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    Things We Didn't Expect From Cancer Treatments - But Wish We Did

    After you get the cancer diagnosis, the next thing you usually get is a plan of treatment. A road map of what's going to happen, when and approximately how long they expect it to take. Keep in mind that this treatment plan is subject to change when problems, side effects or other issues pop up, and they usually do! They will tell you lots of things to expect, but these are some things that happened, that we didn't expect from cancer treatments, but wish we did. 

    The term "treatments" when talking about cancer can include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, surgery, and many other procedures. Each of them will carry a list of possible side effects, kind of like when you see an add on TV for any drug, the ad includes a list of possible side effects that are so long that it takes longer for the description of those than to tell you what the drug will do for you. 
    The drug companies try to lay out all of the possible side effects to lessen their chance of a lawsuit later if someone were to have a serious problem and to help us patients be prepared for them. Even with the warnings from them, our doctors and nurses, there are still some things that pop up that we weren't told could happen, many of these are rare, some serious and some down right funny. These are some unexpected side effects some of us cancer patients have had. 

    EJourneys, a breast cancer patient, describes her experience with Taxol, which caused her Iron to drop. "I had expected active treatment to be worse than it was, so I was pleasantly surprised there. The only exception was when my iron tanked from Taxol and I needed IV Feraheme. My anaphylactic reaction to that surprised everyone, including the chemo nurses. Some IV iron treatments have black box warnings about that, but Feraheme is not one of them, and the nurses who had "seen everything" had not seen this. Fortunately, they were on it right away."

    "I had known about the "collateral damage" from treatment, but knowing about it is not the same thing as experiencing it. That includes my continuing vertigo, the sudden onset of severe fatigue after 2-1/2 years of taking anastrazole, and the latest wonkiness, which my radiation oncologist guesses is a neuroma in my right wrist due to a difficult stick during blood work."
    Ejourneys brings up a good point, many of us might have heard about some of these side effects, but it's different once you experience it. One of the common feelings that go with having cancer is that if you haven't had it yourself, you just won't understand a lot of the things a patient experiences, whether it's explained to you or not. 
    JMCLOUGH - a breast cancer patient says: "I had a reaction to my chemotherapy infusions twice. My throat started to swell and I was very scared. The nurses were great, but my treatments took twice as long and I was knocked out with drugs. I don't think this is common, but wasn't expecting it to happen to me. Make sure you know where the help button is and that there is professional help near by just in case."
    One important piece of advice we offer all first-time cancer patients is to be sure to tell your nurses, oncologists or anyone on your treatment team about any side effects that you begin experiencing after your treatment starts. Some of them are normal and expected, others could be something extremely rare that were not expected or possibly never seen before. Let them know right away so the problem can be addressed. It will ease your mind too by finding out that either it's something normal, or if it's something that you need to have looked at right away.
    Beachbum5817 said: "I guess what surprised me the most is that when it was over, all of the side effects did not go away. I thought with time and rest that they would, but that didn't happen for me. Also, I expected radiation to be a breeze because everyone said that it was, I did not find that to be true. I thought it was awful. It wasn't from any side effects, but from the position that I had to be in for the treatment. I know it only took a few minutes, but it seemed like forever to me."

    Related Post - Cancer's New Normal-What You Need to Know

    Not being able to get back to "a normal life" is a common cumulative side effect of cancer treatments. After the treatments have done their job and we have been told the cancer is gone and hopefully, we are N.E.D., we all expect to go right back to where we were in our lives before cancer. Sadly, that is hardly ever true. Many of the side effects hang on and we are many times simply not capable of doing the things we used to do. I found that my physical strength was diminished and I simply couldn't get it back. I couldn't do the extremely physical parts of my job like I could before. The old saying "time will heal all wounds", doesn't apply in many of our cases.
    BoiseB is an esophageal cancer patient and has had extensive surgery and radiation to the neck/jaw/throat area. Her biggest issue has been dental issues caused by the radiation. "The one thing I didn't expect is what treatment would do to my teeth and mouth. In fact, there were days when my mouth felt like a mass of pain. Then my teeth began to crumble and continue to do so."
    In the past, dental issues were not discussed prior to radiation in the head/neck/throat area, but in the last few years, this has started to be corrected. Still, many head and neck cancer patients report that they were given no counseling or warnings about the possible dental side effects of radiation.  In 1988 I was given radiation to the chest/neck/jaw area in a broad beam. I was not told about any possible dental side effects then. After that treatment was over my teeth slowly started getting worse. Some cracked while eating things that weren't really that hard. Cavaties appeared, some previous fillings fell out after decay started around them. 
    All of these issues were described as just a result of me not taking good enough care of my teeth. I knew something was not right, but it seemed the dentists and doctors didn't think much of it. Over the next 10 years or so, I put thousands of dollars in my mouth in dental work. Had I of known the eventual outcome of my dental problems, I would not have done that, in fact, I would have had them all removed prior to the treatment ever starting. I would have been ahead in money, pain, and agony and the time spent addressing this.
    I was diagnosed again in 2007 with head and neck cancer which also included 25 radiation treatments to the neck/throat/jaw area. These treatments immediately finished off what the original radiation in 1988 started. Within two years of finishing my radiation treatments in April of 2008, all of my teeth had serious problems. I consulted an Oral Surgeon who told me that today, most head and neck cancer patients are referred to an Oral Surgeon to consult about the possible dental issues. All of my teeth were surgically removed, implants and dentures put in at a total cost of over $15,000.00 that insurance will not cover. Had I known about all of these issues, again, I would have gladly had them removed prior to treatments.
    SteveG said he didn't expect collateral damage from treatment. "I had tumors near my thyroid and near my eye. I wish they had told me that body parts adjacent to the tumor would be irradiated and may fail so that I should see a specialist before radiation to establish a baseline and a surveillance plan for my thyroid and my eye and give me a list of symptoms to watch for."

