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    Coming Out About Your Cancer

    After the initial shock of your cancer diagnosis subsides, it begins to dawn on you that you have a big decision to make: how on earth are you going to break the news about all this? And who on earth do you tell first?

    To the uninitiated, struggling with the mere fact of “breaking the news” may seem insignificant in comparison to the news itself. But that’s hardly the case. A cancer diagnosis is a profoundly life-altering event. It will have an emotional toll on those around you. Though it may seem like an odd comparison, cancer is news that’s on par with the announcement of an engagement, a pregnancy, a birth, and a pending divorce. They don’t call it “The Big C” for nothing.
    Breast cancer patient Diane Mapes wrote of her experience in an article that appeared earlier this year on the news site of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “I immediately told my family, a few close friends and my favorite editor since I knew my freelance work would be affected,” Mapes writes. “After that, I parceled out the news as if I were feeding a baby bird … I held onto my cancer news so tightly, so obsessively, you’d have thought it was Tolkien’s One Ring.”
    For Mapes, the process of just sharing the news became an incredible emotional drain. The reactions she faced were varied – some people cried and needed comforting, some would ask blunt questions about her odds for surviving, and still others simply took the news and faded from her life.
    It’s strange to have to think about the reaction of others when it’s you that’s about to kick off a stressful and arduous journey … but that’s what happens. Which is why spreading the news is, in many ways, the first big hurdle of your cancer journey.
    Because this is such a personal decision, there are as many philosophies as to how to best handle this situation as there are cancer patients. You can even see the massive difference in attitude about making – or not making – the big announcement when it comes to celebrities. ESPN’s Robin Roberts was very public with her breast cancer fight, as were Joan Lunden, “Good Morning America” host Amy Robach, and even former President Jimmy Carter. At the same time, the world was shocked by the deaths of David Bowie and actor Alan Rickman because they’d kept mum about their cancer diagnoses to all by their closest friends and family. An even more extreme example is best-selling novelist Jackie Collins, who passed away from Stage 4 breast cancer last year – without even having told her sister that she was ill.

    Ramataz from WhatNext writes that she tried to keep the news to herself, but that worked for “30 minutes.” After bursting into tears, she made her sister break the news to her mom, while she told her close friends and her boss.
    Some use social media to spread the word to the entire world at once. After telling her closest family members, WhatNexter LiveWithCancer put the news on Facebook. “That seemed like the easiest way to do it,” she writes. “I have always been an open book, and would not have wanted to hide it.”
    from the forums says she spread the news so quickly it was as though she “rented a billboard to announce by breast cancer,” but she’s quick to not that “had I had a more advanced case, I might have not been so open.”
    Many WhatNexters agree that the decision is a deeply personal one. Ih25 writes her main answer to the question is that “what is right for you may not be what some of us did.” vietnam1968 agrees that the decision “seems very personal to me; close friends and family only, and no pity – only prayers.”

    Of course, there are some that prefer a frontal assault, treating their diagnosis as an “it is what it is” situation. “I told family first, then work,” writes WhatNexter GregP_WN. “After that anyone else that brought it up. I didn't consider whether or not to mention it.” Straight to the point. Not a bad idea, because after all … best to get the news out there so you can start working on fighting the disease.
    How did you spread the news about your cancer diagnosis? Share your story on the WhatNext forums.

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    4 Ways to Purify Your Home for Better Health

    In the age of the internet, it has become all too easy to barricade yourself in your home. Anything can be purchased online and shipped to your house, leaving little to encourage you getting up and going outside. However, many people aren’t aware of the many dangers lurking in and around their homes.

