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    Gifts Cancer Patients Will Appreciate

    When we’ve been diagnosed with cancer, our family, friends and co-workers want to support us in every way possible. Many times, they just don’t know what to do. Many would like to give us a gift but aren’t sure what we might need or want.
     
    I’ve talked and interacted with hundreds of people who are battling cancer, and these are some of the gifts that most patients will appreciate most. Cancer treatment is expensive, even when we have insurance so many of these suggestions help lift the financial burden while brightening our day.
    Gas gift card. We have to drive a lot. There is chemo on a weekly, biweekly or every three-week basis. We might have to have radiation – some patients receive radiation every weekday for up to six or eight weeks. We might have to drive to a larger city for a second opinion. Ruana. A Ruana
    is a wrap or shawl – like a large scarf. Some of them are reversible and might have a fringe. It’s cold in waiting rooms and back in the chemo room. They’re affordable to buy and will be used often.
    Local restaurant gift card. This is perfect for the spouse or adult child who waits for their loved one to have chemo. The person waiting should eat lunch, and a gift card
    is just right. Getting out and about for lunch helps relieve the caregiver’s stress.
    Volunteer to coordinate meals after a neighbor gets home from surgery. Most neighbors want to help but just don’t how. Use Meal Train to set up the evening meal for two or three weeks. This can be a lifesaver, especially if there are school-age children in the family.

    Cuticle cream, lip balm and/or nail strengthener. It’s amazing how dry our cuticles and lips get during cancer treatment. Young or old, man or woman – chemo dries out our cuticles, lips and damages our nails. A gift of a good quality cuticle cream or lip balm like Burt’s Bees
    or nail strengthen like Essie Treat Love & Color will be appreciated. The Essie nail treatment in white is virtually colorless so works for men’s nails. Both are available at retailers nationwide. This Essie nail strengthener is the only product that has strengthened my nails so they don’t peel off in layers.
    Insulated lunch bag. Many people like to pack a sandwich or a carton of yogurt to eat while they are at the chemo center. Give an insulated lunch bag
    to ensure that their lunch stays cold. You might add a coordinated water bottle to complete their “lunch at chemo center” eating arrangement.
    Electric throw blanket. Some of the chemotherapy drugs make patients sensitive to the cold. If a loved one or friend complains about always being cold, consider the gift of warmth. They are just like an electric blanket
    – only the size of a throw for your lap. Available online and at major retailers.
    Gift card for hobby supplies. Hobbies are an excellent distraction from the serious matters of cancer treatment. If you know that a person loves to watercolor, do canvas art or make seasonal crafts, they would love a gift card from Hobby Lobby. Sports lovers, from hunting and fishing to golf or walking, will find something they love from Academy Sports.
    V-neck tee shirt. Anyone who is getting chemo will extol the virtues of wearing a V-neck tee shirt
    . The V-neck allows easy access to a patient’s port. Throw a jacket or shirt over the tee shirt, and having our port accessed is a breeze.