    Thyroid damage is a common problem for patients with many different types of cancer that may receive radiation to the neck area, but many are not told about it until secondary side effects start to show, like fatigue and weight problems sometimes a few years after treatments are over. 
    Meyati said: "Yes, my radiologist did tell me. I knew that my immune system was compromised, but I didn't expect lockjaw, pasteurella multocida, whooping cough, and a stupid pharmacy that doesn't read warning labels."
    Patchez0 has a view of these side effects that some might not expect a cancer patient to have. "No I was not told about side effects from treatment when I was going through it...and when I started experiencing some the radiologist blamed it on chemo, and oncologist blamed it on radiation....now 5 years later the radiologist said well I've been watching for that it is not unusual....so with the voice problem, hearing problem, choking problem, coughing problem, constant neck ache.....all I say is Ok cancer is gone what next is gonna pop up from the treatment...would I do it again...sure would even with all the little side effects without the treatment I'd of surely been dead. And since I don't know at this time of my life what death is like....I'll try and stick around here some more years...." And also, "I've also developed a Thyroid problem so now I'm on a pill a day for life...and having a lot of trouble regulating the thyroid.....my radiologist said he was expecting that it can be common in radiating the neck area."
    RichardC, another head and neck cancer patient shared his experience. "I'm sure I was told about possible side effects, but the long term numbness in fingers on my left hand (same side as surgery and radiation) will not get any better. They did blood work before each chemo treatment, but I didn't expect the wheels to fall off a few days after my chemo. Ended up in ICU, with various complications. Thank God to a great team caring for me, my spouse and lots of prayers. Regardless of what I went through, I'm here today!"

    Patchez0 and RichardC both echo what a lot of us have to say about these side effects, both those that were expected and those that weren't. While these side effects caused problems for us, many of them will be life long problems most of us would jump right back in and do it again if we had to. It's better than the alternative!
    Terri was given a new drug that her treatment clinic was not familiar with and they didn't know about the side effects she would eventually have. "Kaiser did not know the side effects of Yervoy and did not monitor me. I was one of the first patients to get it at Kaiser. I even brought in paperwork from the drug company for them to read. I also wish I had known Interferon has only a 2% chance of working with melanoma!! it left me with permanent side effects for nothing!!!!!"
    This brings up a good point about new drugs, research them! Ask lots of questions, ask what your oncologist's experience is with them, what are the most common side effects, and what are some of the possible side effects that maybe nobody has had so far at their facility. Don't be afraid to contact the drug company and ask questions there. 
    Paperpusher is a caregiver for her husband who is a lung cancer patient. She says "We didn't expect nausea to be as bad as it was. My husband is not someone who throws up. In 40 years of marriage, I had only seen him throw up twice when he caught a stomach bug. It scared both of us and he did end up inpatient for two weeks for multiple side effects mostly due to dehydration and radiation induced esophagitis. Post treatment my husband developed tinnitus and the fatigue is still overwhelming 2 years out. He's taking iron and B-12 but it doesn't seem to be helping much. He's so tired all the time and gets SOB very easily. He's become more and more reclusive. He's also not a very compliant patient which means he didn't follow instructions for the anti-nausea meds and doesn't follow up with his doctors until it's an emergency."
    Positive Side Effects??
    While most side effects are of the negative type, there are a few that have been welcome. One older male cancer patient reported that his hair had all turned gray, but after treatments were over and his hair started growing back it was jet black!
    Several chemo patients have described their hair as straight and thin but when it grew back in it was thick and curly. 
    Some have had weight loss due to the treatments and all that comes with the entire journey, and the weight stayed off. 
    Nancebeth says; "Well, I started losing my hair so I shaved my head to a crew cut. After it started growing back in, I realized I love short hair! I would never have cut my hair this short on my own, so that was positive. But not really a side effect."