    Impurities in the air, toxic cleaning products, and deceptive labeling can all be contributing to chronic illness, particularly if you don’t often leave your home. It is vital that you keep your home as pure and safe as possible. Here are some of the best ways to purify your home and help yourself feel better.
    Place Air-Purifying Plants Around the House 
    There are several varieties of houseplants that are experts and ridding your home’s air of toxins. In fact, you may already have a few of these common plants around the house. Spider plants, English Ivy, Peace Lilies, and Boston Ferns are just a few of the options you have for cleaning your home’s air. As a bonus, plants also brighten up your space and supposedly increase productivity.
    Research Your Household Products

    An alarming number of household products including cleaners and detergents have been deceptively labeled to make you think they are eco-friendly and good for your family. However, even the best products can pose a risk to the environment or yourself. You should be thoroughly researching a product before using it in your home and not simply trusting that the words “non-toxic” and “eco-friendly” on the packaging truly mean that products are free of potentially toxic substances. 
    A quick way to do this while shopping is to use the ThinkDirty app which allows you to scan products and read an honest rating of the item’s impact on the planet and on people. In order to truly purify your home, you must also be using pure products.
    Consider an Air Purifier

    Air purifying machines are less attractive but more effective than houseplants. They are also a little more expensive. However, changing their filters can give you a good idea of the air quality in your house. If you are worried that your home has a serious air quality issue, it may be best to skip the plants and go straight to a mechanical purifier.
    Check Your Home for Deadly Pollutants

    There are three major air pollutants that will have a very serious effect on your family’s health if not corrected. First is cigarette smoke. If you smoke, be sure to do it away from your home. You want to ensure it will not enter the much more stagnant air inside and linger. Carbon monoxide is second. Fortunately, this is an easy fix.
    Carbon monoxide detectors function much like smoke alarms and can be bought at a home improvement store. Check them regularly to ensure functionality. Last is radon gas. You can also find testing kits at most home improvement stores. If you find dangerous levels of the gas in your home, you will need to call in a specialist. 
    Keeping your home pure and clear of unhealthy pollutants or products is important for both living in and selling your home. Maintaining the quality of a dwelling is not an option but rather a necessity for staying healthy and helping others to do the same. If you are not currently working to purify your home, there is no time like the present.
    What have you done to help make your home environment safer since your cancer diagnosis? Please share below in comments. 
    Our Guest Blog today is from Charlotte Charlotte Meier HomeSafetyHub.org | information@homesafetyhub.org 2030 W Baseline Rd Phoenix, AZ 85041
    Image via Pixabay by ShaniceRodriguez

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    WhatNexter Dan Dickinson - "Dan7264" Giving Back

    WhatNexter Dan Dickinson "Dan7264" is giving back to others fighting cancer and going through chemo treatments at the facility he was treated at. He came up with an idea to go sit with some of the patients while they are having treatments, which is great in itself, but Dan kicks it up a notch by taking some custom made shirts for chemo patients with some funny, witty and edgy quotes on them. He might even be carrying a box of doughnuts. 

    Dan says that his purpose in doing this is not to draw attention to himself, but rather, to let those people know that are just starting down this road with cancer, that they are not alone. That someone else out there understands, and that he may only be one person, for a couple hours during chemo day, but he is there for them. Judging by the looks on the faces of those he sits with, he is greatly appreciated!
    Dan was recently surprised by the Fox Television Station (WDAF) in Kansas City with their "Pay it Forward" award. He was nominated by Ray Lindsey. Take a look at the video from Fox WDAF. Dan said "It's a hard time, so just to be able to sit with people who are going through the very same thing and just help them talk it through," Dickinson said. "Sometimes you don't have answers, sometimes all you can do is listen."


    Part of the award that Fox4 gives the recipients of their Pay it Forward award is a $300.00 cash prize. Dan has taken that money and ordered more shirts for those he sits with at the KU Cancer Center. He also started a GoFundMe page to raise more money for more shirts, doughnuts and other things that he can use to make the day in the chair, a little more bearable for those he sits with. You can help him continue to give shirts and hope, by clicking on the GoFundMe link and donate a few dollars. 
    Way to go Dan! We applaud what you are doing and thank you for giving back to cancer patients that are just starting down this road. 

