this now, I'm not sure this was really what I wanted to do or if this was something that was projected onto the oldest daughter by her mother who loved to write.

Although I went to college for architecture, and had a career in the field of architecture before my children were born, I continued to write for myself.  After staying at home, working part time substitute teaching and doing much volunteer work I was ready to go back into a career when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Then in 2009 at forty-six and in remission for a year after two bouts of breast cancaer within the last three years, I began to write again.  It was a release, it was cathartic, and although it was also painful to re-live everything, if was also exciting to do something I had thought about for years.

I felt the need to write about my experience and how it was different from my mother's, who at forty-five died from breast cancer just a year and a half after her diagnosis.  A life unfinished.

I was twenty-four at the time and two weeks away from getting married. Her doctor had told her not to plan on being at my wedding. Of couse the month before - when he told her that - we were outraged.  A few days before she died, the hospice nurse asked what I would do if my mother didn't live to see me get married.  I broke down in tears; it was unimaginable to me that she might die in the next week.  At this point during her illness my mother was not the mother she had been during the rest of my life.  I just refused to see it.

My mother was a stay at home mom, she was there for my two younger sisters and me while we were growing up.  She went back to school when I was in college, moving from ther Bachelors to a Masters in Clinical Psychology.  She was disgnosed during hter second year.  She plowed ahead with internships, classes, and her thesis anyway while she was going through treatments.  However, she never did get her thesis completed.  My father, sisters, and I accepted the first posthumous degree ever awarded from University of North Carolina at Charlotte the year after her death.

For years it seemsed cruel to me that death took her before she could finish her degree and experience the rewards of a career.  However, looking back on it now, she shaped all of our lives during those years she was at home with us.  This is a gift I've just now begun to realize and treasure.

So, here I am at forty-eight and trying something new. I've reinvented myself, yet again.  I've found, as I've matured, gathered those life experiences one can only gather from aging, that each of us has many facets to ones self.  These parts of ourselves can come out when we don't expect it.  Breast Cancer did this for me.  It taught me humility, patience and perseverance.

My book, released in January 2011, Not My Mother's Journey is my story, my mom's story and hopefully it will encourage anyone facing a diagnosis of cancer to be their own best advocate - our doctors have many patients, but we only have one.  Ask questions, interview your doctors, share your journey with others, because it may help someone else.
Ironically, despite the similarities of being diagnosed about the same age as my mom, I tested negative for the BRACA genes (a genetic predisposition).  So when my cancer recurred at the one year scans, the same time my mom's had metastasized, I had to battle psychological demons for the second year in a row.

As of this writing I'm in remission...with my friend NED- No Evidence of Disease!
So my journey continues to evolve and for this I am grateful.
I hope I've written a compelling story, that makes the reader think, one that you can relate to, and one that will validate your own feelings.  I hope it is a story that moves and inspires you in your life.  I have tried to do this.  You tell me!  You can visit my website at http://www.sharingmystory.com/ and connect with me. I welcome your feedback.

You may purchase my book via the website http://www.sharingmystory.com/, by clicking the Amazon link above, from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/, www.xlibris.com in print or ebook format.
For products that can be helpful in relieving uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects during treatment for cancer please visit http://www.lotstolivefor.com/. This is a useful and informative website for patients, caregivers, oncology nurses, cancer coaches and friends and relatives of cancer patients. On Facebook we post helpful information about new developments in cancer treatment, new products and resources. Please "like" us at www.facebook.com/LotsToLiveFor
To be your own best health advocate, consider purchasing the Minerva Health Manager personal health record software.  It might help to save your life. You are your own best advocate!