    SpunkyS had great skin! "gave me a great complexion. No oily spots, no blackheads. Smooth skin. Got pampered!"
    How about you? Have you had any unexpected side effects from cancer treatments? How about any positive side effects? Please comment below with your experiences. 

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    Get Cancer Support, Inspiration, Motivation and Education, at WhatNext.com

    WhatNext was formed to allow cancer patients, their family, friends, and caregivers to connect and share their personal cancer experiences along the way. Have you ever heard someone say "you just wouldn't understand since you haven't been through it"? Well, it's true in the case of cancer. A cancer patient will understand and have empathy for you when you tell them about the side effects you're having after chemo. 

    They will understand when you tell them about nausea that the radiation is causing you. They will understand your fears, worries and the hope that you have inside that you will make it to the other side of this journey in mostly one piece.
    At WhatNext, you can register (for free) create your Diagnosis Profile, then list in detail all of the steps along the way that you have had. From the symptoms you had to the initial confirmation and diagnosis of your cancer (Oh No), to the treatments, procedures, side effects, milestones and even celebrations along the way. You can be anonymous and use a "username" or post as yourself with your real name, you choose. Some people like to be private when talking about something as personal as a cancer diagnosis and treatment, some people have even shared the unexpected fall out they received from employers, friends, and family as well as business associates from having cancer. 

    After your Diagnosis Profile is created you can then browse for others that have the same type of cancer as you. You can search the database of thousands of people that have registered and shared their personal experiences. These are not people that are telling anecdotes about what they "heard" happened to someone that their friend knew one time, these are real experiences straight from the mouths of those who have experienced it, there is NO substitute. As a 3 time survivor, I can promise you that you will get tired of hearing people tell stories about someone that they knew, or heard about that had the same type of cancer and didn't make it. Or had a horrible experience. Cancer is not fun, enjoyable and nobody wants it, but everything you have heard about it up until now, is simply not true. It's NOT all horror stories. 
    Let's say you have colon cancer and you want to see what type of treatment others have had for it. All you have to do is click on the "People" tab, then look for the search box on the left of the screen and filter out the information you want to include in your search. You can include people that are the same stage as you, currently in treatment or completed treatment, age group, even search for someone that is in your zip code, or close to you. 

    Sharing this information helps a newly diagnosed patient or even someone in treatment to know what to expect. Sometimes a quick search of the Community can give you the most common experiences for a type of cancer and this can ease your worries and lessen your stress and anxieties. Knowing that someone else has already gone before you and completed these things will give you the confidence, strength, and courage to go through it yourself. 

    If you have a question about any topic at all, you can post it on the "Questions" page and lots of helpful people will give you the answers you need. It doesn't matter what you need to know, just ask! There are no silly questions! Or, if you don't want to ask a question, you can browse the thousands of questions that have already been asked. There are already questions covering almost every part of a cancer experience you can imagine listed, just browse through them. You can comment on any question or answer and join in on the conversations.
    Clicking on the "Diagnosis" tab will bring up a page with almost every type of cancer diagnosis you might be faced with, and there are pages full of information about those different types of cancer, as well as some of the Community's members that have that type of cancer. All you have to do is click on them and read through their journey, or ask them a question. 

    The "Experiences" page is a listing of just about any type of procedure, treatment, surgery, drug or side effect that you could imagine. Just type in the name of a chemo drug that you may be getting ready to take, and you will have pages of other's experiences with that type of chemo. They will have the highs and lows listed, side effects, their own thoughts on if it was easy to take or hard, and advice on what to expect. You don't have to go into anything without knowing what to expect if you are a member of the WhatNext Community.

    The "Pinboard" is our Pinterest style page where many of the Community will post their favorite quotes, share pictures of themselves and articles or videos they have found elsewhere on the internet. It's a good spot for your daily dose of inspiration to get you out the door to face today's' "cancer stuff". 

    The "Videos" page is a spot where many of our WhatNexters have shared their experiences in a video. Just click through to find someone with your type of cancer or the type of treatment you may be taking to see how you compare or to learn.

    The "People" tab is where you will find every person registered on the site, there are thousands of people, covering just about every type of cancer you could imagine, even some extremely rare varieties. Just browse through them and click on the WhatNexter you want to view, and read through their journey. 

