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    It would probably come as a shock to most non-cancer patients that fatigue is ranked as among one of the more debilitating aspects of dealing with the disease. Fatigue is often a constant companion of those undergoing cancer treatment. Not only can cancer itself be draining, but the radiation and chemotherapy regimens sap the strength of patients.

    But the fatigue caused by cancer and its treatment is more than merely “feeling tired;” it is an overall lack of energy and feeling of extreme, total-body exhaustion. It’s the kind of physical depletion that can’t be overcome by just taking a nap, because sleep does little to offset the effect.
    It’s important to fight against fatigue since it’s one of the effects that can most impair your quality of life. Here are some tips and advice from the WhatNext community to help you combat cancer-related fatigue.

    Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not, exercise is key in overcoming fatigue.
    “Even on days where getting out of bed is a battle, I take a walk and start to feel a bit more energy,” writes "Sylvc56."

    It’s true: studies show that even walking for just 30 minutes three to five times each week can actually reduce the feeling of fatigue in cancer patients. Even if you start with light physical activity for short amounts of time, you will see the benefits. It’s taking that first step of pushing past the exhaustion that’s most important.
    “I was very fatigued as a result of chemo, but made myself take the dogs for a walk before work,” writes "LiveWithCancer." “It took a lot of mind over matter to do it … but exercise helps a great deal.”

    Remember to always check with your care team before doing even the most mild form of exercise.
    Get Out There
    Fatigue is a big deal. It has a major negative impact on your quality of life, which can drain you emotionally. The feeling of malaise that comes from being confined to a bed or a couch can become worse with each passing day. So fighting through that bone-tiredness can be critical. Stick to your routine.
    “Maybe that's the key: getting up and getting going regardless of how you feel,” writes GregP_WN. “During my last diagnosis, I was working so that's plenty of activity… I still was droopy though.”

    "Skyemberr" says she fights her battle against fatigue by getting up and going to the mall.
    Even simply getting up at the same time each morning, getting out of bed and getting dressed can greatly improve your mental state and help keep that draining feeling at bay.
    Listen to Your Body
    Fatigue is real, and sometimes you have to just let it win. You don’t just feel exhausted; you are exhausted. Your body is using every ounce of strength it can marshal to battle the cancer and to bounce back from the treatment. Even as you work hard to push back against fatigue, you’ll need your rest.
    “One thing I have found out in the battle against fatigue is to plan your crashes,” writes WhatNexter "BoiseB". “Make your naps comfortable, in a comfortable place, wearing comfortable clothing, and listen to relaxing music.”
    Facebook WhatNexter Hay Lawlor advises patients to “just go with the flow” when you’re fatigued. “Rest until to you feel better enough to exercise, and do a little bit at a time”

    Some cancer nurses recommend building one or two “power naps” (of less than an hour each) into your daily schedule. But be careful: long naps can disrupt your sleep rhythms leading to an even greater feeling of tiredness.

    WhatNexter "VeeDub" Kayaking
    It’s All About Attitude
    “The fatigue hasn’t gone away, however, I have changed the way I look at it,” writes "DeniseD" on the WhatNext forum. “For me, it seems to be about attitude and mind over matter.”

    This “no surrender” enthusiasm can be tough to maintain, but so many WhatNexters believe it’s crucial to winning the fight. Refusing to give in to fatigue can be energizing in its own way.
    “If I have to take more naps now … oh well. If I can't walk as far, or run as hard … oh well,” writes LiveWithCancer. “I accept what I can no longer do, and am grateful and happy for what I can do.”

    "cllinda" agrees that the struggle is worth it. “I just remember being so fatigued, especially the last few weeks of radiation,” she writes. “But I am glad that I went through it all and came out the other side. What makes me tired now, is taking care of my granddaughter a couple of days a week. But it's a good tired.”

    How have you won your personal battle against cancer-related fatigue? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below. 
    Related Articles

    Battling Fatigue

    Did You Suffer From Fatigue During Treatment

    Fatigue After Chemo

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    What it's Like to Have Chemotherapy

    The What’s It Like? Blog Series
    Obviously, the Internet is often the first stop for any new patient seeking information on what life with cancer is all about. But at WhatNext, we feel that our community offers what many online sites don’t: valuable personal experience from real cancer patients. 