    Pharmacy gift card. For many patients, money is tight. Copays for the newest chemotherapy and for radiation therapy is more than anyone ever imagines. What if you have skin issues from treatment? Or diarrhea? Or hiccups that won’t stop? Then it’s a trip to the pharmacy for another prescription or expensive skin lotion. Having a pharmacy gift card is like gold in the bank for your loved ones or friends. Adult coloring book or word puzzle book. Patients spend a lot of time in the chemo chair. Having a distraction helps the hours go by. Be sure to include some colored pencils if you give a coloring book.
    Canvas tote bag. A nice quality tote is a perfect gift for someone having chemo. They can pack an extra jacket, a book to read, stash away their Kindle or pack some snacks. And they can use it after their cancer treatment has ended.
    House cleaning or yard service. Nothing will be more appreciated than having a service come over and clean the house or mow the lawn. What not to give. We all mean well when we give a gift to someone who’s battling cancer, but some things either aren’t useful or aren’t safe because of a compromised immune system. 
    Here are some things not to give:Flowers – pollen can trigger allergies or spores can cause infections • Balloons – latex or rubber can trigger reactions if a patient has developed sensitive skin • Perfumes or strong colognes – chemo can alter a patient’s sense of smell • Candy – the steroids used as pre-medication before chemo causes blood sugar to soar • A “get well” card. Write an encouraging note instead. • Advice – button your lips and don’t offer advice.
    Don’t forget the gift of your continued friendship and support. Don’t forget to love your aunt or uncle who has cancer – don’t hide from them. Love and support your spouse – it’s different for them as the patient and us as the caregiver. Be patient with your parent who has cancer – remember the patience they had with us as a baby and as a teenager. They changed our diapers and changed clothes when we spit up on them – honor them now when they are sick.
    Put yourself in the shoes of the person of the person with cancer. Suppose your world was turned upside down – if we wouldn’t want what we’re considering, they probably can’t use it either. Money is tight for us – we’d appreciate a gift card from our favorite grocery store.
    Do you like what you have read or viewed on the site so far? Click below and register to connect with thousands of patients, survivors, and caregivers that are ready to help you with the issues you are facing. You don't have to face cancer alone! 


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    12 Common Fears Experienced at Diagnosis

    Each person reacts to their cancer diagnosis differently, but fear is always part of every single new patient’s response to their diagnosis. Virtually every cancer patient remembers the date of their diagnosis. We all remember that day – the shock, the disbelief and the fear of the unknown.


    Our experiences might be different, but our fears are similar. Know that you are not alone – we share the shock, the fear and then, the gradual acceptance of cancer. Let’s look at some of the fears we share.
    Will I Die?
    The myth that cancer is always “terminal” is alive and well today. Fifty years ago that may have been true. In 2017, just under 16 million people in the U.S. are cancer survivors.
    The will to live, also known as self-preservation, is innate in all living things. We, human with the ability to comprehend, fear dying. Most of us are willing to endure severe hardships in order to survive. So fear is dying is a normal reaction when diagnosed with a serious disease that could potentially be fatal.
    “But science has really come along way and people are not only surviving but thriving! And it will be six years in October” … cllinda

    Fear of Leaving Loved Ones Behind
    Who wouldn’t worry about leaving their loved ones behind? A husband who is the breadwinner for the family and the mother of small children are entitled to worry about their loved ones should they succumb to cancer. We cannot change our diagnosis, but hopefully, there’s life insurance to help blunt the financial issues if they occur.
    The best advice is to cherish your loved ones in the here and now. Be kind with the words you speak – remember that you can’t retract harsh words spoken in anger.
    “I was afraid of dying and leaving my Wife alone in the big City to handle all this herself” … GregP

    Fear of Chemotherapy
    Anyone facing chemotherapy has experienced this fear. We’ve all heard about people throwing up, but those days are past. The new pre-meds are very effective in preventing nausea and vomiting. And if the first nausea medicine doesn’t work, tell your oncologist so that they can adjust your pre-meds. Your medical team wants to help you.
    I remember my first day of chemo like it was yesterday (it was almost four years ago). I had visions of being able to feel the chemo in my veins – would it sting or burn? Would I instantly feel nauseated? It turned out that all my fears were unfounded. I didn’t experience any side effects during infusion.
    Taking one day at the time is a good mantra to have.


    “I am glad I didn't stick to my "I will never do chemo" ideas or I wouldn't be here today.” … LiveWithCancer

    Will I Be Brave Enough?
    I must confess that I was guilty of this fear. With a diagnosis of Stage IV rectal cancer, my oncologist told me at my first appointment that my treatment would include having a colostomy.
    So, I put that fear on the top shelf of my brain – out of sight for a while so I could attend to the bigger issue of treating my Stage IV cancer and getting to the point that I qualified for potentially curative surgery.
    Over the months as I had chemo and two types of radiation, I realized that many others had walked the same steps as I was taking. I realized that I was not alone and that complex surgery is often the only way to a potential cure. In the end, I was grateful that I qualified for a surgery that was potentially curative.
    “I had never had any kind of surgery and here I was going to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction all in one fell swoop”…Jouska