    Our "Blog Page" is where we post helpful and informative or inspirational articles to help you through your cancer journey. We find topics that are of interest to the average cancer patient and try to shed some light on it. We believe that an educated cancer patient is a less stressed cancer patient and our goal is to provide inspiration, motivation, education and help you through all that you will face. You do NOT have to face this alone! 

    WhatNext is a great place to share your experiences with others that are or have been through what you are facing, as well as your friends and family. By selecting the "role" during registration, anyone can register as either a patient, survivor, friend, someone who has lost someone to cancer, a Spouse or Partner or as a Medical Professional. By registering on the site, your friends and family can keep up with everything you share by simply "following" you. The will be able to be kept informed without you having to call or text each person individually. 
    So, if you're newly diagnosed with cancer, a survivor of any length of time, a friend or family member, or a medical professional that wants to offer support and information to the WhatNext Community, just click here to get started. There are thousands of great people waiting to help you!
    In their own words, posts by WhatNexters to encourage or help others on the site:
    "Welcome to the WhatNext family! The WhatNext family is made up of people like you who are looking for help or looking to help others. To help you along your journey the WhatNext family has put together a Beginner's Guide to Cancer that I highly recommend you check-out here: http://bit.ly/10BQKCi. Also, please do not hesitate to reach out to others or ask for help.

    Wishing you the best.

    David Founder, WhatNexter"
    "Ruth, you may be overwhelmed right now, but things will get better.-Schlegel"

    "Hi Ruth521.....My name is Donna, (aka Gymmom). I was diagnosed stage 4 diffuse large b-cell just over two years ago. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. I wish you all the best, and remember chemo will eventually be over!! -- Donna"

    "Hi Linlyn53, I am BC stage IV. Using Ibrance and Femara to control my cancer progression. I am HER2 neg. ER positive Yes PR positive Yes. Doing anti hormonal therapy so have not done any kind of infusion chemo. I take Femara and Ibrance. Age 65. So far so good. Please stay in touch if you want. Positive thoughts for you from me.-Kayelen

    "Welcome. This is a great site for information and to discuss your feelings and progress. You are not alone, and there is never a reason to hold feeling inside.-Marinace"

    "Welcome, this forum has helped me tremendously.-Krafty76"

    "Welcome to WhatNext. I'm sorry you needed to find us, but now that you are here you will find the greatest bunch of supportive people whose combined knowledge is awesome. We can answer your questions, hear you vent and celebrate the good news with you.

    I see you have begun exploring our site and look forward to learning more about you and your journey.-SueRae1"

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    Let Your Smartphone Help You Be a Smarter Patient

    Almost all of us have one now, you see people locked into their phones reading articles, playing games, texting, emailing or using Social Media. Smartphones are a part of our lives. Some people have been so wrapped up on their phone that they have walked into water fountains, down stairs or worse. So....you might as well let your smartphone help you be a smarter patient. 

    Most all smartphones come with a calendar app. This alone is a big help in keeping all of your doctor's appointments, treatment schedules, procedures and all of the other things that you have to remember straight. For a lot of us, it's just a matter of remembering to put these things into the calendar on a regular basis so you don't forget something. The danger is in only being "half in" on doing this. If you don't put everything in your calendar, you will wind up forgetting something. Make it a habit, and do it every time.
    We have asked our Community at WhatNext, and searched for some helpful apps that will help you be a smarter patient. Or, at least get you to all of your appointments, and possibly help your doctor treat you more efficiently. Listed below are 12 apps that you may be interested in.
    Helpful Medical Apps for Your Smartphone 
    Find a Health Center—This handy app is especially appealing for those with a travel bug, or those who travel frequently for work or other commitments. The app shows you any health centers located within your area or within a certain number of miles of the area you’re presently in. Users are able to enter an address, place, or allow the app to locate where you are. In a pinch, it can guide you to federally-funded health centers to treat you if you’re without health insurance.
    Download Find a Health Center for Android

    Download Find a Health Center for Apple

    Rethink Breast Cancer —Ladies, I think you’ll enjoy this one. In the busy, busy lives we live, we’re often distracted from important health matters like regular mammograms. However, this app is going to make sure you never forget… in a steamy sort of way. The app shoots you a “man-reminder.” Now, you may be asking: What exactly is a man-reminder? “Man-reminder” (noun): a virtual, attractive man who reminds you to “show your breasts some TLC,” meaning to regularly check them for any oddities. Or, if you know a friend or family member who needs a reminder to get checked, send them a “man-o-gram”—a personalized message from an attractive man that clues them into breast health. Genius, ay?

