It costs 0 to be a decent person and make someone else feel good today. They will appreciate your kindness and help.

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Another birthday has come and gone, and I'm Still Here! Ha! Take that black cloud! As all of us can understand the feeling we get from having another birthday when there was a chance that we wouldn't get another one.

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Today's tax day, did you get yours filed, or at least an audit? I'll be patiently waiting for my audit after posting this.

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I came across this post online today and as I read it I thought, "that's not how I feel". But then again as I re-read it over and over I started to think maybe I do feel like this. What about you?

"Imagine you're going about your day, minding your own business, when someone sneaks up behind you...

You feel something press up against the back of your head, as someone whispers in your ear.

"Sssshhhhh.... don't turn around. Just listen. I am holding a gun against the back of your head. I'm going to keep it there. I'm going to follow you around like this every day, for the rest of your life."

"I'm going to press a bit harder, every so often, just to remind you I'm here, but you need to try your best to ignore me, to move on with your life. Act like I'm not here, but don't you ever forget... one day I may just pull the trigger... or maybe I won't. Isn't this going to be a fun game?"

This is what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer. Any STAGE of cancer. Any KIND of cancer. Remission does not change the constant fear. It never truly goes away. It's always in the back of your mind.

Please, if you have a loved one who has ever been diagnosed with cancer, remember this. They may never talk about it or they may talk about it often. Listen to them.

They aren't asking you to make it better. They want you to sit with them in their fear... their sadness... their anger... just for the moment. That's it.

Don't try to talk them out of how they are feeling. That doesn't help. It will only make them feel like what they are going through is being minimized. Don't remind them of all the good things they still have in their life. They know. They are grateful.

But some days they are more aware of that gun pressing into the back of their head and they need to talk about it. Offer them an ear."
Sherry McAllister

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Just like that, poof, gone. Donna and I drove about an hour away from home to play with my band. Stop playing at 1 AM, tear down gear and show, drive home, in bed at 4:30 AM, woke up at 6 fighting cramps in my legs, (thanks Lipitor) slept a good part of Sunday, back to the real World tomorrow, work.

Does it seem to disappear for anyone else? I need a day off to recover from our days off.

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The weekend is a good time to do this "nothing" thing and get some recovery time in.

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How new cancer 'vaccine' fights tumors throughout the body

The researchers say that the experimental therapy essentially turns tumors into "cancer vaccine factories," where immune cells learn to recognize the cancer before seeking it out and destroying it in other parts of the body.

A new cancer "vaccine" that's injected directly into a single tumor can trigger the immune system to attack cancer cells throughout the body, a small new study suggests.

The researchers say that the experimental therapy essentially turns tumors into "cancer vaccine factories," where immune cells learn to recognize the cancer before seeking it out and destroying it in other parts of the body. "[We're] seeing tumors all throughout the body melting away" after injecting just one tumor, said lead study author Dr. Joshua Brody, director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Still, the research, published today (April 8) in the journal Nature Medicine, is very preliminary. The therapy has only been tested in 11 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a cancer of immune system cells), and not all of these patients responded to the treatment. But some patients did have remission for relatively long periods, and the results were promising enough that the therapy is now also being tested in patients with breast and head and neck cancers, the authors said. [7 Odd Things That Raise Your Risk of Cancer (and 1 That Doesn't)]

What's more, the "vaccine" appears to substantially boost the effectiveness of another type of immunotherapy called "checkpoint blockade" — the same therapy that former President Jimmy Carter received to treat his metastatic melanoma in 2015. ("Immunotherapy" refers to treatments that harness the immune system to fight cancer.)

The two therapies "are remarkably synergistic," Brody told Live Science. So far, the researchers have only tested the combined therapies in mice, but they are optimistic that the combined therapies could benefit cancer patients, particularly those that aren't getting much benefit from current immunotherapy treatments.

Cancer ''vaccine''
To be clear, the new treatment is not technically a vaccine — a term used for substances that provide long-lasting immunity against disease. (Still, the term "cancer vaccine" can be used to refer to therapies that train the immune system to fight cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.)

Instead, the new treatment is a type of immunotherapy. It involves giving patients a series of injections with two types of immune stimulants.

The therapy has three steps. First, patients are given an injection that contains a small molecule that recruits immune cells, called dendritic cells, into the tumor. Dendritic cells act like generals in an army, telling the immune system "soldiers" — known as T cells — what to do, Brody said.

Next, patients are given a low dose of radiotherapy, which kills a few tumor cells so that they spill out "antigens," or proteins, that the immune system can learn to recognize, Brody said. Dendritic cells then take up these antigens and show them to the T cells.

Then, patients are given a second injection that contains a molecule that activates the dendritic cells.

"The dendritic cells are learning the lesson … and telling it to the T cells," which then can search the body for other cancer cells, Brody said.

Synergistic therapies?

In the new study, many of the 11 lymphoma patients saw a regression of their tumors that lasted for months to years. But several patients didn't benefit from the therapy.

The researchers were also interested to see how their therapy worked with checkpoint blockade drugs, which essentially take the "brakes" off T cells so they better attack cancer cells. While this therapy can work well for some types of cancer (indeed, President Carter had complete remission after his checkpoint blockade treatment), it doesn't work well for others, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

When the researchers gave checkpoint blockade drugs to mice with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the treatment, not surprisingly, had no effect. But when they gave it in combination with their vaccine, about 75 percent of the mice went into long-term remission.

The type of therapy tested in the new study is known as "in situ vaccination," because it involves injections directly into tumor cells. It isn't the first experimental "in situ" cancer vaccine — in 2018, researchers reported promising results of another in situ vaccine in mice. But the new treatment is different because it focuses on dendritic cells rather than T cells.

The authors think "this could be … effective for many cancer types that are so far not benefiting much from cancer immunotherapy," Brody said.

Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the NYU Langone Vaccine Center, who wasn't involved with the study, said the new findings appear promising. Figuring out how to harness checkpoint blockade drugs for more cancer types "is an important area of ongoing research," Mulligan told Live Science. The data presented in mice, and early data from the human trial, "appear promising" in terms of enhancing the effect of checkpoint blockade treatments, he said.

Still, Mulligan cautioned that the new study is the "earliest phase" of human testing and that larger, more rigorous studies will now be needed to confirm the methods' safety and effectiveness.

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Is your light on?

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April is #EsophagealCancerAwarenessMonth One of three types of cancer that are being highlighted. It is one of the fastest increasingly diagnosed cancers increasing more than 600% in the last 35 years. Our blog post has statistics, risks, treatments, and more. Read it here>>

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I have to keep telling myself this!

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