    Dan is a survivor of Stage IV NHL (Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma) and is currently in remission. You can view his complete journey at WhatNext 
    In explaining why he feels the need to help others, Dan he told me, "Survivors of cancer have a Super Power. I want to encourage other survivors to go back to their treatment centers if they will allow it and share their stories of surviving cancer. Take two dozen donuts and walk around and distribute them. Take some time to sit down with the cancer fighters there and listen to them, encourage them and leave them with the hope that there is life on the other side of cancer."
    "When this encouragement comes from another cancer survivor it has more power than with it comes from someone who has not experienced cancer. Somehow a cancer survivor's word to someone in treatment has more value and I encourage other survivors to use that power to encourage others. It's what you are doing Greg with What Next."
    So this link is not about me, but about the power we have as cancer survivors to encourage those still "in the chair".

    Dan wants all of us fellow survivors to encourage the survivors not to turn their back and walk away from some of the darkest days in their cancer journey which was time sitting in the chair helplessly getting treatment. The challenge to them is to go back into the treatment center, face their memories of their darkest days and to point someone still in the fight toward the light that there is a life on the other side of this.
    Dan says,"Of course, you and I know some of them in the fight will not get to see a life on the other side of cancer. But we don't know who they are and it's not up to us to determine who we think that will be. But it is up to us to help others along in the unique way that only a cancer survivor can do."
    Giving someone a funny chemo shirt and maybe a doughnut and some company for a few hours may seem like a simple, insignificant thing to most people, but I guarantee you the people sitting in the chair don't think so! 
    You can donate to Dan's cause and help him keep helping other chemo patients by donating to his GoFundMe Page. 
    What have you done to give back, to help someone else walk this road? Please comment below and let us know. 

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    4 Cancer Advantages During the Holidays

    They’re back. Yes, those wonderful, stressful, relaxing, nostalgic, magical, and frustrating times are here. It’s the holiday season again. And they can be tough for everyone to get through. And like most things in life, when you factor your cancer into the mix, it’s not like it gets any easier.

    But this holiday, why not let your illness allow you take advantage of the holidays in ways that you never have before? It’s not as crazy as it sounds; it’s all about attitude. Cancer has already helped you see so many things in a new light, and it can help you bring some joy and perspective to the holidays that you’ve had before.
    Here are four “cancer advantages” things that patients get during the holiday season:
    1. THE FAMILY IS ALL TOGETHER 

    You’ve probably seen a lot of your family since your diagnosis. Maybe more than usual. And those visits have likely been very emotional and stressful. But the holidays are different – this is a family gathering that’s not about your illness. For once, the focus is not you and your cancer – which can be quite a relief. Embrace this. Enjoy being with loved ones and just seeing them interact with one another, remembering family stories and other holidays. This time of year is about reconnecting and warmth. A few days of this without all the cancer talk will do you a world of good.
    2. YOU CAN SLOW DOWN 

    All of us have a tendency to push ourselves this time of year. Whether it’s putting up decorations or going crazy with shopping, it’s easy to get carried away. And if you’re being treated for cancer, that’s not always something you’ll have the capacity or energy for. So relax. Let the season wash over you. Do your shopping online. Simplify your decorating. Take some time to watch some holiday movies. Let other family members pick up the slack. It’s not sitting this holiday out, it’s just slowing down. You have the ultimate excuse. Use it. When you realize how much more pleasant the holidays were without all the stress – like when you were a kid – you’ll want to make this slowing down thing a new tradition. Even after you’re NED.
    3. YOU CAN EXPRESS YOURSELF 

    Sometimes in all of the running around and entertaining associated with the holidays, we can often lose sight of what this time of year is all about. It’s supposed to be about happiness. This can cut both ways for patients: you may not be feeling especially festive, or you maybe be wanting to really go all out for the season. Either way, you’re good. Feel free to express your emotions and share your feelings. It’s an emotional time of year, and you’ll have a lot of feelings stirred up. Don’t be afraid to have a down moment, or to get especially mushy and lovey toward your family.
    4. YOU CAN SAY “YES” TO HELP 

    Friends, neighbors, and loved ones will be offering lots of help this season. Maybe they’ll offer to help with shopping. Or decorating. Or cooking. Let them. Put your pride and your “I-can-handle-it” aside, and accept the help. They’ll want to make this holiday easy for you, so why stop them? You’ll feel relieved to have all that help (and may even wonder why you never asked for help before), and everyone who offers will feel great about lending a hand. It’s win-win. So kickback with a cup of cocoa and let it happen.
    How has undergoing cancer treatment changed your approach to the holidays this year? Share your stories at WhatNext.