    Cancer.net —This is pretty nifty. This app allows users to keep track of any questions they have for their doctors by allowing them to record voice answers of their doctor answering their questions. It’s an app that includes information on 120 different kinds of cancer, and its services include ways to save information on prescribed medications, including labels and photos of bottles. Cancer.net includes a symptom tracker, which allows users to document the severity of a symptom and its side effects. It’s cool, we know.

    Cancer Guide and Tracker App —The app claims to be a “revolutionary step” to improve the quality of patient care by granting access to relevant treatment information—what to expect, what questions to ask, and what resources to connect with. Basically, it’s an app to inform you, to guide you through important matters that affect your health and life. By downloading this app, you can keep up with your appointments, create a “journal,” and add in important contacts and diagnosis information. You know, just in case you need them!

    Waze & Google Maps --For patients with cancer, there are many ways that memory can be impaired. People use these apps now to get information such as travel time and live traffic updates for their commute. It can be helpful to use these apps when going anywhere. WhatNexters have noted that these apps can be the critical difference between staying on track versus having an episode where you forget where you are going.These two apps can provide comfort and safety when trying to get where you are going. Google Maps and Waze both will let you put in the address you need to go to, then help you navigate there with turn by turn directions. They will even give you the miles to the destination and the estimated time of arrival. We use them almost every day, even if you know the way there, both will give you updates on road conditions and delays due to construction, wrecks or other issues that could make you run late. 
    Track My Multiple Myeloma --This app (for both iOS and Android) is specifically designed for people undergoing Multiple Myeloma treatment. It can help you keep your appointments, lab results, a daily log, and much more. This is a wonderful personal assistant which can help you navigate specifically the areas of Multiple Myeloma which affect your life.

    Kris103--There are a couple of apps beyond the calendar that I've found to be helpful. The Walgreens app, for the pharmacy section, to check on the status of meds and refills. Other large pharmacies probably have something similar.

    There's an app called My Medical, which I think is almost too comprehensive. It has sections for diagnoses, hospitalizations, surgical procedures, meds information, etc. that I try to keep up with since everyone always asks for all that stuff. Sometimes I just hand over my phone and let them go through the info.
    Skyemberr--The one really tech thing that we did was to install an app called Cozi to the phone of everyone in the family.

    We use it to share all appointments for the entire family so that we don't accidentally schedule chemo over another important appointment. It has helped us to all be on the same page and avoid a lot of stress. It also has a to do list section that is shared and grocery lists. It has an area to share recipes too, then it will add ingredients to a list. It has helped us a lot with six of us going in different directions!! We even do Christmas lists in this app.
    When I was in chemo, I loved my library app, Overdrive. With your library card number, you can borrow books for free to read while in the chair. Saved my sanity quite a few times. Still does, actually.

    Some helpful warnings on using apps from our own CAS1, she says:"If you use a P.C. or tablet as well as your phone they will automatically update each other in Google calendar. You can also find you tube videos on how to use multiple applications.
    About apps...when you open an App. In play store..always use the read more option..scroll to the bottom and check the address of the software developer..if only the name and email then google the H.Q name..Do not use apps made overseas especially in China or Korea..you do not want those criminals on your phone..if you look you will find an equal apps from a U.S. based firm. China steals billions in U.S. innovation and technology from our companies and the tax payer..Do NOT download a hackers software.
    Other Apps to Help you Manage Your Cancer
    Suggested by MD Anderson - Apps to help prevent cancer. From smartphone apps to interactive websites, plenty of tools exist to help you lead a healthier life.
    Doing a search for "Cancer Help Apps" on the Google Play Store gives you lots of options for other apps.
    Smartphones make many parts of our lives easier, and other parts more hectic. Take advantage of it's power, and let your smartphone help you be a smarter patient. 
    Do you have some favorite apps that have helped you through your cancer journey? Please share them in the comments below to help others.

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    August Cancer Awareness Information

    August is Summer Sun Safety Month, August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, August 7 - 13th is National Health Center Week, and the American Cancer Society kicks off its series of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. 

    On World Lung Cancer Day on August 1, 2017, the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), alongside members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) commemorates, celebrates and supports those impacted by lung cancer. FIRS joins the grassroots efforts of the lung cancer community to raise awareness about lung cancer and its global impact, creating an educational movement of understanding lung cancer risks as well as early treatment around the world.

    Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers worldwide, claiming more lives yearly than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. It is estimated that lung cancer accounts for nearly one in five cancer deaths globally. In 2012, there were 1.8 million newly diagnosed cases of lung cancer alone.