    Sure, sites like Cancer.net can offer a comprehensive and dispassionate breakdown of various cancer topics. But WhatNexters delivers straight talk from the patients who’ve lived it.
    In our What’s It Like series of posts, we hope to provide new and current patients with insights into life with cancer from members of the WhatNext community.
    What’s It Like: Chemotherapy Treatments 
    Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for cancer – and the treatment that cancer patients dread most because of its many potential side effects: nausea and vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, pain, diarrhea … the list goes on.
    Many sites on the Internet can offer page after page of descriptions of the experience of chemotherapy. But here’s the inside scoop – and useful advice – about what to expect from chemotherapy from the WhatNext community.
    Chemo can be disorienting and uncomfortable. 
    “It was like something out of a bad science fiction movie.” – BoiseB Without question, chemotherapy has the potential to “put your body through the ringer,” as Ejourneys writes. Because while radiation and surgery work to remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a certain area, chemo does its work throughout your body – therefore it can kill any cells that have spread far from the original tumor. But spreading these powerful drugs throughout your system can wreak havoc on the body. The body’s response to chemo can make you feel terrible. Breast Cancer patient "cllinda" likened chemo to enduring “a much longer than normal case of the flu,” noting that just as she was feeling better, it was time to go for another treatment.
    Certain types of chemo can also produce odd sensation

    “It’s like chili pepper juice being pumped into your vein,” writes "CAS1". “It feels warm and thick. You close your eyes and the room starts to spin.” Meanwhile, fellow WhatNexter "Carool" remarked that she experienced a “metallic taste forever” after receiving her dosage.
    "HeidiJo" from the WhatNext forums had a funnier take on the experience: “Remember when you were young and you had a massive hang over, and then you threw up you felt better? It's like that, except when you throw up, you don't feel better!"

    Tips for dealing with chemo include getting plenty of rest (your body needs it), starting nausea medications as the doctors direct (if you wait until you feel sick, it’s too late), and gargling with cold water and baking soda to ward off mouth sores and the metallic taste caused by treatment.
    If you’re lucky, chemo may not be that bad

    “Chemo was not walk in the park, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.” – "LiveWithCancer" The chemotherapy experience may be common, but the reaction is not universal. This is because there are so many variations to the treatment. Most peoples’ image of chemotherapy is sitting in a room with an IV feeding the treatment into one’s veins. But some chemotherapy is administered in pill form. And your body’s response to chemotherapy treatment may be more mild than you expect. “Don’t believe everything you read and hear,” writes WhatNexter "beachbum5817". “Everyone is different and reacts differently to the treatments.” Beachbum recommends that during treatment, chemo patients should put themselves first and “make getting better your number-one priority.” "Janetspringer" writes that “chemo was not as bad as I thought it would be,” describing a long day of chemo that was followed by a week’s worth of extreme fatigue and nausea medication.
    Chemo is boring 
    “It was a slow drip for six hours!” – "Phoenix76" Chemo takes time. Of course, it varies depending on what type of treatment you’re receiving, but while some treatments take just 30 minutes, there are others that can drag on for four hours.

    In these circumstances, you must go to the usual back-ups: iPads, books, music. A good friend willing to sit by your side will also be helpful.
    ~Be Prepared, 22 Things to Bring to Chemo~

    Colorectal cancer sufferer "schweetieangel" writes that one of her memories of chemo is “the friends you meet sitting next to you … a moment you know you are not alone.” The camaraderie is real. And it’s crucial.
    Chemo exhausts you

    The fatigue that comes with chemo is no joke. “Through it all, the fatigue is the worst,” writes "Lynne-I-Am". “It’s as if your life force was being sucked out of you.” Most patients recommend giving in to fatigue and giving your body the rest it needs to recover from treatment. “Three days post chemo it hits you,”  "Jaleman" writes. “You feel wrung out and the body is so tired.”