    Will I Lose My Hair?
    Fear of losing our hair is one of the most common fears about chemo. Our hair helps identify us. For many women, our hair is what we are known for – “the gal with long, blonde hair” or “she’s the brunette with the long, wavy hair.”
    I hadn’t even thought about losing my hair, but my husband asked my oncologist after she explained the chemo I’d be taking, “Will my wife lose her hair?”
    She did her best to reassure us that my hair would only thin.
    The stigma over hair loss dates back to when every cancer patient lost their hair. And feelings over our loss of identity remain. But this, too, is temporary. Your hair will grow back along with their eyebrows and eyelashes. You’ll be fine – in the meantime, embrace something new – a cute wig, a baseball cap with a built-in ponytail or a stylish turban.
    “I also was devastated when the doctor said that I would lose my hair. I know that most people think that is silly, but it was hard for me to handle. I am here 4-1/2 years later, so it all worked out, and I have hair” … beachbum5817



    Other Fears…
    Every patient’s circumstances and specifics of diagnosis are different. Other issues that patients worry about include:
    Living alone and being able to care for themselves – “Am I going to be a complete invalid? I live by myself -- what am I going to do??” ... BuckeyeShelby

    Rare cancer and the chances for a cure – “My 1st fear was the type of cancer I had” … karinelsen

    Not seeing your children or grandchildren grow up

    Your son or daughter’s wedding coming up – “my doctor and I worked together and I was able to go. Had a great time and even danced at the wedding” ... SandiA

    Being disfigured from your treatment

    Pain and suffering
    Listen to some of the quotes from other WhatNexters. For most of us, it doesn’t wind up being as bad as we imagine.
    “Being made helpless was a major fear. I spoke with a home health agency, which gave me peace of mind in case I needed them as a backup (I didn't)” … Ejourneys

    “No one is more surprised than I am that now I am a five-year survivor” … Lynne-I-Am

    “Death sentence? Yeah, that was almost 6 years ago” ... BuckeyeShelby

    Fear of the unknown is inevitable. The diagnosis of cancer is scary. But in the end, most of us will tell someone who has been newly diagnosed that most of the things aren’t nearly as dreadful as you imagine.
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    WhatNext is proud to be nominated for 3 WEGO Health Awards. Please help us bring these awards home by endorsing us/voting for us. Your support is much appreciated. 


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    Legal Documents and Paperwork Cancer Patients Need to Complete

    One of the last tasks that most cancer patients are thinking about is getting their legal and financial documents updated. But it is a prudent and wise task to put behind you … just in case.



    Having critical legal documents prepared or updated brings peace of mind to you, your spouse/partner and your family. It’s a sobering reminder, but trust me – you’ll feel much better once you get this done.


    When I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, I suggested to my husband that we should have my will updated, draw up a durable power of attorney and learn what the state laws were so that he would not be responsible for my medical bills in the event of my death. It was difficult for me to suggest, but I knew that we had to do that so that I wouldn’t worry about him if I took a turn for the worse. There were also a few other financial documents that I prepared and/or reviewed.


    No matter what your financial situation, most people need to have these documents prepared or updated.


    • Will. This is a critical legal document. If you die without a will, each state has laws that govern how your estate will be distributed. Your spouse might have to share your estate with your grown children. If you have custody of your children or are the legal guardian of an aged parent, the state will appoint a legal guardian for them if you don’t have a will. In a will, you also appoint an executor to oversee the details of a will. Many seniors don’t marry but live together; it’s critical to have a will to ensure that whatever you have goes to the person of your choice.


    • Update Beneficiaries for IRA, 401(k), Life Insurance and Other Pensions. If you’re in a second marriage, you might have forgotten to update your beneficiaries. Be sure to review your military pension beneficiary who could be eligible for a Survivor Benefit Plan. 

    Durable Power of Attorney . A durable power of attorney is a powerful document that gives the person appointed broad and sweeping powers if a person is medically incapacitated. The person appointed not only can make medical decisions on your behalf; they can also sign checks, complete financial transactions and keep the household running should you become incapacitated. Typically, a person would choose their spouse or other trusted family member because the powers are so sweeping.