    Lung cancer usually forms in the cells that line airways. Symptoms of lung cancer may include a cough that does not go away, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Most types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancers; though some patients develop the less common small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer spreads more quickly and is most often treated with chemotherapy, sometimes in combination with radiation therapy. Non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or targeted therapies. Survival rates for non-small cell lung cancer and for small cell lung cancer vary greatly depending on the stage at which the cancer is caught and other factors.
    For more information on lung cancer, read our page on Living With Lung Cancer and the American Cancer Society's Detailed Guide on the different types of lung cancer. 

    Sun Safety Month
    Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s not a surprise that skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, with about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. These cancers in the outer layer of your skin occur most where your skin is exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, lips and the backs of your hands.
    Melanoma, a more dangerous type of skin cancer that begins in the cells that make pigment, will account for about 73,000 new cases this year.
    You can reduce your risk of getting skin cancer by protecting your skin from overexposure to ultraviolet rays, which are emitted by the sun but also by tanning beds and sunlamps.
    The American Cancer Society notes the best way to avoid overexposure to harmful rays is to stay in the shade. But when you know you will be in the sun, it suggests you “Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap:”
    Slip on a shirt Slop on sunscreen Slap on a hat Wrap on sunglasses

    Follow these simple rules, cover up in the sun limit your exposure and use a healthy dose of common sense to reduce your chances of sun exposure issues. 
    National Health Center Week
    According to the Health Center Week .org website, Our theme for National Health Center Week 2017 (NHCW) is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities.” As local community owned and operated businesses, Health Centers serve over 25 million Americans at more than 9,000 delivery sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories.

    "One in every fifteen people living in the United States depends on health center services. Health Centers deliver high quality, cost effective, accessible care while serving as critical economic engines helping to power local economies.
    In addition to their long history as health care homes to millions, Health Centers are also proud to celebrate over 50 years of service and continue to be ranked among the highest quality and cost effective care providers in the nation. Health Centers provide their services to all people, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.Each year we celebrate the work and services Health Centers provide to special populations within their community on designated days during the week. This year is no different, but we have added focused themed days, that will allow for more opportunities to showcase the innovative services and programs at Health Centers.
    We encourage you to consider coordinating your celebrations around the corresponding dates and focused areas listed below to showcase the innovative programs and services your health center provides in the community. To be clear, your events do not have to coincide exactly with the focus of respective days – much like the NHCW theme, focus days are available to enhance your events and help provide structure at your discretion. By coordinating as many local efforts as possible focused on each area on the same day, helps maximize the impact of our message nationally. "
    Click here for the list of 2017 focus days and corresponding resources.

    How is the Health Center in your City? Do you have access to good health care, or do you have to go out of town? 
    Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
    Join Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Save Lives

    The American Cancer Society says: "Nearly 250,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. That could be your mother, sister, daughter, your wife, or even you. We hold Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events so anyone touched by breast cancer won't have to face their diagnosis alone. We do it to raise awareness and money to fund research, support services, and early detection. We hold Making Strides events to save lives."
    Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks are the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting communities with a shared determination to help free the world from the pain and suffering of breast cancer. Passionate walk participants raise critical funds that enable the American Cancer Society to fund innovative research; provide free, information and support to anyone touched by breast cancer; and help people reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it’s most treatable. Learn more about the history of Making Strides events »

    Because of your PASSION no one walks alone. It’s the determination and passion of people like you that is making it possible for the American Cancer Society to end the pain and suffering of breast cancer. When communities participate in Making Strides walks they are helping those currently fighting the disease, those who may have to fight it one day, and those who will avoid a diagnosis due to education and risk reduction. When you walk and raise money for the Making Strides program, you join more than one million volunteers across the country united by a common purpose. Together, we can ensure that no one facing breast cancer will ever have to walk alone.
    Have you attended a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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    What’s the best approach for treating prostate cancer? Don’t ask a Naturopath.

    This article originally appeared on Britt Hermes' blog Naturopathic Diaries on 9-26-2016.  She is an ex-naturopathic doctor. She started her blog to expose naturopathic medicine and protect patients from the dangerous and incompetent practices rife in her former profession. We are sharing this article on Naturopathic treatment for prostate cancer to share her view of it from her own experiences. 