    You can stay upbeat during chemo

    “Try to be positive. I just imagine that every drop of chemo that enters my body is fighting  cancer and killing it.” – "miedle"

    In spite of the arduousness of chemotherapy, many WhatNexters remained resilient amid the trying circumstances. This treatment is a process that simply needs to be endured.
    “Chemo may take your hair,” writes WhatNexter "jhale17". “It may take a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to take your heart or your hope or your joy.”

    How was chemotherapy for you? Comment below and tell us your experiences.
    You can find more information on chemotherapy treatments by searching the WhatNext forum.
    Relatated chemotherapy articles on WhatNext
    10 Ways to Cope With Chemo Treatments

    What Is "Chemo-Brain" Really Like, and How to Fight it

    Things to Ask Your Oncologist on the First Visit

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    6 Things You Should Know About "Pinktober"

    Dear Pinktober Fans,
    Look, we all know it’s Pinktober. Of course, it’s kind of impossible to miss. And we know that you’re all-in on pink ribbons, and Breast Cancer Awareness retail promotions. Not to mention the Twitter posts. And the Facebook posts. And the Instagram posts.

    But if you’ll excuse us, not all of us are thrilled with it. There are some things about it we wish could be toned down. In fact, many cancer patients and survivors have come to absolutely loathe every one of the 31 days of “Pinktober.” Here are some things that the cancer community would like you to know about our attitudes on Pinktober.
    1. Survivors Don’t Need a Month of this Stuff
    For many breast cancer survivors, the inescapability of Breast Cancer Awareness Month dredges up awful memories of an arduous treatment process. It can be similar to the Post Traumatic Stress flashbacks and relapses suffered by combat veterans.
    For many breast cancer survivors, the inescapability of Breast Cancer Awareness Month dredges up awful memories of an arduous treatment process. It can be similar to the Post Traumatic Stress flashbacks and relapses suffered by combat veterans.
    Breast cancer patient janec0488 writes that she hasn’t been into the Pinktober “hoopla” in her 20 years with the disease. “It's so much marketing … I am especially offended when junk food has pink ribbons on the wrapper so that people will buy it thinking they are somehow helping me 'cure' my breast cancer.”

    WhatNexter LiveWithCancer writes that she is “always in favor of advocacy and education, [but] I am not in favor of exploitation, which is exactly what I think Pinktober is all about.”

    2. “Pinkwashing” is real. And it’s despicable.

    We are concerned about “pinkwashing” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month– that’s when a company promotes or sells a Breast Cancer Awareness product, but then never actually donates the money. It’s a despicable way to drive company sales for the month, and dupes consumers into believing they’re contributing to the cause – but in reality, they’re just adding to a company’s bottom line. Pinkwashing watchdog sites like ThinkBeforeYouPink.org help to minimize the downsides of Pinktober through this October and beyond, calling for more transparency and accountability in breast cancer fundraising. Promoting cancer awareness is a noble effort and one that needs its intentions to be kept pure.
    3. Cancer isn’t Cute
    Many of us object to the fact that the promotion of breast cancer awareness has become glib, and even lighthearted. WhatNexter BuckeyeShelby writes, “Let's make cancer all fluffy and pink!! I get the idea, especially in the early days before it got super-commercialized, but wow. “Pink” just seems to trivialize cancer of any shape, size or location.”

    We’ve all seen those “Save the Ta Tas” bumper stickers. For many survivors and patients, this is an incredibly cutesy treatment of an amazingly devastating and serious health issue. It’s hard to imagine similarly cute or humorous bumper stickers that promote awareness of other health scourges. Can you imagine that you’d get a positive response from other drivers if you had a car magnet that said “Don’t forget Alzheimer’s.” Not likely.
    4. There Are Other Cancers Out There, You Know
    Breast Cancer gets more publicity than other cancers. It’s that simple. LiveWithCancer noted that “breast cancer is NOT the most deadly cancer, not even for women; lung cancer is.” WhatNexter Sharlie agrees. “There are so many other cancers affecting many other women, men and children and they should not be made to feel like the "step-children" of disease or the search for the cures.” Sharlie is a breast cancer survivor herself, and adds that “Getting to the truth of the matter would be nice, but instead they just created sort of a ‘celebratory event’ to make us focus in the wrong area.”