    • Advance Directive, Sometimes Referred to as a Living Will. This document spells out the kind of medical care that a person prefers to have should they become unable to make decisions for themselves. A living will has more specific information as to how aggressive the person’s care should be if they become unconscious and unable to make decisions. Examples of a living will’s instructions might include whether to administer CPR or use a respirator or use a feeding tube. The advance directive provides a broader power where you can provide directions about the care you want to receive in a terminal condition or vegetative condition as well as appoint a healthcare “agent” who might clarify a patient’s meaning in an unexpected medical circumstance.
    • Do Not Resuscitate Orders. A patient does not have to have an advance directive or a living will. The patient or their family can tell their physician their wishes about a DNR order . Occasionally, family members of an older relative or a more distant relative, such as an uncle or cousin, may be placed in the unfortunate position of being the only relative present during a final illness and have to make the painful decision of whether CPR should be performed.
    • Checking Account with Right of Survivorship. Don’t assume that your joint checking account carries “right of survivorship.” This may vary from state to state and from bank to bank. It’s worth a call or trip to the bank to ensure that a jointly-held checking account (held by husband and wife or domestic partners) includes right of survivorship. This ensures that the account won’t be frozen in the event one of the account holders dies.
    • Social Security Check in the Event of Death. Retired couples may not realize a financially painful fact of the Social Security system. The check you receive each month is for the prior month. Social Security’s policy states, “Let us know if a person receiving Social Security benefits dies. We can’t pay benefits for the month of death.” Sadly, you won’t have to let Social Security know. The funeral home usually notifies Social Security of a person’s death. With the next 30 days, the surviving spouse can expect that last Social Security deposit to be withdrawn from the checking account – often resulting in overdraft fees and severe financial hardship.
    • Prepare a Password List. If the person who usually pays the household bills is diagnosed with cancer, it’s wise to create a list of monthly bills, the URL, the login and the password. A set-back after surgery could leave the bill payer of the family in ICU, and all the household bills (including utility bills and/or mortgage unpaid). The other option is to schedule everything to be paid automatically if your finances are sufficiently stable.

    • Safety Deposit Box Access. Ensure that someone else knows where your safety deposit box is located. Add them so that they have access if needed. Wills, life insurance policies, stock certificates and other irreplaceable items should be stored there for safekeeping.
    Some people might feel like updating important financial documents is morbid or setting themselves up to die. Nothing could be further from the truth. With some 15 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and growing, it’s evident that more and more people surive cancer. But if the unthinkable happens, you’ll be glad that you protected your family.
    WhatNext has been nominated for three WEGO Health Awards. 
    We would be honored for your endorsement/vote. Just click on any of the award emblems below and go to the WEGO Health Awards site to vote. Thanks for your support!


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    Managing Cancer Treatments When You Have a CoExisting Health Condition

    As we have all discovered, cancer does not discriminate. Regardless of age, ethnicity, income or existing health, cancer may land on our doorsteps. 
    The question is, “How will we manage our co-existing condition now that I have cancer too?”

    Common coexisting conditions include:
    • Diabetes • Heart disease • High blood pressure • Kidney disease • Lung disease

    The treatment of cancer is complex and may last for an extended period. If we aren’t careful, we might get so caught up in our cancer treatment that we become a little lax in the management of a co-existing condition. But the success of our cancer treatment is dependent on our overall good health and controlling our co-existing conditions. 
    How Cancer Treatment May Affect Your Co-Existing Condition
    Chemotherapy and radiation may cause serious side effects. A complex surgery may entail a long recovery period. Now think about adding those side effects on top of the symptoms a patient has from their co-existing condition. 
    Some of the considerations involve:

    1. Cancer might cause a patient’s existing diagnosis to become worse 2. Potential interactions between your existing medications and the cancer drugs 3. Cancer treatment may be delayed by our existing health problem 4. Slower recovery from surgery and slower rebound from each chemotherapy

    The best advice is to be completely honest with your cancer treatment team about your underlying health. Schedule an appointment with the specialist who provides care for your co-existing condition to let them know you have cancer. This allows your physicians to work together for the best possible outcome.
    Co-existing Health Problems That May Impact Cancer Treatment
    Virtually any chronic disease may potentially impact your treatment for cancer. Let’s look at a few of the most common co-existing diseases that could potentially impact you.