    Journalists seem to have a difficult time reporting the latest medical findings. Headlines often serve as click-bait rather than conveying accuracy. Last week, news coverage describing a study that investigated different treatment options for early-stage prostate cancer is one such case that generated some alarming and contradictory headlines.
    In the reported study, researchers randomized 1643 men aged 50 to 69 years with stage T1c disease about evenly into three treatment groups: 1) active cancer surveillance; 2) prostatectomy; and 3) radical radiotherapy. The study indicated that patient survival rates were equally high at 99% across the treatment groups after a median follow-up time of ten years. There was a significant difference, however, in metastasis frequency and disease progression between the active surveillance group and the two treatment groups.
    Men who choose active surveillance of their localized prostate cancer may regret their decision. If prostate cancer metastasizes, curable treatments are no longer available, and these men may suffer painful symptoms of their cancer spreading into adjacent tissues or throughout their bodies. They may further suffer complicated side effects of life-long androgen-deprivation therapy.
    The New York Times did a nice job reporting the study with the headline “Prostate Cancer Study Details Value of Treatments.” You should take from this headline that treating early-stage prostate cancer is beneficial. Treatment seems to improve quality of life and living beyond ten years without metastatic disease.
    But maybe a different headline you read conveyed the idea that treating early-stage prostate cancer is irrelevant. CBS News reported, “Study, no evidence that treating early prostate cancer makes a difference.” The study’s details that treatment may be helpful beyond the ten-year mark were buried deep in the text.
    The study’s nuanced results are understandably difficult to convey in a ten- to twelve-word headline. I can easily see how one consequence of such oversimplified science journalism is that patients may be more easily driven into the care of alternative medical practitioners, who offer superfluous, implausible, and disproven treatments. In my time practicing with a naturopathic cancer practitioner, I’ve seen this sort of information hi-jacking used to convince patients that alternative medicine offers real hope in treating cancer.
    One egregious case in point: the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology (ABNO) relies on undermining the importance of conventional cancer treatment by perpetuating the falsehood that “modern medicine has made little advance in its War on Cancer.” According to this group, its self-anointed alternative “oncologists” can effectively and safely treat cancer using “various supplements or dietary concepts” that make “medical treatments more effective” and cause “cancer cells to self-destruct.”
    Look no further than the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) for examples of dubious cancer treatments being peddled by such “oncologists.” In a recent blog post titled “Six Naturopathic Methods to Combat Prostate Cancer”, naturopath Geo Espinosa outlines “six quick things a CaP [prostate cancer] patient should consider” for “beating CaP [prostate cancer].”
    The therapies outlined in the post are staples of naturopathic care: 1) supplementation with anti-oxidants such as vitamins C and E and Coenzyme Q10; 2) reducing “systemic inflammation” through changing the diet; 3) non-medical detoxification with herbs and hydrotherapy; 4) limiting exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke and non-organic meat; 5) “immune boosting” supplements like mushroom extract; and 6) “cancer-killing” substances like turmeric and modified citrus pectin.
    Let’s get one thing straight. No naturopathic therapy has ever been proven to cure cancer or improve outcomes with standard-of-care treatments. But in no uncertain terms, naturopath Espinosa writes that incorporating naturopathy into a cancer treatment regimen can “increase the chances of better recovery among CaP [prostate cancer] sufferers and slow it [sic] progression.” It seems that such propaganda is nothing more than a means to establish the basis for health fraud.

    The fact is that we only learned in the last week that if patients aged between 50 and 69 years with early-stage prostate cancer elect to undergo active monitoring, they have a 99% chance that their prostate cancer will not kill them over ten-years. Although, curative treatment seems to be better in the long-run. For naturopaths it seems that long ago one of them just made up those six alternative treatments, and it became their dogma. In the naturopathic community, such a belief is as good as any high-quality systematic review.
    What deviance for Espinosa and the AANP to suggest that naturopaths can manage the ins and outs of treating prostate cancer! On his own website, Espinosa refers to himself as a “prostate cancer strategist,” as if there is a strategy beyond treatments based in scientific evidence. He writes that he will make “the process [of treatment] simpler and clearer for you.”
    That’s a bold statement considering that Espinosa has received no medical oncology training and does not hold a license to practice medicine in New York state where he runs a clinic. What sort of “prostate cancer specialist” is he? I would say that he’s not to be trusted.
    Naturopathic cancer therapies are not part of standardized medical protocols derived from evidence-based guidelines or scientific consensus. But, they are being integrated into prostate cancer treatments by naturopathic doctors. Poor reporting of the latest findings of clinical trials emboldens such quacks.
    If you are considering alternative medicine to treat cancer or know someone who is, please read this article I wrote for Quality Cancer Treatment – A Website for Patients.
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    8 Tips For Battling Chemo Brain

    The fogginess. The forgetfulness. The feeling of cluelessness. That’s chemo brain, one of the most frustrating side effects of cancer treatment. There’s even an official name for it – bet you didn’t know that. It’s called “Post-Chemotherapy Cognitive Impairment.”