    While the calendar is stacked with various cancer awareness months and days, nearly everyone on the street can tell you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you asked the same person which month is dedicated to promoting childhood cancer, you’d likely get a blank stare (it’s in September).
    In fact, though you’d be unlikely to realize it, September is one of the busiest months for cancer awareness. Nothing illustrates the success of the promotion of October breast cancer awareness more than the fact that six other cancers share September as an official “awareness” month (Childhood Cancer, Gynecological Cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma, Ovarian Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Thyroid Cancer Awareness are all observed in September). And buried beneath the pink tidal wave is the fact that October is also National Liver Cancer Awareness month.

    Ovarian cancer survivor Lynne-I-Am from the forum writes that the “the resentment [about Pinktober] on my other cancer sites is very real, and I imagine it is probably the same on any specific cancer site … I don't like reading the put downs of Pinktober, but I understand.”

    5. Breast Cancer Isn’t for Women Only. 

    Pinktober has become such a massive event, it skews the perception of the disease. WhatNexter BuckeyeShelby, who is battling uterine cancer writes that “the typical person not affected by cancer could think, "gee, the only cancer women get is breast cancer.”

    BoiseB’s issue is that it paints breast cancer as exclusively as a women’s issue. “Men get breast cancer too,” she writes. “And it is more often discovered when it has advanced.” This is true. While incidents of breast cancer in men are much smaller than those in women, statistics from the American Cancer Society indicate that 2,600 new cases of men with advanced, invasive breast cancer are reported each year.
    6. We Wouldn’t Want Pinktober to Go Away
    While Pinktober has its issues, even the most cynical of us wouldn’t want to see it go away. As LiveWithCancer, a lung cancer patient writes, “It gets more women to the doctor for a mammogram. I would think it offers some hope to newly diagnosed. It creates a community. Without a doubt, it raises lots and lots of money.”

    Never a bad thing.
    Related Articles

    What the NFL Gets Right, (and Wrong) About Cancer

    10 Times Raising Cancer Awareness Made us Laugh

    Stage IV Breast Cancer and Still Living With Hope and Joy

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    What it Means to Survive Cancer

    With new treatments and medical advances, the odds of surviving cancer are greater than they’ve ever been before. And they’re increasing all the time. And while that’s great news, there’s little doubt that time between the day of your cancer diagnosis and the day you’re told that there is “No Evidence of Disease” is going to change you forever.

    Coming through to the other side can yield valuable lessons about life that are often lost on those who’ve not lived through. For her book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof that You Can Heal Yourself, Dr. Lissa Rankin interviewed many cancer patients who were in remission.
    “The more interviews I did, the more I noticed that these people were living differently than most of the people I knew that had not been diagnosed with cancer,” Rankin says.
    After getting a cancer diagnosis, it’s impossible for someone to foresee the many changes that are in store for them when they emerge from the other side of that long tunnel. WhatNext Community and Social Media Manager GregP_WN writes that he “ once heard someone say that they didn’t know being a cancer survivor would mean this!” Exactly what “this” is varies greatly from person to person.
    Kalindria from the WhatNext forums had no idea that surviving Ovarian and Fallopian Tube Cancer “would mean turning my whole life upside down, ending my career, permanently fog my brain, and sap my energy.” It even took away her ability to participate in her hobby of showing dogs.

    But Kalindria has still been able to take positives from the experience. “Being a survivor has also made me appreciate life, along with good friends and loved ones, and I spend more time soaking in the beauty of the natural world around me,” she writes.
    This is not an uncommon response. It’s heartening to see that many of the survivors on the WhatNext forums tend to look at the positives. It’s no wonder that Rankin believes that “these courageous people” taught her how to live and to “do it now.” 
    "DoreenLouise" writes that she did know that surviving cancer would mean that she would “choose to be happy daily, regardless of the circumstances of the day.” And it’s this ability to steer clear of “sweating the small stuff” that seems to be a key lesson. Acceptance tends to bring peace of mind. 
    “I can't go back to the person I was yesterday because that person no longer exists,“Life now has a ‘new normal,’ , and th at is not all bad, , writes   "Boris12" . "I have met so many wonderful people and had a lot of new experiences. I have support from places that I never knew existed.