    Diabetes. Cancer patients should check their blood sugar levels more frequently. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center offers insight into cancer treatment if you are a diabetic. Many cancer patients receive steroids before their chemotherapy infusion to help prevent nausea. Steroids are notorious for causing blood sugar levels to rise. For patients who take injectable insulin, they might need to adjust their dosage and time their injection so that it’s before their dose of steroids. The reverse may also be true – vomiting or diarrhea, in response to chemotherapy or radiation, might result in a dangerous drop of blood sugar.
    Heart Disease. Unfortunately, some of the chemotherapy drugs may worsen some of your heart symptoms including high blood pressure or the increased risk of congestive heart failure. If you have radiation near your heart (for instance, for lung cancer), it might affect your heart. Your cardiologist may prescribe a medicine to help protect your heart. It’s important to let your cardiologist know that you have cancer so that your heart disease is well managed.
    Kidney Disease. If your kidney function is a little less than normal, your oncologist will have to select a chemotherapy drug that is easier for your kidneys to handle. If you are on dialysis when you are diagnosed with cancer, be sure to tell your oncologist. The dialysis might also remove the chemotherapy drug from your blood.
    Dental Problems. Let your oncologist know if you have a serious dental problem. Chemotherapy can increase your chance of infection – it may also cause mouth sores. If possible, try to get dental work done before your treatment Radiation to the neck and throat area may cause loss of teeth and/or bone loss.

    Related Story: Preventing The Dental Side Effects of Radiation

    Depression/Anxiety. A diagnosis of cancer causes anxiety and may cause patients to become depressed. If you already suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, be sure to tell your oncologist and your mental health professional. They will coordinate the appropriate medications for you to ensure that there’s no adverse interaction between your chemotherapy and your anxiety or antidepressant medication.
    Underweight. If you are underweight when you diagnosed, you might have a problem maintaining your weight and getting adequate nutrition since chemotherapy may cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Your oncologist may refer you to an oncology dietician who can provide guidance so you get sufficient nutrition during treatment.
    Memory loss or dementia. If your loved one has dementia or severe memory issues, you need to speak to your medical advisors to determine the best course of action for your loved one’s treatment.
    Mobility Issues. What if you are in a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or as a result of post-polio syndrome? Women in wheelchairs face special challenges when diagnosed with breast cancer. Learn more here.

    Be Proactive and Coordinate Any Co-Existing Health Issues with Your Cancer Treatment

    No one is more interested in the outcome of your cancer treatment than you and your family. These simple steps will help ensure the best possible outcome.
    1. Let your other health care professionals know that you have been diagnosed with cancer. 2. Ask your oncologist to send lab results and scan results to all of your doctors. 3. Give your oncologist/radiologist/surgeon a list of your other doctors and their phone numbers. 4. Provide an up-to-date list of the medications you take – include the dosage amount and number of times daily that you take your medications. 5. Let your oncologist know about every new side effect/symptom you experience during treatment.

    Many cancer patients have other health issues; with coordination, most patients can avoid serious side effects from their cancer treatment.
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    We are honored to have been nominated for the WEGO Health Awards "Best in Show" Community, "Patient Leader Hero", and "Advocating For Others". We would also be honored to have your endorsement/votes to win this award. All of us in the WhatNext Community appreciate the support! 