    Of course, cancer patients probably have some more colorful ways to describe the condition, but it wouldn’t be polite to print those here.
    One of the problems with chemo brain is that because it’s been given a familiar name, those who don’t suffer from it can believe it’s similar to having a so-called “senior moment – a cutesy way for older people to make light of slight lapses in memory.
    But there’s nothing cutesy about chemo brain; it’s real.
    Blogger Deanna Pai described the condition in New York Magazine, bluntly describing her bout with chemo brain as “sudden stupidity.” At first, she thought she was losing her mind.
    “Before long, the weird stuff began happening all the time. I lost my oven mitt in my 400-square-foot apartment. (It was in the garbage.) I poured boiling water into my bottle of multivitamins instead of the mug I’d readied,” Pai remembers. “Another day, I toted my yoga mat halfway to the office before I wondered why I was dragging a yoga mat to the office.”

    Not all cases are this extreme, but that overall feeling of forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and struggling with multitasking and details which descend on you from seemingly out of nowhere after your treatments begin … they’re unnerving. So even though patients have a familiar name to it, it’s something that they struggle with.
    Worst of all, chemo brain doesn’t end when chemo treatments stop. It takes time for the brain to bounce back. Depending on the person, it can take from three months to a full year after your last treatment for the effects of chemo brain to vanish completely. Many patients are still wrestling with the condition six months after treatments end. For up to 20% of patients, the chemo brain’s effects can drag on long term.
    Because of this, finding ways to cope with and overcome chemo brain is crucial. And both doctors and patients have been working on ways to do just this. Good news: some solutions are easier than you think!
    Here are eight tips to help you battle through that chemo brain fog:
    1. KEEP AN ACTIVE MIND Just by reading this, you’re helping to keep chemo brain at bay. Put your brain to work and it will keep you sharp. And brain games are a great way to go.

    WhatNexter JudyW says the brain games on Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) helped her immensely. “I try to do the cycle of games daily,” she writes. “They help with concentration, focus, and flexibility of thinking.”

    Exercise your mind in any way you can, be it crossword puzzles, memory games (ironic, huh?), learning a new language, or even taking a class in something that interests you.
    2. KEEP AN ACTIVE BODY By now you’re probably tired of this advice, but as with so much cancer recovery, remaining physically active is crucial. You don’t need to be a power lifter; just a simple walk can do the trick.

    “I play agility with my dogs,” writes LiveWithCancer on the WhatNext forum. “I have to learn relatively complex courses, hold them in my head, and then, after some time, direct my dogs through the obstacles. I believe this has helped keep my chemo brain from getting worse than it already is.”

    Dr. Marc Berman, director of the Neuroscience Laboratory at University of Chicago says that studies show exposing yourself to nature on a short walk in the park can be more helpful than you think. “Interacting with natural environments could help to restore attentional abilities, particularly for those under mental fatigue,” he says.
    3. EAT WELL 

    Again, this is nothing you haven’t heard before. A better diet can have a major impact on mood and mental acuity. Concentrate on brain-boosting foods with plenty of antioxidants. Beneficial fruits include berries, cherries, and apples. Eggs and oily fish also help. Best of all, flavonol-rich cocoa boosts circulating and blood flow to the brain, so go ahead and munch on that bar of chocolate.
    4. SLEEP 

    Another easy one. Since part of chemo brain is rooted in mental fatigue, give your mind the rest that it needs. You’ve been through a lot – your brain needs as much of a break as your body. Be sure to log those Z’s.

    Lists will become your friends. Use them often – and don’t be ashamed to do so. Get yourself a notebook (aka “memory book”) and write everything down: your medication schedule, dates and times of appointments, phone numbers … anything and everything.
    “I make reminder notes, use a calendar, set timers to remind myself about the next step of a task,” writes WhatNexter TXHills. “Make lists of what needs done and try to relax and have a sense of humor about it.”

    6. AVOID DISTRACTIONS Chemo brain puts a serious dent in your ability to multitask. The solution? Cut down on the number of tasks you need to focus on. This includes distractions in your environment. Turn off the television or radio when you’re having a conversation, reading, or writing.
    7. STICK TO A ROUTINE This is the physical version of keeping lists. Try to do things at the same time every day as much your treatments permit. Get up at the same time each day (but don’t forget to still get plenty of #4). Eat meals at the same time each day.
    It’s less about repetition, but more about creating things that your mind can rely on each day. This kind of structure will be an aid to your ability to focus.
    8. ORGANIZE YOUR HOME Remember what your mom used to say: “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” It’s a great way to combat chemo brain. By organizing your environment, you can minimize potential chemo brain-induced confusion.

    Make sure clothes, TV remote controls, toe nail clippers, cell phones, etc always – ALWAYS – get put back in the same place. So when you look for them, there they are. This is something that people without chemo brain often struggle with; don’t make the same mistake.
    Do you have any tips that have helped you to cope with chemo brain? Share them with at WhatNext!

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