    For others, cancer survivorship means a kind of freedom – and not necessarily from the disease. “People with cancer say no when they don’t feel like going to the gala. They avoid gatherings when they’d prefer to be alone,” Dr. Rankin notes. “They don’t let themselves get pressured into doing things they really don’t want to do.”
    This was definitely the lesson that WhatNexter "Yoouperth" took away from her struggle with Ovarian and Fallopian Tube Cancer. “I was not going to sugar coat the world anymore,” she writes. “If I don't like something, I simply say it, filter free. I refuse to do things that don't make me totally happy anymore. It's pretty liberating!”

    Lynne-I-Am elegantly and succinctly summed up the experience of the cancer survivor when that wrote that during her ordeal she would “become stronger in so many ways, yet carry emotional scars and doubts for the rest of my life.”

    Dr. Rankin isn’t alone in her appreciation for the life lessons that cancer survivors can teach the world. WhatNexters who share their stories and insights here on the forums provide motivation, education, and inspiration to fellow cancer patients and their families – as well as anyone lucky enough to read them.
    So, what does being a survivor mean to you? Please leave a comment below.
    Related Articles at WhatNext
    Breast Cancer Survivors Deserve to Survive Beautifully

    Creating a Survivorship Plan For Life After Cancer

    5 Things to Know About Survivorship

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    October Cancer Awareness

    October brings us possibly the largest movement in cancer awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's hard to look in any direction and not see something pink, or an add on TV or radio with a Company touting their support for breast cancer research. Regardless of your position on all of the "pinkwashing" that goes on, it cannot be denied that the movement does bring incredible awareness to cancer issues. October is also Liver Cancer Awareness Month

    The National Breast Cancer Foundation - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go and need your help!
    American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer  - The American Cancer Society's signature breast cancer awareness event features "walks" all over the Nation. By clicking on the Making strides link above, you can find an event near you and participate. 

    Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day October 23rd - Metastatic breast cancer is when cancer metastasizes to other places/organs in the body, like brain, bones, lungs, liver or other organs. Also considered Stage IV breast cancer, while there is currently no cure for it, although many women are living with it and managing it. More information from My Breast Cancer Story.Com

    Liver Cancer Awareness Month - 
    October is National Liver Cancer Awareness Month. Liver cancer may be less well-known than other cancer types, but it is the fifth most common cancer in the world. And despite progress in other fields, liver cancer is one of the few cancers whose rate in the United States is continuing to rise
    Cancer.Net's Guide to Liver Cancer 

    The American Liver Foundation Website

    Do you know of some interesting breast or liver cancer awareness events going on in October? Please list them below in the comments section. 

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    Radiation Therapy: What's it Like?

    Part I of our "What's it Like" series
    Obviously, the Internet is often the first stop for any new patient seeking information on what life with cancer is all about. But at WhatNext, we feel that our community offers what many online sites don’t: valuable personal experience from real cancer patients. Sure, sites like Cancer.net can offer a comprehensive and dispassionate breakdown of various cancer topics. But WhatNexter delivers straight talk from the patients who’ve lived it.

    In our What’s It Like series of posts, we hope to provide new and current patients with insights into life with cancer from members of the WhatNext community.
    What’s It Like: Radiation Treatments
    If you have cancer – any kind of cancer – chances are you’ve received radiation therapy. In fact, nearly two-thirds of cancer patients will receive radiation treatments during the course of their illness.
    Obviously, the Internet is often the first stop for any new patient seeking information on what the experience of radiation therapy is like. But at WhatNext, we feel that our community offers what a lot of sites doesn’t: valuable personal experience. Sure, you could go to sites like Cancer.net for a dispassionate, play-by-play breakdown of what to expect when you undergo radiation. But WhatNexters can offer our readers straight talk based on what happened during their treatments.