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    Immunotherapy - The Future is Almost Here



    The Jimmy Carter cancer story
    Many of you remember that back August 20, 2015, former President Jimmy Carter announced that he had a liver tumor removed but that doctors also discovered 4 tumors in his brain. His outlook was grim, but his medical team at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute recommended an advanced radiation therapy for his brain tumors and Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug that had been approved in September 2014 for advanced melanoma.
    In March 2016, Jimmy Carter told his Sunday school class that he didn’t need any additional immunotherapy treatments. Now, three years after that dreadful diagnosis, he is still in remission.
    What exactly is immunotherapy?
    In the most simplistic terms, immunotherapy helps your body use its own immune system to fight your cancer. It can use substances made by the body or made in the laboratory to boost or improve your body’s immune function. Immunotherapy is also referred to as biologic therapy.
    The types of immunotherapy that are either currently available or in development now are:
    • Cancer vaccines – to prevent the development of cancer. The HPV vaccine helps prevent the development of anal and gynecological cancers (cervical, vaginal and vulvar). • Monoclonal antibodies (also called immune checkpoint inhibitors) – this is the immunotherapy that is currently available. • Non-specific immunotherapies – Interferon and Interleukins are used to treat cancer by themselves or with or after chemotherapy or radiation. • Oncolytic virus therapy – uses genetically modified viruses to kill cancer cells – currently approved for melanoma when it can’t be surgically removed. • T-cell therapy – T cells are collected from a patient’s body and changed in the lab to recognize cancer cells (CAR-T therapy) – very effective in certain blood cancers. 
    Science Magazine voted Cancer Immunotherapy the Science Breakthrough of the Year for 2013.

    Immunotherapy currently available
    So, you may have been asking yourself, “Is there a miracle drug that can help my cancer?”
    The answer is, “It depends on what type of cancer you have and your genetic markers.” Let’s look at what’s available and who these currently available immunotherapies can help.
    • Atezolizumab (Tecentriq). Used to treat a type bladder and urinary tract cancer called urothelial carcinoma or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). • Avelumab (Bavencio). Used to treat a skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma or urothelial carcinoma. • Durvalumab (Imfinzi). Another immunotherapy to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or urothelial carcinoma (a type of bladder and urinary tract cancer). • Ipilimumab (Yervoy). First immune checkpoint inhibitor approved by the FDA in 2011. Used to treat metastatic melanoma (with the BRAF V600 mutation-positive), renal cell carcinoma (in combination with nivolumab) and colorectal cancer (again in combination with nivolumab) for patients who are MSI-H or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR). • Nivolumab (Opdivo). Used to treat metastatic melanoma (in combination with Ipilimumab) for patients who have the BRAF V600 mutation positive, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), advanced renal cell cancer (often in combination with Ipilimumab), classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma (after relapse from a stem cell transplant), metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), metastatic urothelial carcinoma or certain colorectal cancer who are MSI-H or dMMR. • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, advanced gastric cancer called gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma that tests positive for PD-L1, advanced melanoma, microsatellite instability-high (MSI‑H) or a mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) colorectal cancer, cervical cancer that is PD-L1 positive, head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC), urothelial carcinoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL). Keytruda can even be used for pediatric cancers.
    So…What Next?????
    For the past three years, ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) has declared that the Advance of the Year for 2016, 2017 and 2018 is immunotherapy. 
    For 2018, ASCO proclaimed CAR-T cell therapy to be the Advance of the Year. Clinical trials are ongoing for many types of cancer. Thus far, this kind of immunotherapy has been most successful for blood cancers. Success has been achieved for: 1. Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) 2. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 3. Multiple myelomas



    There is much research yet to be accomplished. Some patients suffer serious side effects. Only a handful of patients with solid tumors have responded. Cost is also a factor with regimen costs approaching $375,000 for adults and $475,000 for pediatric patients.
    So…What about Now?
    Evidence suggests that solid tumor patients with certain genetic mutations are the best candidates for existing immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo. Patients who display the PD-L1 expression can benefit from Keytruda – these include some lung, head and neck, colorectal and bladder. Tumors that display MSI-H or dMMR are candidates too. Opdivo can be used in patients with the PD-L1 expression too as well as BRAF V600 mutation-positive – cancer types include colorectal, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and squamous cell head and neck cancers. 


