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    Gratitude & Beating the Odds… an inspirational story

      In light of the upcoming New Year, I received an email several years ago entitled “Gratitude” (which is posted below) about the amazing rescue of a humpback whale.  Although this story has absolutely nothing to do with cancer, I thought it was a beautiful reminder of how any of us- human being or whale- can beat the odds… and how one small act of kindness can change a life.  For these reasons, I’d like to share this story with you… “In December of 2005, there was a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle sharing the news about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate ) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around […]

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    2017 College Scholarships If You’ve Been Affected by Cancer

    There are a wide range of organizations and advocacy groups dedicated to helping anyone “affected by cancer” afford a college education.  “Affected by cancer” applies not only to cancer patients and survivors; but it can also include children or siblings of cancer patients and survivors as well as students who have lost a parent to cancer. Visit these sites to see if there is a scholarship opportunity that applies to you… Beyond the Cure (Ambassador Scholarship Program) awards college scholarships to childhood cancer survivors who have demonstrated the ability to overcome the difficult challenges of cancer with determination and motivation. Forty (40) $3,500 scholarships will be awarded each academic year.  Applications are available from January 1-March 31 each calendar year. Cancer for College offers a number of annual scholarships, ranging from $1000 – $5000, for cancer patients and cancer survivors.  The application period opens November 1 and closes January 31 of each year.  California applicants and applicants attending Southern California colleges will receive first consideration for perpetual scholarships. Community college applicants are eligible for the minimum scholarship level.  All remaining applicants will be eligible for other one-time awards.  Scholarship recipients must maintain full-time enrollment at his/her stated university. Cancer Survivors Fund provides college scholarships for young adult cancer survivors.  A selection committee chooses scholarship recipients based on the applicants’ personal hardships, assessing their financial and emotional needs as well as their academic qualifications.  Applications for Fall 2017 semester open on February 6, 2016. FinAid is a comprehensive source of student financial aid information. Click here for a huge listing of scholarship aid available for students affected by cancer.  (BTW, […]

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    When to Buy Organic: 2016 Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

    Many people believe that the pesticides used to grow conventional or non-organic produce may have played a role in their cancer and that removing pesticides from our food may help re-build and strengthen their bodies.  Although there is no definitive research proving either belief, should we avoid buying some or all fruits or vegetables that are conventionally grown?   To help answer this question, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, created the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  This guide, which is updated each year, highlights the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. The EWG recommends that if a conventionally grown food tests high for pesticides, buy the organic version instead whenever possible. The 12 most pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Dirty Dozen”. When choosing fruits & veggies included in the Dirty Dozen, the EWG suggests buying these foods as ORGANIC. The 15 least pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Clean 15″. If the fruit or veggie is listed on the Clean 15, it’s ok to buy it as non-organic or conventional.

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      To get the best care possible, many cancer patients need to travel out-of-state for treatments, surgeries and even second opinions. Being away from your family and your routine is not only difficult, it’s expensive. One recent study found that people with cancer were 2.65 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people without cancer. Fortunately, there is help, even for patients who decide to travel for care. Here are 5 Ways to Reduce Costs When Traveling for Cancer Treatments 1. Dozens of organizations offer free air travel services for cancer patients, many on private jets. After my husband had emergency brain surgery in Texas, I had to figure out a way to get him back home to Maryland. We connected with Corporate Angel Network, as they arrange free travel on corporate jets for cancer patients, bone marrow donors and bone marrow recipients. Most groups who offer free flights require that the patient be ambulatory (able to walk and get into/out of the plane with little or no assistance) and be medically stable as the pilots are not able to provide any medical assistance. For a listing of organizations that provide free air travel to cancer patients, read my article on FREE Flights for Cancer Fighters.   2. Ask the hospital or cancer center (that you’re traveling to) if they have a travel program. Many of the larger hospital centers have Patient Travel Programs whereby they can offer discounts on unrestricted, changeable, non-penalty airfares and change fee waivers on restricted fares from anywhere […]

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    Advice on How to Tell the Kids You Have Cancer

      Telling our children that Alan had cancer was one of the most difficult things Alan and I EVER had to do. At the time, our children were ages 10, 8 and 5. We knew that our older two kids would know enough about cancer to wonder if Daddy was going to die. And our youngest would be smart enough to watch the reactions of his siblings to see if this was something he should worry about. Knowing this dynamic, we decided to do some research and speak to several experts before having “the talk” with our kids. So, how do you really tell your children that one of the most important people in their lives has cancer? Give them the lowdown  This situation has a name and it’s called cancer. Use the word “cancer” when describing your illness. The amount of detail you give and the specific words you use will depend on the age of your children. If you are talking to children of different ages at the same time (which is what we did), speak in terms that the youngest one will understand. You can always have additional conversations with the older children if necessary. Be honest  Although Alan and I were tempted to downplay the seriousness of this situation, we also knew this could damage the trust we had worked so hard to build over the years. Throughout the entire process, we were honest, yet optimistic, which actually brought the kids tremendous comfort. Make no promises or guarantees about the […]

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    If You’ve Been Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, You Must Read This…

      Know Your Tumor provides eligible pancreatic cancer patients and their oncologists with information about the biology of their tumor. So far, nearly 50 percent of Know Your Tumor reports have highlighted information that may be helpful as patients and their oncologists make treatment decisions. These options include clinical trials and other treatments, which may help improve a patient’s outcome Why is understanding the tumor so helpful? Reports can help determine treatments that might improve a patient’s condition and might not have been considered otherwise. Test results may be used to find appropriate clinical trials. Insights from pancreatic cancer experts – specialists in pancreatic cancer treatment – can help patients and their oncologists make better treatment decisions. Findings contribute to future research and development of new therapies and diagnoses for pancreatic cancer. How does the service work? The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network works with a leading personalized cancer therapy company, Perthera, to coordinate the tumor testing, the expert review and the development of a report containing the test results and potential treatment options for eligible patients. The costs for those portions of Know Your Tumor (Perthera’s services) are covered by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Other related medical costs, including diagnostic testing and biopsy, are billed to the patient’s insurance company. What is personalized medicine? Personalized medicine is a medical practice that identifies specific treatments that may be particularly valuable for a specific patient, or type of tumor, by analyzing the tumor’s biological makeup. Researchers analyze the molecular profile of […]