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    Dear Family: Things you can do for me Without Asking


    Dear Family and Friends,
    Thank you for being there for me. You have no idea just how helpful your support and encouragement has been throughout my ordeal. Your actions have made me feel and appreciate your love in ways that I could never have imagined. I am touched beyond words.
    I’m often overwhelmed by all that you’ve given of yourself and your time to help me through this. I cannot believe that you so often offer to do – and to give – even more.
    But you should know that there are some things that I’d appreciate more than I can say – but these are things I cannot bring myself to just come out and ask you to do for me. Most of them are pretty small, but the postive impact they’d have would be bigger than you could possibly imagine. They are the kind of things you can just do without even asking.
    I’m not expecting you to put yourself out even more than you already do, but if you or anyone else is ever wondering if there’s something that you can do, here are some things you should know that I’ll always, always appreciate.
    VISIT ME WHENEVER YOU WANT

    I love the company. Just having people I love around me feels good. You’re always welcome. All you need to bring is yourself – and no expectations. As you can imagine, I’m not the best host or hostess these days. I love guests, but don’t expect to be entertained. Just be here with me.

    WhatNexter PhillieG writes that, “sure, a pop-in is nice but I don’t want to feel like I have to entertain anyone. I tend to be very quiet when I'm going through rough stuff. I'm not rude but I'm not chatty either.”

    BRING PETS WITH YOU WHEN YOU VISIT

    Dogs. Cats. Any old pet. The little furry guys make me happy. Studies show they help alleviate stress, and man can I use a little of that.

    Sue_2015 from WhatNext remembers when one of her nurses brought her pup in for a visit. “She walked around briefly and let anyone pet him and play for a few minutes,” she says. “It sure did make me and almost everyone else smile.”

    LISTEN TO ME

    As you can imagine, I’ve got a lot of things on my mind these days. And sometimes, I just want to get things off my chest. And it helps that someone is there to hear me. So be there for me and just … listen. Let me rant, ramble, and get it all out while you just take it in. Without interrupting. Without judging. And without feeling like you need to respond.

    HELP ME WITH LITTLE DAY-TO-DAY THINGS

    A lot of people may feel that any help you offer needs to be some grand gesture, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s the little things. You don’t have to hire a maid service for me. Just pick up some clutter. Clean the dishes. Do a load of laundry. Dust. Walk my dog. Run some errands. Vacuum. There’s a long list of little things I used to do automatically, but I just can’t get around to right now. If you could do a fraction of these things, it would be amazing.

    “When I was in the throws of chemo,” remembers katiefnp. “My neighbors were so kind to mow my lawn and shovel my driveway. People like them make me want to be a better person.”

    Alimccalli writes that “it really is the little things … so thankful for all the people who think of the little things and do them without wanting credit or for any reason than to just help out. God bless them!”

    Melanomamama recalls visiting another friend with cancer and “seeing one of the women who was a member of her church out washing her windows for her. What a thoughtful contribution.”

    HELP MY FAMILY INSTEAD OF ME

    I’m not the only one having a tough time. My loved ones are, too. They’re working over time keeping me on top of treatments and doctors visits while doing their best to stay involved with their own lives and families. It’s not easy for them, and many times I feel that they need more help than I do.

    Photo: Take Them a Meal.com

    So rather than taking some time do to something for me – do something for them. Offer to babysit the kids. Or take them to school. Or their soccer game. Whatever you can do to take something off of their plate – or even to put something on their plate by making a lasagna for dinner. Sure, they’ll appreciate it … but it will mean so much more to me.
    “The girls at my work when I was doing treatment would bring home a meal for my family to eat,” writes daca1964. “Since I was too sick to feed my family they brought home a supper every night while I was doing treatment. I can't thank them enough … I love my girls.”

    Laugh With Me

    Funny movies. Stupid memes. Old jokes. Great memories. I need laughs now more than ever. And it feels so good. Especially when I share them with you.