    Treatments are fast 
    The majority of WhatNexters report that radiation treatments are usually fast and painless. How fast? Boris12 from the WhatNext f radiation therapy doctors that the treatment was “faster than going through the car wash.”
    “The radiation treatment was like going through metal detectors; in and out of there in fifteen to twenty minutes.” – CassieMe1

    “I had 10 seconds of extremely high radiation doses. It smelled like a lightning strike on a mesa with iron deposits. I heard the grinding of the machine, which got deeper when the radiation was increased.” -- meyati

    While the treatments themselves can be short, a complete course of radiation usually consists of several doses each week.
    “I had 5 treatments a week for 6 weeks; I would do it again without hesitation, to save my life.” – Phoenix 76

    Treatments are usually pain free 

    Depending on the area of your body that is being targeted for treatment, most radiation patients report little to no pain associated with the procedure. Ejourneys, a breast cancer patient, writes that in her personal experience, “the highest level my pain reached was a two out of 10 … except for the last day of radiation, when it reached a three out of 10. Five days after I finished radiation, my pain was gone.”

    Janetspringer, who was treated with a gamma knife, said that the actual treatment was painless, but notes that she was “very tired afterward" , and still deals with the after effects. Which brings up our next topic …

    In spite of being pain free, radiation therapies do have side effects.

    “The pain, burn, and other possible secondary effects are the ones that really hurt,” writes WhatNexter Rosa. It’s true: radiation can have unpleasant side effects. While treatments are fast and without pain, the radiation is still working on the affected area long after the actual treatment is administered. Radiation treatments are cumulative, and continue to “cook” (for want of a better word) the tumor once the radiation is applied. “I skated through the first five weeks, then pain set in,” writes non-small cell lung cancer patient ardelleg from the WhatNext forums. “I wasn't ready for it, and did the last week on pain pills and lidocaine swish-and-swallow mixture so I could eat and drink. It took 4 weeks for the throat to quit hurting.” 

    “I lost my taste buds and had a sore throat. Then towards the end, I had a pretty bad burn on my neck. It blistered and bled from time to time.” – SandiA “The worst side effect was mouth sores. All of my teeth have rotted out since then.” – BoiseB

    Cervical Cancer sufferer sarasmash reports that her treatments were “pretty boring.” She placed her legs into a mold made just to fit her, and then the machine “ ‘zapped’ my cervix area … as for direct radiation effects, I lost all my hair down there, which was awesome.” She also writes that she had “really bad bowel problems” after treatment and is “still having bowel movement issues months later.”

    You will be tired. 
    “After about 8 treatments I became very tired.” – Barryboomer In short: radiation will knock it out of you. Period. Tiredness and fatigue is a universal reaction to the treatment. Extreme tiredness.
    “During my last two weeks [of treatment], I was very tired,” writes sarasmash. “I didn’t want to do much.”

    “The treatment was painless and quick. But I was soooooo tired,” writes Carole357. “Eight weeks of fatigue that went away once I was finished. I got through chemo much better.”

    Radiation Treatment can be awkward and stressful.

    In spite of its breezy BoiseB from the forums describes a particularly uncomfortable aspect of radiation therapy. “I was required to be naked during radiation treatment,” she writes. “The radiation techs drew targets on my naked body".

    Patients being treated for head and neck cancers have a different radiation experience because they need to be fitted for a positioning mask. This mask attaches to the radiation table, and helps to keep your head fixed in the correct position for treatment (which needs to be aimed carefully). The mask is applied wet and hardens around your face. This can cause claustrophobia.

    “I knew I was a little claustrophobic,” writes Enna2014. “But when they put the mask on, I really found out!”

    Richardc found out that he was also claustrophobic when wearing the mask, but “insisted the doctor put a hole where the mouth is; it helped immensely.”

    You can find more information on radiation therapy treatments by searching the experiences section at WhatNext

    Related articles
    What to Expect From Radiation

    Radiation: How it Can Affect Your Body

    Me Vs. Cancer, a View From the Other Side

    Chemo Vs. Radiation, the Pros and Cons of Each

    Fighting Cancer From the Other Side The thoughts of a radiation therapy technician.