    While this is a small portion of current cancer patients, many of these patients have not responded to other treatments because of their genetic mutations. For these patients, these recent immunotherapy drugs bring hope. 
    Virtually every Stage IV patient should talk to their oncologist about testing their tumors for mutations if they haven’t responded to the first and second line treatments. You might not realize but the facility where your surgery was performed keeps a sample of your tumor. Knowledge is power.
    Once you know your mutation status, consider an immunotherapy clinical trial. Some patients may obtain a durable remission. Patients in immunotherapy trials don’t usually suffer from the debilitating side effects that traditional chemotherapy can cause. It’s estimated that up to 90 percent of patients who are eligible for immunotherapy trials may be missing out on potentially curative treatments. 
    Be proactive and advocate for yourself. Even if a current immunotherapy is not approved for the type of cancer you have, participating in a clinical trial allows you access.
    Related Articles

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    A New Kind of Therapy - 10 Things to Keep Your Mind Off Cancer 
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    We thank you for your support!

      

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    Things I Learned From 11 Days in The ICU

    We cancer patients know that we are sometimes just an infection, low white blood count, bad scan results, or some other complication away from being in the emergency room, or maybe even the ICU. These are not limited to cancer patients, anyone with one of the many other chronic health issues can find themselves in the same situation. 

    I recently spent 11 days in the ICU with my Mother-In-Law, while there, I had many hours to observe some things, and experience a wide range of emotions that could be a textbook example of an emotional roller coaster. 
    Things I Learned In The ICU
    1) Don't go to the ICU to see a loved one with regrets. - Regrets that you didn't visit enough, that you didn't tell them how you really felt. That you didn't go see them on Sundays for dinner when they wanted you to. Don't have regrets that you had harsh words or you might have spoken to them in anger. We are all human, we are all going to have those moments. All we can do is try to do better. Tell your loved ones that you love them because tomorrow isn't promised. Go see Mom and Dad on Sunday and have dinner, find the time. Try to catch your tongue before you say something, we are not all perfect, and if Mom wants her 125# dog to run in the living room and jump on the couch, let him. Try to not have regrets.  
    2) When you have been called back to the room asap, no matter how many times you push that elevator button.....it's not coming any faster.
    3) You can finance someone's kid's education with what you put in a couple of vending machines in 11 days. 
    4) A Pet Therapy Dog is a walking, slobbering, drooling flash of happiness and a bright spot in an otherwise bad day. 

    5) Ice chips are priceless.
    6) A mouth sponge dipped in coffee, is priceless plus 1.
    7) The Nurse's definition of quiet is not the same as mine.
    8) Whatever the Nurse's that work in the ER, intake desk, and ICU earn, it isn't nearly enough.
    9) The 2 People in the room at a time, has no wiggle room.
    10) The parking garage will eat your car, hide it, and make you search until you go get help to find it. But it was right there all the time.

    11) Angels wear scrubs and look like normal people, but posses superpowers.
    12) Vince Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain" has a personal meaning after watching someone suffer for 11 days
    13) Room 5446 was a sad room, a comforting room, room with hard floors, a room to laugh in, cry in, and in the end, a peaceful room.
    14) Your loved one will leave you signs. The picture on the left was on the door of the room - The picture on the right is hanging in our house.


    15) Dying is not always a bad thing.
    My own 30 years of experience of being in the hospital, ER, having surgery's being on the edge of death and not knowing what was coming next has let me experience a few of these too. All I can offer for advice is to be patient, nothing happens quickly. Have trust in the team treating your loved one, they are actually the professionals, not us. Be aware of the fact that they have been working on a 12-hour shift and have already probably put up with crap from a number of people, please don't be another one! And in most cases, things will work out OK, and even when they don't, it will still be OK. Be sure to tell them that you appreciate the work they are doing for your loved one. A heartfelt thank you, will get you lots more help than yelling and criticising will. 
    Most of us with chronic illnesses have had to spend a few days in the hospital, ER, or ICU. Do any of these things sound familiar to you? What are some of your own?

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