    What sorts of things would you like your close family, friends, and caregivers do for you without asking?  Check in at WhatNext,  and let us know!

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    Cancer Treatment After "ObamaCare"

    In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising win on election day, people everywhere are wondering how the President-Elect’s policies will effect their healthcare. Trump has long listed the repeal of Obamacare as the top priority of his first 100 days in office. In fact, it’s been rumored that Trump has actually talked about convening a special session of Congress on January 20, 2017 – the very day he takes the oath of office – in order to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    All of which leaves a lot of cancer patients wondering … now what? In the event that Obamacare is actually repealed, what replaces it? How will it impact care? Trump has claimed to have a “better plan” ready to go, but no specific details have been discussed. Would the end of Obamacare have a devastating or beneficial effect on the untold thousands cancer patients nationwide?
    In these early days after the election, Trump has hedged a bit on removing the law in its entirety. But clearly, major changes are on the way; Obamacare is going to alter radically, or disappear completely to be replaced with some other system. In a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 32-year-old breast cancer patient Jessica Karabian said she fears that if the ACA were to be repealed and replaced with another syste, it could “hasten her death.”
    “My greatest concern is that [health insurance] will go back to what it was before Obamacare, and that Trump will unravel all the progress,” Karabian said. “If my supplement is dropped, I can't afford treatment and I die. I'm afraid this will give me even less time than I already have.”
    The two key elements of Obamacare that impact cancer patients are the fact that it guarantees that patients with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage, and that there is no limit to the lifetime dollar amount of coverage. Critically, the ACA imposes these provisions on both individual health policies and employer-sponsored plans.
    Jean Sachs, CEO of Living Beyond Breast Cancer
    , a Pennsylvania-based patient advocacy and support organization, says that many patients were posting their fears on the organization’s social media sites on the Wednesday after the election.

    “Women living with metastatic cancer are frantic and scared,” Sachs says. “So many of them couldn’t get insurance if they didn’t have the ACA. Trump had a lot of rhetoric, but now, what does that mean?”
    Even if Trump takes immediate action, it could take some time – perhaps months – for changes to make any significant impact on patients. One immediate option that Trump would have would be to cut off any funds that are earmarked to offset the losses of insurance carriers that are part of the healthcare exchange marketplace.
    WhatNexters have mixed opinions on the value of Obamacare and the potential impact of its repeal.
    “Obamacare was definitely not working for my family,”
    writes BoiseB on the WhatNext forums. “My daughter is getting all her healthcare through a Catholic Clinic and Hospital, and my son has to prove that he is low income so that he doesn't have to pay the fine.”

    DoreenLouise also has concerns. “I worry that the pre-existing clause may be taken away,”
    she writes. “And then what will happen if I am unable to have insurance through my employer who is a small business with less than 10 employees.”

    Like the majority of Americans, BuckeyeShelby gets her insurance from her employer, and actually works for a third party administrator of ACA policies, which gives her a unique perspective. She writes that of the three states that her company administered the ACA policies for, two of them have already “thrown in the towel and given it over to the Feds.”

    “It's sad seeing people lose their coverage or have to scramble to try to find something else. I believe in the aims of "Obamacare,”
    she writes. “But there are problems with it as well. I hope the Donald has a real plan, but I am not holding my breath. I sincerely hope that hundreds of thousands of people will still have coverage when the dust settles.”

    Vice President-Elect Gov. Mike Pence, as head of Trump’s transition team provided the closest glimpse of what may lie ahead. Pence said that expansion of tax-exempt health savings accounts would be part of the plan, and that individuals would be able to deduct health-insurance premium payments on their tax returns. Additionally, Pence said that a new healthcare law would allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines, and allow each state to manage its own Medicaid funding.
    In spike of Trump’s claims, whatever happens is unlikely to happen soon. “I am not concerned at all,”
    writes LiveWithCancer.Obamacare needs work. “I believe it will be better than it is now, but I don't expect anything to happen overnight.”
    How do you expect the change in administration to affect your health insurance? Please comment below.