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 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
  • 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.


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


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.


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.


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 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.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Exercises for Cancer Survivors - A Great New Resource for Recovery

by Carol Michaels

Exercise is an important component of a cancer survivor’s recovery process. Emerging research suggests a decrease in breast cancer recurrence for those who exercise. A well-designed program can also decrease side effects and improve quality of life. Moreover, acceptance of exercise as part of a good recuperation and standard of care has been gaining momentum in the medical community.
This post is a condensed version of a post from our newer blog which you can read by clicking here: 
Cancer survivors have questions about exercise. Which exercises should I be doing and which should I avoid? Can I exercise during chemotherapy? Can I exercise if I have lymphedema? How do I exercise safely with osteoporosis? Some cancer patients will need to exercise under supervision while others will be able to exercise independently. The type and scope of cancer and the overall medical condition and fitness level of a cancer survivor will determine whether or not a supervised program is needed. This book, Exercises for Cancer Survivors- Stretching and Strength Training, will be an essential guide for those who prefer or need to exercise independently.
Carol Michaels, MBA, ACSM, ACE, has been a fitness professional for more than 18 years and is the founder and creator of Recovery Fitness®, a cancer exercise program.  She owns and operates Carol Michaels Fitness and Recovery Fitness and is a consultant, author, speaker, Pilates instructor, and cancer exercise specialist. Carol developed and produced two DVD’s called Recovery Fitness Cancer Exercise-Simple Stretches and Recovery Fitness-Strength Training.  Both DVD’s can be found on her and Her new book, Exercise for Cancer Survivors, is a fantastic resource for anyone undergoing cancer surgery or treatments. Click here to order the book on Amazon.  The book can also be purchased on

To view a variety of personal care products to help reduce and relieve unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of cancer treatment, and learn about other resources for cancer patients please visit

Friday, January 24, 2014

6 Tips to Help Cancer Patients Become More Organized and Comfortable During Treatment

by Margot Malin

This is a condensed version of a longer post that was published on the Breast Cancer Yoga Blog entitled:

Cancer Pre-Treatment Check List – 6 Tips To Make Your Life Easier Once You Begin Treatments

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming. There are so many questions swirling through your mind and so many things to put in order. Here is a short list of 6 tips suggested by other patients to help make your treatment both more comfortable and better organized.

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Medications and their Side Effects
  2. Schedule a Dental Appointment
  3. Order some new products in advance to test them to see if you have any reactions to them, and to see if you like their feel and other characteristics.
  4. Make a list of things that need to be done and circulate it to friends and family so that they can sign up to help you.
  5. Create a treatment goody bag for yourself
  6. Meet with a Naturopathic doctor
Each of these 6 tips should help to reduce the uncertainty and confusion that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan. Try to organize and simplify your daily schedule whenever possible. Don’t forget to ask for help!

You can find products to add to your "Treatment Goody Bag" at
Lots To Live For, Inc. sells products to reduce and relieve the unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects of cancer treatments including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Donate Your Data from Cancer Commons - Share Your Medical Data Anonymously

By Guest Blogger Sarah Stanley

This is a condensed version of a blog post entitled "Donate Your Data– Share your Cancer Story to Help Yourself While Helping Others"

A decade ago, Internet entrepreneur Marty Tenenbaum was diagnosed with melanoma. He visited several local oncologists, but each doctor recommended a different treatment strategy. With no clear solution, he decided to enroll in a clinical trial that was testing a melanoma vaccine.     
Donate Your Data Dashboard

The vaccine failed the trial. But, for reasons unknown, it saved Tenenbaum’s life.

Inspired by the difficulty of navigating his options, and the need for better ways to figure out which treatments will work for which patients, Tenenbaum founded Cancer Commons—the first & only open access nonprofit collecting and learning from real patient experiences to give patients the information they need.

To support this mission, Cancer Commons has now launched its new Donate Your Data (DYD) Program, an online registry that empowers people with cancer to anonymously share their cancer experiences to advance research and, in return, inform their own clinical care.

To learn more about Donate Your Data please watch this video:

For now, DYD is available only to lung cancer and melanoma patients, but Cancer Commons will soon be expanding to cover most cancers. If you have or have had melanoma or lung cancer, please consider joining Cancer Commons in making the dream of personalized cancer treatment a reality for everyone. DonateYour Data now.

For more information, visit Follow Cancer Commons on Facebook and Twitter.